At the rate we’re going on this Island, we may need one of those communal wood-fired ovens so popular in medieval days. You know, a place we could all bring our loaves to bake, swap sourdough stories, and peek at our neighbors’ boules and baguettes. For now, we’re stuck with social media, which is alternately inspiring and nerve wracking.

Nerve wracking for me at least, as I’m not at all sure of my bread-baking prowess. I’m pretty good with pastry (butter has always been my friend), but I remember screwing up the bread at culinary school the week my team had to make it for everyone. I recall a lot of debating about measurements. Maybe bread baking is more successful without a committee.

I hope so, because the pressure is on. I’ve been using various excuses (no time, no bread flour, no yeast, no starter) ever since the baking craze mushroomed within days of everyone sheltering at home.

In my defense, it’s not as if we’re lacking good bread at my house. My partner is a long-time subscriber to Kate Warner’s Bread CSA, and in between pick-ups every other Thursday, I hit up Grey Barn. (And if I lived in Oak Bluffs, I would absolutely be at Jim’s Package Store in the mornings awaiting the delivery of freshly baked loaves— and croissants — from Falmouth’s Maison Villatte.)

But then a friend left a care package in my driveway. In it was a jar of sourdough starter, and a few packages of yeast. Busted!

Not only that, but I learned that Vineyard Cash and Carry has bread flour (and, as it turns out, yeast). They’re happy to sell you 50-pound bags of King Arthur bread flour or 25-pound bags of Sysco all-purpose flour. They can order rye or buckwheat flour. You could go in on a flour purchase with some friends and find a socially-distanced way to divide it.

Sourdough starter in hand, I wanted to get on the horse but not have a bumpy ride, so I made overnight sourdough waffles with a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Easy and delicious, with a very light texture.

Meanwhile, other friends were texting me photos of their sourdough baking sprees — pretzels, pizza dough, doughnuts, all kinds of breads. Why sourdough? A few reasons, I think. Grocery stores quickly ran low on yeast when everyone started baking at home. Creating your own sourdough starter (a fermented dough produced by flour and water combining with wild yeast and lactobacilli bacteria) means you don’t need yeast to make bread. But since starter is a living, changing organism, it also automatically turns bread baking into an art — a challenging endeavor that’s both distracting and calming. Perfect for these times.

Lastly, recipes for no-knead sourdough bread baked in a cast-iron Dutch oven abound. Look on NYT Cooking, Food52, and King Arthur Flour for good ones. No stand mixer needed — a great incentive to bake bread.

For inspiration, I asked my colleague Louisa Hufstader about her sourdough baking journey. Since she lived in Northern California before returning to Edgartown a few years ago, I assumed her baking muse would be a West Coast bread guru like Tartine’s Chad Robertson or Elizabeth Prueitt. Not so. Her favorite bread book, Baking by Hand: Make the Best Artisanal Breads and Pastries without a Mixer, is by Massachusetts bakers Andy and Jackie King, the fabulous duo behind A & J King Artisans Bakers in Salem. That made sense; their bread is amazing.

“Usually I alternate between their pain au levain and their North Shore sourdough. They also have a bacon-black pepper bread that is sublime but uses an insane amount of bacon,” she said.

Louisa uses her sourdough starter for everyday baking, too. “When I want same-day bread, I still throw some sourdough in with the yeast. Lately, I’ve been making sandwich rolls with potato starch in the bread machine; a half-cup or so of sourdough goes in nicely when I swap in some whole wheat for white to absorb the extra liquid and add some fiber.”

Louisa also makes crepes with just a bit of sourdough starter, flour, and a little salt. “Super-easy,” she said.

I think I’m ready to tackle sourdough bread, but I have one last excuse for stalling: First I want to make focaccia (yes, with ordinary yeast). Culinary school notwithstanding, in years past I had good luck with focaccia using a recipe from award-winning baker Peter Reinhart (available to the Googler). Secondly, my friend John Kennedy has been baking focaccia over the last few weeks, and he reminded me of how satisfying it is to make.

“I don’t know whether this will be a long-term commitment to having flour in my hair, but I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it — the process, the satisfaction of creating something, and of course, the taste,” he told me.

Teri Culletto

Beyond the satisfaction factor, focaccia can also be a canvas for decorating with vegetables and herbs. At least that’s what Teri Culletto (aka the Vineyard Baker) does. Her beautiful bread art on Instagram has gleaned the modest baker 15,000 followers.

Teri first introduced focaccia art to the Island in classes for ACE MV, right after an inspiring visit to the Van Gogh exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art. (Yellow bell peppers, scallions, and parsley leaves make excellent sunflowers.) Most recently she had been working to get her kitchen certified by the board of health and to add a small studio on to her kitchen for classes.

But when everything stopped, she decided to share her techniques with homebound parents and kids in the form of a free downloadable kit on her website, (Look for the Foccacia Bread Art Project.) To date, the kit — which includes a recipe for Van Dough focaccia, detailed instructions, photos, and a design template — has been downloaded 1,000 times. One Saturday a few weeks ago, Culletto answered 100 emails.

“I can’t imagine not sharing right now,” she said. “I’ve gotten the sweetest emails. One parent said her child was getting an A from her economics teacher for her bread project.”

“It’s a perfect school project,” she pointed out, “because it’s every class wrapped up into one: math, science, reading, following instructions, art.”

Teri thinks focaccia is a good place for adult bread bakers to start, too, because there’s no strict shaping involved and none of the quirks of sourdough. And she agrees with John Kennedy about the satisfaction factor.

“Honestly, it’s an opportunity to be clever and creative,” she said. “It truly is cathartic. You feel so proud of yourself. And then you get to eat the results!”

Sign me up!