I haven't slept well for several nights in a row. I think it's been nearly a week. I thought for sure I'd sleep through Saturday night after getting up at 3:50 a.m. that morning (more on that in my next blog entry), but instead I was awake at 4:18 on Sunday, like a child who can't wait to see what Santa left in her stocking. Which (together with a couple of glasses of celebratory wine with lunch) made me tired Sunday evening, which made me go to bed too early. And that, combined with some body aches, made me have fitful sleep and wake too early yet again.
Last night, my head was spinning even though it was past bedtime. I decided to put my thoughts - if not my weary body - to bed by baking. Baking calms me. I'm still learning about bread, so I have to think; I have to pay attention. I measured out my ingredients. I warmed the water. I stirred together the sponge for "Country Bread" from Baking with Julia. It's a recipe by Joe Ortiz, who wrote The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America. Or maybe you are familiar with his gorgeous poster.
When the sponge was ready for its first rise, I knew I could sleep, if only until it was time to work with it some more.
Except that the weather had something else in mind. Approximately 1:50 a.m., I was startled awake by ridiculously close, extremely loud thunder. There was no going back to sleep. I know, because I tried. It doesn't matter. I played on the computer for a while and soon enough it was time to use the sponge to make the dough.
On its second rise, it doubled more quickly than the suggested time; maybe the house is warm. Its final rise in the banneton went very quickly too. That made me realize I am finally learning what bread should look and feel like, so I can rely on my instincts instead of the clock.
One good thing about insomnia is that I can have freshly baked bread, very early in the day. Yay?