Its bubbles make me smile. Do you need a feeding? The sour smell tells me today’s breads will be perfect. Today is Sunday, so it’s bread day. I make sour dough loaves on Sunday for the entire family.
I have a physical and emotional attachment with the sour dough that comes from “feeding” it several times a week. When it comes out of the refrigerator, I talk to it, check for bubbles, and make sure it smells sour. It needs to come to room temperature before scooping out the sour dough and adding it to the flour, spices, and doing the kneading. It is tactile and satisfying using different flours and condiments. The bowls sit on the counter overnight, and then I bake them on Monday morning.
I’ve made bread since our girls were little over forty years ago. French bread with a crusty top to go with Friday night spaghetti and sandwich bread for their lunches was the usual fare. About four years ago, a friend gave me some sour dough starter and since then it has become the family favorite. I try different types from sun dried tomato with rosemary, curry powder with grainy mustard, dill, and rye flour with caraway seed.
Making bread is a way to send a message of love to my daughters and their families who all live nearby, but with whom we can’t visit, now. Something happens to me as I mix the ingredients and knead the bread. I know I’m passing on a tradition my mother started. I always went to school with homemade bread sandwiches, wishing for the balloon bread others had, but her cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven at the end of the school day had us drooling.
Recently breadsticks are the family favorite. I coat some with Parmesan cheese, others with sea salt, some have rosemary in the dough and onion tops, some others.
I just received the Sunday orders by text: one loaf of caraway rye, one loaf of Kalamata olive, and a loaf of Basque Sheepherders Bread—which isn’t sour dough. That one is a request from my fifteen-year-old granddaughter. Tomorrow will be a busy day baking.
Now, in their 40s there is little I can do for our girls, but making bread every week is filling a need. The girls come by on Monday morning to pick up their bread with masks on. I set the bread out on a table on the deck where they can pick it up and wave. I feel lucky for this weekly link in the time of COVID. It doesn’t take place of our hugs, but gluten is our glue.