I have been baking bread for a few years now, I love the ritual of it, at home in my kitchen with my family, creating something so delicious and nourishing from only flour, water and salt. It has become second nature to me and part of the rhythm of our house.
However, like a lot of things that we do repeatedly, I stopped experimenting a while back as I was happy with the results I was getting. This week, on a whim, I increased the hydration by 2%, only 10ml more water in the recipe, and the difference in the bread was marked, and it turns out, repeatable.
Now, high hydration dough needs practice to handle, it gets stickier the more water you add, but I gained that skill ages ago – I had simply stopped looking for ways to improve.
It made me think about other things people do automatically, without thought, like the bartender who still pours the way they were shown in their first shift (we see this a lot in our training sessions!), the way we greet people, how and when we go to bed or that irritating work process we follow without question because that is the way it has always been done.
There are big changes to be had from small shifts, sometimes a little reflection and a bit more observation is all that is needed.