Why bread?
Why 108?
Why now?
What's happening right now in the 108 bread project?
Answers not in order and not necessarily complete.
This is not a static page. Answers evolve.

Bread is ancient history and culture and manual labor and experiential learning all wrapped up in a delicious package. Bread is not about pretty or cute. Bread is an opportunity for reading. Bread means every baker has a different opinion about the right way - and many ways can work. Bread is about taste and craggy looks and growing something that bubbles on the kitchen counter. 

Thus far, I am just about 10 away from 108. I am considering some hardcore ryes, more sourdough challah (my nemesis thus far), and - I can't believe I'm saying this - a no-knead, extra-wet, white bread.

Oh and I want to add more photos to everything here, but I am superstitious that a dough or pre-ferment photographed will lead to a bad bread. Logic, generally, is highly overrated. Don't really mean that, but I do in this particular instance. I have been terrible about posting photos and I take this to heart because I find photos to be especially helpful when I try out recipes.

In the beginning
Before my 108 breads project I made two types of bread for years in my trusty bread machine, happy to be a Betty Crocker and patting myself on the back for my natural approach to a staple food. Oh so wrong. I was using commercial yeast and sugar and doing absolutely nothing by hand except throwing in ingredients. What I did learn because I only made the dough in the bread machine, getting real-looking breads right out of the oven, was the variations of flours from bag to bag and the timing for baking.

Once or twice a week I made a whole wheat bread, the infamous Bread Negative One, and once a week I made a challah (famous within the four walls of my home), still the only bread I take out the bread machine for these days. The whole wheat was good enough to lure my children away from processed supermarket bread and solid enough for sandwiches. My husband kept asking for me to try new breads, but I felt pretty darn incredible for what I was doing. I could not imagine how much more there was and I had never heard that starter even existed, let alone that commercial yeast was not a natural product. When you grow up in Brooklyn, sidewalks seem natural. Different grains, hydration percentages, fermentation? I knew nothing of this rabbit hole in which an entire universe exists.

Then I read 52 Loaves and my youngest was getting ready to leave for college and I wanted a BIG PROJECT to fill a big, big hole in my heart that my children would no longer fill because they had grown up to be intelligent, independent and ready to leave home after high school. I chose bread and a number large enough that it would take a long time - definitely more than a year - to reach it. (And dove into other projects, like an adult bat mitzvah and artwork. Amazing how many hours are free when children fly from the nest.)

Not 108 loaves
I am not making 108 loaves. I have definitely made more than 500 hundred loaves by now with several remakes of favorite breads and redos to reach excellence with others. A not-current previous favorites list appears in Top 4 from the First 40.

I am making 108 different kinds of bread with no set standard for what constitutes a remake rather than a separate bread. Do-overs vs. another kind of bread - purely arbitrary and personal decision.

It's been six years so far and there's no deadline. Not sure if I will drop this when I reach 108 or whether I will continue as a bread crazy person. I grind my own flour in a small, wooden, but electric, German mill. There remains the fantasy of baking in an outdoor oven while wearing hemp clothing. Actually, the outdoor brick or clay oven would be fine without the hemp.  

Because I like the number
108 is a special number. It is a multiple of 18, which means life in the Jewish tradition and it is a significant number in Indian and other Eastern religions. Here are a couple of links.  There are tons more.

Wikipedia 108 page
Mystic meaning website

Why not cupcakes or scrap booking?
Cupcakes and cake generally, not my thing (though I once did a nice Madeline decoration for a three year old's birthday cake and I make a super coffee cake). Cupcakes and cake are as much about looks as taste; there is not much debate about or variety of techniques. Sweetness tends to obscure subtlety as well. Scrap booking: I don't even know where to start with how wrong a match that is.  

Here's some answers from early on about why bread and why 108.

1 comment: