A great many years ago my lady and I were traipsing around the East Coast, in Nova Scotia I believe, when we stumbled upon a food that took both of us by surprise. I don’t remember what attraction we were visiting but we decided to eat lunch in the attached tea room /restaurant. The main course was the stuff we usually dined on at the time, seafood of one sort or another. Whatever it was did not impress. What did impress, and stayed with us ever since, was the small loaf of home-made bread that came with it. When we asked, we were informed that the cook had brought some in. The rich, dark, slightly sweet bread, baked in a circular pan was her own oatmeal molasses bread. We sent her our compliments and bought the two loaves left to take away.
The taste and texture of that marvelous bread remained with us for the longest time. Although we didn’t usually get bread from a bakery, any time we did my lady would ask if they made oatmeal molasses bread. We never did find any in any commercial establishment, nor come across anyone who made it at home. My lady did find a recipe and tried to surprise me for a birthday once, but either she or the recipe lacked something. It was a pitiful flop, and soon forgotten.
This Friday I was coming home from Dundas. I needed some groceries, including bread, and stopped in the large new Fortinos in West Hamilton. I picked up some milk and meat, then stopped to pick out a loaf of bread. There, among the loaves of store-baked breads (not the commercial bakery stuff) were two loaves of a dark-crusted bread labelled “Oatmeal Molasses Bread.” My mouth watered; I immediately grabbed one.
When I got it home, I inspected my treasure. I cut off the end. Something was wrong, but something was oh so right too. This loaf had the right colour, the right smell, promised all the delights still engraved deep in my memory, but … The bread I remembered was firm and dense. This bread was light, almost airy, as if too much yeast had been used or the dough hadn’t been punched down often enough. However, I did not let that flaw stop me. I made a special little trip for a small tub of butter (you shouldn’t insult a great bread with other spreads) and lunched on bread and butter. Mindfully, I have made the loaf last for three meals. I have come close to culinary heaven. Again.
Only the two flaws to stop perfection from touching me. As I said before, the loaf was softer than I would like. The other? My lady is no longer here to share this experience.
This will not be the last time!