Breadder Burque Ch. XVIII: Break-Up Baking

This week saw the end of a 10-year relationship with a client. I admit I hung on to this mistrustful relationship far longer than I should have.

It’s never good to know a client doesn’t trust you (especially as I never understood the reasons for mistrust), even if you continue to do your best for them. In the end, terminating the relationship was their choice, not mine, and for weeks I’ve been angry and sad and all the things that come with a divorce from a bad professional marriage.

I should have let them go years ago, but I didn’t. I thought I could change them, make them appreciate me, turn them into an effective organization. They were my bad boyfriend (you know what I mean).

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Life can be much like a baker’s starters and discards: A Mess

My immediate reaction was to close in on myself, like under-proofed dough—to flatten and soften in my middle. To sploodge (my center undercooked). I felt I no longer had the energy to oven spring—my yeast dead, my gluten underfed. If I was my own editor right now, I’d scold me for this extended tortured metaphor, but bear with me, because it’s one I find useful at this particular moment.

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Sploodgy, undercooked brioche, metaphorically perfect right down to the hole in its heart

I’m following a Facebook post right now from a friend of mine, also a writer and editor, who is feeling similarly unmoored. Advice she’s gotten includes creating something and volunteering, because giving of oneself feels good. I wonder if baking for others counts.

All week I focused on baking for good friends who left yesterday for a long road-trip/camping trip that involved a one-way 13-hour drive into rustic conditions. All I could think about was crafting a tasty baked treat that would be good on a cold morning waking up in a small RV in the remote northern Rockies.

English muffins.

That would be something I’d like, if it were me going. I begged off on the trip—because I cry every few minutes these days, and that would be bummer for my friends. Also, being alone with my horses, dogs, a good book, my kitchen, my starter rising productively, is what I need right now.

And so, I baked.

First, a chocolate sourdough, which my friends have liked before and is spectacular with raspberry jam and butter. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ve learned that perfect isn’t what matters when it comes to gifting bread.

I tried a bit of fancy scoring (a heart), which went pretty well until I got great oven spring, and the heart broke (cue corny metaphor). Then, I used my leftover starter to make the aforementioned English muffins—a first for me. How satisfying to see them puff up perfectly in the skillet. Poof!

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Notably, the “heart” looks more acid-dipped than broken

This was a bit of a different baking project, yet one I’ll surely repeat. It solves the vexing problem of so much discard (which I can’t bring myself to throw out). It’s easy and fun and tasty.

There’s work to be done still on perfecting these in future English muffin bakes, but when I dropped them off the night before their trip, my good friends sampled and approved. My heart is full.

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Chocolate sourdough and English muffins ready for chocolaty, buttery eating






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