1/2 cup of sourdough

Day 51

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)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180C) and prep trays with a baking mat, parchment paper, or lightly greased.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add the pre-ferment and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Mix baking powder and flour.
  5. Add flour to the butter mixture.
  6. Take half of the mixed dough and add 3 tbsp of cocoa powder.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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)

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