Bready Times

While the rest of you were busy baking sourdough I was making soup. You can see my previous posts for my thoughts on why I turn to my soup pot in times like these, and my recipe for minestrone as well. And for anyone who has been sitting on pins and needles as to what I decided to do with that leftover ham bone from Easter, I made ham and navy bean soup! I would have gone for split pea, which is Jason’s favorite, but the dried bean selection was slim so I took what I could get. It did not turn out too bad, either, but what really made the meal was the homemade sourdough I had finally gotten around to baking. Because, let’s face it, we all knew I would eventually turn the oven on around here. Plus my good friend Dana had shared her sourdough starter with me, so I really had no excuse.

And bake I did, I have made multiple loaves of bread now, with no intention of stopping (or writing this post) until I tried my hand at several varieties of the delicious Della Fattoria bread recipes in the book that both Dana and I were using. And then came my last trip to the grocery store and the bare shelves where the flour should be… I actually did the unthinkable, and made a second stop to try and pick some up. But that store was also out of flour. (I knew better than to expect to find yeast, which I did look for, but flour? How can we be out of flour?)

So I came home and baked one last loaf and divided up my starter into small mason jars to store in the fridge. It does say in the Della Cookbook that you can store extra starter in the fridge, or even freezer, to revive at a later date. You just need to feed it again for a couple of days before baking your next loaf. So, hopefully before too long, I’ll be back at it so I can try my hand at a Meyer Lemon Rosemary Campagne Boule to tide me over until Della opens their doors again.

Which got me thinking about Della Fattoria and the amazing business that Kathleen Weber built. Like so many others around our country right now, they have drastically scaled back their once thriving operation. They kept the doors open during the first week or two of quarantine, selling not only bread but takeout meals as well. But as I watched the story unfold over my Instagram feed, they decided to shut the doors on their retail bakery and restaurant for now. They are still baking and delivering bread to be sold at our local markets, but with so few patrons walking through their doors, staying open for take out only fare did not seem a viable option at the time.

And then came yesterday’s post, asking if they should open up again for bread sales. Petaluma’s response was a resounding yes, so I am expecting to see more news of a soft re-opening soon. Which is good since I have a LONG way to go before my bread is anywhere near Della’s! But like everyone else who was baking bread these past few weeks, I have had a lot of fun playing with dough as well as a new level of respect for those who are true artists in this area. Baking, especially bread baking where you need to pause to let your bread rise and physically knead the dough, has always felt like a moving mediation to me. And maybe that is why even though my bread is never going to be as good as Della’s, I will try those recipes. Just as soon as I can get my hands on some more flour!

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