An exercise in bread baking
It’s important to have a spotter in the gym and while climbing a ladder, but how cool would it be to have one in the kitchen?
I’m not talking about replacing the kitchen table with a weight bench — that’s a little extreme to get back on track after the holidays. It’s more about having access to someone knowledgeable as a guide when trying those recipes you wish you had the guts to try.
It calms the nerves when mom or Aunt Cathy are a phone call or text away from answering questions like, “what exactly is a ‘pinch’ of salt?” Mom and Aunt Cathy would be considered kitchen spotters. They’re helping make kitchen experiences more successful.
It’s even better when they’re right beside you as you learn. That’s the case when White Violet Center’s Candace Minster teaches a sourdough bread baking workshop on Feb. 24.
“I’m there to try to encourage people to trust themselves,” Candace said.
“I started baking bread once I got a grasp on what the ratio of flour to water to salt is,” she said. “After you get there you can go anywhere. It’s really freeing.”
That means if she has nuts and cranberries, but can’t find a bread recipe with those ingredients she knows how to make delicious bread without a detailed recipe. And so can others after some hands-on experience.
Homemade bread is especially worthwhile for the nutritional benefits. The baker is in control and knows what’s in it, rather than a list of preservatives in some store bought breads. This is great if you’re trying to eat less sugar or eat more complex carbohydrates like whole grains.
“The long fermentation period of sourdough unlocks a lot of nutrients in the grains,” Candace said.
She said fast rising breads don’t have the same benefits as the slow process. Enzymes break down proteins that help with digestion in the longer bread making process.
Not so daunting
The whole process of making sourdough bread can take from 24 to 48 hours, Candace said. Workshop participants will receive a timeline of how to make it happen during the busiest of weeks amidst feeding the family, daily appointments, and getting the kids to bed at night.
“It’s more doable than it seems,” she said.
In fact, Candace said she often makes bread during some of her busiest weeks because she finds it contemplative. There’s something about making bread by hand instead of using a mixer.
“Getting a feel for the dough is critical in strengthening your skills in bread baking,” she said. “It feels so alive. I’m taking the lump of dry, salty flour and turning it into something nutritious for my body.”
“There is satisfaction in caring for other living things — children, the four-legged ones, plants, and even the sourdough,” she said. “It can be so calming to kneed that dough and go through each of the steps. Especially if it’s a busy week, I find that very centering. Especially after the kids go to bed. To mix up that flour and water and start that process.”
Of course, the taste is the reward for the meaningful work, with or without a spotter.
“It’s comforting to eat nice warm bread,” Candace said.
This article was first published in the January/February 2018 issue of Terre Haute Living Magazine.