The novel Sarah, Plain and Tall opens with a conversation between siblings Anna and Caleb. Caleb begs his younger sister to tell the story of the day he was born. In hearing this story, Caleb also gets to hear about his mother. She had died due to complications from his birth, but Anna remembers her.
While Anna is telling the story, she is also making bread. She rolls "the bread dough over and over on the marble slab on the kitchen table" as she talks. Caleb asks his sister what he looked like at birth. She replies that he "'didn't have any clothes on.'" Anna tells him that he looked like the bread dough she is preparing. She raises "the bread dough up in a round pale ball" for him to see. Caleb does not like this answer, and he reminds her that he had hair when he was born.