The Illusion of the Perfect Loaf

While learning to develop and bake with a sourdough starter, I am mindful of a zen story about two monks:
Night approached while the two monks were traveling in the mountain. Needing a place to stay and remembering that a revered hermit was reputed to live in a shack nearby, they proceeded up a mountain stream to where they thought he lived. But then they noticed a lettuce leaf floating down the stream. Well, they thought, how wasteful to lose such a precious leaf. They were about to go on their way, avoiding the obviously overrated hermit, when the hermit himself, with a net in hand, came running down the bank of the stream intent on catching the leaf.

Most sourdough starter recipes suggest that you throw out part of the starter so you have room to feed it more flour and water. I can’t stand it. Some kind of teaching from my mother about waste that she learned during the depression. So I make pancakes using my wet starter. This is my recipe derived from the recipe from Wild Yeast (note that my starter is a pourable one, made from equal parts flour and water by volume, please excuse my terrible habit of mixing weights and measures but I just bought a new scale and will shortly convert everything to grams. Until then):

500 grams of starter
2 eggs
2 T sweetening, sometimes I use maple syrup, sometimes honey or sugar
2 T oil (try melted butter)
½ t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1-1/2 t baking powder
whip the starter, eggs, sweet and oil together into a suitable bowl
sift the leavening into the batter

grill in two large frying pans or griddle (heat = kind of low to middle).
Makes 7 – 8” round pancakes or there about.
Serve with yogurt, fresh fruit salad and maple syrup.
Nirvana.

No waste.

Oh ya, the two loaves from the last post? I pulled them from the oven. Oh, what a disappointment. Busted open on the bottom, and the slashes I’d cut on the top were hardly superficial scars, unnoticeable. Cut the loaves open and there were no bubbles, just a wet heavy cake crumb. A little later when J was making lunch she mentioned how she liked this bread, not dry at all. Good for sandwiches. What am I to make of that?

Illusions are endless, I vow to put an end to them.

So was the illusion the wanting a perfect loaf (life, relationship, bank account) and not seeing what was there for the miracle that it was? After all, I had two perfectly edible loaves. Tasted okay, not really sour yet (see comment from Peter on last post) but I can work on all these things, n’est pas? Practice, Arnie. Practice.

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