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I have wanted Meyer lemons for years. Mainly because, when I couldn’t find them, there were recipes everywhere with Meyer lemon this and Meyer lemon that, and, well, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Of course, just like most things we want because we can’t have, as soon as I bought them, I couldn’t find any of those taunting recipes, and then I had to go looking for ideas.
I made a cake: a Meyer lemon cake, with Meyer lemon glaze and candied Meyer lemons on top. But it wasn’t that good, and I only kind of liked it, and it took all my Meyer lemons but gave me little in return, just something mildly edible to snack on for the next week, before I would throw the remaining half in the garbage (the garbage!).
And somewhere in the midst of this, I decided that the whole thing is symbolic, and not just of the fact that I always want what I can’t have, from people to places to ice cream sundaes late at night.
Truth is, sometimes things just don’t go how you want them to in life. Maybe the bad Meyer lemon cake while Meyer lemon glaze and candied Meyer lemons on top, especially as it was followed by a disgusting Italian casserole and a ho-hum chocolate bread pudding a few days later, should remind me of something greater.
I will not always get my way. That is an important lesson, indeed. And another point: usually, there’s a silver lining to things, if you have eyes to see it.
In my case, that silver lining has been fresh bread.
I discovered a happy truth about fresh bread, and it is this: no matter what happens on your crummiest of days, you’ll feel a lot better when you have a tasty loaf to nibble on. It’s true.
The first time I made this recipe, which, if you must know, was the time I didn’t knead it correctly and the bread was strangely formed but still tasty, especially with butter and honey on top, Chicago had insane rainstorms and our house had flooding, and everything was madness. But, you know, I had fresh bread.
The second time I made it, which was the time I did everything right and saw the dough turn all elastic and soft, right there in the mixer before my eyes, the loaf molding into a perfect (perfect!) shape and texture while it baked, I took it in my lunch, sliced and buttered.
And that day, wouldn’t you know but I had a hole in my shirt (a HOLE IN MY SHIRT!), and someone did something very nasty, and, on top of all that, I was late to the office because the roads around here are full of potholes and the tollway people are fixing them in the midst of morning rush hours.
But, at lunch time, the world seemed quite a bit brighter while I held my fresh bread.
There are lots of things I could tell you about this bread recipe: that it’s from one of my Christmas-gift cookbooks, the Art and Soul of Baking, which I’m starting to really love; that it gives you the best kind of triumphant feeling when you see the yeasty dough double in size like it’s supposed to, transforming into a white, rounded loaf before your eyes; that its smell is probably one of the most wonderful scents to hit your kitchen, ever.
The Art & Soul of Baking available from Amazon
But, mainly, I’m just going to tell you this one thing, advice really: bake some hot, fresh bread, and brace yourself. Not everything turns out as wonderfully as it does, so, some say, it’s a good idea to have some in hand.
Adapted from the the Art and Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet
A few quick comments on the ingredients: 1) Don’t substitute anything strange, say like evaporated milk mixed with water, for the regular milk called for. I know it’s a pain to run to the store when you’re out of it, but I learned it matters. 2) Sometimes impurities in tap water can affect your bread’s rising. I don’t trust ours, so I used bottled water that I heated up.
A few quick comments on the directions: If you have a stand mixer, this is your lucky day. Put your dough hook to work and find out that making bread requires you to do very little but follow steps in order. You will not have to knead the dough by hand AT ALL. In fact, it’s very exciting – maybe even thrilling when you’re very tired – to watch the stand mixer turn ingredients into elastic dough. I highly recommend it.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.