We are creatures of habit, and often this is a good thing. When the daily acts that make us happy—cooking, eating together, biking in all weather, reading, to name a few of mine—are habit, we do them day after day, regardless of our moods and distractions (though, off course, the same is true of unhappy acts, like my picking up my phone an average of 44 times a day).
Habit carries me through my baking days, through the mixing, the shaping, the tasting and touching. Habit has me lining up my tools before every task, has me stacking dishes just so (nested, utensils on the side, lids on so the rye doesn’t dry into cement), has me shaping the first loaf and the fiftieth with the same sure touch. These habits, these ways my body knows what to do whether my mind is centered on the dough or wandering off in other directions, are part of my pleasure in the physical work.
But habit is, by its nature, thoughtless. I change a recipe for an immediate reason—adding salt to the preferment in the heat of summer, let’s say—and then that change becomes routine and I carry it on indefinitely—there’s still salt in my preferments, despite the fact that it’s currently 60ºF in the commissary—or until some other circumstance forces me to adjust again.
One of the best things about my winter breaks, about breaking the habits that shape my days for 11/12ths of the year, is that I come back asking, Why? Why this ratio of flour to seeds? Why Red & White wheat, rather then all hard red or all hard white? Why do I take ingredients off the pallet, stack them on a cart, roll them into the kitchen, use them, restack them on the cart, roll them back to the storage area, and return them to their pallet, rather than storing them on wheels in the first place? Why don't I schedule breaks into my bake days? Why am I still working in this windowless room? Why haven’t I built my own bakery yet?
Maybe this will be my spring resolution: make good habits, as many as possible, at home and at work, and then make time to break them.
Owner | Baker
Did you know you can still sign up for the WINTER BREAD SUBSCRIPTION? It runs through March 25, with pickup every Wednesday in Birchwood (the front step), Downtown (Cafe Velo), or in Fairhaven (Shirlee Bird Cafe).
Sign up or order a single loaf for the week ONLINE.
Along with Red & White and Mountain Rye, each week I make a different Baker's Choice bread. My choices this winter are:
Jan 22: Rugbrod
Jan 29: Ring Rye
Feb 5: Apple Rye
Feb 12: Harvest Miche 1
Feb 19: Harvest Miche 2
Feb 26: Black Bread
March 4: Alpine Spice Rye
March 11: Rye & Oat
March 18: Korn Rye or Corn Rye??
March 25: Westphalian Pumpernickel!
There are 3 spots left in our March class!
Sign up through the Guild website.
Start Where You Are:
Using & Troubleshooting Local Grain
Instructors: Mel Darbyshire & Sophie Williams
Come learn tools for assessing, baking with, and troubleshooting local whole grains. Leaving the commodity market to support local farms and mills often means dealing with grains that vary from field to field, farm to farm, and harvest to harvest.
In this class we’ll bake with wheat and rye flours of variable quality, using sensory evaluation and the batch specs to choose products and adapt formulas to best suit our grain. We’ll talk about how growing conditions effect grain quality, how grain quality effects baking properties, and what to do with a bad harvest.
March 5-6, 2020
Thursday 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Friday 9 am - 4:00 pm
The Bread Lab
11768 Westar Lane - Burlington, WA 98233
Registration Deadline: Sunday, March 1st
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced