The past few years I’ve been wanting to submit some of my baking in the Harrow Fair, which is like the Olympics for farm folk. It happens to take place on Labour Day weekend and I always seem to be busy or out of town. But this year I was finally available to enter the hundred-some-odd-year-old competition that pits grannys against each other in all things domestic arts (. . .and farming too, but unfortunately my childhood dreams of raising sheep haven’t yet come to fruition, so I’m sticking to baked goods).
To enter something into the fair you have to buy a membership to the agricultural society which costs $7. If you win the prize is $6. Ummm…? I guess it’s about the bragging rights? I don’t know.
Matt insisted I should enter a pie into the competition because I do make a mean pie. But the last time I made one I brought it to my friend’s for dinner and it was a disaster (lucky for me I had enough glasses of wine not to care…all that much). So, yeah, no pie.
I went with bread instead because I love baking bread and I’m pretty good at it. The competition categories for the breads are pretty slim– you mean there isn’t a category for best pain a l’ancienne?– so I decided to enter 3 breads: white bread, crusty rolls, and whole wheat buns (which were a bonus since I used a recipe that I never tested before).
The entries had to be submitted last night by 9 and there is no way that I’d be able to bake 3 different types of bread after work and have them ready by 9 o’clock so I baked the crusty rolls and whole wheat buns on the weekend and froze them and I saved the white bread for baking fresh last night.
As I was preparing the dough I kept looking back at the clock, counting back the time that I would need to get my bread ready on time and it wasn’t adding up. Shit. I performed some baker’s magic tricks to speed up the proofing/rising processes and I managed to get the bread into the oven at exactly 7:25pm.
Somewhere between 7:25 and 8:10 was the end of the world. The loaves started to get way to dark way too quickly. And by dark I mean burnt. I was pissed because I knew the crumb would taste good but I didn’t want to associate my name with a loaf of bread that had burn spots on it.
&^%&^!! @#$S%!!! $#%&#^! @#*&$!!!
I spent about 5 minutes swearing and throwing things around the kitchen in frustration and disappointment. My best bread was ruined. Ruined!
In a huff and a hurry I pulled myself together and grabbed my other breads out of the freezer and sped all the way out to Harrow and made it on time to the fairgrounds. On the drive home Matt said, “Next year you should just take the day off work to do all your baking”.
An entire day off to bake just so I can win $6? Umm yeah, that sounds kinda awesome.
. . . Want to know what happens with my bread? Read all about it here