The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi, I'm Jan and I am a bake-a-holic :D

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Blonde Logic's picture
Blonde Logic

Hi, I'm Jan and I am a bake-a-holic :D

Hi there,


I thought it was about time to find a forum to hang around and discuss my new obsession:  baking bread.


I am 50 years old, and all my life envied those who could bake delicious bread from scratch.  I made a few feeble attempts over the years, which generally resulted in a short, heavy bricks of a loaf.  I figured successful bread baking was only for the lucky few.  And I was not one.  So never pursued it.  But always dreamt of it.


Then, last year after a traumatic accident, me dear mother passed away - and for some unknown reason, the moment I got the call that she had died, I had an overwhleming urge to bake - nevermind it was 1am in the morning.


The moment I laid my hands on the dough and started moving it around, something came over me and I had an overwhelming sense of comfort.  A real earthy feeling came over me, and I knew my hands needed to be in dough.  And that horrible sad night opened a new door for me where I could pour my passion and my emotions into something to take my mind of the sadness I felt.  From that moment - I knew - I simply MUST learn to make bread properly.


A few rough starts, a few good sourdough starters - some bad ones - an experiment here and another there, I am beginning to come to grips with it.  In fact, many loaves I feel quite proud of, and wish I had started this sooner.  Much sooner.  But better late then never.


Now that I am beginning to know what I am doing, I am also beginning to know what I am not doing - where I need help, and advice and guidance. 


So here I am, hoping to chat with like minded people, who can share their expertise and advise with me, while I learn more than just the basics.  I dream of perfecting Artisan style bread.  I am an artist, and I want to utilise the creative nature I have to bake beautiful, homely comforting bread for my family and friends.


My name is Jan, and I look forward to chatting with you.


Happy Easter, and happy baking.  :)


 


 


 


 


 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Jan,


There are lots of ways to get started, but unfortunately many of them prime your process with bad information and poor rationale which leads to great frustration.  My suggestion is to buy a copy of Jeffrey Hamelman's book "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" and read it - you probably don't have to go past page 285. But make sure to read all of the blue print as it contains the nuggets.  When you are done, do it again, and again.  There are many subtle tidbits of guidance that will not take root the first time.  This is a book by a baker for bakers as well as others. But it is not a beginners book. There is a series of short videos on the King Arthur Flour web site, in the professional video section (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/videos.html) that are very informative (starring Jeffrey Hamelman).


One thing not to do - whether you buy a starter from Ed Wood or not - is to model your processes after his.  Take everything you read on-line with a grain of salt, examine it critically for repeatable, testable results and try to relate it to the physics, chemistry, and microbiology that really govern bread making.


And of course - have fun.


Doc

Blonde Logic's picture
Blonde Logic

Hi Doc


Thanks for the good tips.  I will look into the book and also will watch the videos.


"the physics, chemistry, and microbiology that really govern bread making" is the part that kind of boggles my mind - I do not have a scientific mind at all, and I know this is an important part of breadmaking.  It seems daunting to me.  BUt I think like you said, is read it.  And then read it again.  And again.  Then hopefully it will stick. 


Who is Ed Wood? I did notknow you could buy starters.  I have made a few, and sometimes they are good - but sometimes they seem to go off, almost as if I left them too long, despite feeding them as instructed, etc.  They result in a delicious flavour, but the loaves are very flat and very dense.


Also, I see in many recipes comments about Fresh Yeast.  How does this compare to granulated, or fast acting, etc., and where do you get this type?


Once again, thanks for your reply.  :)


 


 


 


 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Jan,


Here is the link to Ed Wood's site:


http://www.sourdo.com/


He has multiple starters for sale, though he still seems to adhere to the notion that you "catch wild yeast" to initiate a starter, which I think he pretty much disproved when he was doing the National Geographic program on Egyptian bread baking in the time of the pyramid builders. But origins aside, he provides an inexpensive route to known good starters (though I will note that the last time I bought one it had a funky note for a few days until the real culture suppressed some interloper).


Doc

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Jan!


Welcome to TFL!


Thanks for sharing your story. You have discovered in a flash that bread is at the intersection of art and nurturance. You may not have explored the other highway off that intersection, which is science, but many never do.


The Hamelman book doc.dough recommends is a terrific one. However, it may be daunting to a new baker. You might do better starting with a book that was written primarily for home bakers. Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" is a good example.


Do explore this web site. There are lessons for starters. The Handbook (see the menu at the top of the page) has lots of good information. There are also book reviews.


If you are interested in making a particular type of bread, using the TFL search function is likely to find you examples of that bread made by other members.


There is lots to learn, but that is one of the attractions of bread baking for many of us.


Happy baking!


David

Blonde Logic's picture
Blonde Logic

Hi David.  :)


 


I have the Peter Reinhardts book, and really need to get stuck in reading.  Being somewhat impatient, I just dive in to the recipes and start having a go!  But I really need to read the whole part in the first half of the book! 


I am on holiday for the next week - maybe I will put that on my TO DO list!!!


Thanks for the good advice.  And I like your highway comment - I get it.  :)


I will chjeck out the parts of the forum you mentioned.  Thanks very much!


 


 

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Hi Jan. don't let all this mumbo jumbo put you off bread making, I started this hobby before I was  married when my to be husband  brought me in 1/2 pound fresh yeast, and said can you make Hot Cross buns. OMG.that actually was 54 years ago this week.  and I was hooked.   I still don't understand bakers percentages, but I have made bread of various kinds over the years with out any complaints.  when asked about making bread this is my theory on it..  


get yourself a simple recipe and try it,, 


 When I make bread I do not go rigidly by amounts in a recipe.
I use a DLX, and I use bottled water, some times I use 2 bottles
some times 1 and what ever is left in another one.
I add part of the flour enough to mix in,  and 1 tablespoon of sugar
and about 1 inch cube of fresh yeast that I crumple into the water /flour, or 2 teas
I then add almost enough more flour to give me a nice dough, adding a good 1/4 cup soft butter, mix that in well, then 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, salt always last.
 now  enough more flour to give me the right feel of dough meaning not to stiff and not too sticky
I then remove from the bowl, hand knead on floured counter to a
nice smooth round ball, place in oiled bowl, spray with water, cover and let rise.
Then I knock it back, and shape as however I want it, maybe loaf
pans with 20 ounces in, or pullman with 30 ounces, or bread rolls or maybe freeform.
I have been making bread for many many years, also a wide variety of it.
To me bread is not an exact science, I enjoy bread baking, well any baking from scratch. Also I have shown many friends how to make bread, oh and also pastry. ;-))
I believe that bread takes it own sweet time to rise.
As I said I use a DLX, before that I used a Cuisinart Pro 7 food
processor,before that a Kenwood mixer, I have a K A mixer but it
really is not for breads etc.
I do mill my whole wheat flour  

Blonde Logic's picture
Blonde Logic

Hi Qahtan  :)


Thanks for your post.    No, scientific stuff won't stop me - at this point I do not think anything can stop me - I just love having my hands in dough!    But I do want to know it - to understand it - and will try.  BUt I will keep at it, either way - I just love it!


I just saw your message - I am not far from Angmering at all!!  I am in Lancing (yuck) near Worthing.  :)  I am originally from Northern California and will be going back at some point, but I have been here 10 years.  I know I will miss the coast too when we move back as we are building a home way up north near Oregon, and a very long way from the coast.  Having grown up in San Francisco bay area, and then here - that will be the first time I have been away from the ocean. Will definately be an adjustment!


 


Anyway - nice to meet you and thank you for your advice!  :)


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jan,


Welcome to the community of TFL.


You are in very good company.


I lecture in Bakery in Newcastle upon Tyne, the other end of England to you.


I hope you enjoy your time here, and learn all you want to, and more besides


Best wishes


Andy

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

the objective is to increase your addiction, not cure it.  But welcome to TFL anyway!  Lots and lots of helping enablers here, some of whom you've already met.


I like having my hands in dough, too.  It's every bit as good as having my hands in the dirt in the garden.  I'm glad you have found something that helps soothe the grief you are experiencing.


Ask for help anytime.  And keep us posted on your bakes.


Paul

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Welcome Jan,


as a breadaholic you are certainly not alone here.


The book that got me hooked is Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters. Whitley has a bakery in the lake district and delivers some of his creations to Waitrose.


What got me hooked about his book is that he is quite technical and thorough in describing the way British factory bread is made. When it comes to recipes I found his text quite sensual, describing the amazing changes in the dough through the action of your hands.


I made his basic loaf in tins over and over again, with different flour mixes (mostly plain white), because my family like it.


I also like particuarly his Russian Rye, which I find very easy to make (but things can go wrong).


Looking forward to hearing more from you,


Juergen from Brighton


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Juergen,


Just a small correction on Andrew's connection with the bakery you mention in the Lake District.


I worked there for 10 years, up to the end of 2003.   Andrew ceased to be involved with the Company a year or so before that.   Subsequently I assisted Andrew running his bread courses from this bakery for his new Company, Breadmatters.   This came to an end at the end of 2007, when Andrew had to vacate and run his courses from home.   Since then he has re-located to Central Lothian in Scotland, and runs bread classes from within an operation which clearly fits in better with his enlightened vision for how we can feed ourselves well, and, sustainably, in the future.   This is a link to his website: http://www.breadmatters.com/


Best wishes


Andy

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Andy, Thank you for the update.


It feels strange to me now that I never followed him on the web despite him (his book) starting me off into the baking world ...


Juergen

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Welcome.  Your post reads like you may be a writer.  I enjoyed it and, more than that, related to your feeling of comfort kneading dough.


FF

Candango's picture
Candango

Hi Jan,


     Well, you have heard from some of the more prolific and most experienced bakers on this forum.  The advice offered by PJ, Andy and David is great.  Welcome to the forum.  I am sure you will enjoy it here.  There are recipes and formulae galore, as well as tips and comments.  As to sourdough starters, do a search in this forum for "Dough Lady"and Sourdough Starters.  Her instructions are great - simple and direct with sufficient explanation of the process that you can understand what is happening.  And you get good starters. 


     So, without further blather, welcome, and have fun.  If you run into problems or bumps in the road, just pose a question here and you will be sure to get an answer.


 


Bob

Blonde Logic's picture
Blonde Logic

Thank you all for such a warm welcome!


I can see I have landed on a great forum already, and am sure over time I will be dropping questions left, right and centre.  I can see there are some very knowledgable bakers here, and I look forward to absorbing some of this great info!


While I write, I have two loaves in the kitchen proving now.  Just a basic white bread, but it is a good one.  Going to be a late night me thinks!!  I made this one a few days ago and it was so good, thought I'd have another go.


I don't often make white bread - I prefer sourdough, or whole grain but this is nice for a change.


With a week off ahead of me, I am sure I will get into some sourdough - I will search for Dough Lady's tips!


Andrew, you mentioned a baker that runs courses in Scotland.  I wish I could find one down here - I would love to do some workshops with a pro.  It would be great to have someone tell me if I am on the right track.


Hope you all are having a good evening. 


Anyone else have any dough on the rise tonight?


 


 


 


 


 


 

Rockford Dough Girl's picture
Rockford Dough Girl

Hey!!! I've also discovered the wonders of baking bread. Like you I've always wanted to learn but never felt capable. As a child my mother baked breads and would let me play with the dough while she baked.


She's no longer here to guide me but I found a wonderful lady who offered lessons and a group of us went to her kitchen and we all started baking bread!


The biggest lesson I learned was none of the measurements we used were engraved in stone. It was all about feeling, smelling, looking, and finally tasting. Hey!!! Just like regular cooking!!!! I can handle that!!!


I've since made several loaves of bread including focaccia: one with rosemary and the other with olives.


Keep on baking!!!!


Winn

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

2 sourdough 100% whole wheat loaves doing a slow rise.  Yawn...


I used a mix of Reinhart's epoxy method and Flo's 1-2-3 method (1 part by weight starter with the 2 parts water and 3 parts flour as a soaker).


FF

Blonde Logic's picture
Blonde Logic

Hi FF - how did your SD turn out?


 


Mine turned out good but not without a few hiccups!  I forgot to turn the top element of my oven off and burnt the top of the loaf!!  The other sank because I got distracted and let it prove too long!!  lol


But they are still both very tasty so not a total loss!!  :)

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I will bake the loaves tonight. 


Hey, hickups are part of the trip.  I made a whole wheat brick last week when I was trying out a "brilliant" idea.  Though there are many photos of gorgeous loaves on this forum, remember that most of us don't photograph our flops.  Perhaps we should.


FF

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

The crumb was not as open as I like on these, but so far that is par for my  sourdough 100% whole wheat loaves.  They do better with bigas and poolishes.



FF

Candango's picture
Candango

Jan,


   Mea culpa.  In my haste to respond, I spelled it incorrectly.  You might still find it under "Sourdough Lady", but it will take considerable wading.  The correct spelling is "Sourdo Lady".  That will take you directly to her and her blog and formulae.


Enjoy.


Bob

Blonde Logic's picture
Blonde Logic

Thanks Bob - I found her.  :)


 


FF, your loaves look beautiful.  WHever I try to put slashes in mine, the dough seems to almost deflate, and the slashes just become flat?  Any idea what I might be doing wrong there?


Also, I watched some of the videos on this site as recomended.  I watched the series on shaping loaves.


I noticed that he always seemed to flatten the dough, and then kind of roll/pinch it up.  I usually just shape it right into a loaf shape and pop in the pan to rise, or on a tray if freeform.


Should I be rolling it up into a loaf shape?


Happy easter everyone, by the way!  :)


 


 

jcking's picture
jcking

I've started to slash mine sooner than just before going into the oven, giving less deflation. 5 to 7 minutes prior seems to work for me. The angle of the slash will determine if you'll get ears or not.


Jim

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Thanks. Slashes my weakest point.  I tend to over-proof.  I'm working toward ending the proof earlier.


Degassing before shaping is also something I'm experimenting with.  I'm having better luck doing that I think.


FF