I’ve been thinking about bread a lot more than I’ve been writing about it here.
Eating it too.
I crossed yet another sourdough milestone this past weekend when I extracted from my hot oven a pair of pandemic bread loaves, loaves numbered two-hundred-and-forty-nine and two-hundred-and-fifty.
Yes, I keep track.
And yes, I’ve baked 250 loaves of sandwich bread in the last two years since that fateful day when I got sent home from the office to work in my cold basement.
My starter, which turns three next month, is mature and active and beautiful. I pulled it from the fridge that same afternoon to warm up on the counter, prepping my plans for bread baking even before setting up my laptop for work.
Two years of bread. Three years of sourdough. Two hundred and fifty sandwich loaves and so many other random baking experiments that had I not kept careful record of I might not even believe it myself.
In that time…
My flour collection has rotated through all purpose bags, to generic supply-chain shortage stocks, to small mill local flours, to artisan bakery bags, and grocery store best for bread varieties.
I’ve played with beers replacing water.
I’ve dabbled in mix-ins and spices and cheeses and sweetness levels.
I’ve made bagels and pizza dough and buns and pan bread.
It’s been two years of hundreds of hours of baking that has taught me so much about bread yet has only just whet my appetite to learn more. And there is lots more to learn.
I go back to the office (at least part time) in a couple weeks and the mid-day bread baking breaks will shift to accommodate that new life.
It’s a little sad, but then again, when I started this and was only a couple dozen loaves in I joked with my daughter that someday she would inherit the “pandemic bread starter” that bit of flour and water and yeast that helped sustain us through a weird time in history.
And it really did.