Several weeks ago I pulled a cookbook off my bookshelf and started flipping through the pages. I suddenly had the urge to buy a pound of organic grapes because I started to feel a long forgotten urge again.

The cookbook? Breads from the La Brea Bakery.

It isn’t my favorite bread book by any means (very few can beat the Bread Baker’s Apprentice IMO) but what I love the most about this book is the starter it uses. It isn’t an easy starter to use, in fact there are 4-5 very intense days of feeding it 3 times a day. There is a lot of baby starter that gets poured down the sink during that time but oh man is it worth it.

The La Brea starter only requires 3 things, water, flour and organic grapes. Yup the whole thing is made by using the natural yeasts on the skins of grapes, there isn’t a speck of commercial yeast nor any use of added sugar. It’s all about the grapes and the flour. I love that.

I won’t kid you, it was a little hard to get going but once those yeasty beasties got going boy did things get fun.

Mmm bubbling batter 🙂

I got home from work and decided that was a good time to try out my first loaf. I needed to know if my starter was a keeper so I set about making the Country White Bread.

Doesn’t look like much does it? 

One of the joys of the recipe I chose was the overnight rest in the fridge, not only does it make bread taste so much better when the dough is slowed down so the flavors can develop but it is great at making bread baking fit into most schedules. I got up this morning and shortly before heading out to run some errands I pulled out the chilled and formed loaf so it could finish proofing.

Now does this look good or what? Check out the blisters on the crust. Just what I was looking for.

Not only does it look wonderful but it tastes pretty damn good too. I have a feeling this might become a weekly loaf for me, as long as I feed my starter on Thursday night before going to bed I can have a fresh loaf of bread for Saturday lunch (or dinner).

I’ve already started thinking of how good this will taste with some garlic and rosemary mixed into the dough, or maybe a pesto or sundried tomato variation.

I know it is just a simple loaf of bread but it reminds me of how much I enjoy cooking and baking. I had forgotten how much I liked baking bread and it’s a welcome change of pace from the non-stop spinning I’ve been doing for Tour de Fleece. I’ve always loved to cook but when it’s just for one person you tend to think of simple easy dishes rather than making elaborate meals.

Now that I have my Full Circle Farm CSA box coming every week I’ve started thinking more about planning good meals around what gets delivered rather than cooking dinner because I need to eat. One day I’d like to have people over for dinner again, I used to do it a long time ago and it’s something I truly miss. I love to cook and having friends to share it with makes it all that more enjoyable.

I will never become a master chef and I don’t hold any illusions about being the best cook in the world. I know my cakes aren’t perfect and my piping skills are intermediate at best but one of the things I love about cooking is that your practicing is almost always edible. 

I went to culinary school because I had a passion for baking and it feels wonderful to reintroduce it into my life. I’m filled with a new excitement and thrill that has really been missing in my life these last few years. All in all I’m happy 🙂