Dough experiments & announcing donations for April & May

Good morning bread friends,

The beautiful warm weather this past weekend makes it feel like we’re really turning a corner headed into a new season of life here in Madison. With the combination of the warm weather, the new CDC guidance about masks outdoors, and the reality that 60.1% of Dane County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine… it almost felt like a “normal” weekend outside. I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe.

Donations for April

Wow! This community is incredible. I’ve noticed a trend now for a few months of this community growing by roughly 15% each month. Whether you are a new subscriber this past month, or you’ve been here for a while… I’m so glad that you’re here. Bread & Justice is a philanthropic home-based bakery. 100% of profits from the sale of bread are donated to organizations working towards a more just society. For the month of April, this community came together to support the NAACP. After all of the bread that you purchased, and all of the generous donations that were made directly to Bread & Justice on our website, we are able to donate a total of $1085 this month to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

I’m having a ton of fun making Bread each week… but the impact that we’re able to have towards investing in Justice is really going much farther than I ever imagined. I can’t thank this community enough for continuing to show up in new ways.

Bread Experiments

One of my favorite things about baking sourdough bread by hand each week is learning something new every single week. I’ve made well over 1,000 loaves of sourdough in the past year. For much of that time I’ve been using the same level of hydration and for several months now I’ve been buying the same flours and using the same flour ratios in every batch. And yet, every week the dough is performing somewhat differently. A couple of weeks ago I was running low on bread flour, and I had to increase the amount of whole wheat flour in that day’s bread. (Shout out to my friend Andy, the one customer who asked if it was different on that day.)

The inadvertent adjustment that week spurred me to want to experiment a bit with the flours in my bread. For the foreseeable future, I’ll still be using the same flour that you might be used to from me. This is a combination of Giusto’s artisan flour from California, and flour from Meadowlark Organics which is grown and milled just about 30 miles to the west of me here in Wisconsin. The main thing that could change will be the ratios and the varieties of flour that I’m using from each of them. I’m not trying to make drastic changes to the bread. I love the taste of my bread, and I know that many of you do too. But to be honest, I am interested in increasing the amount of flour that I’m using that is sourced locally. Right now approximately 35% of the flour that I use in my bread is from Wisconsin. I’d like to increase that. Of course, as I continue to learn, the goal is to maintain similar characteristics in the final product and even improve upon the quality of the bread.

Anyway, this past weekend was a big process of experimentation. I made four different loaves with four completely different ratios of flour, and my family had an exciting Sunday morning of sourdough taste testing. All of the loaves tasted great… so there weren’t any clear winners. However, this did give me a chance to see how different ratios of the same flour would result in the dough mixing differently, having a different feel while shaping, and ultimately having a slight but appreciably different flavor after their bake. In summary… I’m having a ton of fun making bread, that I’m hoping you’ll continue to have a lot of fun eating.

Each loaf in this picture had a different amount of Bread Flour (from Guistos), Whole Wheat bread flour (from Meadowlark), and Bolted bread flour (also from Meadowlark)

#DoughSomething this month

For the month of May, I’m excited to share that we’re joining the #DoughSomething fundraiser.

In response to the recent uptick in anti-Asian harassment and discrimination across the country and the acts of violence that took the lives of eight people, including six Asian women, on March 16, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia, a group of chefs have been working on a national fundraiser campaign called #doughsomething.

Chef Beverly Kim (Parachute restaurant in Chicago) has spearheaded this campaign, which has already been picked up by dozens of restaurants across the country. The goal is to raise funds to benefit Asian Americans Advancing Justice, increase awareness about anti-Asian hate, and encourage people to #doughsomething to fight racism. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) is a 30 year-old nonprofit that advocates for an America in which all Americans can benefit equally from, and contribute to, the American dream. Thier mission is to advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. 

I look forward to sharing more with you about AAJC, and I’m proud to say that for the month of May 100% of our profits will be going towards this important fundraiser.

Thanks again for being a part of this Bread & Justice community. Last week a few of you replied to my email to share some of the things that you like to eat sourdough bread with. Keep that feedback coming. I love to hear it, and I hope to compile some responses for you all in the future.

For now, I hope you all have a beautiful week. And if you’re local… now is a great time to go order some bread on the website before it sells out :)

Mo Cheeks
a baker