Happy (week and a half after) Pentecost!
In the liturgical Church calendar, Easter lasts a full fifty days-from resurrection Sunday all the way until Pentecost.
For the fifty days of Eastertide, I took a break from my blog and from Facebook. I treated the season as a sort of Sabbath, a much-needed break after my Lenten series on bread. But just as Sabbath creates the space to delight in God while also preparing us for the week’s work ahead, so has this Eastertide break given me the rest necessary to focus on some exciting writing projects.
I also spent Eastertide celebrating the marriages of some of the most formative women in my life. In the past six weeks, I've been cake maker, communion bread baker, bourbon caramel wrapper, chalice bearer, and perpetual cryer. The season has been bittersweet, mourning the shifts in close friendships while celebrating their new phases as well. I wrote a bit about this transition on GraceTable last week, most importantly about the ways that baking and breaking bread helped to get me through.
So for this first post back from my Eastertide rest, I'm excited to share with you one more recipe for bread. This olive-oil sourdough does require a starter--if you've kept one up since Lent, then you're ready to go. If you're a novice to sourdough, I recommend that you begin a little ways back. My Ash Wednesday reflection will help you get a culture going, and the subsequent reflections can help you build an understanding of how sourdough works.
This is the dough I used for my Good Friday hot cross buns (just mix in some golden raisins and toasted and ground coriander), for Easter Sunday Communion, and for the Communion loaf at my friend Kayla's wedding this past weekend. After guests munched on their bite of bread, I served them a sip of wine, reminded with each pass that this season of weddings might bring with it so much change, but the commitment to feasting together in loving communion will always remain the same.
olive-oil enriched sourdough
1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup whole milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1. 6-8 hours after feeding your sourdough starter, mix together 1 cup of the starter with water and **** flour. Let rest for 1-2 hours.
2. Mix in olive oil, eggs, sugar, salt, and the second portion of flour until it comes together to form a shaggy dough. Let rest for 30 minutes.
3. While the dough is still in the mixing bowl, stretch the dough and fold it in half, rotate the bowl 90° and stretch and fold the dough in half again. Repeat this process 4 times.
4. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 6-8 hours.
5. Gently shape the dough into a smooth round, into individual rolls, or into a braid.
6. Cover the top loosely with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for another 3-4 hours. If you'd like to wait longer before baking, can store the shaped and covered dough in the fridge up to 12 hours. Bring to room temperature before baking.
7. When the dough is ready, you should be able to press gently onto the surface and the indentation will slowly fill back in. When the dough is at this point, pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
8. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash made by whisking together 1 egg and a teaspoon of water.
9. Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 180°F.
10. Let cool for 10 minutes, then feast!
This dough is tender, flavorful, and incredibly rich. But most importantly, for me, it is a reminder of the fullness of communion. That whenever we eat bread and drink wine--at a time of celebration, on any Sunday morning, or even at home in a period of loneliness--Christ is present, even in the simple beauty of sourdough.