another sourdough day

It’s a random Wednesday morning in March and I’ve just pulled my starter out of the fridge. The lovely box of yeasty goodness will celebrate it’s fourth birthday next month and my daughter is keen to break out the sourdough recipe book and try some recipes that are not bread.

In the meantime, I’ve been writing quite a bit in my daily thread this past month and a half about my sourdough and it felt like a good day to combine, mix, fold and proof those words into a proper post here.

Set oven to hot and…

sourdough loaves

I’ve stopped counting how many loaves of bread I’ve made with my starter. It passed the three hundred mark about six months ago, and I ran out of room for tick marks on the lid of the container where I keep the magic.

I made two more last night, sandwich loaves in little cast iron loaf pans, crispy on the outside and fluffy and delicious on the interior.

This morning (February 13th) there are about one and a quarter loaves left. That’s what happens when four adult (or at least three adults and one not-quite-but-eats-like-an-adult) lives in your house. Fresh bread does not last long.

sourdough first day

I sometimes tell people who ask about my bread that sourdough isn’t difficult. It’s just twenty minutes of work spread across two full days.

On day one I start in the morning and take my starter out of the fridge. Some people will tell you that you need to keep in on the counter, feed it every day, and care for it as if it were a child. My starter will be four years old next month and he comes out of the fridge for about 12 hours at a time, just long enough to prime for action… then fed, watered, and right back to bed.

My starter comes out of the fridge at about 7am, before I head out to work, and by the time I get home it’s warm and bubbly and active.

I mix my dough, and while I’ve got the flour out on the counter, I replace the half of the starter I used with two parts flour and one part water and double him back up to his regular size with a good mix.

The starter goes back in the fridge. The dough has some countertop time and some folds over the next couple hours, and it joins the starter.

Ten tough minutes of work, spread across that first day and I’ve got a fed starter and a bowl of dough resting for tomorrow.

sourdough second day

The dough spent the night in the fridge and this morning, shortly after I got up and while I was bustling around the kitchen to feed the dog and make coffee and wake up, I put the covered bowl onto the counter to warm up a bit.

It was still cool an hour later when I weighed, cut, kneaded and rolled the dough into a pair of loaf blanks and dropped them into my parchment-lined cast iron loaf pans.

Those two loaves will rest and proof on the counter, out of the way from disturbance, covered and quiet and warm at room temperature until later today. Maybe it will take ten hours, twelve hours or even fourteen — it all depends on the mood of my yeast this week. (But I’m guessing 12 hours.)

When those loaves rise up over the lip of the pan and start to look and feel ready, I’ll heat the oven up to 450F and put them inside for a thirty minute bake.

When the timer chimes, I’ll pull them out onto a cooling rack and savour the smell of fresh baked bread through the house while it lasts. It only lasts a while, sadly.

Ten more minutes of work, spread across the second day and I’ve got two loaves of fresh sourdough ready to enjoy for breakfast in the morning.

sour flour power

The flour makes all the difference to the end product… at least according to my daughter, who will devour a half loaf of bread in a sitting when I use 100% white bread flour to make my weekly breads versus a slice here and there when I substitute even as little as 10% for rye, whole wheat or some other blend into the mix.

I prefer the grainy breads and the darker results.

But there is something captivatingly powerful to the teenage mind for white bread, it seems.

This is doubly strange when one considers that we never buy white bread. Not that we buy bread much (or ever really) now anyhow but back when loaves of sliced bread were still on our shopping list we would always go for the grainy, wheat-ish, non-white bread every time.

Hamburger and hot dog buns, sure. White bread.

But sliced loaves? Never.

So, all this means that I’ve had to limit my flour experimenting to alternate bakes, white one week, blend the next, repeat, to surrender to the allure and power of white bread flour.

dough, soured

The thing about sourdough is that there is an advantage to a long proof.

So, when you mix your dough on Wednesday night, say, and intend to rest in the refrigerator overnight and then countertop proof it the next day so that, say, you can bake it on Thursday evening… but you forget and go to work instead and leave the dough in the fridge…


You can countertop proof it on Friday and bake it up Friday evening (instead of Thursday as you had intended) and not only is the final bread fine, it is arguably better for the longer rest in the fridge. Better flavour. Better rise. Better all round.


This may have definitely been a true story.

bread journaling.

Do you keep a baking journal.

I know, if you’re not a hardcore baker or sour-bread-head, then maybe that sounds a little nutty.

But after nearly four years of baking sourdough from my little kitchen and having a few of photos and plenty of tasty memories, I realize I haven’t kept great notes on what I made, how I made it, or when or why or how or whatever…

I blogged a bit, and you can find it here.

I made lots of tick marks on my starter-ware to denote a baking event.

But I couldn’t tell you the specifics.

Specifics and details and notes are how you learn and get better.

My bread is pretty good, but it could always be better, right?

So. Maybe a journal isn’t a terrible idea.

How do you keep a bread journal and what kinds of things do you write in it?

while I worked…

…and my daughter had the day off from school, she baked.

Tomorrow is Pi Day. March 14th. 3-14, if you write it out the proper way to look like the first three digits of the mathematical constant pi, 3.14…

She baked a pie.

It is an apple pie, with ingredients she found stuffed away in various cupboards, pantries, and freezers.

While I worked the smell of fresh apple pie wafted through the house.

Tomorrow is Pi Day.


There is a fresh apple pie on my countertop filling the house with lovely apple pie smells, and it must wait until tomorrow.

What a fruitcake?

December 17 of 31 December-ish posts

First, before you read any further and must feel that crushing disappointment of yet another recipe blog that doesn’t seem to put the recipes at the top of the page, while you scroll to the bottom and try to find something resembling an ingredient list, let me be honest and up front: if you’re here looking for a fruitcake recipe, there isn’t one.

I often post recipes. This is not a recipe, this is:

… something I should have cooked in 2022, but didn’t.


You know fruitcake.

Cake. Fruit. But somehow both and neither at the same time.

The cake that is more of a dense loaf full of what should be healthy ingredients but is masked in sugar and spices and alcohol to the point that no is even sure if they should hate it or love it or mock it for the curious monstrosity that it is. Booze-soaked gluten gluing together colourful lumps of sweet, sticky globules that may be candied nuts or sugary, dried fruits, or mystery orbs summoned from the Christmas dimension to haunt our dreams.

I love weird things, though, and I especially love weird foods. A well-made fruitcake is weird and wonderful and a baking curiosity that often defies logic, reason, and sensible palates.

I have never made a fruitcake.

And it seems like it is one of those deserts where there is really only a short window, sometime around Halloween or early November, when bakers should be thinking about fruitcakes that might be needed for the holiday season, when fruitcakes will be tolerated in small doses for the holiday season, and outside of that short window fruitcakes are just not done.

I thought about making a fruitcake in mid-November. We had just come back from New York and I was pondering my next bit of time off around the holidays and thinking I would like to break out the cookie recipe book and get some serious baking done. Fruitcake popped into my head, because while I do admit fruitcake is not everyone’s jam, if you’ve tried good fruitcake you understand how this concoction has survived the eons of time since that first batch of fruitcake was made… some of which may still survive in your grandparent’s holiday stash.

I thought about making a fruitcake in mid-November, and then I went to the grocery store with a list. Yes, I made it as far as the market with an actual recipe that I’d researched online, suffering through hours of endless recipe scrolling, reading heartfelt, keyword-stuffed stories of precious family Christmas memories vaguely connected to the recipe hidden at the bottom of the page. I found a recipe that had ingredients I thought looked like something I could both find at my local grocery market and which collected together resembled a fruitcake I would enjoy.

I thought about making a fruitcake in mid-November, but then pricing out the ingredients in the store gave me some serious pause. Pause. As in pause, put down the bag of dried apricots and step back slowly and carefully from the merchandise. I mean, we keep a well-stocked kitchen, but the collection of fruits, spices, nuts and booze that I needed for this recipe was creeping up well into the triple digits at the cash register.

For my international readers, some comparisons: locally a 10kg bag of flour is worth about $15 right now, a liter of rum is worth about $30, and a week’s worth of groceries for a modest family of three averages at about $200. My fruitcake was going to set me back over $150 in ingredients. Y’know, like almost a week’s worth of groceries for cake ingredients … and all this for a cake that most everyone was likely going to turn up their noses because of it’s reputation. (You know what I’m talking about.)

I thought about making a fruitcake in mid-November, but I didn’t.

To that end, if you have read through this sad-sack story of fruitcake or merely speed-scrolled to the bottom looking for a recipe here’s the rub: I neither made a cake, nor saved the recipe, nor do I have a happy ending to this tale. I just didn’t do fruitcake in 2022.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Maybe that one time I had great fruitcake will forever be a magical, weirdo memory untarnished in my mind.

Maybe I would have crushed fruitcake, or maybe fruitcake would have crushed me.

This will not be the year I figure that out.

All that said, next year in 2023 when mid-November rolls around again there is one post I would like to scroll to the bottom of and find a great fruitcake recipe. This one? Maybe? Maybe you have a recipe you can post or link to in the comments. Maybe this could be an amazing fruitcake recipe page afterall? And like all those terrible recipe blogs, we can keep it hidden at the bottom of the page, tucked into the comments for someone to find after scrolling right to the end of the heartfelt story. Maybe.

Bardo’s Bakery: Oat Cakes

December 4 of 31 December-ish posts

Some kids dream of running away to join the circus. (Well, at least that’s what they do in movies, right?)

Some adults dream of quitting their jobs and starting a business.

If I could run away today (with a few hundred grand in my pocket to help the plan) I would probably run down the street and open a bakery.

What do you wish you’d
done more of this past year?

Maybe I watch too many baking shows on Netflix, but it occured to me this year that I should bake more. My run-away-and-bake plan would likely get some assistance with more experience, after all, no?

We keep a lot of ingredients and tools around the house, so this doesn’t represent much more than an investment of time and energy. I usually don’t need to run to the store for anything, save for some special or weird ingredient. I don’t need to gasp in exasperation at a recipe because I don’t have a certain gadget or implement. On most days I could turn off that television and go bake my own cookies, pie, bread, or other interesting treat.

I didn’t do that as much as I should have this year.

And given the year I had … wondering what if, pining over a sore knee, being stressed at work … some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies would have gone a long way too, no?

I didn’t always sit idly this year and lazily ignore the oven, though.

Yesterday, having picked the cupboards bare of any really delicious snacks, I recalled that a super-simple treat was just about 20 minutes of work away. Oat cakes are apparently a Canadian East Coast staple, though I haven’t been there since I was a kid and can’t really confirm that.

Either way, they are super simple, and tasty in a hearty, wholesome kind of way that catches you off guard when you hear the name “oat cakes” and think it’s probably some kind of farm animal food or something.

No, oat cakes are yum! And if you don’t believe me then go right now, scroll down to the recipe below and spend less than half an hour to make a batch and see for yourself.

Meanwhile, I’ll be planning how to get off the couch and into the kitchen with a little more frequency in 2023.


2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter (crumbled or grated)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water

Preheat your oven to 375F and then in a large bowl combine the oats, sugar, flour, salt and baking soda. Once combined work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips to create a coarse, crumbly consistency. Finally, add the hot water and blend some more until everything comes together as a sticky dough.

Oat cakes can be shaped any way you’d like, as cookies or bars, but I like to spread the whole mixture out on a cooke sheet and roll it between layers of parchment until it’s a consistent 1/4 inch thick. On the sheet I use a table knife to score lines about half way thru into roughly rectangular shapes.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the desired doneness is reached. The cakes will be very crumbly until they’ve cooled completely.

Keeps for a few days on the counter… if they even last that long before someone eats them!