Revising Recipes

We shuffled in the potluck line, looking ahead to see the choices. A basket of brown bread caught my eye. A German woman brought it, and she proudly exclaimed that her son had perfected the sourdough recipe to taste just like it did in Bavaria.  

“Your bread is marvelous. Could I have a bit of your starter?”

“Oh, I don’t have it. It’s my son’s but I will talk to him.”

The world shutdown with COVID-19 and cut off my source for sourdough. My mouth watered for German bread, so I asked for starter for Mothers’ Day. One of our sons surprised us Mothers’ Day weekend with his presence and with sourdough starter.

We followed the instructions meticulously, measuring every ingredient to the gram. It turned out okay, but the dough was wet and didn’t look like the pictures online. I’m on my fifth batch now and have discovered that our climate influences the dough. Inferior texture and appearance call for shifting amounts of ingredients and temperature, but not following the recipe is unpredictable and therefore uncomfortable.

Besides bread baking, I’ve sought recipes for growing closer to God and for changing my character. If I could land on a strategy to pursue, something like “be thankful,” or “live by faith,” it would seem much easier. Maxims are great, but they are driven by willpower, like self-help advice. They don’t necessarily include the person and power of God. I could resolve to spend an hour studying scripture, yet never connect with the Holy Spirit. Routines for study and prayer are helpful, as long as they don’t become the object of my focus, instead of communing with God. 

To grow in God, there is no secret ingredient or set recipe. He is living. Like communicating in human relationships, I must be sensitive to Him and not try to prescribe Him, as if I could! The Bible reveals Him, but He also shows Himself in nature, in people, and even in baking bread. I am living too. Like yeast-dough, I am affected by external and internal environments. The LORD knows best what to add and what to take away. Sometimes this requires wrestling and discomfort. It’s a workout, but He is the guarantee for the result, not my self-help.  

My beloved,…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12, 13


11 thoughts on “Revising Recipes”

    1. What a powerful and beautiful analogy. Thank you. Does the sourdough do better in one season than another in Pensacola?

      1. You gave me sourdough many years ago, which I enjoyed. My hips really hung on to that treat. I couldn’t maintain after a while, but I’m adding the citric acid which came with your gift to my recent batches. (Another recipe revision) I think it will be better in winter, because the hot oven will do double duty.Also, in winter, the air is drier. I’ve cut water and added more flour due to the humidity. The warm weather also makes it rise a little faster.

  1. This reminded me of that verse that says He who began a good work in you…” love this and love your writing and His recipes. 🙂

  2. Interestingly the dough grows and rises as it rests. And it requires a good kneading to get it activated – that is lots of stretching and pounding.

    While we yield to the Baker’s hand, it is all the Baker’s wisdom and work that makes the bread.

    And once the bread is finished-what a wonderful aroma. And how tasty to others. All that was needed was the life (yeast) added with (living) water to make dusty flour bring praises to the Baker.

  3. What you described in making the dough is like when Christ prunes us. Adding and deleting ingredients is like pruning branches that do not yield fruit and this adds more life to those that do produce good fruit. We need to have the unfruitful things in our lives removed and the good be added before we can become like the loaf of bread that God meant for us to be. He is the one Who forms the bread and adds and deletes what is need to make it what He wants it to me. We are that bread. Thanks for your words of wisdom. They always help me.

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