Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Necessary Mental Shift for Soaked Baking and Long Fermenting

As I have been switching more and more of my baking over to soaked recipes or longer cold ferment doughs, I have realized that most of the struggle in doing so has had to do with my mental approach to baking. Here is what I mean: Take for instance I want to make a batch of cookies with whole wheat flour. In the past I would have figured out, in my day's schedule, when I would have a large enough amount of time to make the dough and bake the cookies. 

But, I have realized that if I approach a batch of soaked cookies this same way, I end up completely frustrated. The result of my trying to make this new approach to baking into my previous mindset leaves me not with finished cookies I had anticipated and baking activities that have creeped into my farm chore/family time.

So, in thinking this whole thing over in my head (and for the longest time not even realizing what had been going on in my head to make me feel so frustrated over this shift), I decided to look at my baking from a whole different point of view. A point of view I must say that has in a way “released” me from my old way of baking and helped me to embrace this new way with open arms.

In trying to visualize this new approach, I decided to go back to some of the ways I used to cook a really long time ago, which I hate to admit was the convenience food, “out of the box” baking. Yes, I actually have made the shift this far and am I ever glad that circumstances in my life have pushed me to do so. But, when I think about how I used to cook from those dreaded boxes, my mental attitude toward baking was basically this: mix in final ingredients, shape, & bake. Now, let's step back for just a moment and look at the final process of baking something that has already been soaked: mix in final ingredients, shape, & bake. Do you see it? The final step in both processes is the same.

I found that if I were to look at the initial step of mixing the primary soaking ingredients like making my own quick “box” mix to be used later, then the second step like make a prepared convenience food, all of a sudden my stress level went way down. In essence, my mental time management for this type of baking suddenly took shape. Yes, nothing changed in the process of how I made the soaked or long fermented food, but my attitude towards it did and therefore my mind was able to mentally slot those cooking times separately, thus allowing me to fill the middle time with other necessary activities during the day.

Now, if you are not a person who plans things out in advance like I am, this whole soaking and long fermenting shift will be a bit more difficult since you can't just whip up something last minute unless you always have a soak going from which you can take a portion and bake up whatever your heart desires, but I can't see that working all too well with a generic “soak” considering portions and types of grains and soaking liquids are so varied across recipes. But, if you see planning as your greatest deterrent from cooking in this manner, you may consider keeping a few regular soaks which you tend to use, in your refrigerator for longer periods of time so you can pull them out at a whim and add the final ingredients to make your favorite recipes – making sure of course to feed them again (just like a sourdough starter) before you put them back in the refrigerator.

So, here is to more future “soaked” and “long ferment” baking! I hope you will join me as I find new ways to make even healthier versions of all my old healthy recipes plus a lot more new ones.

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