It’s more than a name
“Good bread requires what good companies require. Every day is a different day. A different temperature, a different humidity. How’s the flour going to react? How’s the dough going to react? You have to pay attention to what’s going on. It’s down to those little details.”
-Chris Pfeiffer, President
And that’s why we’re called Sourdough. On Saturdays, you’ll find our President and Founder in his garage baking bread. He started baking years ago as a hobby and moved to upstate New York to learn how to bake in a wood-fired oven. He came back to Ohio and started baking in the kitchen but decided to take it up a level. Chris built a 12,000 lb bread oven in his garage and began baking loaves to take to the local farmers market. He eventually turned his passion into a business, The Bread Garage, and he instills the same bread-baking principles of hard work, patience, and hustle into our marketing at Sourdough. Now Chris offers others the opportunity to have their very own Bread Garage by selling complete wood-fired oven kits. Learn more about The Bread Garage.
Lessons from the Bread Baker
Discipline: Process and Patience
The whole process of making sourdough bread is a long process. It’s an 18 or 20 hour day. Long, slow ferments. And then you shape it, and you’ve got a 3 hour proof. I go out to the garage at 5am to fire up the oven. It is meaningful. It has purpose. When I’m shaping the dough, I get to be an artist. And I only get the opportunity to be an artist because of how disciplined I was in mixing. All the ingredients have to be measured precisely, and you’ve got to maintain that temperature, that 78 degrees, which is the perfect fermentation temperature. And if you do all of those things, you’re disciplined in that process, then you’ll get rewarded later on with creativity. Good bread requires what good companies require. Every day is a different day. A different temperature, a different humidity. How’s the flour going to react? How’s the dough going to react? You have to pay attention to what’s going on. It’s down to those little details.
You have to bake your own bread.
This artisan baking community is very small, so as a part of this community, you know about the bakeries across the country. There’s a bakery in Massachusetts called Berkshire Mountain Bakery, and it is by many measures the best artisan bakery in the country. The owner, Richard Bourdon, is credited with much of how we eat fermented foods today. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. One day, I got an email from their head baker, Avishay, and it said, “Hey Chris, this is Avishay. I’ve heard about what you’re doing in your garage in Marietta, and I would love to come down and bake with you.” This was like Steph Curry saying he wants to teach me how to shoot. To me, it was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe it. So Avishay came from the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts to bake bread in my garage! We started at 5 in the morning and didn’t wrap up until 10 at night. The whole day, this master baker gave me tips: try this hydration, do this type of shaping. I was soaking it all up. And at the end of the night; I pulled the bread out of the oven. And I was disgusted because I spent the day with one of the best bakers in the country, and the bread was crap. It was total crap. I wouldn’t take crap to the farmers market, so I threw away probably 100 loaves of bread because it didn’t live up to my standards. The lesson I took away: you have to bake your own bread. Avishay could not bake my bread, and I could not bake his.
The same is true for our purpose in life. We have to discover it for ourselves. It’s not our parent’s purpose for us. It’s not our boss’ purpose. Because when we try to fulfill someone else’s purpose, when we try to bake someone else’s bread, we don’t live up to their expectations. We don’t even live up to our own expectations. We’ve all been gifted with a time and a place, and it’s our responsibility to find and fulfill our purpose there, which ultimately leads to a life of meaning and peace. You have to bake your own bread.