Bread Food Dinner

Everyone's making bread in quarantine....so I did too!

I currently am in week four of quarantine and let me tell you, finding new ways to keep myself busy is becoming a STRUGGLE. School has finally started again (yay...?), so at least I have busy work. However with all my reading, lectures, notes, and labs all being online, my eyes are constantly strained from looking at screens all day. This means that my usual unwinding activity — watching Netflix — was out of the question because it further hurt my head. This forced me to get creative. 

 

I love to read, but with a majority of my coursework this quarter being reading-intensive to make up for the lack of lectures, reading for pleasure just wasn’t it anymore. Reading outside of class further exhausted my brain, making it more effort than it is worth, and I can only play so many games with my family before that gets redundant. So naturally I turned to baking. I have always loved baking. Its simplicity and sweet treat at the end never got old, so I quickly broke out my old favorite recipes and made everything from chocolate chip cookies to chocolate bottomless cupcakes

 

As soon as I ran through my trusty go-to baked goods, I scoured the internet for a new challenge. That is when I came across an increasingly popular quarantine trend: baking bread. 

 

It seemed that, like me, many people in this time of crisis were turning to carbs for comfort, and, man, do I not blame them. Out of nowhere there were dozens of articles and recipes popping up of everyone’s bread baking journeys, so here is mine. 

 

Now I want to start off by saying making bread — sourdough bread specifically — is a PROCESS. 

 

It is not something that can be whipped out in a couple of hours and, as a member of the generation born and raised on the notion of instant gratification, this discouraged me. I wanted to take a swing at making bread about a week prior. However, the thought of making the starter not only required loads of flour but tedious daily tending to for almost a week as well.

 

My mom, understandably, was not a fan of the idea of me using all of the flour we had to make one loaf of bread and told me no, so in my head that was that. But then a miracle occured: My neighbor had an extra starter that she was willing to give me, so I too could be hip and cool and make bread just like the rest of America. She dropped off a jar of it the next day, and that was it. I was off!

 

Until I realized that a lack of starter wasn’t going to be my only obstacle. Even with the magic ingredient, making bread still took days. At this point, I can understand if you are thinking I must be stupid or naive to think that bread can be made so simply, but prior to this the only type of bread or dough I had made was either banana and pizza, so give me a break. 

 

I mixed all the ingredients together — water, flour, starter, and a lil salt — and sat patiently for 12 hours for my dough to rise. 

 

Now, silly me, I woke up the following morning thrilled to “get this bread” and excited to have some fresh sourdough toast for breakfast. But my hopes were dashed when I  realized that after waiting half a day for my dough to rise, I would have to wait FOR FOUR MORE HOURS for it to rise once more after I kneaded it. Big YIKES. 

 

But, nevertheless, I persisted. I got up early to knead the dough and counted down the minutes until I could have my bread with lunch. 

 

I placed it in the pan (thank goodness my dad religiously uses a cast iron skillet, because I didn’t even know it was required until this very moment in the baking process) and let it bake for the 45 MINUTES that was required. 

 

And now I bet you’re thinking: Thank goodness, she finally gets to her point and gets to eat her bread. Well you would be wrong. Sorry. Once again I had to wait — an hour this time — for my loaf to cool before I could slice it up but let me tell you, once I did it was all worth it!

 

Fresh out of the oven my little loaf was looking real cute, all crackly and golden brown and stuff, and it tasted even better. I slapped some butter on it, and my tastebuds melted. I even got a comment from my dad that it has been his favorite thing I have made so far in isolation, which is high praise considering since lock down began I have single-handedly made it my mission to fatten up my family.

 

For those of you intrigued by the thought of making bread, I hope this didn’t deter you. I say make it! Hop on that bandwagon! It is fun, takes time, but allows you to appreciate the work of Panera even more. You could change it up too and make them into rolls (like I did today!) or turn the dough into something new, like sticky buns, which I saw a friend make.

 

To make it yourself, the recipe I used (including how to make and maintain your own starter) is here and for those interested in my next baking adventure, I am going to stick with the bread trend a little longer and try out this almost 100-year old peanut butter bread recipe