Narrowly avoiding failure

Baking with snow... and being expansive in our anti-racist work

Typically I write these emails on Monday nights. This morning I’m writing during my early morning baking process, just before it reaches your inbox. 

Last week I shared that I would be adding a second bake day on Tuesday. With the addition of this second weekly bake, Monday night is now a day that I go to bed very very early in order to get up early and bake bread on Tuesday. This is the same bedtime routine that I have on Wednesdays for my Thursday morning bake. So… I may be cutting it close with the newsletter writing, but I always told myself I worked well with a deadline :) 

Yesterday afternoon I had big questions about how these would turn out after a major time management failure. 

However, I’m excited to share that this morning’s loaves are turning out great so far! Sourdough baking is a craft where one of the most significant elements of the process is a factor that you can’t control at all. Time is the ever important ingredient that is out of your control almost entirely. As a sourdough baker it is my job to work alongside time, and do my best to allow time to help the process along. 

Yesterday I had a particularly busy work day. As a reminder.. in my day job I still work to support nonprofits, but not by baking bread but rather with #dataforgood. In my busy day I totally forgot about the dough for four hours. Instead of forgetting about the dough, what I should have been doing is taking ~3 minutes every hour to stretch and fold the dough while it was fermenting. Time does the fermenting part on its own, but the stretching and folding is a process that helps to strengthen the dough by developing the gluten network. 

Anyway… instead of doing this every hour, I was in zoom meetings for four hours straight and completely forgot about the process. When I was done with my meetings I came upstairs and noticed that the dough was fermenting nicely (thanks to time) and NOT developing any structure or strength (thanks to me). 

I wish now that I had taken any pictures, but I was too busy trying not to panic. Touching the dough it felt much more blobby than it should be after four hours, and I was nervous that I had missed my window to give it the structure and strength that is characteristic for good sourdough. 

After I gently folded the dough (as I should have done 3 hours prior), I called a lifeline. 

I turned to some of my instagram cottage baker friends, @el_breadshop & @thefamilycrumb who were quick to encourage me that it’ll probably/maybe be fine. So with that in mind, I worked to get the process under control. I put the dough bins in the snow for 5 minutes to bring the temperature down and slow down the fermentation process and I got 3 more gentle folds in in the next 2 hours before it was time to shape the dough. 

Now, I’m feeling a bit lucky… but the bread is coming along just fine this morning! 

I had planned this week to share some links to black authors and influencers to encourage you all to check out for Black History Month… but my heart is in a different place this morning. 

If we’re going to be about the work of racial justice, we must acknowledge and name injustice and terrorism perpetrated against all racial and ethnic minorities. There is a danger in talking about white supremacy and systemic injustice if we’re letting that conversation stop at just black and white interactions in society. 

As a black man racism impacts me in some specific ways, but it is important to me to be cognizant of how racism creates both similar and different harm and terror for other ethnic minorities… and then seek to be there for my friends as they have tried to be there for me in recent years. 

That said… I want to encourage you to read a few articles today about the significant increase in in Anti-Asian hate crimes that have been occurring in our country. Then ask yourself what can you do to be a force for good to push against the seemingly steady increase in hatred and resentment towards Asian Americans. 

Thank you all for being a part of the solution. Feel free to reply to me with any good articles that you read, or stories that you’d like to share on the topic. 


P.S. Your bread is back in stock on the website and ready to pre-order for the usual Thursday pickup.

P.P.S. Shout out to those of you who ordered over the weekend when you saw that there was additional inventory for a Tuesday pickup. Please continue keeping an eye out on Friday afternoons for me to start accepting Tuesday pre-orders.