By Cassady Rosenblum
The Parsons Advocate
During the pandemic last year, many home-bound Americans decided to try their hand at baking. One popular choice? Sourdough bread. “Uh oh,” thought Kristy Blackburn, a Davis baker who was just planning to start selling her own sourdough. “I’ve got competition!” But Blackburn’s loaves will be hard to beat.
The Georgia native, who originally came to West Virginia to work for the Forest Service in Parsons, is classically trained in the art of sourdough. In 2019, she attended the San Francisco Baking Institute in California, learning how to bake a variety of goods before deciding to open Fox Alley Bakery, which produces several types of sourdough including dill, walnut currant, and rye.
Sourdough differs from traditional bread in that it often has a chewier texture, and tangier taste. This is because traditional bread and sourdough bread use different types of yeast. Yeast is a single-cell fungus found naturally in the air. However, store-bought yeast, or “baker’s yeast,” is a dried form of the organism that reactivates with the addition of water. The yeast then eats the sugar found in the flour and “burps” carbon dioxide. It is this carbon dioxide that makes bread rise.
Sourdough yeast, on the other hand, is called a “starter” and must be kept constantly alive! Sourdough bakers either capture their own wild yeast from the air, or rely on a friend to share a piece of her own starter. A baker must then “feed” her starter flour and water on regular intervals daily. For this reason, making sourdough bread is very labor intensive.
A Fox Alley classic sourdough loaf costs $7. It is available at the Highland Market, where Blackburn drops it off fresh Friday mornings around 11 a.m. It is also available Friday evenings at the Farmer and Artisan Regional Market, located in the parking lot of the Tucker County Community Foundation Building at 737 William Avenue.