The journey of sourdough
I began baking bread when I was unemployed and feeling pretty down and out in life. I was searching for something beside triathlon to give me some purpose. Some people turn to church; I turned to my oven. My inspiration came from seeing these beautiful artisan loaves on Instagram and wanting to give it a try. How hard could it be?
I began with basic sandwich loaves made with dry active yeast, then moved on to experimenting with putting herbs or nuts in the dough. I was very pleased with the results since it all tasted really good. But something was missing.
A couple months after I began baking, my girlfriend Sam and I were visiting a couple friends in New York and I mentioned my recent headlong dive into bread. It turns out one of our hosts had a sourdough starter and she was willing to give me some. I was thrilled! We talked through the process and how the process differs from using commercial yeast.
After making a few sad, dense, bricks that were best suited for construction, I started to figure out the process. I can still recall the amazing smell of my first good loaf, and my state of complete wonderment that the natural yeast and bacteria could create this incredible product. Ever since that eureka moment of biting into my first successful loaf, I have been on a sourdough journey to continue experimenting with flavors and flour blends to create healthy and delicious naturally leavened bread.
I found that baking has been a great distraction from triathlon and another activity besides the good ole swim/bike/run/day job. Bread is also a great creative outlet where I can express myself through different scoring patterns or blending flours to create a wide variety of delicious bread. Just like triathlon, the more I learn about bread making, the more I enjoy it and want to continue honing my craft. Conversely, there will never be a world championships with bread making so I'm not really chasing professional performance and I'll never be butting elbows with the best in the world. But that's part of what makes bread so much fun. It's just bread.