herb bread

Most of us are baking like Shelley Cauzza, who made this sourdough bread.

We’re out of flour again. “Out” or is Sue telling me we’re out because she wants first dibs on making a cake, pie or cookies? I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s hidden half a bag of unbleached Gold Medal Flour under a bed somewhere.

“Hidden” because everybody is baking as if they are getting ready to open a bakery. If our ovens have been festooned with spider webs and our bread pans caked with dust, they are now lined with silver, this being another silver lining during a beautiful but quiet spring.


“Shelley, Mom of 2” emailed a couple days ago and asked if there were poppies on Breckenridge. She said her family needed a break and a drive to the wildflowers might be just the ticket. I told her I didn’t know (there are poppies on the way to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, although the Reserve itself is closed). Shelley went anyway and although they didn’t see poppies, there were fields of fiddlenecks and popcorn so it was worth the 45-minute drive.

I asked her if she was baking, baking having nothing (or maybe everything) to do with flowers, and she wrote this:

“I started baking sourdough bread for Lent. I planned to make a loaf a day, for my family or to give away. So I was ahead of the game when everything went crazy. Lent is over but I’m still baking. My family loves it.”

Shelley’s devoted husband found her a 25-pound bag of flour at Smart & Final. I’m surprised he made it to his car without somebody tackling him or at least offering to double his investment.

Baking is like making soup. If it doesn’t heal us, it makes us feel better and if it doesn’t make us feel better at least the house smells good.

I followed the Honey Wheat Berry bread that didn’t rise and was slightly underdone with blueberry muffins.

I can pretty much make muffins in my sleep or recently, after dinner, after watching a couple of episodes of “The Wonder Years”, after two Manhattan-sized Manhattans and one large glass of red wine spilling over the top of the glass like the emergency spillway on the Oroville Dam.

I wanted to show the world that although it was 9:30 p.m., I was not done, I was not surrendering to the ennui and paralysis gripping this great country so I started tipping, shaking, pouring, beating and doing everything but measuring.

When you’re half drunk, there will be casualties and there were. I realized I had forgotten the eggs after I poured the batter into the buttered muffin pan. What do you at that point — break a couple of eggs over the top? Blueberry muffins topped with two sunnyside eggs.

No eggs did not seem like a problem although I noticed when the muffins came out of the oven, they were wide but not tall. They looked like sumo wrestlers crowned with brown hats, each boasting a center of gravity not easily displaced.

I made up for the eggs by using about 10 farm buckets of blueberries. There were so many blueberries in the batter that if they had had little blueberry hands, they might have consoled each other by holding a tiny hand to the left and right of them.

There was no problem with moist. Blueberries are to muffins what a rain forest is to drought. Your boots might get wet but dry is the least of your concerns.

I’m not sure what time it was when I finished because I could barely see. I did remember to turn off the oven and thought, "He made blueberry muffins and burnt the house down but not before he tried to rescue them like Jack in 'This is Us.'”

The pan of muffins was sitting on top of the stove when I got up the next morning. They were still moist and would be for the rest of their lives. I eased the sumo wrestlers out of the muffin pan, placed them carefully in a gallon-sized plastic bag and put them in the freezer.

Provisions. No matter what happened and even though no one would ever eat them but me, we had 11 muffins in the freezer. I felt better. “Better” is why everybody is running out of flour.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.