So it goes that four and half months into this pandemic … quarantine … lockdown … work-from-home experiment … I’ve baked my six-dozenth loaf of sourdough bread.
I think at one point I joked about reaching one hundred before this was all over. That joke might be on me. Be careful what you wish for, some say.
Seventy-two loafs of pandemic sourdough into the effort, however, it’s still possible to claim to have learned a little bit more, grown a little more, stretched the mind along with the dough. I even bought a lame to score my loaves. It’s getting serious.
(Not that I ever claimed expertise … merely routine and repetition.)
But as a matter of fact, since my last sourdough update I’ve become a little obsessed with the notion of bakeries. The prospect of economic collapse, unlikely but non-zero-probability of job loss, and the ever-present inspiration granted by the voyeurism of obsessive YouTube-watching means I have put more than passing thought into a what-if question of quitting it all and opening a quiet neighbourhood bread factory. Brad becomes baker.
Such notions were leavened from watching internet videos of passionate small-city bakers extolling the simple complexities of waking up each day with the sole purpose of baking bread. Obsession. Mission. Enlightened existence.
I’m not ready, but if I need to step away from the digital services career path I’m on, maybe an apprenticeship in a local bakery would scratch some kind of mid-life itch. I’d need a good bakery name though. Bread. Name. Business plan.
If nothing else, watching all that ‘tube had the benefit of providing one simple bit of advice: a trick to get me past my lumpy dough. The generic flour I was using lately was especially bad for it, but often I’m plagued by the early mix of water and flour resulting in pea-sized lumps of clumping flour that need to be kneaded smooth. The less-than-obvious but-it-works trick is reversing the order of operations for mixing the ingredients. Really. Rather than adding water to flour … bah-da-boom … adding flour to water. No lumps. I can’t explain it, but five batches of five have proven this viable as a fix. (I’ll update after more data is available.) Who knew?
Well … a real baker that’s who.
For now, however, I’ll merely pursue my at-home bakeshop, small scale operation, where seventy-two loaves of pandemic-style sourdough sandwhich bread is still an impressive feat.