Setting myself up for failure

Setting myself up for failure

I knew — just knew — as I started out making brioche on Monday that I failed. It was my first attempt at making it, ever in my life, and I really wasn’t sure how things would turn out. My thought process went something like this:

Add milk warmed to 110 degrees to yeast. Well, looks like I only have pizza bread yeast. I wonder what the difference is between regular bread yeast and pizza bread yeast? I guess I’ll try it anyway… Oh crap, the milk is too hot! That’s strike two.

My gut told me at that point, when the yeast wasn’t bubbling, that the bread would be a failure. For some reason, I kept going anyway.

I added flour and kneaded it, keeping in mind that stickiness for a brioche is 100% normal, so when it clung to my hands, that seemed okay. Then I let it sit for a long time. Hours. But it hardly rose. That was my next indication. This bread is going to be real crap. Strike three.

Instead, I kept going.

I added some butter (and when I say I added butter, I added butter! I’d tell you how much, but you’d really rather not know how much butter is in a brioche) and kneaded away. Everything definitely felt wrong about it when butter squished everywhere and the dough was even sticker. Strike four?

Still. I kept going.

More minimal rising. It didn’t even rise enough to fill up the pan. But I baked it anyway. I’d say strike five, but we all know that’s not even a thing in baseball. I felt like I was just being ridiculous at this point for popping it in the oven.

To be honest, I expected a dense ball of gluten that I would immediately throw away and call a lesson learned — only to never bake brioche again.

The reality, though? I had the most flaky, buttery loaf of deliciousness I have ever created.

I had such little faith in myself that I didn’t take a picture of my loaf. I honestly regret that I can’t share it with you. 

So here’s what I learned: Rather than beating myself up and telling myself about how terribly I’ve done something, I should probably be patient with myself and know that great things can come out of what I believed was a failure. Turns out, proving myself wrong feels really, really good.

Should baking be my new therapy?

Side note: I spent my day cooking and baking for #my5days, a program my company, Hallmark, has created to help bring creative renewal and inspiration to its creative staff. I spent my day making scones, homemade gnocchi, brioche, and a shortbread dessert. Despite my sense of failure, I loved my day and enjoyed every moment of it — particularly when I ate the gnocchi. My baby loved it, too (see below). If you’d like to be similarly inspired, check out the Hallmark Creative blog, Think.Make.Share for great ideas. I found my recipes from Baked and The Joy of Cooking.

Baby eats gnocchi
My gnocchi is baby-approved.

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