My Daily Dinner Roll
I made bread for the first time last weekend, and it was DELICIOUS. So moist, grainy, fluffy, crusty, and all-around perfect.
Just kidding. It was actually none of those things. It was disgusting but I'm not about wasting good ingredients or semi-edible bread, so despite the fact that Matt made it very clear that he would not be partaking in any more of my attempt at bread, I didn't throw it out.
It sits on my kitchen counter, waiting to be sliced, toasted, and slathered with a lot of anything that will mask how dry, crumbly, and flavorless it is. Peanut butter does a good job of this, if you assume a peanut butter to bread ratio of approximately 4:1. In fact, anything more edible than the bread does a good job of this. Let’s be real. (Also, by the time you’re reading this, the bread is actually moldy. It still sits on my counter. But that’s because trash day isn’t until Wednesday and I’ve convinced myself that if I stare at it for a few more days, maybe it will magically turn itself into something with more flavor than cardboard.) Its only saving grace is that the crust is indeed perfectly crusty.
I have a couple more confessions:
1. I made it from scratch, but definitely followed a recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Minimalist Baker. Is it cheating if I want to say I made my own bread? Probably not, but you should know that no matter how much I love science and baking as individuals, I am not yet skilled at combining the two to formulate my own recipes. Recipes are my friends. We’re tight.
2. I didn't actually follow the recipe. So…not that tight.
In my endeavor to make "Easy Homemade Wheat Bread" even healthier than homemade wheat bread already is, I decided that I was going to bail on the 1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour, and instead use 1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour (in addition to the 2 cups that the recipe already calls for).
I also decided that the oats and millet in the recipe weren't enough. I needed to add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds—basically, every kind of seed I could find in my cupboards. This Easy Homemade Wheat Bread was still easy but suddenly it was "Easy Super Whole Wheat Four-Seed Bread."
Most times when I am baking, I turn the oven light on and sit on the kitchen floor for at least a few minutes and just watch my hard work come to life in the oven, praying that it tastes as good as it looks or smells. As I sat there watching my loaf turn a crispy light brown, I wondered if my flour swap was a mistake. This is a common occurrence in my baking experiments—try something and then wonder if it was a mistake when it is far too late to do anything about it.
As it turns out, that all purpose flour really is all purpose—or at least it has a very specific one—it adds gluten that the wheat bran component of whole wheat flour works very hard to cut out, literally. Check this out, from Rose Levy Beranbaum, baking goddess and author of The Cake Bible and The Pie and Pastry Bible:
“The bran cuts through the gluten and detracts from the airy texture of the cake or the flaky texture of the pastry, making it dense and pasty and generally undesirable.”
Psh, everybody knows that. (File under: “Questions That Would Have Been Helpful To Google Before Waiting for the Answer To Mix For 20 Minutes, Rise for Three Hours, Then Bake In the Oven For 45 Minutes.”)
You can imagine my excitement when my big fluffy[-looking] loaf popped out of the oven. You can imagine my disappointment when it tasted like a warm slice of fresh carpet (you know, flavorless, but before it became cold and hard like cardboard). And, you can imagine my surprise when I was sitting in church 12 hours later listening to the week’s Scripture reading, Matthew 6:9b. Stay with me, here.
"Give us this day our daily bread."
I had thought about the inadequacy of my bread as soon as I ate it, but then was reminded of it again on that Sunday morning. These words are part of the Lord’s Prayer, which we as a church family are studying for the Lenten season. We are examining the familiar prayer line-by-line, in an effort to re-orient ourselves with God in this time leading up to Christ's resurrection. It is no accident that my bread was a disaster.
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
There are many versions of this prayer, but the message is the same in each. When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we are accepting the invitation that God extends to us all to join him at the table and partake in the bread that will give us life and life to the fullest. We are accepting that grace is ours for the taking, and that it is through Christ alone that our needs are provided for. If we pray that prayer and don't partake, we are those annoying people that RSVP "yes" to parties so the host knows how much food to make but then never actually come.
I thought about letting this funny coincidence be just a funny coincidence—nothing more. So what, Jesus provides my daily bread. I know that God provides my daily bread in small ways and big ways. I see it in the fact that I have a roof over my head, a car, and enough money to buy groceries and also splurge on cappuccinos during work. But this week in particular, I was reminded in more meaningful ways how often and how beautifully God provides more than just the tangible things that I might normally consider “my daily bread.”
· An entire week of high energy, sound sleep, and good workouts despite getting less hours of sleep than I would have liked to
· Conflicts at work that were met with genuineness and care from my manager and coworkers
· A seat on the public transit system FOUR times (typically ZERO times) right when I felt as if I couldn’t stand up anymore
· Phone calls with friends I haven’t spoken to in a while at a time when I’m missing home a little extra
· Wine (HA. Kidding. Kind of. Not really.)
I would bet that these kinds of things are happening all of the time—I’ve just been too busy in my perfect little world of store-bought bread to notice them.
Friends, the table is set and there is a seat for everyone. “Our daily bread” isn’t a little dinner roll that we carry with us each day, and every time we think something mean about someone or cut someone off in traffic or are hard on ourselves after getting a low grade on a test or require God’s grace in any way, we have to break a chunk off and feed it to the birds. Oh, and we’d better hope we can make it the whole day without losing our whole dinner roll because whatever is leftover IS dinner.
Jus a few chapters later, in Matthew 14:14-21, Jesus provides food for the crowd—a crowd of more than 5,000:
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
This passage may be a familiar one—I know I’ve heard it many times. But, most times when we talk about this story, we focus solely on the fact that Jesus provided, and skip over what might be the most important part of this passage: Jesus provides but there are always leftovers. We’re talking the good leftovers, like cold pizza or Thanksgiving or brownie batter. If you’re like my husband, leftovers also mean that he doesn’t have to pack lunch tomorrow. Provision and grace and cold pizza abound.
As I thought about it more, I realized what a good thing it is that I don't need to depend on my loaf of bread to fill me up, because that just won’t cut it. You can see with your own eyes the perfection that is (was) my loaf of bread. Good, right? Deceptively good.
But, I can attest to how truly terrible that bread tastes and can confidently say that the Bread of Life far outshines Easy Super Whole Wheat Four-Seed Bread or even Easy Whole Wheat Bread. So moist, grainy, fluffy, crusty, and all-around perfect. See you at the table, friends—don’t worry, they’ll be plenty of leftovers.