Please note: This post was created in collaboration with Chase Freedom Unlimited. All opinions, images and content are my own.

I’m making some progress on my “be a better baker challenge” in collaboration with my friends at Chase Freedom Unlimited, and I have been digging into a baking area that I was really excited to tackle: bread! Oh gosh, I love bread, and fresh baked bread is just about the best thing on earth. I have been determined to master a go-to recipe in the bread category that I can make when we have guests over for a meal, because a good crusty loaf is the perfect accompaniment to most dishes and summer desserts. To jump on my bread experiments I needed some new tools and ingredients. I love exploring kitchen stores for this kind of acquisition, but ended up using my Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back credit card online. This card allows me to earn 1.5% cash back on all my purchases, so I’m always earning and saving up toward my goal to be a better baker. After a night on my laptop digging into the King Arthur Flour website, I rounded up some essentials for bread making and checked out with my Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, earning 1.5% cash back in the process!My box of bread-making goodies arrived — cookbooks, bread flour, and a striped bowl – and I was ready to get kneading! My most exciting purchase was a fresh sourdough starter, which thankfully came with a handy booklet of guidance and tips. Here’s what I learned after my first few loaves of bread: it’s a big time commitment!! I dutifully followed the instructions for “feeding” the sourdough starter, which involved mixing it with water and flour, letting it rise for several hours, and then repeating the process again and again and again. 

It took me a few days to get the starter ripened to use, and once it was ready, I got to making my first batch of dough. Then that dough has to rise, and get shaped, and rise again. All-in, it probably took me 3 days from opening the package until I actually got a warm loaf bread out of the oven, but it was so worth the wait. The crackling sound of the sour dough as the steam escaped and the crust contracted was blissful, as was the first bite after slicing into the loaf! There were some challenges with my experiments though. The first loaf was delicious but didn’t quite have the crusty-texture of good homemade sour dough. For my second experiment, I used a bread-baking cloche and got a beautiful, gold brown loaf with a perfect crust. I was elated but came to find out that the bottom of the bread was completely stuck to the ceramic cloche and I had to cut it off to finally get it removed. The challenges came with good lessons though. I feel a lot more confident after just a few attempts and am eager to keep trying and working towards this baking goal! Luckily I’m always earning and working towards my goals using my Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back credit card, because I think I’m going to need to order a lot more flour! Up next, I may attempt some easy summer desserts, or baked goods that involve yeast and rising now that I have some experience – cinnamon buns or croissants may be in my future! Stay tuned!