Let me start by saying I’ve been in kind of a weird funk lately. I always get sort of depressed after the holidays and cold, gray weather affects me very negatively. So that’s what poor Christopher has been dealing with the past couple of weeks. I decided after being a grouch to be around, I wanted to do something for him to show him how much I appreciate him, so I decided to give him a few really good blow jobs and make this bread that he’s been asking me to make for seriously over a year.
It’s not like I’ve been blowing off making bread because I don’t give a shit about what he wants. The specific bread he wants is the kind they serve at a restaurant we have in California called “Black Angus,” and the bread is a really dark, dark brown color. Almost black really. I’ve never made bread before and I had no idea what kind of bread this was, so I just never got around to making it. But the other night, I decided I was going to figure out how to do this for him, so I went online and searched for a recipe for the Black Angus bread. I found a message board where apparently lots of other people were looking for the recipe too and someone posted one they thought was similar. I printed off the directions for both the regular way to make it and the way to make it using a bread maker and called Christopher and asked if he could bring his bread maker over.
He was pretty excited I was going to make the bread and offered to stop at the grocery store on his way over and pick up the ingredients I didn’t have. I thought it would be fun to try to figure out how to make it together, and since he’d used a bread maker before, thought it would go much more smoothly if he were involved. On the phone, he asks me to text him the ingredients I need.
“I think you better just call me from the store,” I say. “It’s kind of complicated.”
He agrees and about twenty minutes later, I get a call from him. He’s in the baking aisle. “I’m here,” he says. “What do you need.”
“I have flour, salt and all that stuff, so I need first of all, yeast. It needs to be dry active yeast.” He spends a few minutes hunting around for it before saying, “I don’t think they have that here.”
“I’m sure they do, hon,” I say. “It comes in tiny little packets. Like Kool-Aid.” He hunts around some more.
“Let’s skip that and come back to it,” he says. “What else?”
“What is that?”
“It’s like a dark brown syrup. It’s probably next to the Karo’s.”
“Just look for something dark in a jar.”
After a moment, he says victorious, “Found it! What else?”
“Shortening,” I say. “Get the smallest little tub they have. I don’t need much.”
“Like Cisco?” he asks.
“Crisco. Yes.” I smile. Cisco (CSCO) is a stock he likes right now.
“Cool. I know what that is. Found it. What else?”
“Oats,” I say. “The old-fashioned kind. Not the instant packages like we eat for breakfast.”
“Oh my god, they’re right here. Right here in front of me,” he says, surprised and glad.
“Cool. Okay, just get the yeast and we’re good,” I say. I hear him ask some lady where the yeast is and then thank her.
He tells me he’ll be over in a little bit.
When he gets back to my apartment with the ingredients, I get out the measuring cups and spoons.
“I’ll read it off to you,” Christopher says. “One table spoon of salt.” I look up at him, confused.
“Are you sure? That seems like a lot of salt.”
“That’s what the recipe says.”
I pick up the recipe. It says 1 t. salt. “That stands for teaspoon, not tablespoon, babe.”
“Oh yeah… that’s what I meant.”
“Why don’t I read it off to you?” I say.
“Okay, okay,” he says. “How much molasses?”
“A quarter cup.”
He pours a quarter cup into the bread maker and we systematically go through the list until everything is in the bread maker. Christopher turns the bread maker on and it makes a very strange noise.
“Is that how it always sounds?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he says and opens the lid. “It’s just that little thing that turns…” His voice trails off. Then, a moment later, he looks up at me and smiles. “Uh-oh.”
“I forgot to bring the piece that you put in the middle that kneads the bread.” The ingredients are just sitting in there not moving.
“Babe…” I say, somewhat annoyed.
“Don’t worry,” he says. “I’ll knead it by hand.” He takes the dough out and I pour some flour on the table and he starts to knead it.
“I don’t think this is going to work, hon,” I show him the recipe. “The measurements are totally different when you make it the regular way. Like we needed to activate the yeast and stuff before putting everything together.”
“It’ll be fine.” He assures me and kneads the dough. “Let’s just put it back in the bread maker and it can bake in there.”
“I think we need to let it rise first, but I don’t think it’s gonna rise because we did the yeast wrong and that stuff is really tempermental from what I understand.”
“It’ll rise.” He says with great confidence as he continues to knead the dough.
Whether or not we actually get any bread out of this experience, I realize I’m having fun with him. When he’s done kneading, he plops the dough back into the bread maker and closes the lid. “We’ll let it rise in there,” he announces.
About 45 minutes later, I go check on it and it hasn’t risen a single centimeter. “Oh…” Christopher says, “I forgot to turn the machine back on to make it warm in there.”
“Babe, this is really not gonna work,” I say.
“What do you want to do? Call it quits?” he asks, surprised I don’t have the confidence he does that the bread will somehow magically take a turn for the better.
“I think we should trash that stuff and I’ll make it the regular way tomorrow.”
There’s disappointment in his eyes. Finally he nods. “Okay.” I throw the dough in the trash. The next day, I made the bread the regular way. It rose, I punched it down, it rose again, I baked it.
Unfortunately, the recipe didn’t yield the kind of bread Christopher was hoping for, but it was still pretty good. I may have been more disappointed about that than he was. I really want to make him this bread he likes and I’m pretty much back to square one on finding the right recipe. But I will find it. And hopefully, by the time I find a new recipe, he’ll have brought over the thing he keeps forgetting (the piece that goes in the bread maker that kneads the dough) because right now I have a fairly worthless bread maker sitting on the floor in my dining room.
Even though popping my bread-making cherry didn’t turn out so well on the first try, stumbling through it with Christopher made the whole thing worth it.