*Let me prerequisite this by saying the following: sometimes there are days where in your mind you have everything planned out. The blog post you’re going to write. The photo you’re going to take. The way you’re going to take it. And the oooh’s and ahhh’s that follow that. Then, you realize that you started your project to late. The bread you’re baking is suddenly not cooking right, then you’re heating element blows forcing you to rush things over to an already busy kitchen in the coffee shop next door. No picture like you imagined. And you’ve slightly over cooked your bread anyway…sometimes, there are those days. Now that you know that those days happen, I’ll go on. Just remember that, thanks. *
I have been baking this bread since I was 13 years old. The winter of 1997 I was at our library trying to think of something genius to give my dad for his birthday. I was old enough to know better then to rely on whatever mom got dad, and for probably the first time ever, I wanted something to be from me.
For the record, I have no idea why I picked up “Country Woman Christmas, 1997” as the book for my inspiration. Growing up I never felt country. and definitely wasn’t the little home maker type new teenager. It must have been the gingerbread barn on the book. More then likely.
I decided on a bread that was ridiculous difficult for my skill to make. A braided bread, where you did old fashioned things like add yeast and wait for the bread to rise. I mostly picked out the bread because dad like pecans. There were pecans on the top. He had to like it.
The library wouldn’t let me take the book out. Because it was so new, and there were obviously many other country women in our town who needed inspiration. However, they did let me make a copy of my recipe and home I went to try out this new ambition I had heard they call baking.
I probably looked ridiculous trying to make this bread at 13. I really had no idea what I was doing. And even today, I still think braiding dough that is filled with a carmel filling is not easy. By the end, I was certain in my head that I had made the wrong choice, and so determined that even if Dad said he liked it, he most definitely didn’t. And probably would pretend to like it and even have an extra big slice even though secretly he thought it was the worst thing in the world.–no, the universe.
All those things I thought?, definitely happened. He ate that big slice and told me he loved it. But in my mind, I knew differently.
Before I could stop the cycle, it was to late. In my mind a new tradition was born. A tradition where I make this bread at dad’s birthday. Despite his best efforts, there’s nothing he can do about it, no matter how many giant slices he’s going to choke down, or announcements saying he’s been waiting for this bread all year long just to appease my efforts, this bread is going to be a part of his birthday.
This year is no different. I made the bread with the same recipe page from 1997. And I got frustrated braiding the dough the same I did in 1997. I even had that oven mishap where I ended up baking the bread just a bit to long, where I cursed the bread and the tradition all together.
But like those misshapen cookies of yesterday, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I make a lot of breads these days. I have a lot more experience with yeast and how dough works under my belt. But this particular bread, it’ll always be the bread that makes me feel like the akward 13 year old, just wanting to do something for dad that’s special. And as it seems, I’m okay with that. I appreciate it. And I’m so glad that dad and I can have this tradition of sorts.