Angels Wear Tichels

February 2, 2012
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I reach down and heave the humongous Magic Mill bread dough mixer out of its dusty niche in the corner cabinet. I set it on the table with a thump and feel my arms ache. Oh gosh, only five minutes into this and already regretting it.
I have not made challah before. For some reason, I decide that now, a lazy Sunday afternoon in mid-August, would be the time I’d try. My mother just smiles knowingly when I tell her that it can’t be that hard.After all, I have watched her do it so many times. She makes it look so easy. Just dump seven ingredients into the bowl, braid, let rise and bake.
So now I take out the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, eggs, and oil, about to make a try of my own.
First comes the flour. Thirteen and a half cups of it, to be precise. Then comes the yeast. After I measure it out, I decide to try mixing in the Magic Mill. An atomic cloud of flour poofs into the air, coating my clothing with a thin yet semi-permanent layer of white. I feel like crying right then and there. Instead, I bite my tongue and add the sugar and salt.
I flip the machine on again. Another cloud settles on my brand-new shirt. I feel a scream inside, trying to escape, and I think, why in the world am I doing this.
I add the eggs, water and oil and the newly made dough glops and rises to the top of the bowl, threatening to overflow. As I use the special spatula to try to keep the gloppy, sticky dough down, I feel tears bubbling in my throat. Why, G-d, why? I realize that those words have actually come out of my mouth, though they are muffled by the whirring of the Magic Mill, which has a steady snake of slimy dough trickling over the edge of the bowl.
I turn off the Magic Mill and sit down to do a bit of serious self-berating. Why on earth did I ever try to do this? This is so stupid. What a waste of time. There’s a reason why people stopped baking bread when preservatives were invented.
Come on, G-d! I’m just trying to make challah, for heaven’s sake. It’s not that complicated. You can do anything- why not help me make challah? Send the challah malach or something!
Come on! I silently cry out. Help me!
I get up and turn on the mixer.
So, what do you think happens now?
Does the challah malach actually come down from the sky and say, “Don’t worry about that, Hannah? I’ll have that ready for you in a jiffy!” and wave a wand shaped like a breadstick to reveal the perfect dough, all ready for me to braid?
Or do I just sit there until the flies come and hover over the dough, as I mope in solitude?
If you guessed the former, you came close to the truth, believe it or not.
If you guessed the latter, you weren’t that far off either.
What happens is, the machine begins to whirr, I try to control the dough- and it is just as gloppy and crazy as before. I slump down in defeat. I sit at the table, trying not to cry, and I hear the garage door opening- and the challah malach comes in. She’s schlepping grocery bags bulging with groceries, and she puts them down as soon as she sees me. She looks at me, then the Magic Mill, then me again- then she walks over to the Magic Mill and turns it on. For a few seconds I heard a whirring sound, then she turns it off and I see a perfect dough.
I thank her and my mother says, “No problem. Now cover that up and help me get the rest of the groceries from the car.”
She says mothers have their secret magic powers. I believe her.
I think this over to myself as I braid the challos. After placing my hafrashat challah dough in a piece of aluminum foil to be burned, I separate the rest of the dough into eighths and divide each section into three long, slimy snakes which I twirl in the palms of my hands. I glory in the experience of braiding and egging them by myself for the first time.
The challos smell delicious when my mother takes them out of the oven.
The next shabbos, our lunch guest takes a piece of challah, bites through the golden crust towards the sweet, tender inside and says to my mother, “This challah is delicious! How do you make it so soft and sweet?”
My sister pipes up, “Hannah made it”, and as the visitor smiles at me and compliments me, I glance at my mother.
I add a small mental note- with the help of the challah malach.

(mods---my name is not hannah. that's my screen name. just to let you know so that you let this through. thanks. please erase this before it goes through.)

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

M.A.Author said...
Feb. 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm
I love it :) I myself am not much of a cook (my limited skills barely cover punching buttons on a microwave), but I've had similar experiences in other areas. Also, it's interesting to note that They don't read these submissions too carefully ;)
hannahbananasplit replied...
Feb. 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm
OMG, I didn't even notice that! LOL!!! If they don't even read it then how come my stuff has been waiting for 3 weeks for them to edit it?!?!?!
TheGirlWhoDancesWithSnowflakes said...
Feb. 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm
XD That was hilarious!! I feel for you; I had to do the same thing when I first baked my first apple pie. How I hate baking... And it's all because of apple pie! xD Lol well this story makes your readers laugh, and it's relatable to them. I mean, who hasn't gotten into an epic battle with dough and the oven before? xD
hannahbananasplit replied...
Feb. 12, 2012 at 6:03 pm
Thanks!!! I happen to love baking now (and I did then too- I'd just never baked bread before). And the challah really did come out good, even that time.
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