I used to ride motorcycles. A lot.
My Mother was a Nurse, my Father a Fire Fighter. Our Neighbor had been a Policeman. All of them cautioned me against being on two-wheels. All of them had seen enough of the bad consequences.
I remember a specific piece of advice from the Policeman who had also been a motorcycle officer at one point. `The moment you feel cool while driving, pull over and get off – you are in trouble.` In 5 years and tens of thousands of kilometers of travel (including a trip to Nova Scotia), I managed to stay upright and, more or less, without incident. The 3 or 4 times that I had my gravest problems all stemmed from feeling cool.
The moment you think you have it nailed, it has a way of reminding you that you don`t. Motorcycling can be humbling. Making bread can be the same:
What happened? That`s easy to figure out; the short answer is I felt cool.
This was to be my best bread yet. For starters, it was part whole wheat. I knew the farmer that grew the wheat and milled it into flour. I had taken onions from a neighboring farm, dehydrated them myself and added it to the dough to create an onion-bread like dough.
I mixed the ingredients, using a scale. I long ago learned that bakers find weight a far more reliable indicator of quantities when baking. Everything was painstakingly obvious when I, without explanation, through a bunch of water in without being careful to measure. I added way too much. I was able to remove some (along with some floating yeast and other ingredients). Now the entire concoction was a guess.
I then let it rise too long (twice) and I was left with a dough-like resemblance to add to the oven that wasn`t nearly hot enough.
I suddenly felt not-so-cool. I was, however, able to laugh at myself instantly (I knew long before it entered the stove that I would need a yeasty miracle to pull this one off).
The good news is that we were able to eat the outside crust to get an idea of flavor (the further you cut into this loaf, the more it resembles solid stone). It was remarkably good and the onions really came together in the taste.
It`s amazing to me how personal the sense of loss over this one was. I`m not in an overly dramatic morose state of sadness and I am totally fine that I simply made a mistake but I do feel that I let my farmer down, the wheat down and even my poor shrivelled onion. I know the people that worked far harder than I did to make this bread and I flopped it with an avoidable flick of my wrist.
A good lesson learned – time to try again!