Christmas Cheer

Two rounds of bread baking in one day…

It’s oven season and mine is humming along (now that I have my new and improved relay board installed!). I’ve been sticking to my experiment, to always bake double of what we need and give half away. Recently I baked two pans of a lenten carrot cake, taking the second pan to church to share with friends. Then I went on a sourdough bread extravaganza, mixing up an enormous batch, which turned out to be a mighty flop. How can you give flopped bread away? It’s hard.

Backing up. I know some of you still don’t believe that last week’s ugly batch of bread was really all that ugly. I told you, the photo just didn’t show all the hideousness. I truly would have offended someone if I’d offered it as a gift.

Well, I did it again. My sourdough loaves came out ghastly.

This is hard for me–to accept that after all these years I can still make such beginner baking mistakes. But being humbled is good. I placed the bread in a beautiful wooden bowl which is the color the bread really should be. And I brought it out into the natural light so that you could really see the pale, icky crust. And I know what I did wrong–I simply had too much water in the mix. My husband thinks the second loaf resembles a portabello mushroom. Here are the photos. Feel free to gasp and be horrified!

I may be many things, but I’m not a quitter. As soon as the ugly sourdough came out of the oven, I mixed up a new batch of French bread, making sure the dough was on the dry side. How pleased I was, several hours later, when those golden loaves greeted me as the oven timer dinged…

Of course, when you’re baking two batches of bread in one day, this all takes time. Time to mix, time to rise, time to bake. Not to mention all the other time-related things I do like reading with John Ronan, cleaning the very dusty living room, washing loads of laundry, algebra with Madeleine and running to the store for hummus…

So, when the second batch of bread came out of the oven at 6:30 pm I wasn’t sure where to take it. Most meals are planned and half way eaten by 6:30 in our neighborhood, but you just have to trust in the Law of Giving.

As we prayed for our own dinner, then sat to enjoy the simple meal my husband had cooked, we discussed who to give the warm (and gorgeous) French bread to.

As I lit the candles around our Advent wreath I was inspired. How about to the only neighbor on our block who has donned her house with Christmas cheer? How about Ashley?

The two littlest and I dashed across the street–and wouldn’t you know? Ashley hadn’t eaten yet, was thrilled to have some warm bread in her hands, plus, John Ronan got to talk to her all about the making of our Advent wreath (and many other things…).

What to do with all that ugly sourdough?


It’s the season of giving. Cheers to you all!


6 thoughts on “Christmas Cheer

  1. Oh yes Jane. I have many times failed at my bread and wondered just why a little variation in the preparation made such a disastrous difference. Especially with sourdough from which I have taken a break. I did make regular old white loaves yesterday and then started the sponge for the Modena Mountain Bread which I baked today. It looks yummy.

  2. Although the sourdough isn’t perfect…I like that, you know it’s homemade. Croutons are a great solution. So is bread pudding (if you’re eating eggs/milk and it’s not the fast)! That bowl is lovely…did you buy it or did someone you know make it? Your french bread is absolutely beautiful!

    • Martha: it’s true that, though the sourdough wasn’t perfect, it was actually tasty. We ate one loaf at least, when it was still warm and kids couldn’t resist…

      Bread pudding! Ah, the fast won’t last forever. 🙂

      Lastly, the bowl. Isn’t beautiful? We bought it at a farmer’s market and the craftsman said it’s made of cedar root. I love how creative people can be with all sorts of natural materials!

  3. Very lovely! good for you for making curtons; was thinking of you, I made my first ever loaf of bread (okay the machine did the dough part but still!!!) this past weekend and it was such a thrill to see bread made by my own hands!!

    Blessed week to you!

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