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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

100 Loaves

    Last month I bagged my 100th loaf of bread since the bread bug bit me. Yes, I bake bread! It all started with a book called Sourdough by Robin Sloan. This delightful work of fiction gives one a peak at what a sourdough baking obsession looks like.

    Mr. Sloan’s prior effort, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, was a great pleasure. When Sourdough came out the first week of September 2017, I picked it up. The seed now planted, I ordered Cultures of San Francisco Sourdough Starter on the 17th of that same month. These cultures turned into Jesse (the pet name I gave my sourdough starter, that is).

    My skill with sourdough was still in the toddler stage, but I placed an order for 100 bread bags on January 1, 2018. The thought of whether I would ever bag 100 loaves, or even 25, never crossed my mind. I’m not what you might call a planner. Endless hobbies scatter my lifetime, and the odds of those bags containing tropical fish were better than bundles of baguettes.

    Now three years and 100 loaves in the bag (sorry, couldn’t resist) would show that volume is not my forte. I wish I could say I focused on quality, but I baked when I felt like it. Yes, my level of commitment was quite high. Jesse even joined me on vacation a time or two until I learned how to store him in refrigerated hibernation for weeks at a time.

    It is hard to compare my recent loaves to the early years or even twelve months ago. When the Virus sent people to their kitchens and sourdough bread baking went viral-ish, I took a left turn and used my stimulus check to buy a fancy bread-making machine. Okay, I swear, I did not get a stimulus check, but I bought a Zojirushi. 

    Zoji started producing yeast based breads weekly by early summer. Flour and yeast were in such high demand I ended up with a 2 lb. bag of instant yeast and several varieties commercial flour I ordered from a baker’s supply shop. Zoji and Jesse have been producing one or two loaves a week for the past nine months.

    A second order of 100 bags arrived last week. So it’s back to baking or starting that tropical fish farm. My daughter requested a loaf of gluten-free bread. No problem. Tastes like a pizza box, but looks like bread. I now understand why gluten-free products are so expensive. The brown rice flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum in this recipe cost me well over $100. I’d tell her to just buy it at the store, but even I must admit that a fresh pizza box is a lot tastier than what she can purchase. Plus, one more bag used on my way to 200 loaves!

    Covid-19 or not, baking supplies are once again plentiful and I’ll be in the kitchen. Let me know what you’d like and I’ll bake you a loaf.

    Run in Peace, Rest in Grace