Week 24: Baking Bread
I’ve always admired people who can bake, especially people who effortlessly bake perfect bread. I'm not sure if it’s because bread's one of my favorite foods, or because the smell of fresh cooked bread is one of the best smells on the planet. Either way, what I do know is the number of people taking on the "bread baking challenge" is increasing every day due to the extra time we're all spending at home. I feel like everywhere I look on social media I'm seeing pictures of fresh bread and links for new recipes. I've continued to watch from the sidelines, building up the courage to give it a try, when the most magical thing happened to give me the boost I needed.
A local women in one of my Facebook groups posted that she had extra sourdough starter and was asking if anyone was interested. For those who don’t know the baking process for sourdough bread, it's nothing more than a combination of flour and water that's left to ferment over a period of days; this process creates a natural yeast allowing the bread to rise and giving it that familiar "sour” flavor. While you don’t have the challenge of buying yeast from the store, which currently is in very short supply, it's a time consuming process that requires a lot of TLC and a mini degree in the dark arts of baking.
Without thinking about it I jumped on the opportunity and responded to the post. Within a few short hours I was holding the coveted “starter” in my hands and was ready to get going. I spent the next few days reading and watching everything I could find on how to bake sourdough bread, before finally settling on a simple, no-knead recipe from King Arthur Flour.
After putting things off for another few days - mainly due to a lack of time but also fear of failure - I finally bit the bullet and got baking. Once I got started, I found the baking process to be pretty straightforward, but the time commitment really surprised me. My first loaf took almost 24 hours from start to finish, but let me tell you it was so worth it!
When it was finished baking, I pulled the end product out of the oven and was delighted to see a golden loaf with those sought-after crispy edges. My olfactory nerve had kicked into overdrive because the smell was amazing and the taste was rich and delicious. It was perfect! I was so inspired by the outcome that I decided to make my very own starter and picked out a number of recipes I wanted to try. Over the next few days I made a number of different items, from tortillas, to biscuits, and even weekend pancakes; the options are really endless and the quality's amazing.
The moral of the story is no matter what the task may be, don’t allow fear of failure or lack of time to get in your way. With a little "positive self-talk" and a lot of research, really anything is possible. The hardest part is always going to be taking the first step, but once you take it, you'll realize there's nothing to be afraid of. Whether it’s bread-making like me, or something totally different, it really doesn't matter; put one foot in front of the other and get started!