Full of beauty

Life has felt like a load of laundry whipping around in the dryer. When I list out all the things consuming me during sunny July, I am amazed that I can handle so many things at once.

Through the chaos, I breathe it all out in an exhale that reaches my toe nails. I like to imagine that this profound exhale expels all worry, grief, stress, and anxiety into a limitless red balloon that can then be gently cast away to float in the sea of blue atmosphere. Other people might see it and smile.

I have begun a morning meditation practice, mostly of pranayama, making time to take these breaths and think about myself, my day, and my impact on these next 24 hours. My thoughts root deep and I always ask myself this question: how do I give the world value?

Although I am currently in the process of making a much larger stamp on my community in terms of educating and offering real food to those who seek it, I often find my value in the smallest of things: purposefully sitting on the floor to show my dog how much I love her, seeing a stranger on the street and offering her a smile, cruising through the park and giving the trees full attention and wonder, watching wild yeast dough gently puff with air bubbles of varying shapes and sizes.

I tend to notice beauty mostly in the living. Sourdough bread is serendipitous and has different personalities with each loaf, each type of fresh-ground flour it is fed, the temperature it basks in, and the hands that soothe it. This is my ultimate meditation, as I nurture another life, which will then nurture me, and think about all those crumbs and air pockets made from an invisible life that I helped sustain.

Days are always full of beauty. All we have to do is notice.

oat porridge yes (1)

adapted from Tartine Book No.3

Note: this bread was made during the summer, so the water temperature I used was cold, to compensate for the ultra-warm ambient environment. I recommend using 85 degree water in the winter when ambient temperatures are low.

WATER | 75% | 750 g
LEAVEN | 15% | 150 g
REDMOND REAL SALT | 2.5% | 25 g
(cooked, room temp.) OAT PORRIDGE | 50% | 500 g
+ROLLED OATS for coating

Active whole wheat sourdough starter | 25 g
Fresh-milled whole wheat flour – 200 g
Water – 200 g

Mix, cover, and let rest 4-8 hours depending on ambient temperature (less time during warmer months). The leaven is ready when a dollop floats in a bowl of water.

Leaven (above) – 150 g
Fresh-milled whole wheat flour – 1070 g
Water – 700 g

Mix with one hand until no dry bits remain. Cover and allow to hydrate (or autolyse) 30 minutes.

Redmond Real salt – 25 g
Water – 50 g

Add these and squish with hands until fully agglomerated. Let rest 30 minutes.

Fold & turn (1) the dough by wetting one hand, grabbing the underside, stretching and folding the dough back onto itself. Rotate the bowl and do this 2-3 times more. Rest 30 minutes.

Bulk rise
Oat porridge (cooked, room temp.) – 500 g

Mix into the dough by using your hands to lovingly fold and turn the dough over itself from the bottom (2). Rest 30 minutes. Fold & turn (3). Rest 30 minutes. Fold & turn (4). Rest 30 minutes. Fold & turn (5). Rest 30 minutes. Fold & turn (6). Rest 30 minutes. Fold & turn (7). Rest 30 minutes. (This should take approximately 3.5 hours and includes the time involved with mixing in the porridge.)

Gently coax the wet dough onto a heavily floured counter-top. Dust the top with flour and divide in half. Using a dough spatula, work some flour into each round until it holds its shape a little better. Dust the tops again with flour, cover with a tea towel, and rest 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, line 2 medium-sized bowls with clean tea towels and generously dust with brown rice flour. Take the dough spatula and use it to purposefully flip the dough over so that the smooth side is down. It should be round but fairly rectangular. Pull each side slightly and fold towards the center like a package, working first with the bottom, then sides, & finally top. Working as if the dough spatula were replacing one hand, pull and roll the dough until the bottom seam is sealed.

Rolled oats

Roll in rolled oats by first rolling the dough on a wet dishcloth. Plop smooth-side down into the floured, towel-lined bowls. Dust with flour, cover with the long flap of the towel, and place into the refrigerator for 24 hours.


Preheat a cast iron dutch oven (with lid on) @ 500 degrees in the bottom third of the oven. Delicately, dip the bowl of one dough round into the piping hot dutch oven. It should fall in almost like you meant for it to. Score in any fashion you’d like, cover, and place into the oven. Cook 20 minutes. When the timer beeps, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees, and set the timer again for 10 minutes. Now, brave the scorching oven and remove the lid. Bake again 20-25 minutes until deeply brown.

Here is a nice cheat sheet for the bake:

     Lid ON – 500 degrees, 20 minutes
                     450 degrees, 10 minutes
Lid OFF – 450 degrees, 20 minutes

Lastly, let cool on a wire rack before slicing into. You will be graced with a bread with the texture of tender cake. Heat the oven back to 500 degrees and bake the second loaf just as the first.

Yield 2 loaves.




One thought on “Full of beauty

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s