A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about what it has been like for me to get back into the kitchen after losing my limbs. (See Back in the Kitchen).
Being able to put a (very) simple meal together is one thing, but baking is quite another.
For five years now, I’ve mourned that (another) one of my greatest joys was taken away with my limbs. But underneath that sadness were other emotions as well. There were glimmers of hope - each time I conquered a difficult task in the kitchen, I became more hopeful that maybe I could bake my favorite Amish Cinnamon Bread. But something was stopping me. Upon reflection, I realized what was stopping me. It was fear.
I was afraid that my memory of baking would be forever tainted with a new imprint of baking as a frustrating failure.
Or that I could logistically perform each step of the recipe, but it would be so slow and arduous that the joy would be gone.
So I sat on the hope. I allowed it to be smushed by something that we counselors and psychologists like to call "negative self-talk." Mine sounded something like this:
"You'll never be able to do it by yourself!"
"It will be a huge mess of flour, sugar, and egg shells!"
"You'll never be able to stir that thick batter!"
"Who has time for this? It will take all day!"
"It won't even be worth it. When I try to lick the batter, all I'll taste is the plastic and rubber of my fingers. Bleh."
"Amputee Amish Bread? Ha, try Colossal Crippled Fail"
The idea of trying to bake again was sounding worse and worse. And my hopes were dashed - almost.
Sometimes all we need is a tiny nudge in order to make us give something a shot.
Mine came in a little square Tupperware container, given to me by my sweet, seven-year-old niece, Anna. Inside the container was a cloudy, milky liquid. It looked almost like... Well, almost like... A SCIENCE PROJECT!
It seemed that my niece Anna has taken to baking! Unbeknownst to me, she had discovered a recipe for Amish Cinnamon Bread, aka Friendship Bread; she had baked the bread and was sharing starters with three friends - one of which was ME!
I figured that if she could bake Friendship Bread, then so could I! This was just the encouragement, just the “starter” that I needed.
And so it began. I added the milk, flour, and sugar on day three, stirred it on day five, and on day ten...I BAKED!
Early in the morning on day ten, as soon as "The Littles" (what I call my three girls who are ten and under) left for school at 7:00 am, I got started. I was sure to do it while everyone was gone to avoid the temptation of asking for help - I wanted to do this all by myself.
I knew I needed to leave for work by 11, but I was sure that FOUR HOURS would be enough to bake bread, a task that used to take all of 25 minutes. Let's just say that I was a few minutes late for work...
But I baked.
I really, really baked!
I measured, I poured, I cracked three perfect eggs; and I stirred the thick batter.
Then it was time for the taste test:
I dipped my fingers in the bowl and licked the batter, expecting cinnamon and sugar and...Yuck!!!! it tasted like dirty rubber.
But when I licked it off a spoon, the batter tasted just as delicious as I remembered. And Bite 15 was just as good...
Although it was awkward and messy, I managed to coat the pans with cooking spray, cinnamon and sugar; and I sheepishly poured in the batter.
Then it was time to put the loaves into the oven and watch to see if the bread would rise and turn golden brown.
20 minutes passed. The batter still looked heavy in the pan.
10 more minutes. No movement at all.
OK, OK, wasn't there some old adage that a watched loaf never rises? No, that was boiling water. No matter. I decided to let it be for the entire 55 minutes.
I went to dress for work, and soon I heard an oddly familiar DING!
I opened the oven door, and...
Voila! Out came three loaves of (almost perfect) Friendship Bread!
Oh, and it was just as yummy as we all had remembered. Straight from the oven, it was warm, moist, and sugary sweet! I gotta say— I was proud of my accomplishment. And my batch definitely earned it's name...
It was Bread That Was Really Cake!