The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Getting more serious about baking bread

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mr_goodwrench's picture
mr_goodwrench

Getting more serious about baking bread

Hey all,

Lately, I have gotten a lot more serious about baking bread and thought I'd join up here. I have perused the forums here in the past but now is the time to get invovled. 

I have been cooking/baking since I was around 12. I got my Mom's Joy of Cooking out one day and just started in on it and never quit. Bread however, was one thing that I never really got into until about 2 years ago. My MIL gave us a bread machine that she had gotten at a tag sale and I quickly realized that it wasn't going to be enough for me. Around the same time, we started to get more interested in making more of our food from scratch. Most of the commercial breads that we were eating were full of stuff like high fructose corn syrup and other things we just didn't want in our diet (even the whole grain stuff!) 

At first I was just finding recipes around the internet and had mixed success. I really turned the corner when I checked Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible out of the library. As a homebrewer and science nerd, the idea of recipes as formulas and controlling the fermentation of the dough really appealed to me.  I had never really thought of it as a chemistry experiment before. I just checked out Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain bread book and am really excited to get started on these recipes.

I am currently baking just about every Sunday and am trying to get my process down to where I can also bake during the week (my daughter only has 4 more weeks of soccer left for the Spring season so that will free up some more time for me.) I'm trying to bake as much of the bread we eat as possible which is a pretty tall ordere since although there are only 3 of us, we seem to go through a ton of bread!

Ford's picture
Ford

Floyd and Dorota Mann are our hosts on this site.  My I take the oportunity to welcome you on behalf of them and the rest of our community?

Have fun and enjoy your baking experience!

Ford

jcking's picture
jcking

Hey Y'all,

There's at least a dozen bakers from the ATL area here on The Fresh Loaf; and on behalf of them I say welcome.

Jim

jillybeansisme's picture
jillybeansisme

Hi Mr. Goodwrench!  Welcome!  I've been baking bread for more than 30+ years.  I bake 99% of the bread consumed in this household, which is two of us.  We do go through quite a bit.  As I write, there are several large loaves rising (whole white wheat).  Gotta have lunch bread!  Don't get too serious about it -- have some fun with it.  I let my mixer do the work of kneading other than a couple of turns before forming loaves!

aloomis's picture
aloomis

I bake one day a week, and make 3 loaves of sandwich bread.  I freeze two of them.  That's enough to last us a week.  These are 100% whole wheat sandwich loaves from the "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book."  I stopped using a stand mixer, because mine can only handle one loaf at a time.  Using stretch and folds, and long rises, I don't actually knead at all.  Or at least, not beyond what is needed to encorporate all the flour.  Lately, I mix up the recipe on Wednesday.  If I do it early enough, I use the full amount of yeast, and plop the dough in the fridge.  I need to stretch and fold once or twice once it goes in the fridge because it takes a long time to cool down.  Right before bed, I take the very cold dough out and leave it on the counter to warm overnight.  If I'm running late, I just use a smaller amount of yeast when I make up the dough, and leave the dough out on the couner to rise overnight.  Either way, in the morning it goes into my 95 degree oven to throughly warm through and rise.  Then, shape, bench proof, and bake.

 The point is that you can find a way to make baking fit your life.  The pattern of stuff that has to happen at a fixed time vs stuff that's flexible in the above works for me.  You can find something that works for you.

mr_goodwrench's picture
mr_goodwrench

Thanks Ford, for you welcome. I think I will really enjoy my stay here.

jcking, we are coming up on our 2 year anniversary living in the ATL (we are OTP in the far northeast corner of Gwinnett) and are loving it here! These hot summers are going to make building a wood fired oven in the backysrd a must...

jilly, I will certianly try not to get too serious, but I can't guarantee that I won't become obsessed. We currently have a Kitchenaid K5SS that we got as a wedding gift 15 years ago. I am hoping to upgrade to the 7 qt model sometime this year so that I can go back to the machine doing my kneading.

aloomis, I am working on getting my process down so that I can really fit it in with everything else we have going on. I am trying to do the bulk of my baking on Sunday but it looks like I can fit some in during the week also. I successfully baked a loaf mid week this past week!

 

 

jcking's picture
jcking

We've been here for 10 years and enjoy it very much. Send me a message here if you'd like to meet for coffee and talk bread.

Jim