Sourdough Bread: Baking Is Therapeutic for Me

©AlinaKho via

About two months ago, I started my journey with baking sourdough bread. I had always been intrigued by it, admiring people’s photos of beautiful, round loaves fresh from the oven. Yet, I was scared to start.

The topic of sourdough came up when I was at a friend’s house. My friend Olivia had recently started baking sourdough bread. “I’ve been interested in learning,” I told her. Before I knew it, I was driving home on that chilly February night, a jar of sourdough starter tucked into my diaper bag. She shared her sourdough starter with me, and so my journey began.

Ever the perfectionist, I was terrified I would kill it. As I made my first loaf of sourdough bread, I second-guessed myself with every step. I searched Google for the answers. “What if it turns out gross?” I asked myself as I completed the final step and popped the bread into the oven.

As the timer ticked away, the doubts flooded my mind: “What if I missed a step?” As a nurse, I’m a perfectionist. Nurses are perfectionists, my nursing professors said. I struggle to pick up hobbies because of this fact. If you’re a perfectionist, you understand.

The timer goes off. The bread is done. I take it out of the oven and look at my creation. It looks…different. Not like the photos.

I cut open the bread and sit down on the couch. I’m hesitant to eat it. The texture is gummy and crumbly, a far cry from the soft, pillowy bread in the photos. I take a bite. The texture is bitter, very bitter. I fight the urge to throw the loaf into the trash. Grabbing the butter knife, I slather the bread in butter and dredge it in honey, hoping to disguise the taste.

I felt low. The negative thoughts spiraled. “You failed,” I started to think.

The house was quiet, and the kids were asleep. I wrestled with my thoughts. A second, louder thought resounded in my head: “So, the bread turned out badly. Where’s the harm in that?”

The second thought won. Sitting on the couch, eating my loaf of bread, felt like therapy. I talked myself down. “So I made a bad loaf. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad baker. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure.” The emotions rose in me: relief, peace, and a glimmer of hope that one day I’d bake a good loaf of bread.

Fast-forward a few months, and I can gladly say that I have made delicious loaves of bread. Baking sourdough bread has become something I really enjoy. Through trial and error, I’ve learned how to make good bread. I’ve even started sharing it with family and friends.

As a mother, I feel the weight of responsibility daily. I fear messing up, as many parents do. Baking is one area where I am free to learn and make mistakes; it’s incredibly freeing. I didn’t know how much I needed that.


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