Flour and I don't seem to mix. At least not the first time around.
Throughout this year, Tess & I have been making bread. And when I say Tess & I, it really is more like Tess (& I) or, to be very brutally honest: Tess. Tess goes through the routine of making bread while I provide the company and watch her make her magic.
Yet after four weeks of not having her around, I decided, finally, to give it a go. First time around, I think I used plain flour. I could tell that something was amiss. When I went to incorporate the yeast the dough ended up feeling very heavy. And after waiting 30 minutes, no rising. So I pitched it.
When I was home for the holidays, I had somehow been infected with the need to bake and tried my hand at making pie for Christmas dinner. I must have tried 3-4 times to make the dough, each time failing, something in the chemistry was wrong. Turns out I was severely misunderstanding what shortening was (ie margarine NOT oil). Somehow I persisted, and I came out victorious in the end, my pie garnering a round of applause at dinner.
Anyhoo, so as with the pie, so with the bread. I pitched batch number one and hoped I wouldn't need to repeat as often as I did the pie dough recipe. I went out and bought proper bread flour and some more yeast and decided, screw Tess's instructions (which are a little laborious and involve 4 hours of waiting and working -- I'll try it next time), I'm going to follow the bag.
Thus, following the instructions on the bag. I could tell immediately that things were going better. The consistency of everything was just so much more breadlike.
And after a bit of time resting, beautiful airy risen dough. And after time in the oven... voila! bread! crusty! delicious!
Somehow I've got this tenacity when it comes to baking, this need to succeed. Breadmaking is a beautiful process of creation, it's therapeutic and reliable, and nourishing.
So fail with big broad beautiful mistakes. Take a moment and start over again. The results will be incredibly satisfying.