1. Bread Circuses Bread & Circuses One Bakes. One Writes.
This book is a serious matter. I created it in response to an impulse from a serious German geoscientist named Lutz Geißler, whose life was turned upside down after he started baking bread. Now he is no longer a geologist but a professional baker. He teaches baking and writes bestselling cookbook after bestselling cookbook. He counsels industrial bakeries and artisan bakers; he teaches gourmet chefs around the globe. Being a scientist, he strives for perfection, and hobbyist bakers can count on his recipes being repeatedly reviewed and verified in serious experimental setups and precisely replicable at home—successfully, deliciously, and beautifully. We learn up to the third decimal place how many grams of which natural ingredient are to be put into what, exactly when, and why. We learn precisely what a dough has to look like, smell like, and feel like.
Even though Lutz is a man of unequivocal facts, while baking, he began to believe in forces whose existence is not easy to prove scientifically. Dough does not always stick to the numbers Lutz first wrote down, and this made him believe in the powers of pure chance. He even believes that dough has a soul and its own will, and that its personality must be respected if we want to transform it into beautiful bread. These are the objective reasons for learning to trust our subjective perception and our senses, as it seems that these instruments offer greater precision. Or is it higher art?
Lutz Was for This Little Book What a Sourdough Starter Is for Bread
Once baking had, to his own amazement, turned his life and his views around completely, Lutz woke up one day to the insight that the world needed to know, too! We should know how wonderful it is to bake bread, and how little is needed to transform one’s self and create a more contented, mindful life. He dreamed of a baking book, but not the type we‘re used to—small in size but big in meaning, and about something so inexact as happiness. He even mentioned a four-letter word starting with L. There was just one problem: he had no idea what the recipe for a book about feelings instead of facts should be. What were the ingredients, the measurements, the chapters, the images, the words? What to write about, precisely? Which form and shape and taste should it have? So he asked me to create a recipe for a sourdough bread book that would contain just one single recipe. A book that would get people hooked and happy. And he also asked me to bake the thing!
There was only one way to go: I had to experience it all myself. So I took to the unscientific experiment, switching on all my senses and discovering all kinds of amazing feelings. Hopefully you will find the description so tasty that you’ll want to try it out yourself. Creating your own sourdough starter. Cuddling it and caring for it. Feeding it. Naming it. Watching it breathe and grow. Trying to understand what it wants to tell you, what it can teach you. When your starter bursts out of the jar with zest for life, burst with joy yourself. And when you pull your very first loaf from the oven, burst with happiness—let the feeling be contagious!