Leavening

There’s nothing quite like the pleasure of freshly baked bread in the morning. I’ve had a starter going for a few days now, and it was growing quite happily according to plan. Yeast is most content in a warm, moist environment, and it’s usually a little difficult to achieve those conditions for an extended amount of time–that is, long enough to complete all 3 rises. Oh wait, when it’s been raining for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT that means our entire poorly-ventilated apartment is an uber-productive yeast factory. My roommate came into the bedroom yesterday evening with a puzzled look on her face and told me cautiously: “uh, I think you might want to check the starter.”

Out of control. In an unprecedented fit of activity, it had bubbled completely out of its tupperware and was dripping onto the countertop like some gooey creature of the fens. I think it actually burbled at me mockingly. Extra flour wouldn’t stop it; not even salt could chemically retard the overzealous bacteria, so at 11:00 pm I decided that I’d do what real bakers do, and prepare a batch of fresh wheat bread, scheduled to finish around breakfast time.

There’s something very satisfying about going to sleep with that slight ache in your triceps from kneading; a rhythm in the quarter turn, fold, push, quarter turn that works out the kinks of a stressful day. Due to my roomie’s psycho workout schedule, I didn’t have to wake up at 7:00 to form the twice-risen dough into loaves, so that was even better. When the alarm finally rang at 8:00, I rolled out of my comfy bed, stepped on some (likely) important papers scattered on the floor, and shuffled sleepily out into the kitchen to turn the oven up to 475 degrees. After my shower, I still wasn’t exactly “awake,” as they say, and spilled a jar of coffee grounds on the floor while simultaneously attempting to 1. make coffee, 2. brush my teeth, 3. hold up my fluffy red towel. Nobody ever said I was good at multitasking in the mornings. Yet as I cleaned up my caffeinated spill, I could already smell the bread in the oven working its leavening magic, and when I washed off my hands in the kitchen sink, I noticed that for the first time in 4 days, I could see the sun outside.

The swampy temperature of the night before dropped down to about 65: perfect for a September morning of baking. Before I knew it, I was spreading peach jam onto freshly sliced bread to have with my morning coffee. Felt just like a cold January a.m. in Spain, only better. Cleansed, prettied up in new jeans and sevillana earrings, I met the intermediate Spanish class I’ll be TA-ing for this semester, and then in true Andalucían fashion, found that I had nothing better to than sit in the sun until class. Right now, it’s good to be me, and I’d like to keep it that way.

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