On baking days, I often bake a couple extra loaves to share with whoever wants. One day I was slicing a loaf when I heard a conversation behind me: "Why does he bake bread?" I was so caught up in the magic and so deep into bread making that I didn't know how to answer. Why bother? I'm no baker. I just make bread. I didn't know how to convince him why it was worth spending more than half of a day on something that would be consumed in 10 minutes.
A century ago, one could not go to the grocery store and purchase yeast. Breads were leavened using a sourdough starter: a mixture of flour and water that houses a community of microorganisms that contribute flavor, nutrition, and manipulate the texture of bread. As long as one feeds their starter fresh flour and water regularly, it can be kept alive indefinitely. The microorganisms present in the starter are also dependent on the surrounding environment & conditions, therefore, the variables are in constant change. On top of that, there is a plethora of grains to choose from and mix, resulting in different flavors, levels of nutrition, and textures. Different salts, water filtration, and freshness from milling also play a part. This is the magic. All of the variables produce a result that represents the state of the world at that moment. Each loaf has the baker's, farmer's, and miller's personality and will mature as the they continue to make adjustments to their liking and moods. On top of that, the loaves are rebelliousness in the form of fermented & cooked grains. They speak to the person who wants to make something great for themselves and share it with the people whom they care about - sticking it to the monopolized-bread-man, so to speak. This is truly only scratching the surface. At the time I heard someone ask "Why does he bake bread", however, tongue-tied, all I responded with was: "Cause dough is fuckin' cool, man."
At the time of writing (March 2017), our bread is hand made without commercial yeast using our 2 year old sourdough starter, "Satchmoe." We utilize grain primarily grown by Lonesome Stone Milling in Wisconsin (190.2 mi from Chicago) and Brian Severson Farms in Illinois (78.1 mi from Chicago). From mixing to slicing, the process takes about 17 hours. Occasionally, we will incorporate high percentages of sprouted grains, porridge made from toasted grains, fruits & vegetables, or toasted nuts & seeds for flavor and nutrition. Outside of those additions, the bread is made using only a mixture of freshly milled grains, salt, water, and a lot of time. We like the crust thin enough so it's not difficult to bite through, but thick enough so there is still a crackle. It has 3 colors: rust, caramel, and tan. We like the crumb to be fragrant and just barely sour. This is our way of producing quality breads while sticking to our Midwestern mantra.