My PTSD Bread
There are many reasons why people bake bread...for many it is a basic necessity of daily life to feed themselves and their families; for some it is a business while for others it is simply an enjoyable pastime, a hobby. That's why I started baking bread a few years ago, just a hobby. But after many loaves baked over the past few years I have come to appreciate there is much more to this hobby than I first thought; the reason I bake bread is because of the meditative and calming nature of the process, the honest and universally understood gesture of sharing fresh bread and of course, the simple pleasure of eating good bread. All this to say, bread baking is good for me, a process that takes me off the edge, calms and momentarily allows me time to breathe and think.
I have struggled for many years with PTSD and all of the depression, anxiety, social stigma, anger, despair, isolation that goes with it. I have lost friends and comrades I served with to substance abuse and suicide because there has been little support, help or care available; more than 20 deaths by suicide in 2017 alone. But last month, after too many years of denial and inaction, hope....the government finally passed an amendment to the current workers' compensation legislation, a presumptive clause that presumes PTSD as an expected outcome for first responders rather than challenging and denying such claims. What's all this got to do with bread you ask? Well, the last time I posted there wasn't much hope, now, with the new legislation there is. So, for that reason, it seemed to me to be a good day to bake some Pretty Tasty Sourdough Bread.
- 200 g high extraction fresh milled rye and Marquis wheat
- 800 g organic all purpose flour
- 300 g porridge made with hulless oat berries, steel cut oats and cracked flax seeds
- 250 g young levain
- 20 g sea salt
- 750 g water
2 hour autolyse then an initial series of 50 stretch/folds to mix in the levain and salt. Bulk fermentation for four hours with four series of stretch/folds every thirty minutes for the first two hours; porridge was mixed in after the second series of stretch/folds. I made two boules and set them in linen lined baskets to cold proof overnight. The loaves were baked in pre-heated pots directly out of the fridge after 12 hours; covered at 500 F for 25 minutes then 450 F for 10 minutes; uncovered at 450 F for 18 minutes to finish. I was happy to see the spring and scoring pattern when I removed the lids. The bread has a nice oat flavour and a chewy, soft crumb with bits of flax and hulless oats throughout.