I took to reading Brene Brown’s Book Rising Strong again this weekend. I just absolutely love that book. Her techniques for getting up from a “fall” and actually learning something from it are profound. I found myself in a “face down” moment last week, and I was able to read her insights with new eyes with some fodder that was personally meaningful. I literally couldn’t put the book down Friday night and woke up Saturday morning with a totally different outlook on transforming my mistake into an asset. If you can’t take a mistake and turn it into a learning opportunity, it’s a wasted jewel.
My sourdough starter was ready this week. Wednesday it was bubbly and active, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I didn’t have time to read up on baking bread, so I chose to make some sourdough waffles from the King Arthur Flour online recipe book. I combined the starter with the flour and some of my kefir to replace the buttermilk and let it percolate overnight. When I got up Thursday morning, I replaced my morning routine with a waffle-making experiment.
Round 1 didn’t go so well…..
Neither did Round 2…..
I realized that my waffle iron was ticked off at me because I had ignored it for over 10 years, so I cut it some slack and let it win a couple of rounds. I tried something different each time, but I decided I should spray it again with some Pam, and, voila…. Round 3 was sour, fluffy and downright amazing. I doused it in homemade cane syrup, and it was divine. Then I remembered that I had real maple syrup, so I tried that, too. Honestly, I think the cane syrup was a better complement to the tangy flavor of the sourdough, and I think I’ll use that in the future. The maple was just a bit overpowered by the flavor of the waffles.
This weekend I took some time to make sourdough bread. I had to pull the starter out of the refrigerator and feed it 3 times (at 12 hour intervals) in order to get it “rising strong”. (Pun intended) I watched the below video to get the instructions on how to make it.
In a past life – or at least it seems like a different lifetime – I baked bread all the time. I had all of the tools, regular deliveries from King Arthur Flour in Vermont, and a knack for making awesome bread … all the time. But most of my tools have been donated, I haven’t used the dough hook on my KitchenAid mixer in over a decade, and I don’t remember the tricks I used to make my bread perfectly delicious. And I don’t think I was ever really successful with sourdough. Because it’s made from wild yeast, it’s unpredictable and … well … wild.
This morning I got up to knead the dough and then set it aside to “rise strong”. I had leftover starter so I made some more waffles. The recipe I used this morning used the sourdough and the regular salt and baking powder to make it rise. Ehhhh …. this one wasn’t nearly as good as the wild yeast leavened batch during the week. I ate it with some homemade blueberry sauce, but I won’t be making that recipe again. It was nothing special.
The bread however is excellent! One loaf is still rising. I wanted to experiment with rising times and flavor. So, I let one rise for about 8 hours, and I may let the other rise until the morning. They say it makes a difference in the flavor. I cut off a chunk of the one already cooked, slathered it in butter and honey and enjoyed the first homemade bread I’ve had in ages. My house smells like fresh-baked bread again. Ashok was so entranced that I caught her just as she pulled half the loaf off the counter. She was ready to go at it.
Everything I’ve read about sourdough tells me that making it is an art AND a science. When I made my starter, I literally “caught” wild yeast out of the air. It grows and bubbles and makes my bread rise. So, the yeasts in my air are probably different than the yeasts in your air. They will always be unique. And humidity, the temperature of my home, the amount of time I let the bread proof, the quality of my water and flour and many other variables will affect the final product. It really does remind me of the journey with my curls. It’s a relationship that will develop over time, and I can’t control the outcome. I can only learn to work with it and be surprised at how it all turns out… hopefully pleasantly!
In Brene’s book, she talks about that “face down” moment in the arena. We are in the midst of an emotional shit-storm. We want to get up and make it go away fast … blame somebody else, minimize it, numb ourselves, stuff it down… anything that will make it go away so we can get the hell out of there. But when we do that, we learn nothing. But when we fall and let ourselves look around down there – explore the uncomfortable feelings, understand what caused them and define the core triggers – we can enable a breakthrough that can literally change our lives. This process of looking inside and feeling our feelings – like the “rising strong” of sourdough – is not a simple process. It is time-consuming and can be quite painful. Most of us would rather just go for the shortcut – buy the bread somewhere else – rather than have to go through all of that work. But when we do that, we miss learning about what motivates us, what makes us “wild” and ultimately helps us to “rise strong”. In other words, that’s the good stuff. 🙂
Have a great week, y’all. Don’t take the easy road… the road less traveled makes all the difference.