Fear of Screwing Up

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Today I got in touch with my fear of screwing up – otherwise known as anxiety. Why, you may ask? Am I working on a huge project for a difficult client?

Well. no – I was baking a German Christmas stollen. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but this is my first attempt at baking one from scratch. When I was a child my grandmother and then my mother baked these sweet Christmas breads. On occasion, we would make a trip to the German bakery and buy one. Truthfully, I’m really not all that fond of stollen. I mean, if you’re going to bake bread, why make it sweet? And at Christmas time, my theory was always to load up on the really good stuff: cookies and chocolate, for instance – why fill your stomach with bread when you can eat butter cookies dipped in dark chocolate?

But this year, I am doing Christmas for the first time in ages and I admit that I’m rather excited – so, I decided to revive old traditions, and that involves stollen. So I looked at a dozen recipes and combined a few to approximate what I remember as our family’s stollen. I’m not sure if it ever involved cognac, but I thought I really ought to add a touch of my own as well.

Now, seeing as Simon has never eaten stollen, I naturally want it to be the best ever and perfectly perfect and delicious and awesome. In other words, I am setting myself up for anxiety.

(sigh)

I got to work first thing this morning – these yeast cakes take time!

First, I worried that the cardamon I was using wasn’t fresh enough. then I worried that the yeast wasn’t viable enough. And had I kneaded the dough as thoroughly as I should? Was it rising enough?

Once it was in the oven, I worried about the accuracy of the heat (not very). And finally, when I peeked in, akkk! My stollen had risen to about twice the size it “should” be. Oh well, so it’s a really large stollen! But is it well and truly cooked? Is it too moist? Too dry? Is it any good at all?

Will Simon take a test bite and spit it out? Worse, will he put on a brave face and say it’s just F.I.N.E.

Yes, I know that worrying about a bread is the height of ridiculousness – I am very conscious of this. I mean, it’s only a loaf of bread! So, to clear out my head, I walked in the back 40 during a gorgeous break in the weather and took my camera with me and got thoroughly grounded.

Sometimes I think I have utterly lost my mind. But I’m human – painfully human. I want to please – I want to give wonderful gifts. I don’t ever want to disappoint. And sometimes I will disappoint – myself and others. It’s what we call life.

And I always have the mountains and forests to bring me back to myself and what is truly important.

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2 Responses to Fear of Screwing Up

  1. simon says:

    The is no possible way you can screw up your Stollen. You are carrying out wonderful acts of giving and kindness. You are mixing ingredients of love, dedication and effort together, selfless investment of toil and time into something you do solely to please another. THAT is the stollen; the bread is simply the medium, which may or may not turn out as well as the family recipe. The real ‘taste’ comes from the act, not the product. Besides, if it would make you feel any better I could attempt to cook you Christmas bread. I assure you that, even with all the love I have for you, with all the perfect ingredients and care, with the world’s best recipe…we would be using my creation as a post-xmas cricket wicket.
    Love,
    SIGman

  2. goodyniosi says:

    As if I needed one more reason to love you madly, deeply, totally, unconditionally, forever and ever…SIGlady

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