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Breaking Bread During Quarantine

Quarantine is hard. Lockdown has taken away our normal like we never imagined. And you’re not alone, from the States to India or even Australia, everyone is in the same situation. All of us finding a way to cope, may it be compulsive knitting, MasterChef level cooking or taking a break from our fast-paced uni life to enjoy a book or two.

Credits:Ella-Mae Earnshaw

For me, the only thing giving me structure in this disorderly period is my sourdough starter. Joining the likes of Padma Lakshmi and Jake Gyllenhaal, I decided to make one back in April. Finding a step-by-step guide was exhausting. The internet is flooded with professional bakers talking about hydration levels and 24 degree temperature, something that the 40 degree weather in New Delhi couldn’t account for. I read through quite a few of them so that you don’t have to (P.S. I still didn’t really follow them). I mean, I can’t use a cup of flour in this pandemic not knowing whether my starter would bubble or not. So of course, my first two attempts went rancid. Feeding it daily, putting away the discard in the fridge I did it all but Ha, it refused to bubble. I don’t know how my third attempt turned out to be successful. I could give you instructions but honestly, I have no clue how I did it. I fed it every day for two weeks and suddenly one day it doubled in size. Novice bakers like me please take note; do not attempt to make sourdough bread thinking of it as normal bread dough. It’s goopy like slime and impossible to handle- but turned out okay-ish.

Baking bread requires copious amounts of patience, something I have exhausted in this pandemic. I cut a few corners when it came to making the actual bread. Not waiting 24 hours for the dough to rise was one of them.

However expansive the internet may seem it still only has recipes for a sourdough starter in cool weather. This article is for all of us who are experiencing summer and wouldn’t mind a nice slice of sourdough bread we made ourselves.

If you never had a pet and always wanted one here is the instruction manual I used: 1) I didn’t want a huge amount of starter, so I started off with 3 tablespoons of water to the same amount of flour in a glass jar. Mixed it well till there were no dry spots and covered it with a cloth securing it with an elastic band.

2) Every morning I would remove half of the starter (eyeballed it) and place it in a bowl in the fridge. You can use that to make crepes or waffles. Repeat step one and don’t stop feeding. It could take 7 days or even 15 for it to start bubbling.

Now you can go nuts and make focaccia, pretzels, anything is easier than sourdough bread honestly. But please do not secure the jar with the lid. I’m pretty sure it will either pop open or explode. Anyway, here is a video of Jake Gyllenhaal showing Stephen Colbert discuss all things sourdough.

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