I am lucky. A sourdough starter landed in my hands. Passed along by a good friend, the starter was born from the hand of baker. And her seckle farmers market pear. I don't remember the last time I made bread. But I know it was with my mom, and that a clunky, awkward counter top bread-maker played a role.
This was different. The 'biga,' short for Italian sourdough starter, is sweeter and nuttier than traditional starters. And so the journey began, and grew. I fed my biga daily. As instructed, I added a 1.5:1 ratio of bread flour to water, and 'beat the hell out of it' every day. I coddled my biga for more than a week.
I won't lie. My hands got tired; my wrists hurt. I thought about bright red artisan mixers sitting atop counters, and assumed that others must have had them to help. I wanted that bread, and thought about it every day I beat the hell out of it. "Tonight, we will have bread with dinner," I said, before reading instructions that said 'let it rest, bubble, and refrigerate over-night.' The biga seemed far way. Truth be told, I don't like to follow recipes.
Recipes inspire me. But I thrive on improvising upon an idea, a biga, or a recipe that catches my eye. Yet, and like baking, it's a science. Measuring ingredients by weight, and with a scale makes a difference. I'm glad I waited for my biga to grow up.
I made 3 loaves from it. Each made me appreciate, and re-acknowledge, the process that goes into homemade goods. The toil, the craftsmanship, the love. I can't wait to make another.
* For the recipe, cooklocal has the scoop. I followed it to the T. As instructed, I added cumin. I winged it by tossing in a heaping tablespoon of apple 5-spice salt. Almond cardamom salt was my second choice.
** Thank you for your generosity, Jenifer. And for inspiring me.