The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello; new enthusiast from small town Ontario

  • Pin It
ichadwick's picture
ichadwick

Hello; new enthusiast from small town Ontario

I just joined the forum and I'd like to say thanks to everyone for the entertaining, educational and informative discussions I've read on this site.They have been very inspiring and helpful over the past month.

I recently started making bread again after about 20 years of absence. Handmade, artisanal breads, no bread machine (yet). I've had reasonably good results to date, but I'm still looking to perfect the loaves and branch out to other styles.

And I am becoming quite keen on the historical process of breadmaking.

I've posted a couple of blog pieces and photos on my own site, and Facebook notes about my progress to date. I bake something new every 3-5 days, tinkering with the process or recipe each time to see what I can create.

My keen desire is to make good, crusty, chewy rustic bread. I'm close, but the loaf still needs work. I bought the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and have been working from it and from blog posts about it, to master the basic bread. I keep getting distracted by my innate desire to experiment.

I face a few limitations for further development: in a small town, resources are limited to what the grocery store chains offer (good, Canadian commercial flours like Robin Hood and Five Roses: pretty much limited to all-purpose white, unbleached and whole wheat), although I have a ready supply of some alternative flours at the local Bulk Barn (but not all, like pumpernickel rye). I can make a trip to Toronto (about 2-2.5 hours away) if anyone can suggest a source of materials there.

I also learned from my reading that all-purpose Canadian flour is higher protein than US flour, so I'm not sure if I need to alter recipes to account for our flour.

Yeasts here are also limited to the commercial Fleishman's types (seems to be the only choice). So far they've worked fine, but I'd like to try other varieties. Sourdough is high on my list as a project (but in a house full of cats and dogs, I'm a bit unsure about the wild yeast...). So I'm in search of a starter from an outside source I can use to get my own going. 

I'm also awaiting a baking stone to work with, due this coming week from Amazon. So far I've been using a cookie sheet or a ceramic pot. They work fine, by the way.

And in the future I may get a bread maker, but need to research the models and brands a lot more before I commit to the investment.

My other interest is the historical aspect of baking and bread: what bread did Chaucer eat? Shakespeare? How did yeast get domesticated? What grains were used by the Egyptians? By the Normans? And so on. Any links to books on the history of breadmaking would be appreciated.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for providing a great resource for neophyte bread makers like me.

mini_maggie's picture
mini_maggie

I'm in rural NS - even our Sobey's and Superstore (PC/Loblaw's) carry one or two brands stone ground flours - whole wheat, rye, spelt etc.  Usually at least Bob's Red Mill and one or two others - here we can get flours from mills in NB, ON and QC.  Usually found in the organic or natural foods aisle.  Happy baking!

loafette's picture
loafette

I read this book, well before I even attempted a simple bread...absolutely fascinating!...I think I got my copy about 10-12 years ago.

 

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2008/03/6000-years-of-b.html

I believe a few other Fresh Loaf members have also enjoyed this book...here is one review I ran across...:

 http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24/6000-years-bread

I don't often post here, but I thoroughly enjoy reading and learning from the group, and I hope you find it an enjoyable experience, as well.

I'm in South Florida, and it's just now getting cool enough to even consider baking ANYTHING!

Laura ;0)

 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Welcome!  And don't let a house full of furry friends deter you from getting your own starter going from scratch.  It's easier than it seems and as long as your bowl and spoon are clean it doesn't matter much what else is going on in the house.  Have fun!

Marcus

Darwin's picture
Darwin

Hello & welcome to TFL, lots of friendly folks here that are happy to help.

ichadwick's picture
ichadwick

Thanks, everyone. Your welcome is much appreciated. I have looked for the 6,000 years book, but it doesn't seem to be in print (just a Kindle edition on Amazon.ca). Any suggestions where else I can get one?

I've checked the local Metro, Loblaws and Freschco grocery stores - no specialty flours. Not tried Sobeys, but will check this week.

I'm curious about the mix between brewing and baking - shared yeasts, etc. I have researched the early history of alcohol in mexico for my tequila website and wonder if the yeasts used in early pulque were also used in early baking there. Any historical references will be appreciated,

nullbort's picture
nullbort

Try Food Basics if you live near one. The one in my town carries quite a few Bob's Red Mill products.

ichadwick's picture
ichadwick

Thanks. Closest one, according to their website is about 60km away. We have a Metro here, which is similar.

loafette's picture
loafette

I'd just ordered another copy of the book, a few months back, through Amazon, used...same version as my original, which is currently residing in VA, while I'm in FL.

I just now checked Amazon, and there's a newly issued version available, from a couple of vendors....:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=six%20thousand%20years%20of%20bread&sprefix=six+thou%2Cstripbooks&rh=i%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3Asix%20thousand%20years%20of%20bread

I live with two Golden Retrievers, and a miniature Dachshund, and visiting kitties, so we have furry days as well...that's never stopped me...lol!

I remember from my KAF classes...'beer is liquid bread, and bread is solid beer', pretty much!

Happy baking!

Laura 

 

 

 

 

ichadwick's picture
ichadwick

Thanks. The book is not on Amazon.ca, only the Kindle edition. There are two others, however:

Bread: A Global History by William Rubel
Bread: A Slice of History by John Marchant, Bryan Reuben, and Joan Alcock.

Any comments on either of these?

loafette's picture
loafette

Those are new to me...and, if I go to check them out, being a book addict, I will most likely end up with one or the other...lol! Tooooo tempting! If I allowed the temptation to take over, most likely it would be the 2nd volume you listed.

Alibris has the Jacobs book, as well.

Laura ;0)

 

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

from focaccia and pizza aren't Italian in origin and that before commercial yeast became available, by far most bread wasn't made with SD.  Welcome and have fun researching bread history - I too find it most enjoyable and

Happy Baking

ichadwick's picture
ichadwick

I have the five-minute book. Are there others in that vein I should also have in my collection?

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Many qualitt flours can be ordered online and save you long drives. King Arthur is one, bobs red mill also ships. You can also google your area for any local grain farms/millers. 

Welcome 

josh

ichadwick's picture
ichadwick

Thanks, Josh, but I'm not sure about ordering flour across the border - aside from the cost of shipping it may came with other restrictions or charges. My wife would have a conniption if the bread costs more than a breadmaker!

As for flour mills - we're mostly corn country here, but thanks for the idea. I can check with the local food coop.We have good basic flours, just not many choices for exotic or alternative flours.

BBQinMaineiac's picture
BBQinMaineiac

If I lived in Canada I'd be grinding my own flour. OK, I live in the USA and I grind my own, but my point is that you have fantastic grain producing areas so I'd look into buying wheat berries and grinding my own. Fooey on commercial flours. Maybe that's an option for you. There are many options as to mixers and mills.

I special order sacks of grain, I bet you can also.

BTW, welcome to the forum!

ichadwick's picture
ichadwick

That might be interesting,and probably a lot of fun,  but not entirely practical. I don't have space for a grinder, to start with, and in a small town, I don't have easy access to grain kernels in bulk. All would have to be shipped in (extra expense).

But I do have access to basic good Canadian milled flour, and so far it's been good.

I found some specialty flours like Red Fife, kamut and spelt at the local Bulk Barn, which I will experiment with, later.

I recall years ago when I ground my own coffee beans. I didn't really notice a difference between it and the ground coffee I bought at the store. Besides it was noisy and took an extra step to get me caffeinated. I stopped.

BBQinMaineiac's picture
BBQinMaineiac

If I lived in Canada I'd be grinding my own flour. OK, I live in the USA and I grind my own, but my point is that you have fantastic grain producing areas so I'd look into buying wheat berries and grinding my own. Fooey on commercial flours. Maybe that's an option for you. There are many options as to mixers and mills.

I special order sacks of grain, I bet you can also.

BTW, welcome to the forum!