The last couple of years have been a series of ups and downs when it comes to diet, nutrition and deciding what to cook for my family. With a household plagued with food intolerances of various kinds and realizing that eating carbs does me no good except to pack on the pounds I feel I’ve fallen out of love with cooking, baking and eating in general. You would think that this pandemic induced sequestration would incite some desire to write and share, but through the whole thing I felt like an over fermented bottle of kombucha whose top was set to burst. My full attention was on making sure everyone was healthy and well fed, their hair cut and my garden planted. It took a couple of months away from people for me to finally break down, bawling like a baby, having realized that the stay-in-place order was having a deeper affect than I’d initially anticipated. Thankfully, my daughters discovered they could connect with their friends with FaceTime. I’m still invisible.
Then one day I saw an add on Facebook for a beginner’s sourdough workshop from Sourdough Schoolhouse. Master baker Shannon Peckford from British Columbia, Canada runs a three hour long Zoom meeting where she showcases how she makes a no-knead or low-knead sourdough bread. I know THREE HOURS LONG – that seems like an eternity in the middle of the day BUT it was so worth it. Participants got to ask questions via chat, share experiences, knowledge and all while watching exactly how Shannon makes her sourdough Pain Au Belle. There is some elbow grease needed to produce the loaves of sourdough, but not anything like what I had gotten used to (and tired of).
A key piece of information that I learned is that I can use gluten free flours to dust my loaves and counter top for shaping so that I don’t add in unfermented gluten into the finished loaves. Another bit I enjoyed is learning how to fit the making of sourdough into my life without feeling like it’s a burden. Long fermentation in cold storage – clean out a shelf in your fridge y’all – leads to beautifully slow risen loaves with a much milder flavor and better crust. I tried it. It works amazingly.
The key aspect of choosing to participate in this class is the promise to #bakeitforward. My first loaf I gave to some friends of ours who do not like to be identified online. We knew they would appreciate it though I would not be able to share a picture of them with Ms. Peckford. Unfortunately, about the time I was making my second batch of sourdough batard loaves another friend of ours lost her husband. It would be difficult to share in her family’s grief in person so after our midweek meeting via Zoom my husband took me over to her house so I could drop off a small loaf of bread for her and one for her daughter-in-law. They weren’t perfect, but were an expression of love and brotherhood that my family could share with hers. So often we tend to inundate those grieving with to much food. The sentiment is generous and well-intentioned but overwhelming nonetheless. My hope was to share something manageable that she could use right away or freeze if she needed.
Somehow sourdough is bringing me out of my lonely shell. Sharing starter and finished loaves with my friends and family brings me joy. It has made me think of other ways I can be generous and industrious to benefit my family and others. Bread may feed the body, but love feeds the soul.
I highly recommend checking out Sourdough Schoolhouse. There are limited spaces in her class and as far as I know her last one is July 31, 2020 at 12PM EDT (9 AM PST). The link to register for her live class is still up so sign up if you can. I’ll be there again, asking questions and gleaning knowledge from Ms. Peckford and all the other sourdough enthusiasts and newbies.
By the way, something you should know about Ms. Peckford is she loves giving things away so get ready to pay attention to her live lesson and her social media feeds.
Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Sourdough Schoolhouse, I just like the way Shannon Peckford teaches.