January 14, 2017

When bad bakes happen to good people

It has been THREE DAYS since I’ve told you what I’m baking, and that’s unacceptable. It’s just that I’m running for local office and working on an assignment and mourning the death of my country and all. I have, however, been baking.

Wednesday was Hebrew school day, which means I spend all day checking to make sure I have all the supplies I need for my class and then we don’t get home until 6:30. Popovers take all of five minutes to prepare and they can supplement dinner, so I tossed some in the oven. Unfortunately, they did not turn out so well. Wednesday I was also in the pit of despair over—in no particular order—Jeff Sessions, anti-vaccination advocates, tensions around local politics, things with Child 3, Betsy DeVos, things with Child 2, and the dog having diarrhea on the floor every night. But only one of the dogs. So when the popovers did not turn out so well, I may have a little bit lost my shit. Whereupon the kids rushed to tell me that the popovers were pop-unders and pop-unders are actually WAY better than popovers.

Kids may drive you to the brink, but when you’re then standing there looking over the precipice ready to tumble on down, they come and hug you from both sides and tell you you’re the best mom ever and you step back.

Thursday—yesterday—I made another attempt at English muffins because Zachary had to record himself talking through the steps of making a hamburger for some whackadoodle homework assignment for science class because his science teacher is equal parts laid-back hippie and pedagogical guru. We didn’t have hamburger buns but we had flour and yeast and such things. I made the dough while the kids were at school. When they got back, I went to turn on the stove to toast up the perfectly-risen dough. And the damned thing didn’t turn on. Since our house is under perpetual construction, there are kind of random dudes everywhere. I asked the Random Dude of the Day what was up with my propane and he said, “I turned it off.” Right. Of course. He kept apologizing, which was kind of funny because he was doing his damned job and there doesn’t seem to be a need to apologize for that. Eventually, Random Dude turned the propane back on, by which point I had prepped black beans and a sauce for a chocolate bread pudding because I still had leftover bread and I cooked it all at the same time, glorying in the flow of propane.

English muffin dough is not particularly difficult. But cooking them is another story. They take forever to cook. You have to heat the skillet for ten minutes before even putting them on, and then you have to cook them on really low heat for 15-20 minutes or else the outside cooks but the inside doesn’t and then you get a wrapper of bread around raw dough. Less appealing than you would think. I know this because of last week’s attempt at English muffins.

Well, baby, this week I nailed it. Nailed it, I tell you.

Which brings us to today. It’s Shabbat, so I made challah. Challah is complicated because it can have a very long rise time. The making of it usually spreads out over eight or nine hours. Someone told me last week she’s had it take as long as 13 hours, by which time I just wouldn’t be hungry anymore. I’ve been making challah on Fridays for eight or so years by this point, and it lends a predictability to our weeks. Religion can be faintly comforting.

And then I took the chocolate bread pudding that had been soaking since yesterday and stuck it in the oven. Because in addition to challah and candles, we always have dessert on Shabbat. This year, of course, we have dessert all the days. Sometimes twice.

This year, we’re going to need lots of butter.

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