Twice Baked Bread

This is not a recipe I plan to replicate anytime soon! In fact, I’d probably classify it as a major mistake, but it turned out pretty good in the end, so I thought I’d write about it.

The mistake was to put the bread dough I was making in the oven to rise, and since it was a cool morning, to turn the oven to 200 to let it warm up a bit. I do this all the time, but this time, since I was also making breakfast, I forgot all about it for over an hour, until it was time to punch down the dough. Then I realized I’d never turned the oven off. What I had was far to warm for the yeast to still be living (it dies off at about 100 degrees), and I thought I’d have to just throw it all away and start over.

But I’m stingy and didn’t want to waste all that flour needlessly, so I let the dough cool down a bit, then kneaded it until it was just warm to the touch, about hand temperature. Then I mixed up a little yeast in a little water, and added flour and a touch of molasses to help it get started. I took a little of this at a time and mixd it into the dough by spreading the paste on top and kneading until it blended in. Then I took some more.

Needless to say (pun intended), the dough got a lot of kneading this way. And when it rose in the bowl after an hour or so, I knew it would be all right. I made it into loaves, let it rise in loaf pans until it was as big as I wanted — this took a little longer than usual, and I could have let it go a bit longer for a lighter loaf — then I baked it as normal: 425 degrees for about 35 minutes. The bread came out with a great texture (probably due to the excess kneading) and everything was fine.

Like I said, I doubt I’ll try this again anytime soon, but if I do make the same mistake again, I might try salvaging it again. It might help to note that, though the top was a little like bread when I discovered my mistake, most of the dough was still pretty doughy. If it had baked through, I probably would have just cut it and tried to eat it! But since it still had mostly the consistency of dough, I thought it was worth trying to salvage what I could out of my mistake.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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