Here's A Helpful Timer For All That Sourdough You're Making

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Everyone’s a baker these days—which, apart from a flour shortage, is not a bad thing. (Like, it’s better than everyone dealing with isolation by getting really into cooking meth, or macrame.) But bread can be a little overwhelming, particularly if you’ve picked just now to get into sourdough, and you’re not used to recipes that can stretch out for hours, or even days.

Thankfully, a home baker and journalist Stuart Thompson created Bread Scheduler, a scheduling tool that helps you plan all that rising and resting with precision. Just choose one of six recipes provided and pick a start time, and Bread Scheduler will spit out timed, step-by-step instructions, along with timer reminders and helpful photos. As Thompson explained to me over email, what started as an unwieldy Google Doc meant for personal use has morphed into a handy tool for everyone:

I made the site last year to learn some web stuff I’ve always been curious about. And also because I had these really long, really annoying Google Docs with possible schedules for all my bread recipes. I was trying to bake on weekends but it was always a pain to know when I’d have to be home and how long it would take. The book “Flour Water Salt Yeast” included schedules along with the recipes and I thought that was really handy. And a lot of bread websites are just horrible, along with most recipe websites. After complaining about it for a while I just decided to make something. When the pandemic really hit, I saw a lot of bread tweets online and just felt a sense of community, like we should all share what we have to help each other out of help foster an interest in doing things at home. So I decided to release it and the reception was surprisingly really kind.

While timing isn’t the only thing that affects your loaf—humidity and temperature also play major roles, Thompson feels that the scheduler could be particularly helpful for true beginners:

I’ll just say that for newcomers, having a lot of specific instructions really helps reduce anxiety. But also, I made it less as a guide for precise times and more of a scheduler to know when you’d have to be around and how long it would take. For a bake that’s 18 or 24 hours or longer, you really need to start at the right time and plan over several days. So it really just tries to solve that problem! That’s why you can slide the chart around and make precise tweaks depending on your own situation.

If you don’t know where—or, more precisely when—to begin, don’t worry, the scheduler has a built in “ideal time” to start every recipe. As someone who no longer has any concept of what day it is, much less the hour, I think that’s a very kind feature.


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