What helps writing

Fuck writing, let’s talk about baked goods. One of my friends is in town. He, his girlfriend, and his dog drove all night from [redacted] and had some time to hang out at [redacted] before we all woke up. They show up at 8 a.m. bearing chocolate croissants. Now that’s a good friend.

I ended up not writing yesterday, but let me give you the recipe for Kaiser rolls. Maternal Clause would sometimes say “I wasn’t feeling so good about myself today, so I made a pie.” Lavish praise, not to mention strawberry rhubarb pie, cheered Maternal Clause right up.

Indy’s Laws of Bread Baking are as follows:

1. It isn’t as hard as you think.

2. Less-than-perfect homemade bread is way better than store-bought bread.

3. You just need to be at home and own a kitchen timer.

Kaiser Rolls

In a bowl mix:

2 1/4 cups warm (body temperature—no warmer or it will kill the yeast) water

2 Tb. or 2 packets of yeast

1/4 cup sugar

3 c bread flour

Beat all these ingredients together with a wooden spoon. Cover and let this stand for 10 minutes.

There should be some bubbles or other sign of yeast action after 10 min or your yeast is dead and you might as well start over.

Stir 2 ts salt and 1/4 c oil (I use olive) into the mixture.

Then add 2 1/2 to 3 c bread flour gradually. I usually slop it in 1/2-1 cup at a time. Mix thoroughly.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead. Kneading is what terrifies beginning bread makers, but it isn’t hard. Gather the bread dough together and smush it down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough a quarter turn, fold it over, and smush it with the heel of your hand. You always want to push outward. Push outward, turn the dough a quarter way around, fold it over, push outward. Dust with flour if it sticks to the board or your hand. Push, turn, fold, push. When the dough coheres, has the consistency of a baby’s bum (seriously, all the cookbooks call it that), and springs back when you poke it, it’s ready. This should take from 5 to 10 minutes. I found that this one didn’t need as much kneading as some of my other breads.

Oil a bowl and turn the dough in the oil once so that the top is oiled (this keeps it from cracking or drying out or something). Cover and leave to rise (between 45 min and an hour). I usually turn on the oven to 200, turn it off, let it cool down, and put it in an 80-degree oven. Other people let it rise on the counter. But my kitchen tends to be cold, and you don’t want drafts to disturb the delicate yeast.

Once the dough has risen to twice its size, celebrate. (This is the happy yeast dance, and is not necessary, but might be important for your own feeling of accomplishment.) Turn out back onto the board. Press it down gently.

Divide the dough into 16 balls. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Then put it back into the oven until it doubles again (20-30 min). Take it out and prepare the egg wash. Also, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Take an egg white, and mix with a ts of water. Brush this over the rolls. Then add poppy seeds, or if you’re me, add poppy seeds, sesame seeds, a little sea salt, and cracked pepper. Garlic and rosemary probably would have been good too. With a sharp knife, put five little slashes in each roll to release the demons. Or whatever.

Bake for 15 to 20 min. Feel pretty damn proud of yourself. This is easier than writing. What cheers you up?

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2 responses to “What helps writing

  1. Good recipes that sound do-able at my level of cooking skill cheer me right up. And coloring pictures with my kids. And really good sunburn lotion because my nose, it glows.

    • “Wooden Spoon Bread Book” by Marilyn Moore. I bought it at a library sale. It may not still be in print, but it’s all about how Moore thinks bread baking should be easy, and completed with hardly any more equipment than a wooden spoon.

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