Baking on a Snowy Day

Snow fell in great fat flakes for most of the day yesterday. Because of that, it was a little too wet for spending much time outside. A few times, I ventured out just a few feet to take some pictures. You can see the snow falling in most of these.

By day's end, we had about 4 inches of accumulation.

Smitty is very suspicious of the snow. He really wanted to go outside, but he wasn't happy about that cold white stuff.

He stayed right next to the house.

The catio collected snow on the fencing.

Here's a Sadie's eye view.

In the end it seemed a better plan to sit on a lap for snuggles and pets.

As for me, I baked some cinnamon swirl bread.

In other bread-baking news, I checked the seed starter this morning. It had doubled in size and was bubbling away.

So I went ahead with Phase 4 of the seed culture. That meant discarding half and then adding another cup of flour mixed with half cup of water. I moved the tape to measure its progress and then covered it up again. When it doubles in size again, I'll be ready to use it to start the barm.

A few of you asked about discarding half of the culture and whether I couldn't save it for a second loaf. Here's my (weak) understanding of this. I'm working now on a "seed culture" which is the starter for the "barm". The barm, in turn, is the starter for the bread. The seed culture is simply cultivating the wild yeast (obtained literally from thin air). It takes four phases before the culture contains enough active yeast to create the starter for the bread, the barm. Once the seed culture is ready, I'll start making the barm, which should take an additional 2-3 days. Then, and only then, will I be ready to bake an actual loaf of bread.

When the barm is finished it will amount to about 6 cups. From that, I'll need just one cup to make one loaf of bread. The remainder of the barm can be fed and maintained indefinitely (if I want to go to the effort), and it can be used again and again to make more loaves of bread. In fact, I'll be using the same barm to make a second and third loaf of celebration bread. Given that I'm planning to make all of the loaves in the book, I probably will maintain it for at least a while so that it won't be necessary to go through this whole process again. The author of the book, Peter Reinhart, points out that there are some strains of starter being used in San Francisco sourdough breads that have been maintained in continuous use for over 150 years. Amazing!

So, if that makes sense, you can see that the seed culture I'm making now isn't really useful for baking anything by itself. It's simply the starter for the starter. Also, it's such a small amount of flour mixed with water that the waste is negligible.

Aside from baking bread, I didn't do much of anything yesterday, although I could have. It occurs to me that I'm dragging my feet a little getting started on quilting Gingerbread Square.

It's a big quilt and I've put so much work into it, I'm a little nervous about quilting it. Having come to that realization, I'm probably as ready as I'll ever be. Someone posted a picture on Facebook of some beautiful quilting on the same quilt, and so I'm going to take some cues from her. Also, I have some ideas of my own about it. There's no time like the present, right?

As for the present, this is what it looks like outside this morning.

The outdoor cat seems pretty happy about the snow, doesn't he? His dragonfly is covered in the white stuff, and it looks as if he has a snowy mustache of his own.

Mike is about to leave for work, and he'll call to tell me how the roads are. Matthew and I are supposed to meet up for lunch today, but it's questionable whether I can make it off the hill. Mike has snow tires...I don't. So, depending on the roads, I'll either run errands today or get a start on quilting.


  1. You got lots of white stuff - ours kind of whimped out (thankfully). I would definitely stay home!

  2. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing. It's just cold and rainy here in central NC. Seeing snow is nice!

  3. You got way more snow than we did! I may have a 1/2 an inch. It's still fun for me. It's my first snow that stayed on the ground since I moved here two years ago. Last year it snowed for about fifteen minutes and that was that! It snowed overnight, so I didn't get to watch it, but I was up at 5AM to look at it! I'm hoping it will go away for awhile. I am driving to an unknown (to me) place, I found some kittens, and I am going to pick them up this evening! I am getting a grey striped and an orange striped brother and sister pair. The girl I am getting them from was really happy that I wanted those two, because she says they are in love with each other and stick by each other all the time. (It's more fun with two kittens anyway!)

  4. The snow pictures are beautiful! Here in Virginia, we are having a cold rainy day...good day to stay inside and get some stitching done....I am working on a red work quilt from Crabapple Hill..."'Twas the Night Before Christmas"... It has turned out to be a long term project, but that is fine...hoping to get the embroidery finished by this Christmas, then get the rest done next year...I have enjoyed working on it...
    When we get snow in this part of Virginia, a lot of the time there is sleet mixed in...Ugh!..makes for treacherous driving conditions...and walking is a bit of a challenge as well...so we just make sure we have plenty of food in the freezer and just stay in...
    Hope to stitch most of the day today....I made a big pot of vegetable beef soup yesterday, so I don't even have to worry about what we will have for dinner tonight...my kind of day, for sure!
    Your cinnamon swirl bread looks delicious! I love the smell of bread baking...your house must smell wonderful!
    Poor Smitty....but he made the best of at least a little walkway! Love the picture of the snow crystals on the fencing of the catio....
    Well, it's back to my stitching, with a cup of hot tea, and my kitty assistant asleep by my side!

  5. I find that when I'm dragging my feet about starting the quilting the best thing to do is stitch in the ditch for a foundation. Then I'm into it and it doesn't seem so scary. This quilt will look beautiful when you're done.

  6. Great snow days! Poor Smitty....brave hunter fearful of snow, but that makes him more loveable:) Bread looks great. I missed yesterday's post and story of the seed culture. I was playing nurse to my brother after his surgery. Anyway, you captured some yeast it seems....and they look quite active. So with the snow around, your temps have dropped and the yeast take a bit longer to ferment. The smell and therefore taste will improve with age.....just like us fabulous gals :)

  7. So funny to read about you running errands in 4" of snow. I'm from the Atlanta area and 4" would be enough to close the schools and stay off the roads for days. Can wait to see your quilting. It's a lovely quilt.

  8. I hope you stayed snide and warm instead of trekking to meet Matthew for lunch. I am so scared of snowy icy roads I never even entertain getting out in it. I am lucky to work from home now so I never have to get out in the bad stuff. It sure does look pretty! A picture postcard for sure. I Do hope you got your brave on to start the quilting on the Gingerbread Square quilt, you have mad skills so just jump in. I can't wait to see how you quilt this pretty.

  9. So nice of you to post the photos of the snow, here in Florida we have had rain all day some quite heavy. As a transplant from NJ after 20 years I still miss the snow. I would be hesitant to begin quilting too I'm sure you find the solution and quilt when you feel the stir. and your embroidered houses are beautiful

  10. As much as I love the snow pics and the cinnamon swirl loaf looks Devine....I am just in awe of how beautiful your quilt is now it is sewn together. You have come on in leaps and bounds with your quilting so I am sure you will do great. Ps...also following you on instagram now. I am cathxxm

  11. Looks like you got quite a bit of snow, hope you stayed in, not worth the risk.
    I love baking bread in the winter, warms the house and a nice comfort food.


  12. I know we in the south think the write stuff is pretty, but we do not get enough of it to learn how to drive in it. We usually have ice storms so that everything is covered in ice and then no one can drive safely. THe cinnamon swirl loaf looks tasty

  13. Once your barm (sourdough) is ready to go, I suggest putting 2 cups into a container and freezing it. This will preserve it, just in case. If you do need to use it, just thaw, feed and give it time to start fermenting. I feed with whole grain flour, not white. I have sourdough I started back in 1985 and this is how I keep it. Looking forward to see how you quilt your quilt. Blessings, Gretchen villacrestfarm@gmail.com

  14. Hot chocolate, cinnamon bread, cat on lap and snow outside, it all sounds so lovely.

  15. Here in Minnesota we should have pictures of snow like that by now. We have been having unseasonably warm weather here, until this week. Mostly rain in our neck of the woods; any snow we have had has been minimal and melts quickly. I like snow, if it would just stay off the roads, etc. Your gingerbread quilt is wonderful, and you'll do a great job of quilting it! Enjoying the bread making process you're sharing. Awfully tempted to get the book, probably should add it to my Christmas list! Wendy at piecefulthoughts@gmail.com

  16. That Gingerbread Square quilt is quite a sight! With the skills you have garnered over the last couple of years you will work out which techniques will set it off the best. That one is surely a keeper or a special gift for for someone you hold dear to your heart. But first you can enter it into an exhibition and have others appreciate the love and skills you put into this.
    I'm finally free from any more meetings for the year! Yes I have some writing to do but now I can make time for sewing, decorating for Christmas and enjoying the time at home.

  17. Fabulous photos of your yard! We have a whopping 8% chance of rain here today, with a predicted high of 65f. Where's my down-filled rain coat??? LOL. Love the way the catio screening gathered tiny snow drifts. Glad you and the kitties are staying toasty.
    I am learning a lot about bread from you and it is so interesting! Thanks!
    I know you'll do great when you quilt the Gingerbread Square. Relax and start it when you're ready.

  18. Over the weekend we were supposed to get 2.7 inches but ended up with 7.2-I think the weatherman had a case of dyslexia. It was the wet heavy stuff great for snowballs, snowmen, etc. Anyway it is beautiful to look at but I hate driving in it and I hate shoveling our long drive. At least it wasn't windy and frigid, which is what we have now. I would love some of that cinnamon swirl bread right about now.

  19. Lovely pictures of the snow! Christmas card perfect!!! I live near Dallas, Tx and we won't have anything like that.

  20. Wow! That's so beautiful! The bread looks delicious too!

  21. Thinking you might have a friend who would like the throw-away half, and they could feed it and go on from there, without having to do the hard work you already did. =) It's what I usually do with my sour dough starter each winter when I begin again. What a wonderful eclectic post. I enjoyed it all.

  22. All the white stuff is so pretty, as long as you don't have to drive in it. My Guy had some sourdough starter and kept it going for quite awhile, till his travel schedule got so packed and he wasn't able to "feed" it.