Like I’ve said before, I idolize the Author, Elizabeth Gilbert. I have learned so many things from her latest book Big Magic, but probably the biggest was that you needed fear to be creative, you just can’t let it drive the minivan. It has to come along, but it has to sit in the back seat, with absolutely no contribution.
So diving in head first after discovering my passion last week, I decided to tackle my biggest fear in baking. Seed Culture. Two of the scariest words to me, well that and Barm and Starter. Unless you’re a baker, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. These are what you use to make beautiful and delicious variations of wild yeast bread. A task I was always afraid to try, but I’ve decided NOT to let fear drive the minivan, and I am taking control of this road trip.
Rob’s favorite type of bread is Rye Bread and because I do not have a favorite type of bread, I decided to make Rye Bread. I dug out my copy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and looked for the recipe and thought why would you want to limit yourself to just one type of bread when there are so many options. After reading the process of creating a Seed Culture, Barm and Starter, I started to hyperventilate a bit.
I sat on the couch and thought for a second. Why was I so afraid all these years to create a starter? Afraid to the point of getting that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think it’s because in my eyes if I couldn’t start a successful Seed Culture, which would result in a successful Barm, which would result in a successful Starter, which would eventually result in a successful loaf of bread, I could no longer consider myself a successful baker. I realized it was ridiculous to think that way, but isn’t most fear-driven thinking ridiculous?
It’s not like I’d be investing a lot of money, it’s just flour, water, and pineapple juice to begin with and then a few weeks from now it will just be some more ingredients and presto Rye bread; I hoped. So it wasn’t the fear of spending a ton of money and failing, it was, quite honestly, just the fear of failing.
So I went to the grocery store and got everything I needed to start the process, sat it on the counter and just looked at it all sitting there. Then I walked away from the counter, took a deep breath went back to the kitchen and proceeded to make a Cranberry Upside-down Cake instead. Something comfortable, easy and familiar, however, all the ingredients for the Seed Culture just mocked me on the counter. So I picked up the cookbook and started to process. It took a total of 5 minutes, maybe. Every day it was a process with the seed culture and starter. You have to feed it, you have to love it, and you have to nurture it. It’s like anything that is worthwhile you have to put in the time and time I have.
Like most things, when I decided not to let fear drive the minivan, it was easy, it was fun, and it was actually relaxing. I woke up every morning, pulled out the Seed Culture, took a deep breath of the smell of fermenting flour and pineapple juice, fed it more flour and juice, tuck it into it’s warm container on the stove and went about my day.
In the end, it ended up being a failure, but no one died. The world didn’t stop spinning. I didn’t fall into a puddle onto the floor. I just threw out the two cups of sticky, smelly goo that had taken me four days to create, and poured myself a cup of coffee. As I sat on the couch with my coffee, I reached for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice book and started turning the pages.
It’s interesting to me how fear has the ability to overwhelm all your logical thinking and take over life. I wonder how many things we miss out on because we let fear take over our decision-making process. We allow it to drive the minivan. I am trying my best not to let that happen anymore, I hope you don’t either.
Photo Cred: http://www.justzhm.blogspot.com