Why do I bake?
There are two levels of answers to that. On the surface, I bake because I like tasty things. That's a really poor explanation - who doesn't? I’ve met some picky eaters who balk at even the mention of a vegetable, but I’ve never met someone who has said, “Gee, if only this tasted a bit more like cardboard.” The phrase “I’ve lost my faith in humanity” is so overused to the point where I read it daily, but if I ever meet such a person, I think that will be the day I actually give up and become a hermit.
That answer didn’t really get to the point. Why do I bake so often, why is bread always on my mind, why do I feed my sourdough starters before I've even fed myself in the morning, why do I write my own recipes, and why do I mill my own flour?
I plan to explore these questions through this blog, but let me say a few words first. I think these answers are related to changes I've noticed in myself recently. When I was young(er), I cared a lot and almost exclusively about seeking objective truths. It's why I liked math and hard science. In college, I took the minimal requirements of social science credits to graduate, and my humanities education was limited to philosophy and German language. I ultimately pursued a PhD in mathematics. But lately objective truth is less and less compelling to me. I wasn't connecting to people in the way I was wanting to. I found myself interested in craft and culture in ways I hadn’t been. I noticed this shift informing the hobbies I have and the media I choose to consume. Most importantly, I found that developing a dough by hand, shaping that dough, baking it, and then sharing that with someone was helping me with the connections I was wanting to make. Having someone enjoy your craft is immensely satisfying and mine is a craft that just about anyone can enjoy in some form. But baking connects me to people I don’t know personally, too. Humans have baked bread for a long time. Ancient tradition and artistry is alive in each of us who bake and we will pass these one when we teach or inspire. There is an active, passionate, and supportive community of bakers in the world. I’m glad to be a part of them, and I invite you to share in that wonderful world with me here at Fifty Shades of Grains.