Like all good Americans, I’ve taken on the mysterious and fickle hobby of sourdough starter during this pandemic/quarantine/covid…thing. A plus with this little endeavor are the dozens of tangy, chewy bagels that appear in our kitchen. It’s a slow process. Anyone who has dipped their toes (hopefully only metaphorically) into sourdough starter knows that sourdough takes its sweet time to do All The Things. It takes weeks before you have “mature” starter. Mine is bubbly and smelly, which is typically a sign of immaturity in people. Not so with sourdough. It takes a day or two to produce what you hope will be delicious carbs. Sometimes the effort is wasted. Most of the time it’s rewarded.
But I digress.
I’m currently staring at bagels that are “resting” for another hour. Also note: Starting sourdough baking projects in the afternoon is a great way to guarantee you are going to be up past your bedtime. Feel free to pin that baking hack. The dough has spent the better part of the day sitting. What it’s resting from is beyond me. I’m the one who could use a nap, what with the sourdough-sitting gig
I can’t explain what the dough has been doing all day, but it’s been doing something alright. It’s not the same dough I kneaded with enthusiasm nine hours ago. It’s changed. I can relate. All day long things are happening below the surface. Growth. Subtle transformations.
Weigh the dough, roll it between floury hands, pierce the center, give it a good twirl around the ol’ finger for good measure (also, a master baker method, I’m sure). Rest, boil, bake. Repeat. Sounds familiar. Although I live in the desert, so anything that sounds oven-y feels applicable to daily life, especially this time of year.
The clock keeps ticking. I don’t know why I bother taking the time to poke a hole in the middle. It closes up by the time it’s finished baking. Besides, no hole would equal more surface area for important things like cream cheese. One person suggested, “The hole is so it looks more like a doughnut.” I’m sure that’s why professional bakers do it. Another person chimed in that perhaps the hole allows for even cooking. Hmmm…perhaps. But even if it’s not, it struck a chord. Perhaps Step One is laying the groundwork for Step Two, and Step Three, and Four. Perhaps the pressures and punctures of right now yield greater consistency later.
Sometimes what’s best for us pierces. Sometimes the process takes longer than we anticipate. Sometimes we begin later than we should have. Sometimes, the heat feels a little extra, well, hot. The sear of sanctification rarely whispers. More often than not, I go kicking and screaming into change. You too? Perhaps the hurt is ensuring the next step is more successful. Perhaps the heat allows us to rise.
Oh, and bagels have holes to ensure consistent cooking temperatures throughout the dough. So, I guess it’s not to mimic their fried cousin...? Who knew?
Learning Sour Lessons,