On Expertise, Mistakes, and Baking Bread

Earlier this week, I threw away about four pounds of mistakes. To console myself, I paraphrased in my head the wisdom of Nils Bohr: an expert is someone who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a narrow field. Now I’m no expert, but judging by my mistakes, I may be getting somewhere.

The mistake in question? A batch of sourdough bread dough that I’d left to rise too long. What happens when you do this? A week ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. Now, I know from experience exactly what happens: the dough goes past the point of being both airy…