They Didn’t Rise

Over the last several month or so, Toby and I have been trying hard to eat healthier – especially where sugar and carbs are concerned. He’s been absolutely fantastic about it and I’ve been… well… ok. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been killing it compared to how I used to eat. But every once in a while, I’d have a day where I would “cheat” on my lovely low carb diet. I’ll go ahead and own that part of it is totally just missing those foods. I mean, really… what in the world is summer without ever eating ice cream?! But part of it is that I absolutely adore baking. Like really, really, really love it. I always have. And this no sugar, low carb deal was causing me to miss out on a huge part of what I love doing in the kitchen.

Enter The Great British Baking Show. GUYS. It’s amazing. I watched while I folded laundry. I watched while I was on the elliptical at the gym. I laughed. I cried. And I knew that baking wasn’t going to be something I could just give up on… I wanted to learn how to make bread.. and laminated dough… and brandy snaps… and a twist on meat pie with homemade crust… and macarons… and baguettes. All of it, really.

So I’m letting myself bake something once a week. I’m going to try what I make (because how else can I tell if it would remotely live up to Paul and Mary’s standards?!), but I’m going to exercise a little self control and not eat much of whatever it is that I make. And you know what, that’s ok. Baking brings me so much joy and I’m not going to give it up. Does that mean I may not keep my current rate of losing weight? Maybe. But it’s going to make my heart happy and eating baked goods once a week isn’t going to make or break my health.

That leads us to this week’s bake. I knew we had a long weekend so I was dying to make a bread of some sort that I would get to watch turn into a beautiful fluffy cloud, punch back down, and then leave it overnight so that I could bake it to perfection this morning. I had visions of kneading my dough like a GBBS baker and finding a bowl full of well-risen dough when I lifted the towel. After a little research into different types of overnight doughs, I decided cinnamon rolls were the winner. I guess I just figured that even if it was complete rubbish, it would still taste delicious. 😉

Yesterday evening, I had my ingredients lined up neatly on the counter and I dove enthusiastically into the recipe. I felt like it went rather well and, if I’m being completely honest, I felt like a baking pro kneading that dough… even though I most likely looked ridiculous. I don’t even care. It felt fantastic to dip my toe back into the baking universe and I just hoped that the result would match how awesome I felt.

Not so much. After an hour of proofing the dough, it was still the same adorable little dough ball that I had put under my favorite towel to rise. I took a deep breath and consulted Google. “Maybe our house is just too cool for proofing dough,” I thought. Feeling confident once again, I left my bowl on the back porch (with no air conditioning) to proof. I checked in an hour. Nothing. Two hours after that. Nada.

I was so confused. I mean, I know that bread baking isn’t as easy as GBBS makes it look, but no rise at all?! Awful. Since by this time it was after 10pm, I decided to just accept that my dough wasn’t cooperating, finish the rolls, and tuck them into the fridge for the night. I was tempted to let them sit out in order to give them some more time at a warmer temperature than the fridge, but I could just hear Paul telling the contestants about the dangers of over proofing. So in the fridge they went.

This morning I pulled out my (still flat) cinnamon rolls and left them on the back porch while I went to the gym. I wasn’t feeling great about it, but I hadn’t lost all hope yet… Also, side note: the phrase “will work out for food” has never fit anyone more perfectly than it does me. 😉 I got back from earning my cinnamon roll and checked the rolls. Nothing. Still no rise whatsoever. Ugh.

As prone as I am to dealing poorly with failure, I decided to not be defeated by this. I preheated my oven, lovingly placed my rolls in the oven, made the frosting, and started to smell what I think heaven might smell like wafting through the house. All was well. After their bake, those rolls came out looking beautiful. Legitimately gorgeous. I realize this is coming from someone who didn’t see what they maybe should have looked like, but still. Stunning. I proudly iced those beauties and called the kids up for breakfast.

My children devoured them. They told me that these were definitely much better than the ones out of a can. And I’m pretty sure they even told me I was the best mom ever.

So yeah. They didn’t rise. But you know what? I’m not a failure.

And I ate one. And it was amazing. And that doesn’t make me a failure.

In fact, I’m counting this week as a win. I got to sit around the table with my kids and talk about baking. They caught a glimpse of something their mom is passionate about. I got back into the kitchen to do something I love. I worked hard at the gym to earn that cinnamon roll. And even if the rolls weren’t quite as light and fluffy as they might have been, they still tasted great.

Life is like that, I guess. No matter how much you plan and try, your dough may not always rise. So what? Keep going, do your best, and if you’re really lucky, the result might still be pretty darn delicious.