Where have I gone? What have I been doing? Why have I not been writing on my blog?
This may be a little long…
These are all questions I’ve been asked lately, and I have a confession to make: I got a little bit of writer’s block, and didn’t know how to continue on the blog. I’ve been cooking up a storm since I last wrote on here! But I don’t always have a recipe for what I’ve made, so I was feeling a little trapped in my own fears of feeling like I needed recipes for every single post. I like to experiment, and I’m learning new things. Yes I have recipes, but not for everything.
I was talking to my dad a couple weeks ago and he suggested, “Why not make it more like a journey? More like a diary. And when you have a recipe to put up, then put it up. If not, just write about what ideas you’re conjuring up for your next bake.”
With that, I’ve decided to document my cooking journey. I’ve been learning so much this year, and have been baking — a LOT. Why not share my knowledge, tips, life, and advice with the world? — for whomever wants to pop by here and read about it…even if it’s only me.
Bake, bake, bake!
So far this year I’ve baked cupcakes, rough puff pastry croissants, English muffins, more cupcakes, had a disaster with Swiss meringue buttercream, muffins, and my newest venture in baking: Artisan sourdough bread. (More about that in Part II)
I don’t really have much of a big sweet tooth, so baking cupcakes isn’t always practical. I’m a home baker, and if I make them, I’ll either bring them into work to share, or give them to a neighbor. But the cost can get a bit much with all the ingredients involved, so making them on the regular isn’t very financially practical. With bread, it’s just flour, water, and salt. That intrigued me.
Baking has always intrigued me. Since I was young, I remember I would always take those boxes of cake mix and wonder if I could add any extra ingredients to them to make them different. Add an extra egg — what will happen? Will adding butter instead of oil be the demise of my amazing boxed cake creation? The science behind it has always fascinated me, and as I’ve grown older, my thirst for baking knowledge, and just cooking in general, has pretty much consumed me. When I wake up, I think about recipes, or what my next bake is going to be. Throughout the day I am doing research, or going back and forth to fold bread dough (more about that in Part II). When I go to bed it’s in my head. It’s a force that can’t be stopped — and to be honest, I am completely in love with the feeling.
This year, baking has brought me such a new joy and outlook on my abilities and what I’m capable of. It makes me feel happy…and that’s what life is about, isn’t it?
Let’s get down to bread-ness
I mentioned bread. Sourdough bread, to be specific I used to have a sourdough starter in my refrigerator. I kept on feeding it, but eventually let it die a slow and miserable death because I didn’t really know what to do with it. That was a few years ago, and I hadn’t made another one since — I had just used commercial yeast a few times to make some breads here and there.
Once upon a time, about a month ago…
I’m remembering what sparked my interest in sourdough:
Last month I was perusing YouTube like I normally do, watching cooking videos and getting ideas.I came across a video with a guy named Patrick Ryan, making the most amazing looking bread. His passion, enthusiasm, and process, all sang to me. It was like I was waking up, and the baking scientist in me started to go crazy. I started researching more and delving deeper, watching more videos on bread making, specifically sourdough. I found a group on Facebook that was specifically geared toward bread baking with wild yeast. My questions were asked and answered, and I connected with a great mentor to help me along my way.
Now a month later, I’m cranking out the dough…bread dough, that is! I’ve had some great loaves and some not-so-great loaves. Some have risen super tall, and some have come out pretty flat. But in the end, they’ve all tasted good, and I have been so happy with my progress. My friends have been asking for them, too! Baking is fun again, and I hope the enthusiam for making bread sticks with me.
So here starts my journey into bread baking. I still cook other things and love experimenting in the kitchen, but I gather there will be quite a few more bread posts on here. And I hope you’ll join me in my journey.
Check out Part II to read a bit about what I’ve learned so far, my progress, along with photos of my bakes. [PART II]