Adaptability: a soft skill in the world of resume making; a necessary skill for baking.

I have been very excited about getting to the Whole Wheat Trials after the White Bread Competition.

Ok, excited may not be the proper term. I decided to test out whole wheat sandwich breads after a very dear friend explained how much better for my health whole wheat bread would be over my beloved white bread. So I took up this challenge for her.

I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing, I had a formula for how to record my findings, oven logistics, and the order I was going to tackle the large grouping of breads. One bread I really wanted to make required me to prepare the night before. It called for a Sponge and a Soaker—both items that would need 8-24 hours of resting before I prepared the actual dough.

The problem was, I woke up late, did not have a full breakfast and forgot to upload the recipes to my iPad for note taking. And in my haste to get the morning going, I decided to start with the bread I prepared the night before. What I forgot was that I halved the recipe when I was preparing the Sponge and Soaker, but that morning I jumped in head first with my phone in my pocket and made a full batch! Baking, unlike cooking, you can’t just wing it. You’ve probably heard ‘Cooking is an Art but Baking is a Science’— that’s true.  

I took a step back, sent out a text or two, decided to make a pot of coffee, eat breakfast and do some dishes. I needed this time to readjust, put on some good music and got talked back from the edge by The Carpenter.

The rest of the day I whipped up batches of doughs, measuring precisely, checking the recipes multiple times, preparing pans for the loaves, all the while staring at my morning failure. I tried to follow the recipes exactly but my actual skill as a baker made me question things here and there. And with that in mind, I used those skills to play around with the Sam’s Test Kitchen (STK) Bread. I figured I had nothing to lose with this dough, so lets just see if I add ‘X’ how it will come out.  It sat near the oven not rising, at one point it looked so pitiful I thought of ending it’s misery and tossing it in the trash. But I let it just do it’s own thing.

Loaves went into and out of the oven throughout the day and slowly I saw the STK start to puff up a little. That is when I decided maybe just treat it like a regular slow rising bread.

When I first realized I screwed up, I thought- ‘Ok I’m done. No need to continue this humiliation.’ Who would know that I didn’t bake today? I mean it is not like I have been telling people for days that I was going to have a Whole Wheat Battle to the Death or anything like that, oh maybe I have been. So I decided that if I say I am going to do something, I should actually do what I say even when I don’t feel like it.

And that was the thing, my whole day changed around when I just decided even if I screw up all the breads, I can still learn something from it. I had some great music playing, I was doing what I love and at the end of the day I would have a lot of bread to offer to people. And of the 9 different batches of dough I made, that first batch (the STK) was the last one to come out of the oven, at 9:50pm.

Are you saying deja vu?
Didn’t the same thing happen with the White Bread Competition?
Well yes, yes it did. And I was really hoping that I would like that bread but alas it was not a winner. But the STK—my mess up that I kinda sorta just did a little of this and that to—came out pretty great. Very light and fluffy, a little on the salty side and darker (I used different loaf pans for it- who knew it was going to actually rise!) But it was really tasty.

The results brought back memories of years ago when I was in the middle of a baking competition. I had to make rugelach. I never made this before, never even heard of it until that afternoon. I mixed together the dough, rolled them all up, cut them and that is when I remembered the directions indicated I was suppose to put nuts in them. So instead of panicking, I very quickly unrolled these jam filled pastries, slapped some nuts in and re-rolled them. I was at that point covered in jams but it worked. Turns out that the judges were watching me and liked my adaptability.

But I digress. The Whole Wheat Trials—which bread was the big winner?
oh that is what I was suppose to be writing about…

Stay tuned