The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Floydm's blog

  • Pin It
Floydm's picture

I thought I had nailed the problem, but the server slowed down again this evening. Looks like it is running out of RAM. I've ordered more RAM, but it may take a day or two for it to get installed. Thanks for your patience.

Floydm's picture

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what this site is for. Part of the reason I've been thinking about this is my recent employment at Mercy Corps, but the disputes the last few days have brought to my attention that we don't all come here with the same expectations about what this site is trying to do. So let me riff a little about what I think think The Fresh Loaf is about. I'll admit up front, I'm not entirely certain either, and as the site has grown my feelings may have changed and probably will continue to do so. Still, some reflection is worthwhile, and hopefully it'll help explain why some things set me off.

The site is a little over two years old. In that time we've had people come and go, but a decent number of regulars have hung around. Many of them (as well as new members) have commented that they don't tend to post to online communities but that this one is different. People here are more helpful, more courteous, less judgmental, more humane than on most other boards.

As the site grows, I'm coming to realize that *that* is what I want to cultivate here. More than the recipes, more than the photos, more than anything else it is the kindness and the humanity that I want to see flourish. Given the choice between this become the most authoritative bread baking site online but run by a bunch of a**holes or a site full of compassionate, caring, but perhaps mediocre bakers, I will hands down choose the latter. That said, I think we have some very talented bakers here and the site content keeps getting better and better. I don't think kindness needs be thrown aside to achieve greatness.

Mercy Corps' motto, which I see and think about every day, is a quote from Gandhi: "Be The Change." In our every day interactions with one another, we can make the world a better place. I honestly think what we've been doing here is consistent with that mission. Every time a baker on one side of the world helps a baker on the other side of the world regardless of borders, race, or religion, we make the world a better place. Every time someone who has been wanting to try to bake something but has been too intimidated to finally tries it because we gave them the confidence to and it brings joy to them and their loved ones, we make the world a better place. Every time we post a tip or a hint we are focusing on our common humanity by sharing our passions with one another rather than focus on our differences and by doing so, in a small way, we are making the world a better place.

As I've mentioned, I worked with Peter Reinhart and the other Brother Juniper's bakers while in high school. I watched how they took something as simple as neighborhood cafe and used it to bring kindness, joy, inspiration, love, and caring into people's lives. They did things far nobler that anything I've done here, such as provide food for the terminally ill and employ a number of people with handicaps that made it difficult for them to find work elsewhere. Their model has inspired me to think about the mission of this site as something more than just exchanging recipes.

I'm continuing to think about how we can use this site to be an agent for positive change in the world, both on micro-level ("offer encouragement to excited new bakers") to the macro-level ("could we do a World Bread Day fundraiser for people who can't even afford to put bread on the table?"). I think we can do more with it.

All that said, I am grateful to the people on this site who come here each day and share their talents and experience. By doing so they enrich my life and the lives of many others.

Floydm's picture

We had a lovely dinner over at some friends house this evening. The only downside was there was no bread or starch of any kind with the meal. Being the carbivore that I am, I was very pleased that I had some sourdough loaves waiting to be baked when I got home.

I haven't baked sourdough in three or four weeks. I was pleased to see my starter is still alive:

Not the best sourdough I've ever made, but not bad. It does seem to have been improved by the fact that we were out for 6 hours and it got an extra long final fermentation.

Floydm's picture

This was the second time today I've prepared a post and then lost it. Perhaps I should take that as a sign and log off.

This is the latest variation on the whole wheat honey bread I've baked. Less honey and with sunflower seeds. Quite good, quite simple to prepare.

Floydm's picture

Though I haven't posted much in a while, I have been baking. I baked Hot Cross Buns for Easter.

Some sourdough loaves and Hamelman's pecan golden raisin whole wheat bread last weekend

Tonight I made calzone.

And my Honey Whole Wheat Bread.

I'm a bit off my game. The new job is taking quite a bit more of my attention than my previous job. And with spring here, the yard and garden beckon me constantly. To top it all off, my boy figured out how to ride his bike without training wheels last weekend, so every spare dry minute is spent at the high school track letting him practice riding laps. Good times, but less time for baking right now.

Floydm's picture

Sourdough loaves

I baked three loaves of sourdough yesterday. The dough was lower hydration than I typically do, but they turned out real nice.

I also made pita bread for lunch. The kids loved rolling them out and eating them. I have to remember to make them more often.

The new job at Mercy Corps is keeping me very busy, which is why I am less active here. I'm extremely excited about being there though. It is a great organization full of great people. I couldn't ask for a much better place to work.

Floydm's picture

I baked buddye's sourdough banana bread for the first time last night:

sourdough banana bread

Pretty good. I can't say I noticed a huge difference in flavor from the 10 minute banana bread, but it was a nice way to make use of starter that I otherwise would have dumped out while refreshing.

I also tried a first batch of sourdough bread in my evaluation copy of the much discussed Steam maker bread kit:

three sourdough loaves

The top two I did the with steam maker, the third was my control.

It is going to take a few more batches before I have a hang of the thing and can render any kind of verdict on it.

Floydm's picture

[img_assist|nid=2068|title=Something I took in Victoria|desc=This is just an image I took while in Victoria. I'm testing whether image assist module works.|link=none|align=left|width=600|height=450]

Image assist is the new icon below the body. Click on it and it should let you upload an image.

Still a bit buggy, but hopefully it'll help some people with their image uploads.

Floydm's picture

My Sunday baking suffered a bit today because we spent the morning out at the Chinese Gardens watching the lion dance for the beginning of the lunar new year celebration.

I had a batch of my pooish bread in the fridge as well as some sourdough with 20% whole wheat. Since the poolish bread was on the damp side, I ended up dimpling it and shooting for something like a ciabatta. Inside, it looked about right.

The crust was wonderfully thin and crispy, but it didn't look like your typical ciabatta since there was no raw flour on the crust. Alas.

Many breads

The sourdough loaves I baked in pans. I also made some mini loaves of banana bread.

Anyone here ever tried making a yeasted banana bread? I thought about it today but though better of it. Actually, now I'm remembering that there is a sourdough banana bread on the site. I should try that next time.

Floydm's picture

Nothing terribly interesting baked today. A couple of loaves of my poolish French bread.

And a large sourdough miche-like loaf.

The French bread stales quickly, so we ate it tonight and will finish it tomorrow. I think the miche will be better after a day or two anyway, so we'll crack it open tomorrow evening or the next day.


Subscribe to RSS - Floydm's blog