I had been traveling through several different worlds, though somehow this did not seem surprising at all, when i found myself suddenly in Walmart.
It was one of the dingy aisles in the back of the store, overstuffed with the same crappy merchandise over and over to give the illusion of abundance and consumer choice. Upon taking in my sudden new surroundings, I felt a twinge of resentment at whoever or whatever had landed me here in this terrible place of cheap, plastic, sloppily put together items created by starvation wage workers in other countries (even in my dreams I am a labor and environmental activist!).
I decided to slink around and look disdainfully at everything, which is what I actually do if I find myself in a real Walmart, until I found a way to get somewhere else, anywhere else.
Underwater caves infested with moray eels or a desert island taken over by man-eating aliens, even if I discovered I had forgotten my pants once I got there, would be better than wandering the dimly lit labyrinth of Walmart all night, like the most boring nightmare ever.
I stepped around a large woman with a dazed smile pushing a huge, half full cart down the middle of the wide aisle, and tried to hide around a display so I could think. I was distracted by a tray of beautiful little ceramic birds, painted with wonderful detail and clearly unique and handmade. It was so different from what you usually find at walmart, I picked it up and turned it over. The price sticker said 20 cents. I set it down immediately, knowing it must have been worth more than 20 cents to whoever’s careful hands had made and painted it.
The large woman came around the corner, nearly running over my feet with her loaded cart. She gave me a slow, idiotic grin as she lumbered past with a strange lumpy walk, as if she had been inflated with air. I turned away from the little birds, ashamed that Walmart had nearly tempted me.
“Wait a minute!” I suddenly said to myself. “This is just a dream! I can buy them and it doesn’t really contribute to the forces of evil!” (At least not in this world)
I went back to the little birds and picked out three of the prettiest ones, imagining them on my kitchen windowsill. I walked quickly away and turned the corner where I had seen the large lady trundle past, expecting to find a larger main aisle that would lead me to the check-out, and possibly the exit.
Instead I found shelves and shelves of food in a grocery section. I already knew there was nothing actually edible, so I started to walk past but a label in a cooler caught my eye. Pasture raised, local non-GMO soy-free chicken. Grass-fed local beef. There were even tubs of raw grass-fed butter, cured organic pork sausage and dozens of pastured eggs. I couldn’t believe it!
I turned to a shelf covered in baked goods, expecting to see the usually chemical-laced colourful cakes and non-biodegradable pastries. A bagged wedge of dark bread with sunflower seeds caught my eye. “Hand made by local artisans and baked in a wood-fired oven” the plain text label read. I turned the wedge of bread over and read the ingredients: freshly ground rye flour, freshly ground wheat flour, sunflower seeds, sea salt, molasses, sourdough culture. It was edible sure enough, and I had to try it.
I hid behind a shelf and opened the bag (I promise I would never do this in real life!). The bread smelled delicious. It was dark and moist and slightly sweet. The rye gave it a nutty flavor, the molasses a delicious aroma, and the sourdough culture a pleasant tang. I was going to look for more when the shelf behind me swung open, revealing another world, another purpose, and Walmart swirled into mist as another reality came forward. People had been looking for me. I had tasks to complete, but I spent the rest of the dream trying to get back to Walmart so I could see what else they had on the shelves in the food section.
When I woke up, clearly remembering the taste of the bread and the ingredients, I had a curiosity to try it. And strangely, it tasted exactly like the bread in my dream!
Walmart Dream Bread
2 cups rye flour
2 cups hard winter wheat flour
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup molasses (depending on how sweet you like bread. I added 1/2 cup because it was a very sweet bread in my dream)
1 cup sourdough starter mixed with
1 cup unchlorinated water
Butter, for buttering
A small amount of milk (optional)
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sunflower seeds, and molasses.
- In a separate jar or bowl mix together the starter and water (you could probably use 1 teaspoon dried yeast instead if you don’t have a culture but i haven’t tried it).
- Add just enough of the water and starter to the flour to make a wet, sticky dough. (Rye bread needs more water to avoid being very dense and heavy).
- Knead gently for a few minutes. You can wet your hands if the dough sticks to them to much while kneading.
- Butter the bottom of the bowl and cover with a towel. Leave to rise overnight.
- In the morning, gently shape the bread while the oven is heating to 350 F. I baked my bread in a cast iron frying pan that I preheated in the oven, with melted butter in the bottom, but you can also use a buttered loaf pan.
- If you’re using a hot frying pan, heat the pan in the oven until very hot. You can also use a cookie sheet but it might bake more quickly on the bottom. Add just a pat of butter before plonking the loaf in, and brush the loaf with a little milk ( This produced the same crust as my dream bread, but you can leave it out or brush with beaten egg instead if you prefer).
- If you are baking in a loaf pan, butter it well, squeeze in the bread dough, and brush with milk. It took longer to bake when i baked it in a loaf pan, so give it more time if you are baking it this way.
- Bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes, until bread is done. You’re supposed to let bread like that cool before slicing it, but what’s the point of baking at home if you can’t enjoy fresh baked bread hot out of the oven?
I hope you enjoy this dream-gift bread as much as we have!