Courage at Twilight: Guinness and Treacle Bread

After watching me mix and knead breads and bakes for eight months, Mom and Dad informed me we were purchasing a bread mixer. NutriMill makes a Bosch lookalike for half the price, and we brought one home, along with a “baker’s pack” because I am a baker and a Baker.  On my first attempt, I dumped in all the ingredients and watched the dough not mix and the dough hook grab the poorly combined mass and whirl it around uselessly.  Hannah (and the owner’s manual) instructed me on pouring in the liquid ingredients first, turning the mixer on low, and adding the dry ingredients slowly.  The technique worked.  Our first success was Paul Hollywood’s Guinness and Treacle bread.  Into the bowl I poured a bottle of warm dark-and-stout beer, tablespoons of molasses, water, and yeast, and turned the mixer to level 1, while Hannah slowly tossed in the dry ingredients: whole wheat flour and strong white flour.  The dough hook mixed the trickling flour into the yeasty treacle-beer until we had a sticky dough that the dough hooks pummeled and whipped enthusiastically.  While the dough rested and rose, I sat at Mom’s laptop to help her with a Word document: she had made revisions accidentally using the Review tool and felt exasperated by the unwelcome blue insertions and red strikeout deletions.  “I promise you, Mom: one button-click and your document will be fixed.”  She was incredulous at the simple “Accept All Changes and Stop Tracking” function.  That task accomplished, I lifted and hauled off Mom’s cracked and broken chair mat, and laid the new mat in place—the chair casters would no more anchor the chair immovably in the hole.  Dad, in the meantime, had noticed how dusty the living room sofas had become, and was struggling with his carpet cleaner to shampoo the floral sofas.  “Look how nice they look!” he crowed: the sofas did look bright and brand new.  Just as the oven pre-heat bell sounded, I finished hanging the thistle seed sock feeders for the goldfinches, pine siskins, and house finches, which will land grasping the socks and pull and crack the tiny musky seeds one by one.  Mournfully, we had discarded the other feeders because falling masses of disfavored seeds attracted a family of rats, and we could not have rats, and so also could not have bird feeders, much to Dad’s sadness.  But rats will not be interested in empty Niger husks.  The socks happily hung, I peeled the risen Guinness dough onto the 400-degree stone, and the house filled with a most delicious aroma.

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