Recently a dozen students gathered in the Berkeley Center kitchen for an evening of hands-on baking education. With an eye to the rye doughs typical of Ukraine, Dean McGowan had prepared extra sourdough starter with rye flour, and enough ingredients and equipment for six batches of dough. The evening’s discussions ranged from the immediately practical (dough hydration and kneading technique); to the scriptural (what are the implications of “leaven,” and what is lost in the modern image of “yeast?”); to the sacramental (“Dean McGowan, what would happen if you consecrated this right now?”). Students returned the next morning after chapel to shape the dough into loaves for its second proofing, and amidst the happy Wednesday evening dinner gathering, the oven was preheating to transform the dough into the bread the community enjoyed the next day with apple butter and jam at coffee hour after morning prayer.
The exercise was so successful that more students joined in a week later for Sourdough Rye II and increased the output to provide loaves for sale, all proceeds going to relief efforts in war-torn Ukraine.