Happy new year, all!
Amid the haze of good intentions (“We’re really, actually, going to get rid of all the clutter around the house! Really!”) and semi-urgent to-dos that get lost in the holidays (“Wait; wasn’t I supposed to call the optometrist back?”), the morning of January 1st, I had a thought. It wasn’t centered around goals for the year, or projects (No p365 for 2015?! Nope.), or anything that grandiose or far-reaching. My thought was: Hey, I should really get that Alaskan starter going*. I think we’re done with travel for awhile, and I haven’t had a sourdough starter in over a year. Yeah, let’s do it.
* For those of you keeping track at home, we were in Alaska in August of 2013.** While there, I bought a touristy spoon covered in dehydrated sourdough starter. It had been languishing in the back of my cupboard since.
** What’s that? I never blogged about it, or the trip to the west coast for my cousin’s wedding that started the whole Alaskan thing anyway? You’re right. Huh. My bad. One day. Maybe.
So… yeah. I kicked off 2015 by rehydrating and feeding (the new) SpongeBob. He’s back! As The Boy watched me stirring and sniffing the next day, he commented that it had been awhile since I’d made a Bamsebröd, or any rye bread for that matter. True enough (see also: no starter in the house for a year). I informed him that I would start feeding Bob rye, and see if I could remedy things over the next few days.
That promise, in combination with some delicious, molasses-y breadmaker bread at a friend’s house on New Year’s Eve got me to thinking about my bread-making in general. Number 17 on my list has been languishing for awhile, and it’s entirely possible that the airy-fairyness of the wording is (slightly) at fault. Why not quantify this bread-baking, give myself a way to measure if I’ve done it or not? Something reasonable, not too hardcore. Apparently my heart (or stomach?) likes the idea of homemade bread more than I’d thought, because the past few nights I’ve dreamt of bread: breads I’ve made and loved, breads I’d like to try. A project was born. I will bake one loaf of bread a week this year. Some of them will be breadmaker loaves; some will be oldschool. Some of them will be old standbys; some will be brand new experimental failures (probably). It doesn’t matter. Between Starfish’s burgeoning love of toast (she is her father’s daughter) and my love of soup, 52 loaves for this year seems more than manageable, in terms of both making and consuming.
As to the wording, I’ve already accepted that The Boy will always want to buy some of his bread: he loves the crusty, rustic Italian loaves from our grocery store (apparently they’re the best for nutella toasts) and we both love the salty, crusty, rosemary-garlic artisan bread we buy every week in the summer at the farmer’s market. So maybe I’ll never be able to replace the bread we buy. Nonetheless, I will bake these loaves, this weekly essay, and if I can displace the (admittedly less frequent now) Villagio loaves that occasionally find themselves on our counter, I will consider that a victory.
So, upon this Sunday (because in my world, the week wraps up on Sunday night) I set out to bake The Boy his favourite rye loaf. (In passing, did I totally forget to do the slashes in the top? Yep. Ah, well.) It seems kind of silly and trite, but I really like that an offhand comment from The Boy is sort of what kick-started this whole thing. It’s poetic and reassuring, somehow. Even more reassuring? I got an email this morning with an offer of an authentic San Francisco sourdough starter from a friend. If that’s not the universe telling me I’m on the right track, I don’t know what is.
Recipe note: The recipe came to me via the (much more disciplined!) baker Anna and is from Martin Johansson’s blog, which seems to have moved from its previous home on blogspot. (It seems he has a book now too — good for him!). I can’t find the recipe for this bread on his new site (although there’s a picture of it in the background of the menu on the left!), but it still seems to be available on his old blog here. (Or, if you’re like me and can’t read Swedish, the translation.)