Sour Bakery

from barm to table


farmer market

I recently had some bananas that were perfect for banana bread. But, I did not want to make banana bread. I LOVE to experiment! It is why I want to open my own bakery: so I have control of what I make and when I can try new things.

In recent posts, I wrote about a wild yeast cinnamon roll recipe that I was experimenting on. So, I decided to stuff that dough with mashed bananas, chocolate, nuts, and peanut butter.


This is what it looked like before the roll: I wanted to try two different types. Half was chocolate, peanut butter and banana, the other half was banana and walnut. Rolling these was a bit messy. I realized that if I was going to have so much yummy gooeyness I need to leave more empty space for the goo to expand on.

Once I had it rolled I really thought it was not going to work, so much so that I did not bother taking pictures. I shoved the pan into the fridge overnight, filled with barely rolled, explodingly gooey rolls and thought, well- experimenting is half the fun. They will probably taste good…

This morning I got up and started taking my loaves out for bake-off. After the third round of removing a few baskets at a time I remembered the rolls. Cringing slightly, I took the pan from the fridge and inspected the mess. There was so much liquid I thought that baking them was going to be a mistake. But, I chose to bake them anyway. No one would have to know if they were terrible.

I am so glad that I baked them off! They are absolutely delicious and I am getting ready to make some more tomorrow, with a few tweaks.

For me, baking is all about imagining something that might taste great, and applying that idea to your existing knowledge. Sometimes, it will flop, but sometimes it will be absolutely delicious!



Making loaves of wild yeast sourdough is fun, delicious, and time consuming. Sometimes I envy people who choose to use commercial yeast. Their bread can be finished within one day, and eaten that evening! Yet, I don’t really envy them. Bread made from commercial yeast lacks the beauty and intricate dealings that are required when using a living part of the kitchen environment. Wild yeast requires just the right temperature, handling, nutrients, and time.


In looking for items that require less than three days to be enjoyed I happened upon a recipe for Sourdough English Muffins! What a fun dough. Of course, it still took two days, but it was such a different process. I didn’t let the dough rest enough after the second roll so I got some interesting sizes. They are delicious, sour, and full of all the delightful pockets that make english muffins great for jam, or eggs and bacon. I think I will sell them in four packs for $6. Of course, I need to work some more on the shaping and cooking. I don’t have a griddle so thats fun.

When feeding the starter, barm, or pulling some out for sourdough breads, there is always extra. I feel so sad just tossing it down the drain: the lovely, happy, and active yeast has no idea what awaits it down the drain hole and all its potential slips away. Sigh, I have tossed the extra more times than I care to admit.

In the past year I have started making crackers, herbed and garlic, as well as cinnamon spice. Yesterday I branched into unknown territory. Having recently satisfied my sweet tooth with a delicious cinnamon roll I thought I would try using started as the yeast in my own sticky bun.

I made the dough using a rich dough recipe, replacing the baking soda and powder as well as some of the flour and milk, with the starter. Leaving it to proof, I realized I did not have any pecans. If they couldn’t be nutty, they would be fruity sticky buns. I did have some peaches that were heading out, and some green apples I had just bought. So I made the buns three ways: classic spiced cinnamon, spicy apple, and sweet peach.

Experimenting, which seems to be a major theme of Sour Bakery, is so much fun! When I was at the Academy I was told I had to get the “classic” recipe correct before I should branch out to “oddities”. While I respect the classics, I think that a person can learn how to do what should be done while trying out what has not been done.

My first try turned out beautifully, spread out a bit to thin, my sheet pan was to big! I think I will try these in jumbo muffin tins next. I loved how the fruit filling blended with the spices, and the fruit that ended up on top changed the flavor of the caramel sauce. I had one for dinner, and another for dessert. Oh, and one for breakfast too.

I think I would sell these for $3, once I get them perfect and tall and crispily gooey.

Also, as a side note: I think I make up a lot of words. And I forget words and use odd words to replace that which has been forgot.


A month ago, to the day nearly, I arrived in Durham, North Carolina. Most of my possessions came later (including most of my baking supplies. But I brought my partner, my two cats, and my barm. I have had this beauty since 2009 in Seattle. She has made 1,000+ loaves, crackers, pancakes, and cinnamon rolls. She has been in the San Francisco wild yeast air, and survived at least 5 moves.

I put her in a refrigerator bag, brought my scale, water filter, and flour. I think that my barm took up as much space as a cat, and I worried about her nearly as much. Once in Durham I noticed that she seemed sluggish, super sour, and not especially yeasty. She smelled like sea weed and rice, an olfactory flavor I had never smelled in her. I knew that the trip had been difficult. It was difficult for all of us (We had to drug one of the cats and she still yowled and rubbed her nose raw a few hours a day for 6 days). I just didn’t realize how rough it was on her.

Thinking back is like watching a movie that you have already memorized: you see all the plot twists and know exactly where the main character messes up. The car was not an even enough temperature. I left her in there for no more than 10 minutes (to use the bathroom, check into the hotel, get gas…) but it was enough time for her environment to shift too much, even in the refer bag. I fed her every night (should have been twice a day), and should have used bottles water, not just filtered from the tap.

Well (once “home”), I fed her a few times a day, but no change in her look or odor, for 5 days. I decided to go back to the feed from when I first started her from pineapple juice. I fed her honey, with the water and flour mix. I fed her honey for 3 days. On the fourth morning, she had exploded! She smelled like sweet yeast, bread, and heaven. I literally hugged her container, crooning to her like a baby. I think my partner feels I am a little crazy (he had been suggesting I start over with a new one, to which I nodded but secretly seethed at him-never abandon your barm!).

I am happy to say she is back. She’s off the honey and still growing well with each feed. My first Sour dough loaves in Durham are about ready. Time to break in the oven!!


Olive you! I remember being younger and learning that if you mouthed “olive juice” it looked like you were saying “I love you”. Its been awhile since such innocent childhood moments. Now, when I make this bread, I’ll chop up some olives really small and put them in the cat food bowls. I think they smell the olives as soon as I get ready to make the Olive Loaf and they are waiting as close as they can get. While they eat the olives I’ll rub some juice on their coats. It is pretty hilarious watching them chase each other around and go into a licking frenzy. Of course, all this happens after the bread has been put away to proof, so cat hair is not an issue!

In truth though, I love olives. My sisters and I would put olives on our finger tips, become olive monsters, then eat them one by one, over and over until our stomachs near burst. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned the beauty of Kalamata olives, and green olives stuffed with garlic. This loaf has been inspired by the variety and complexity of different olives. When I get an olive loaf from a market stand I generally enjoy it. The bites with olive, usually Kalamata are glorious, but infrequent.

My Olive Loaf is full of Kalamata and Green olives, as well as pickled garlic and a hint of pepper. The pepper is coarse ground so some bites come out spicy, some oliv-ie. But I can confidently say that no loaf I have ever tried comes close to the heaven that exists in my Olive Loaf.

Olives: “olive juice”!


Artichokes are just lovely. The flavor is so subtle that artichokes are often overpowered by the other foods we put them with. I tried a loaf of bread once that had, literally, been stuffed with an artichoke. Just one, and in the middle of the bread. It was a disappointing experience, but it inspired this loaf.

I marinate the artichokes with olive oil and herbs. There is also slivered garlic and chunks of parmesan. These flavor combine to support and enhance the delicate artichoke, with a lovely creamy finish.

Santa Cruz was just outside Gilroy, the artichoke capital. Hoping to find some amazing providers here in Durham.

When life gives you lemons…


I have not been unemployed in-ever. I have moved so many times in the past 10 years. I’ve been working two jobs for the past 5 years. I have not had a job since the middle of June. Mind, at first it was due to moving from California to North Carolina. It’s been 13 days that I’ve been living in Durham, North Carolina and I’ve had no luck so far. Everyone keeps saying: don’t worry; you have so much useful experience; the right job will find you; take some time with no job, you’ve been working so hard; don’t stress. Words spoken by humans with jobs! However, not working has led me to more baking, so, a plus.

Breads are a passion for me. Sour Bakery is based on sourdough breads. But, I love sweets! I also love sour things. That is what makes lemon curd such a joy. When it is perfectly done lemon curd hovers on almost too sour, finishing with a murmur of sweet.

When I start working the Farmers Markets in Durham and the surrounding areas I think I’ll make these in a mini version.

Figgy Piggy Biscuits!

At first I made these as scones, however, the inclusions lent themselves more readily to a lighter dough. The Figgy Piggy Biscuits are inspired by a pizza of the same name from my favorite pizza spot in Santa Cruz, Pizza My Heart! Missing California very much, but really enjoying my brief stay so far in North Carolina.

The picture shows the inclusions that go into these decedent, delicious, and rich biscuits: fig, bacon, feta, and sage.  Hopefully, these will be a menu item at my Farmers Market stall.


Summer Delights

My last brief time of Summer in Santa Cruz, CA was filled with unknowns. However, I knew that I wanted to experiment with some produce that is available for a few brief, delicious months. Blackberries.

At first, I considered doing scones or biscuits. But, why not add them to my wild yeast sourdough. This proved a bit of a quandary. I couldn’t fold them in like cheese, they made a huge mess of purple dough and the berry got a little lost. I tried adding them in the first folding, but that made the dough too slack. Final fold was the final straw! chopping the berries up a bit, I gently folded them in, trying not to degas the loaf too much.

It was good, like bread with the jam inside. But, not quite what I had in mind. Hello, white chocolate chips. These I added early on. The first try had chips popping out in the oven, browning all over the crust. Caramelized white chocolate! Divine!

Say hello to my sweet and tart, juicy Blackberry White Chocolate Sourdough Bread.IMG_6734

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