Thanks to the magic of Twitter networking I had the pleasure last month to meet an aspiring baker @Gastronomer, who is giving away wonderful artisan sourdough as he explores a start-up bakery. After he kindly baked two loaves of bread for me (read a bit about that here), I began helping a bit in The Bakery and began learning about the joys of creating sourdough and improving my baking skills. I am further supremely lucky to live in a cit that epitomizes sourdough. Today was one of those baking days and we had a blast.
We prepared and baked a dozen amazing loaves of bread, including olive oil infused foccachia, eggy challah and whole wheat sourdough with flavorings of aromatic and earthy cumin or fresh pungent sourdough from the garden. It was the first time since I started helping out at The Bakery that I was part of the process from start to finish.
The challah, under its glossy shroud of oiled plastic wrap shown here, made a gorgeous loaf, glossy, bronzed and studded with poppy seeds. My favorite was the cumin whole wheat sourdough, just a subtle tang of cumin, my all time go-to spice. The foccachia was especially delicious, seasoned with sea salt on one side, Parmesan on the other, and a touch of basil.
Two of the lucky recipients came by to pick up their loaves and it was rather a kick to see The Baker in action, describing the creation of the bread and the flavor profiles. One of the clients tonight was Kristin of the Sexy Soup Lady underground street food fame. The recipients of her wonderful soup this evening will also snack on Sour Flour bread and she seemed really happy with the loaves bestowed upon her. This is one of the great things about volunteering and learning, the people I interact with have such enthusiasm and passion for their projects, and a zesty joie de vivre that is contagious and exhilarating.
The gang of bakers and friends brainstormed a bit as the last loaves were turned out to cool and the baking stone was abandoned for the day in the well used oven. We discussed the business plan, long term strategies and project needed for the next few months and actually assigned roles and deadlines. Very thrilling!
After the baking was complete the scent of yeast and herbs and spices began to fade a touch and twilight began to seep in from the windows. I took my leave from The Bakery, dusted with flour and cornmeal and salt, and I traipsed down to the bus and to the haven of my pad known affectionately as The Roost with its hissing radiator, a welcome glass of wine and a pair of soft slippers.
Happiness is… a day like today…