In honor of my sourdough’s 3rd birthday coming up this March the 15th, I’m re-posting my first writing (from 2014) about sourdough, originally featured on Running In ZK. After the 15th, I’ll likely post more bread photos of what I’ve made during this week of sourdough celebration.
Breadiversary: the annual celebration of bread, life, & wild yeast. March 15, 2013 I began what would turn out to be a successful sourdough starter, after many false starts. For a couple of years, I had started new jars of sourdough, each only lasting 2 weeks to 2 months before meeting their various demises, either being forgotten or bubbling over or sprouting a form of life other than yeast. I had phases of discouraging feelings but persisted, getting advice from “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz, and “52 Loaves” by William Alexander. Both are excellent in-depth guides, but much of the learning process must be acquired personally by each baker. I’ve been baking most of my life, bread specifically only since I came to Twin Oaks 7 years ago [in 2006]. This sourdough journey has taught me anew, mostly in patience, consistency, and perfecting the “smell test.” Kombucha has been another pet ferment of mine, and Twin Oaks can drink up to 20 gallons of it every week. For sourdough, I use 5 gallons of starter to make about 30 of the weekly 75 loaves or so that our farm’s diverse baking team makes.
How to celebrate such an occasion, of the continuousness of life: wild, tangible and tasty? I made a kind of bread that I hadn’t made before, thus honoring the ongoing learning process: Pumpernickel. Sourdough, rye, wheat, molasses, with a touch of cocoa and decaf coffee. I added cinnamon & raisins to one batch, caraway & poppy seeds to another.
I thoroughly enjoy baking for such a diverse set of tastes at Twin Oaks. Some communities, monasteries, and village bakers carry on a bread starter for decades or centuries! Let’s capture the bit of history lingering in the air of today. Maybe one day (likely a decade away) we’ll be growing & milling our own flour at the centuries-old disrepaired mill down the road and rebuilding the local bread community… I’ll be feeding my sourdough for that.