In the dough

Renae Brumbaugh Green

I’ve always dreamed of rolling in the dough. But apparently, dough rolling isn’t one of my life’s callings. Yesterday, I attempted to make gluten-free bread for the first time. I have a bread machine. I can read a recipe card. It’s not rocket science.

Carefully, I measured one cup of warm water, three tablespoons of honey, one and a half teaspoons of salt. I sprinkled three cups of gluten-free flour into the container and added the correct amounts of vegetable oil and dry yeast. Finally, I closed the lid on the high-end, second-hand machine, programmed it to knead, then bake, and waited for the kitchen to acquire that home-cooked scent that is the mark of domestic goddesses across the globe.

Every few minutes I’d peek through the machine’s window to watch the progress; it didn’t take long for me to realize something didn’t look quite as Martha Steward as I’d envisioned. Instead of a lump of dough, tiny clumps of marbles spun around the blade. But I had faith in the machine. I let it be.

After several cycles of knead-rise-knead-rise, it started to bake. At this point, it wasn’t marbles any more. But it also wasn’t a fluffy, swollen glob of Pillsbury dough-boy. Through the window, I saw what appeared to be three chunky, petrified logs, turning browner and harder by the minute.

My mother, who happened to be visiting, offered her encouragement. “Sometimes the ugliest loafs of bread taste the best.” She’s never led me astray when it comes to kitchen cuisine, so I took her word for it.

She was wrong.

The bread machine beeper screamed at me, begging me to remove the boulder-shaped burden from its belly. I grabbed a couple of hot pads and turned the little oven upside down. Three rocks—there’s no other word to describe them—clattered onto my cutting board. After a moment of observation, I grabbed a knife and a stick of butter.

Butter makes anything better, right?


After the initial Herculean effort it took to cut through the skin, the inside revealed itself – still raw. But I was determined to give this thing a chance. I cracked a piece of the crust apart, slathered it with a big glob of Land o’ Lakes Lightly Salted and bit in.

I nearly chipped a tooth.

I am curious to see if the chickens will eat the stuff. If not, I think a bit of paint might turn my creation into a lovely doorstop. If you receive a really heavy box from me next Christmas, please know it was homemade with love.

I did learn a lesson from the experience. Sometimes, life is hard.

Sometimes, we can do everything right, and things still don’t turn out well.

We can measure the ingredients, follow the recipe, and set the timer, but when we compare the final product to the picture in the magazine, it just doesn’t measure up.

But in my grocery store, there is an entire section of gluten-free products, created by people much more kitchen-savvy than I. And in life, there is an entire world of possibility and beauty and love . . . created by Someone who knows what He is doing. Sometimes it’s okay to walk away from my failures, call it a wash, and find hope someplace outside my own kitchen, or my own self.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.