My husband, Scott purchased me a small container of sourdough starter about a year and a half ago. I had tried making starter from scratch several years prior, but it was temperamental. The bread it made didn’t seem very sourdough like and after one hot weekend unattended it threw a mold party and had to be thrown out.
This new starter was simpler to take care of and less finicky. I found an extremely easy no-knead artisan bread recipe that I adapted into a sourdough recipe. I started making bread regularly. It has only four ingredients making it healthy and much cheaper than store bought bread.
The effects of making bread regularly are more than just physical and financial gain. It makes me feel happy and grounded. The act of making bread gives me this very strange and strong sense of being useful. Obviously, I’m useful. I clean, do laundry, pay bills. I work a full-time job. I write two blogs and freelance articles on the side. There is just something about making bread specially that gives me this sense of usefulness and accomplishment.
It makes me feel like I really have my shit together. Perhaps it has to do with the minor planning that happens when I make bread. I must feed the starter and then make the dough before I go work in order for it to have enough time to rise. Maybe it’s the knowledge I’ve gained from all my bread experiments to make good bread consistently that feels so satisfying. It could just be the effort. I know I could just go to the store and buy bread, but instead I’ve chosen to take the time and put in the effort to make my own.
And yet while making my own bread takes more time, effort, and knowledge compared to grabbing a loaf off the store shelf, it feels simpler. It feels quieter. It could be the nostalgia of grandmothers making bread. It could be the fact that I didn’t have to go to the noisy, huge, overly bright grocery store to get it.
When I make bread, it reminds me of the country which in turn reminds me of where I grew up and my childhood. It reminds me of baking with my grandmother even though I never remember her making bread. The act of making bread makes me feel more connected to the past.
The act of making bread is a type of therapy. I can’t say for certain what it does or how it does it. But there is a sense of peace and serenity that I don’t otherwise experience.
I bake and crochet, and I love watching other enjoy the fruits of my work, but bread is even on a different level from that. It could be its necessity. It could be that its generally something I do just for my husband and me.
There is a certain skill and love that goes into bread that isn’t in other baking or crafting. And really is there anything better than the smell of freshly baked bread?
In a way making bread and seeing what comes out is an act of acceptance. Anytime yeast or starter are involved, there are any number of things that can go amiss. There are oodles of variables that weirdly effect the outcome of the loaf no matter how many times a recipe has been made. I’ve learned to be okay with it. It’s okay if it’s a little lopsided or comes out a little flatter. I accept that it is what it is- a beautiful homemade loaf.
It makes me happy and my husband happy. It is a way for me to get back to basics. It’s a bi-weekly reminder to slow down, reflect. To take a moment for myself and enjoy the world around me as it is right this second.
When I started making bread I thought it was a cool, niffy, unique experiment. Then it became something that was fiscally helpful, but as time has gone on. I’ve realized that the act of bread making is magic. It feeds me so much more than just for lunch. It helps with my sense of purpose and being in the here and now. This is a rare commodity in our tech obsessed, instant gratification driven world. Bread is a reminder that process to something can be satisfying and the benefits are worth the wait.