Last Friday we had Dakki's 85th birthday party, serving nice , soft, bland food because that's what Dakki likes best. We had baked spaghetti (with potato chips crunched up on top), cauliflower (the blandest vegetable), challah (the softest, squishiest bread), and pumpkin cake. Annie made a more exciting salad, with persimmons and candied pumpkin seeds, but Dakki never eats any salad anyway.
I worked the two days before the party, so my bread making time was limited. I planned to make my usual challah dough when I got home from work, adding a little less yeast so it wouldn't rise too much in the night. I got up in the morning to find that the dough hadn't risen at all! I remembered that I had never put in the yeast (it's funny how you can remember things like that after the fact, too late to be much help). I made a little dent in the dough, added some yeast, water, and flour, and re-kneaded the dough. An hour later, it was still an inert lump.
I was sure my yeast was still fresh and viable, because I had used it to make the above bread only the day before, and it had risen very well. When I got the yeast out of the freezer to examine it, however, I discovered that the zipper in its freezer bag had broken and the poor little yeasts had been exposed to the desiccating freezer air for a whole day and were undoubtedly all dead.
Fortunately, I had some alternate yeast, my special osmotolerant yeast for sweet doughs, so I made another little yeast volcano and kneaded the dough yet again. At this point I was in a hurry, so I set my mixer on the floor to knead. This way it would be able to knead unattended with no risk of walking off the counter. This trick would not work as well in a house with a helpful dog in the kitchen, but I think it's what I will do from now on in my pet-free household.
The third time was the charm, and I ended up with some lovely, well-risen loaves:
Dakki's cake was a great success--even Pauline liked it--so I'll post its recipe even though I forgot to take any pictures of it.
250g all-purpose flour
2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
100g brown sugar
1/4C water, mixed with 2t each potato starch, tapioca flour, and flax meal
1t vanilla extract
300g canned pumpkin
a big apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
120g dried cherries
100g coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2c powdered sugar
2T maple syrup, or as needed
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9" Bundt pan.
Whisk the flour, powders, and spices together. Beat the sugars and margarine till light and fluffy, then add your fake egg (the water with flours and flax) and beat some more. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin. Stir in the flour mixture till just combined, then the fruit and nuts. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes. Cool on a rack for ten minutes before turning out i=of the pan to cool completely.
When it's cool, make the maple frosting by mixing the maple syrup into the powdered sugar. You may need a little more syrup to make it a good consistency: spreadable, and only a little bit runny. Spread it over the top of the cake, letting it run artfully down the crevices.