I enter my kitchen, the clock reads 3:55pm. I look outside and I can’t see the garden. I am not ready for it to be night, to be dinner, to be the end of the day. I am not ready for it to be so dark and so still. I am not ready for the last cup of tea and to go to bed.
I gather my starter from the fridge, turn my oven on and set the butter on the counter. Is this today or yesterday? Was I here? Yes I was. Yes, it is me here right now again. I have the cookie sheet, the baking mat, sugar and flour.
The past three years, around the first week of December, my body and I have embraced this new routine – woman-made sunshine hour. There is no sun. It is not perfect, but we came to an agreement. It is not because it is the holidays and I like to bake. It is a construct, a discipline, a rescue mission, a mission to salvage myself. For some it may be their hour in the gym, but for me, this time I capture is about creating space where I am.
I watch daylight reduce to a bit more than a third of the day. This year’s winter solstice we will only have 8 hours and 46 minutes. Life speed and time is so relative for all of us, how we experience it and feel it. While I am in my time warp on Earth, astronauts at the International Space Station are witnessing 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets in 24 hours! How did I just learn that? Where we are has an impact on our bodies, our rhythms. I always wonder how it would be to live on a mountain top. I lived by the ocean for a season and loved it. My sourdough baking was different. The dough sprinted through the day, even in the fridge, and I baked late in the evenings.
Our concepts of time are personal. Even inside my household, my loved ones live differently in their days. Whatever your sense of time and self, I give you my example in these shrinking days.
Today’s bake is a fermented black and white dough, a request from my youngest kid. It is a slice and bake. But you could use it as a base for cut out cookies.
Sourdough (Fermented) Black and White Icebox Cookies
This dough can be used for cutout cookies.
2 ¼ cup of wheat flour (mixing ½ cup of other flours like cornmeal and buckwheat are super tasty)
½ tsp of baking powder
½ tsp coarse salt
½ cup of butter
¾ cup of sugar (½ if desired less sweet)
1 large egg
½ cup of sourdough starter
2 tsp vanilla (I used peach pit extract I made last summer)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180C) and prep trays with a baking mat, parchment paper, or lightly greased.
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Add the pre-ferment and mix until well incorporated.
- Mix baking powder and flour.
- Add flour to the butter mixture.
- Take half of the mixed dough and add 3 tbsp of cocoa powder.
- Roll out the chocolate and vanilla doughs separately, into a rectangular-ish shape about the same size. Stack the dough on top of each other and roll the dough away from you to make a log. Wrap in parchment paper for put in a container.
- Let the dough ferment on the counter for a day then move the dough to the fridge to continue fermenting for another week. Then, I like to move it to the freezer to make it easier to slice the cookies. This dough can be used for cut out cookies and I also prefer to work with it cold.
- When ready to bake, slice cookies. Bake 350 F 11-12 minutes
If cutting shapes, and you would like to decorate the cookies. Here is a simple royal icing we like to use: 1 egg white, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 ½ cup of powdered sugar (made by blending sugar on high speed blender)