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My Sourdough Story

A few years ago, a friend asked me to babysit his sourdough for the day and the rest is history...

In March of 2019, our good friends came up to Napa to visit and spend the weekend with us. Tim had mixed a batch of sourdough that morning, but he was heading out for the day for a bike ride with my husband. Before leaving, he explained all of the steps for how to care for the dough and prepare it to bake. I carefully wrote everything down and asked lots of questions. I always loved cooking, but I never considered myself much of a baker so I was nervous and not 100% confident that this loaf would turn out any good. 

Nevertheless, I followed all of his instructions: I stretched and folded the dough until it was smooth and elastic. I let it rise and shaped it (in a flour-doused, towel-lined colander -- I didn't own any fancy banneton baskets back then!) I carefully tipped it into a preheated Dutch oven (that he had brought with him -- I didn't have one of those either!) I made a couple of slashes with a sharp knife on top of the dough. I put the lid on, put it in the hot oven, and set my timer for 20 minutes. When that timer went off, I removed the lid I couldn't believe my eyes. Something absolutely magical happened. The dough had ballooned into this gloriously full, golden, crusty loaf. At that very moment, something inside me changed. I couldn't believe the oven spring! I hadn't even made the dough, but I felt like I had just given birth to a precious child! I. Was. Obsessed.

I began following a number of bakers on Instagram and practicing and refining my technique. I experimented with scoring techniques and saw the unlimited potential for artistic expression. Then the Pandemic hit in 2020 and I continued to hone my craft, as I had lots of time on my hands during lockdown, and many others joined the sourdough craze. Along the way, I helped several other friends learn to bake sourdough, and many encouraged me to teach breadmaking classes. 

Meanwhile, several life events led me to make some different choices. Between enduring the loneliness and uncertainty of the Pandemic, fighting a cancer battle for a second time, and unfortunately losing my beloved dad to his own cancer battle, I truly realized the importance of making the most of the precious time we have. After 26 years in education, with my final year being particularly challenging, I decided to pivot my career and began freelancing part-time as a project manager. This gave me time to pursue my passion for helping others to learn how to bake sourdough bread by opening my own private baking school in our home, and Julie’s Cultured Kitchen was born! I am so excited to be able to share my passion and knowledge with you.

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