There were a few days in a row last week when I didn’t have any meetings or appointments, which is a fairly rare occurrence. Plus, we had several workers coming to the house to do repairs or give us service estimates, so we needed to stay close to home. It seemed like the perfect time to bake some sourdough bread.

Although bread-baking – especially sourdough – got really popular during the COVID lockdown in 2020, I didn’t get into it until later, after I read an article about how healthy sourdough bread was. It’s a time-consuming endeavor, however, first requiring a sourdough starter, which can take up to a week to develop – but which can then last forever with proper care and feeding.

After you make the bread dough, you need more time for it to rest and rise before it’s ready for baking. You don’t have to hover over it while all this is going on, but you can’t get too far away from it, either. This part can take 4 to 16 hours, depending on the weather and humidity. Some recipes suggest letting the dough set out on the counter overnight, but that can also cause it to rise too much by morning, resulting in something that looks like it came from the movie, The Blob. I know this from warnings listed in various recipes, and also from personal experience.

This might not seem worth all the effort, especially since you can buy sourdough bread at the bakery or grocery store. But there’s a lot to be said for doing it yourself. And it’s a wonderful exercise in qualities that are valuable in other areas of our lives. Qualities such as discipline, concentration, patience, planning, and persistence. Praying can help, too, at least in my case.

Another benefit of home-baked bread is the tantalizing aroma coming from the kitchen all the while the bread is in the oven. And when everything works out as it should, the end result is absolutely worth the time and effort. It was chilly and rainy on Friday morning when I finally got to the baking step, but the smell of sourdough bread made it a bright, sunny day for me.

Just this morning, I saw some photos of a relatively new trend: using food coloring and edible paint to decorate sourdough bread with flowers, butterflies, and other colorful designs before baking. I don’t have the patience, interest, or talent for trying something like that, however. So, now that I have the hang of it, I’ll continue baking and enjoying my sourdough bread the old-fashioned way.

And I am enjoying it. In fact, I’m already checking my calendar to find the next time I have a several-day open stretch in my schedule so I can do this all over again.

May 8, 2023
©Betty Liedtke, 2023

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