Baking - the process · Uncategorized

Slow, Slower, Slowest – Enjoy Autumn

My white sourdough levain photographed this morning.

Last week, on Tuesday evening, I mixed up the levain for the Dense Danish Rye bread as per usual to let it get all bubbly and lovely so that it would be ready and active for mixing and baking on the Wednesday. Now, you might remember that last week saw a dramatic shift in the weather and autumn finally hit us. That morning I had in fact scoffed at a photo shared on social media of someone’s sourdough starter all wrapped up in a heating belt. “Pppfff. Don’t need that. Just need more time.” And then I looked expectantly at my rye bread levain. Hardly any bubbles at all. So for the first time this year I utilised the bread proofing function on my oven to speed things along a bit. This week I started on the levain earlier in the day to make up for the coldness and give those lovely bacteria more time to work their magic.

It reminded me of something the lovely Julie Palmer used to say in her yoga classes – that this time of year is tamasic, meaning that we slow down and that this is natural and should not be fought against. Again, I used to scoff at this, thinking that, well, you still need to get things done, so just plough on. I now realise this is a bit of a foolhardy notion. If the wee wild yeasts are affected by the seasons, then surely we are too.

In doing some internet searching on this topic I came across this Shakespeare sonnet which admittedly, is a bit morbid, but makes the ever-apt point that the time is now – enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think, and live in the present.


That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
    This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
    To love that well which thou must leave ere long.