Dr. Kevin Kehl, dean of the University College and Honors College, has pursued curiosity and creativity in both his career and his hobbies. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Kenya, he returned to the United States to work at Harding with international programs and has continued to teach and lead. Even in his free time, he finds ways to encourage others creatively by baking sourdough bread.
Kehl first started baking sourdough eight years ago when he and his wife, Susan, dean of Carr College of Nursing and Harding Online, discovered the health benefits of swapping sourdough for regular bread. The first few attempts had disappointing results and caused Kehl to lay aside the hobby temporarily.
“I decided not to completely give up on myself or the process, so I determined that I was going to persist and try to get through the period,” said Kehl. “I started another starter and continued to have kind of mixed results.”
In the second attempt to craft his recipe, Kehl began to enjoy the challenge. He started experimenting with flours and flavors including organic flours, whole wheat, winter wheat and rye. Kehl also combined a variety of flavors such as apple, pumpkin, rosemary, cocoa and nuts to find the perfect ratio. Kehl had to perfect his baking procedures, which vary based on atmospheric conditions when the starter is fermenting or the dough is rising as well as the type of oven, containers and baking pans used.
Kehl loves sharing the results of his experiments with the people in his community. In the early days of experimentation, Kehl shared his bread with his home Bible study group for feedback. He enjoys bringing his loaves to his students and coworkers, especially during the holidays.
“The sourdough loaves fit the bill of unusual Christmas gifts, so it is the perfect gift to share with neighbors and coworkers,” said Kehl. “There is a little more connection because you get to share a little bit of yourself. You can turn this hobby into a gift with more fulfillment and enjoyment.”
Baking sourdough bread started as a hobby to be creative and healthy, but Kehl found a way to turn something he loved into a gift to bless other people and add a personal touch to the holiday season. Follow along on his Instagram, @sourkevin.