It all started with Michael Pollan’s Cooked Series on Netflix that was inspired by his novel; the episode “Air” had so beautifully shown how sourdough bread can be made at home and explained how sourdough is more digestible than packaged loafs. I then decided that the winter of 2016 was to be the winter of bread. It ended up on my bucket list and I educated myself with Pollan’s food philosophy by reading most of his books; The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, and of course, Cooked. I began to see the benefits of home cooking and realized that I was following along with most of his philosophy: I get most of my produce from the market and support local farms; I eat foods that are in season; I eat very few meat products; I eat (practically) no processed foods, and I cook.
I have never had much of an obsession with bread because I knew what good bread tasted like and I didn’t want to eat subpar bread. Almost a year after watching Cooked on Netflix, I finally got around to reading the book. In it, Pollan included a recipe for both sourdough starter and bread. I took pictures of the pages so I could store the recipe on my phone for when I would begin. The winter of 2016 had come and gone and I didn’t make any bread. Was I going to let the winter of 2017 go by without homemade bread?
I knew that I was going to bake bread but always found an excuse: I didn’t have the starter ready; I didn’t have the time to start baking. Baking bread and maintaining a starter is a full-time job– that’s why bakers exist. But in May I had finished my exams and Senior year was over. I had time to bake. Therefore, I started with making my starter. After a couple daily feedings, I felt as though my starter was ready for the next step.
Baking bread is a two-day process, if not more depending on your timing. I started my bread on a Thursday afternoon and by Friday, I had two boules of sourdough bread and used the New York Times No-Knead Sourdough Bread. I was over excited with the final product and did an impromptu photoshoot to show off my bread to my family.
That weekend, I found myself browsing the cooking section at the library and stubbled upon Samuel Fromartz’s In Search of the Perfect Loaf. Within a few days, I had finished the book and was more invigorated to start baking again. I took my sourdough out of the fridge and by Monday, I had 4 beautiful baguettes. At the end of the day, they were all gone.
These loafs are not the most photogenic however that comes with practice and patience. I hope to make gorgeous loaves like the ones that decorate my Instagram feed but for now, the flavors in these homemade breads has made every hour of labor worth it. This post does not come with a recipe because I have yet to create my own bread recipe. Therefore, I have attached links to the recipes that I have been using. I hope they are useful to you!