Overproofed

24 dinner rolls, two loaves of no-knead, and a lenten cake

Needed an oven schedule for all the various bready things

Gave to the Kings–a whole house full of them

It was in a bakery in Saint Louis, many years ago, when I was accidentally locked in a commercial proof box. I had rolled a full rack of bread that needed rising into the large metal box. It was a walk-in space, large enough to house several six-foot racks. The heavy door that seals the space, holding  in the heat and moisture, slowly swung shut behind me. The emergency lock that lets you out from the inside had rusted to little bits of useless frustration. I was stuck. It was way over a hundred degrees inside and the humidity at 100 percent.

If you know me, you also know that I have a tendency to faint when it’s too hot. I have several very dramatic fainting stories that I drag out now and again to amuse friends. As I knocked on that door to be rescued from the heat of the proof box, as I waited and tried to push back the panic, it was hard not to imagine fainting and being found the next morning in a heap by the door. The headlines that wooshed through my mind were zingers:

Baker’s Daughter Overproofed.

Proofing Proves Fatal.

Risen, but Dead.

Someone finally heard my screams and pounding. I was shaken, and indeed overproofed when I emerged. I took the rest of the day off. Odd though it may seem, I’ve never had any desire to return to Saint Louis. Ever.

For the last several days I’ve been feeling a bit bewildered and… overproofed. One event has tag-teamed the next, and though all of them have been worth while, worth working for, (like our wonderful evening with Frederica Mathewes-Green!) I haven’t baked much–and my kids are yelling, Mom, where’s the bread? With the panic of Saint Louis in the back of my mind, I have tried not to get to the deadly kind of headliner stage.

Instead…

House Blessing Saves the Day

Last night we had a fun gathering with some old and some new friends as our house was blessed for the new year. We marched around our home, out to the offices, to the garage, opening every door, holy water flying everywhere, singing all the while. The sharing of the event was just what I needed to pull me out of my little, hot and humid hole. I’m breathing in the feel of a new start–of a holy dwelling, of the prayers still lingering in the air.

So hopefully my kids will forgive me for living a bread-less existence, and get back to eating their pbj’s on the few leftover rolls from the party.

Amazing what a dose of song and holy water and close friends can do…

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3 thoughts on “Overproofed

  1. Love your stories Jane! I hope that incident in Saint Louis didn’t result in you developing claustrophia, though if it did, would be entirely understandable!

    Now your house is blessed, you can start baking again!

    • No, no lasting damage, Chrissi. Though I had the opportunity to walk into a large proof box over the President’s Day weekend when I was touring my brothers’ new bakery. I took one step in then decided…

      Nah…

  2. I have enjoyed reading about your bread bakings…I have several friends who are going gluten-free. LOVE that silly picture of you. House blessings are wonderful…I enjoyed reading about yours…”holy water flying everywhere!” And thank you for your comment on my blog!

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