In the middle of milling and baking Friday I went into the dining room for a quick snack and 5 minute break for lunch. Sat down and looked at a picture of me and Philip. Pain welled up from my gut and spilled out in the form of many tears.
I missed him so very much.
Sometimes his pictures don't hurt. Sometimes they do.
On Friday, it hurt.
I cried for a moment, thinking no one was looking, then noticed that Nora saw me. Gave her a hug and told her I was missing her dad. And as we hugged, all of a sudden I knew I needed to make some chocolate brioche for the market.
Brioche is a french-inspired bread made with lots of eggs and milk. Very tender crust. Last year I frequently made little baby brioches out of freshly milled whole wheat or spelt flour, farm eggs, Coco's milk, honey from up the road, and wrapped the silken dough around organic dark chocolate. The rolls look nice in appearance, rather unassuming, with their egg yolk and cream glaze. Nice, but not that special.
UNTIL that first bite. Tender roll embraces molten chocolate.
So, it was so weird that as I wiped the tears from my eyes I was inspired to make the brioche.
The kids often request it and so do customers, but making these little gourmet breakfast treats require preparing the dough the night before then getting up before 4:30am to knead and form the rolls and bake them before we leave. They require extra love and joy, and frankly I haven't had it in me.
I stirred up the batter and marveled at the orange color our farm eggs imparted to the dough. The milk and honey and the freshly milled wheat smelled heavenly. Next morning I hopped up and without even thinking about it, began the ritual of forming the rolls as my water heated for the french press full of coffee. The satiny dough felt like therapy to my fingers as the lumps became smooth packages of surprise.
The children woke up and Nora ran downstairs asking if it were true that I was making brioche. She could smell the distinctive aroma from her upstairs bedroom. I assured her it was true and she ran for her sample.
We quickly loaded up the baked goods and milk, grabbed our cashboxes and signs and headed out the door. One of the baby brioche fell out of the pan and I decided it was a sign.
As I brought the roll to my mouth, I wondered why in the world I felt inspired to bake those treats again, right in the middle of a very sad grief moment.
Then I took a bite.
The rich whole wheat roll, with only the essence of honey, tender and good, bursting with the fullness of the dark chocolate tasted like a kiss and a hug. It tasted like commitment and joy and love and forever and warm embraces to me. It felt like a message from Philip and God to me that I was still loved.
All that in a silly roll? What can I say? You might try it and it might taste like sandpaper to you. But to me it was rich and full of goodness and meaning. It made me think of our marriage. Not always sweet like a doughnut or a candy bar. But rich. Like dark chocolate and tender dough and just a touch of real honey, not the fake corn syrupy stuff.
It made me cry just a little, but in a good way.
The kids asked me if I would make the brioche every week now and I said probably not. I like to bake special things when specially inspired. But I am happy for the inspiration. If you want a great recipe, I will give you mine and you can make your own chocolate brioche. Just maybe if you brew up a very strong pot of good coffee, add some of Coco's heavy cream and sit down with one of those rolls fresh out of the oven, you will feel very loved.