A friend gave me a dough that was believed to have come from the Vatican and is said to be the Holy Bread of Padre Pio. Of course, I was skeptic from day one but agreed to “take care” of the dough for 10 days before actually baking it because I was curious on how it tastes and I’ve been wanting to learn how to bake a bread. According to the instructions that came with the dough, “the bread is called Hemin. On the 10th day you must give it to other good people. You cannot refuse the bread once it is given to you, and you can only use a wooden spoon.” At the end of the instructions was a reminder that I am only allowed to make this Hemin bread once in my lifetime. The first two days were easy because I wasn’t supposed to do anything with it, just leave it in a glass bowl in room temperature covered with Glad wrap. On the third and fourth days, I had to mix the dough once with a wooden spoon. Mind you, I even rushed to buy a wooden spoon because I intended to follow everything and do everything right. I knew that baking was all math and everything just had to be exact, which is why I shun baking. I prefer cooking because I can cook with reckless abandon and if the dish fails, there is almost always a way to remedy it. With baking, you have no choice but to follow the recipe to the last teaspoon of flour, and I hate that. But here I am, trying my very best to make bread out of a dough. On the fifth day, I added a cup of milk, 2 cups of flour, and a cup of sugar to the mixture. Again, I let the dough sit on the sixth to ninth days by just mixing the dough once with a wooden spoon each day. On the 10th day, I had to add flour, sugar, and milk again, and divide the dough into four equal portions. Three of the portions are to be given away to other people. The fourth portion is to be baked and shared by the family. In the middle of my 10 days as dough-sitter, I found out that this “holy bread” was a fake and there was no bread at all that came from The Vatican or from Padre Pio. Of course! How silly of me to believe that The Vatican would circulate such a thing! It was just like a chain letter, but this time the propagators ran out of paper and decided to use dough instead! I also found out that this is called the Friendship Amish Bread because it has Amish starter yeast in it or something like that. I really wish they just called this bread by what it really is instead of fooling people to believe that it is some sort of “holy” bread. I still went on with caring for the dough despite being fooled because, well, I love bread and I wanted to know how the bread would turn out. Two of my friends, who I informed in advance to be the lucky recipients of my dough, already knew it wasn’t a holy bread but they still want their share because, like me, they wanna try it out, not for the sake of good luck but for the sake of good food. My husband gets in a laughing fit everytime he remembers the many people, me included, who have been had by this bread many have claimed to be holy. Others might have prayed over it, or worse, thought it was a cure to all their misery and ailments. On the 10th and last day, I added eggs, milk, sugar, and baking powder to the mixture. I didn’t have a loaf pan so I baked the dough in a round cake pan instead. I sprinkled ground cinnamon on top for added flavor. The bread looked enticing and it tasted more of a cake than a bread, though not the moist type. It actually felt like butter or rhum cake without the butter or the rhum. Had I known it was gonna turn out this way, I would have added vanilla, rhum flavoring, or even instant coffee! This bread is the crumby-type that would taste really good with ice cream on top of it or when eaten with a cup of good coffee. My husband found the bread’s yeasty taste confusing, but Zoe loved it. She wanted more of “mommy’s bread.” Even Bailey, our pet, asked for more. Bailey would follow Zoe around the house, smelling the bread Zoe was holding. Zoe, ever the naughty one, would walk away from Bailey, aware that Bailey would follow her wherever she went. In the end, Zoe was kind enough to give Bailey her bread, although her only intention was to let Bailey smell her bread. My husband took a picture of “Mommy’s Bread” after Zoe and Bailey already got their slice and I’m sharing it with you in case you’re curious.
I’m done with baking breads for now. My love for bread is not enough for me to do the baking. I’m not patient enough to do the measuring and mixing and waiting. Perhaps when I get the calling, I will change my mind and learn how to bake. There’s still a few of Mommy’s Bread at home and I’m cherishing the moment that Zoe is asking for more. After the bread has been eaten and all that’s left are crumbs, Zoe has to be content with getting her bread from the good ol’ panaderia or the neighborhood bakeshop, but I do hope that she’ll remember that her mommy baked bread for her once in her lifetime.