This bread came to me unassumingly, unexpectedly, on the back of a bag of flour—the very same bag of flour I gleaned through that crazy Sunday at Whole Foods you may remember. I wasn’t looking for a bread recipe; I wasn’t even really in the mood to bake but, maybe because of what we’d been through together, maybe because I am too impressionable, as soon as I saw this bag’s recipe, despite every bad loaf of bread I’ve made over the last few months, I started gathering ingredients.
It was like this bread found me.
It seems that in this life, there are things we pursue: people we want to be our friends, jobs we apply to have, opportunities we dream of and work for. Then there are things that pursue us or, sometimes, things that fall right into our laps, without our looking for them, without our knowing we could have wanted them at all. In my experience? These are some of the best things.
The thing about comparisons is they aren’t really fair. Whether you’re talking about people or books or the way friends respond on Twitter, by holding two things next to each other, you can easily stack the deck against something perfectly good with something you deem so much better. And it can be hard sometimes to see how much preference and taste plays into what we see as good or beautiful or even, delicious, when holding X against Y.
Like, take these two cakes. They’re both chocolate, they’re both from this last weekend, they’re both adequate desserts and cures for a sweet tooth. But if you’re like me, you won’t be able to stop yourself from thinking of them as a pair, especially since I made them one day after another, and then deeming one so much better than the other.
Do you ever go grocery shopping on Sunday afternoons? It’s not pretty.
Two days ago, I was weaving in and out of aisles at Whole Foods, repeatedly cornered or trapped by someone’s cart or, worse, by those two dark-haired women who stood in front of the entire yogurt section, chatting with sour faces that never once looked my way, for the solid five minutes that they’d commandeered the dairy case, and by the time I’d finally made it past them and to the baking aisle, my mindset was reduced to pure self-preservation: Flour. The only other thing I needed was flour.
There were people on my right and people on my left, with one couple edging towards me quickly. I scanned the shelves. No whole wheat pastry flour, but white whole wheat flour! That’s similar, right? I grabbed a bag. While I waited in line with it at the checkout, a surly balding man cut in front of me, pretending not to see me or my shopping cart that were inches away from him, and would you believe it, I let him.
That grocery store broke me, I tell you.
Turns out, though, that the experience wasn’t entirely bad. Because white whole wheat flour? It’s different from whole wheat pastry flour in that it has more protein (13% compared to pastry’s 9%) and comes from a different flour (hard white spring wheat rather than soft white winter wheat) but has specific strengths: It offers all the fiber and nutrition of traditional whole wheat, for example, but with milder flavor and lighter color. It has a finer grind than regular whole wheat flour. It makes a good substitute for white all-purpose flour. It’s said to be great in breads, cookies, bars, etc.
Also, it makes a great pancake.