The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

baking and personality type

  • Pin It
ericb's picture
ericb

baking and personality type

Last night, I fell asleep beneath a fresh copy of Hamelman's Bread. My wife must have come in at some point, took the book on my face, and looked through it, because I awoke to her saying, "This is so you." 


"Mmmf?"


"All these measurements and weights and technique... this is who you are. No wonder you love to bake bread!"


So, this got me thinking... how tightly is my desire to bake wrapped up with my personality traits? I recently took one of those online type indicator assessments and found that I closely identify with the INTP type (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving). This is apparently one of the more rare types, accounting for between 1%-3% of the population. One of the dominant characteristics of this type is that they seek to understand things, are fascinated with concepts, but aren't so keen on actually perfecting techniques. I can identify with this in many areas of my life, including bread. While I love to read books and try out new techniques, once I understand how they work, I don't care to pursue them to perfection.


Anyway, to the point: what personality traits do home bakers and professional bakers share in common? How are they different? Are most bakers in the introverted camp, or extraverted? If you haven't taken a Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessment, there are plenty available for free on the web, and they only take 20 minutes. These might not meet up to the standards of the APA, but they're kind of fun.


I would love to hear from others on this!


eric


 

poppyfields's picture
poppyfields

Interesting topic.  The replies should be fun to read.


I come up as INTJ (J=judgement), but the J just barely edges out the P.  I love knowing the 'hows' and 'whys' of whatever catches my interest. 


All the wonderful information and experiment results posted here is definately what drew me here to TFL.   What I have learned has improved my baking.  But I, like you, don't need to perfect my baguette.


Trying the 'magic bowl' technique, and learning more about shaping and proofing have elevated my game enough for me to be happy.  I have no desire to poke holes in my oven and inject steam from a floor steamer -- but I sure love to read about the adventures of those brave souls that do.  I suppose it boils down to being content to leard from other's experience, and not needing to do all the experiments myself.  Too many other interests to chase down to consentrate on just one.


Being an Introvert, I don't post very much, but have enjoyed getting to know the regular posters through their entries and replies.  I suspect they are more outgoing than I am.  Still, baking or any kind of artisnal craft is a rather solitary persuit, so I doubt anyone who needs people to talk to at all times would be drawn to it.


Obviously a home baker here, your question about personality traits of professional bakers could prove interesting.  Looking forward to reading more replies.


 

asicign's picture
asicign

I'm also an INTP, and I think the Briggs-Myers classification is very accurate. I love to do research on a problem, but once I've had a breakthrough, I'm on to something else. I like to understand the 'big picture', but get bored with the details. Breadmaking, however, is pretty universal. I doubt any one personality type would lend itself to this particular passion... but then again...

jerihurd's picture
jerihurd

I'm borderlinei Extrovert/Inttrover, just edging over. I also suspect I'm fearfully close to the J, rather than solidly in the more emotive P!


But I love baking, am working on improving my technique without being obsessive about it! A big power for me is the sharing with others--food as communion/community and all that.


 

AlexL's picture
AlexL

I just took a couple of those MBTI tests which resulted in an ENFP type. Dr. Keirsey says I'm an Idealist Champion which apparently means I'm the Phil Donahue of bread bakers. I think a more accurate comparison would be the Maury Povich of bakers.


 


"After the break we'll find out who the real father of this flaxseed ciabattaguette is! Stay tuned!"


 


"We see life (bread) as an exciting drama, pregnant with possibilities for both good and evil." So true on so many levels. I get still get excited and a little nervous everytime I dump my minions (sorry, my yeast) into their warm sugary bath. A tiny part of me, way in the back of my mind, always expects to see a slimy beige arm creeping out of the bowl reaching for my arm when I turn back towards the bowl. Which reminds me, I better go check on that dough that's been rising on my counter for over two hours now as I did those personality tests.....Yep. It was overrisen. Pregnant with the likelihood of excess gas.




"Champions tend to be extra sensitive and alert, always ready for emergencies." Seriously, it's like he's spent an afternoon baking or cooking with me before or something. I wonder if Phil Donahue also keeps his Polysporin in the cupboard above the stove, like I do.

Marni's picture
Marni

I've taking those tests multiple times and without fail I am perfectly divided on all but the P/J where I am a true J. 


Eric I liked your comment:



One of the dominant characteristics of this type is that they seek to understand things, are fascinated with concepts, but aren't so keen on actually perfecting techniques. I can identify with this in many areas of my life, including bread. While I love to read books and try out new techniques, once I understand how they work, I don't care to pursue them to perfection.



That's how I feel.  I enjoy reading about  and experimenting with the new techniques and pick a few to stick with, but I have no desire to spend countless hours focusing on a specific technique, I can often settle for good enough.  (but not always- hence the split analysis I guess)   I want delicious bread that makes my family and friends happy, I want to enjoy baking it.  So far, so good.


 


Marni


 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

In the interest of great bread and furthering the cause I took the test and the result is:  INFJ


I leave it someone else to draw conclusions from all this.....the bread is rising.


Jeff


I should note that I happily share this type with Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. but I cannot say whether or not that improves the quality of my bread !!!!

crunchy's picture
crunchy

with very pronounced STJ traits. I do tend to obsess about getting everything right and can make the same recipe over and over and over, perfecting it. I am also very particular about the appearance of my breads, even if the loaves never leave the house.

sybram's picture
sybram

Yes, I'm ESTJ, but just barely E.  I scored 4 on the extrovert side, and as I understand it, under 10 on either side and you're about equal in each temperament quality.  I'm energized by people, but I also love being by myself.  I took this test a very long time ago and would really be interested to see the results of my current answers.


As others have stated, I love to delve into the whys and wherefores of things that interest me, but don't feel the need to actually perfect things before I go on to something else.  I think bread baking stays fresh for me because there are so many formulas to explore with so many options with each.  I see each one as a new project, and I'm very much a project person.  I like a beginning and an end, so I can say, "Now, that's done," rather than open-ended situations.


Later.  I must go stretch and fold.


Syb  

Patf's picture
Patf

I did the test - very interesting! I came out the same as Yerffej - INFJ


But I think the main personality type associated with baking is enjoyment of food and eating. If this is a personality type? Perhaps the Freudian distinction of oral rather than anal?

davidg618's picture
davidg618

with Intuitive and Judging dominating. Haven't the slightest notion, at the moment, how this relates to baking bread, but you can be sure I'll think about it;-)


David G

ejm's picture
ejm

Ha. What does this say about me that I felt the need to find several different free online Myers Briggs Type Indicator short tests but refused to pay for the hour-long (or more?) versions?


The results from the various tests I took:


INFP; ISFJ; ESFP OR ISFP (but probably ISFP); ISFP; ISFJ


The site with the result of ISFP suggests that it is equivalent to "Artist". Interested in the fine arts. Expression primarily through action or art form. The senses are keener than in other types. 8.8% of total population. Ha!! And what is my profession? Classical musician....


And the fact that I took more than one of the short versions of the tests falls in exactly with my inability to follow a bread recipe exactly. I ALWAYS look at several versions and do some kind of amalgamation.


Like David, I'm not quite sure what this has to do with bread baking, but it was fun to take the tests.


I should say that my main reason for baking is because I'm a pennypincher AND picky. I don't want to pay the big bucks for the really good bread being produced in the artisanal bakeries nearby, but I also can't bear the idea of eating the cotton wool imitations that are sold in the supermarket.


Hmmm, judging from my test results, it's almost certain that I am an "S". Does that perhaps also stand for "skinflint" and "snob"?


-Elizabeth, IrreverentSnobbishFoolishParsimonious


 

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

You are so far away from snobbish... not even in the same universe.


You seem more practical than snobbish. You also seem quite capable of standing your ground while keeping a certain amount of flexibility. These are qualities that I've seen from our back and forths on the bare essential baking equipment and starter threads.


Snobs are a much different breed altogether.


- Keith

ehanner's picture
ehanner

That's funny I must say. I'm solidly in all of the categories and after reading the analysis it sounds about right. Fieldmarshall would be a good description for my life in the military and aviation for the last 40 years. I don't know how this personality combination has helped me be a better baker but I'll probably handle it better when I burn down the bakery by accident.


Eric

Steve H's picture
Steve H

INTP.


The OCEAN test is another interesting one.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Looks l like those who engage in the bread baking stuff run the gamut of personality types.  My own (INTJ) Introverted, Inuitive, Thinking, Judging, according to the test results strike me as fairly accurate.  I only know that I'm quite happy with who I am and I've come to truly enjoy all of the people I've made contact with in the bread making interest groups.  The common denominator, as I see it, is that we all want to help or be helped, we all want to share (both give and receive information) we all want to learn, and most of us have the courage to expose our mistakes so that others (including ourselves) can learn from them.  That's good enough for me.


ehanner's picture
ehanner

Sounds like you and I would be a pretty good team in a fishing boat. I've always enjoyed sharing a good story with a friend.


Eric

ericb's picture
ericb

Wow! What a fantastic array of responses!

Being an INTP, I decided to graph the responses thus far. Even though we're all across the board, there are some interesting trends.

71% identified with Introversion

79% identified with iNtuitive

The other factors approach a 50/50 split (which only makes sense, as those identify the secondary personality types). 

I have no idea what this all means, but it's pretty interesting that so many people identified their primary personality type as introverted or extraverted intuition. I expected a lot of "I's", because, well, this is the internet, which is inherently an introverted space (even though we interact with others in forums and discussion groups, we typically are alone when we do these things. It also gives us time to really think about and mull over what we're going to say before putting it out there).

I'm not sure what to make of the 79% that identify with "iNtuitive" perception. There probably isn't any correlation between this and bread baking, but I suspect that certain "types" are more predisposed to taking an online personality test and then posting the results! (Perhaps if I were an ISTJ, I would have pursued this to a more complete conclusion. But, as an INTP, I'm sure I could do it if I really wanted to, and besides, there are so many other things to learn about...)

Anyway, thanks so much for participating! I know this was in no way scientific, and has very little to do with bread, but I thought it was fun. I really enjoyed hearing your responses!

Eric

 

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

and still not at all sure what bearing that has on bread-making.  Speaking from an ISFJ perspective, yes, it can be done as a solitary activity, although I still remember that video of the Cuban bakery that someone posted a few months ago.  Yes, there's very little conflict involved, if you don't count the occasional skirmish for space on the counter or in the refrigerator.  Yes, it's an opportunity to be of service to others but I like my bread, too.  Yes, one can follow time-tested processes and formulae, but there's a creative aspect involved, too.  (And I'd love to see hansjoakim's profile!)


Mainly, I like bread-making for a lot of the same reasons I like gardening.  There's the fascination of seeing something emerge that is totally different than the what one started with.  It is alive.  It takes time to develop.  There's a lot of tactile feedback, whether from the dough or from the soil.  The end products are delightful to all of the senses.  The bounty can be shared with family and friends.  And on and on.


To quote Popeye, "I yam what I yam."


Paul

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Paul mentioned gardening which makes me wonder how many here are in engaged in the holy trinity....


that would be,


Gardening, Cooking, & Baking.


Jeff

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Growing my tomatoes, peppers, and yellow squash, baking a loaf as we speak, and I just cooked something that almost flopped today for dinner.


INTP here, if the test tells me correctly.


I really want to take the longer test as well. It's interesting to me. :)

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Count me in, Jeff.


I thought at first that in the spirit of this post we should order these in terms of our passion for each, but I couldn't do it, so let it go. I wish I could garden year-round. :-P


(I flunked Myers-Briggs a long time ago.)


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

INTJ...Sure sounded like a lot of my traits!  I've been told more than once I'd make a good drill sargent but never a field marshall!  Baking has brought a lot of enjoyment into my life. 


Sylvia 

bwaddle's picture
bwaddle

INTP here, also.


I read everything possible about what I'm going to do before I do it - even making Excel spreadsheets with possible variations. Then, when I start baking I revert to my throw-cook habits. I guess I think all the studying will just magically guide me!

avatrx1's picture
avatrx1

That's funny.  I"m also a big reader before starting anything.  I like to keep the reference handy, but I can't say I've always followed it.  It's more for when I really screw up something and then  trying to go back and figure out what I did wrong................


 


I know I read about that somewhere..................................


 

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Guilty as charged: INTP


Seems as though I'm in good company... but a rarity? 1% or so? Sure are a lot of us here! Scary! = P


- Keith

avatrx1's picture
avatrx1

I used to get teased when I was a kid because if I didn't do my homework, I'd ask a friend for the answers, but I also wanted an explanation of how they came up with it.  that used to drive them nuts!  they thought I should be satisified with just having the answer.


I didn't realize there was an actual personality "type" for this.  My doctor says I'm type "A", but aside from that - I just never understood why everyone didn't want to understand a concept of something they were doing. In my flight training there were others in my class who memorized answers based on the topic of the question.  I NEVER understood that.  That wouldn't save your life..........:-)


With the exception of a few things - I also just like to master (or figure out) some things and often they lose their appeal once conquered.


I won't take on  a project or a duty unless I know I'll stick with it and do my best.  I rarely quit anything when I've made a committment.  despite how much I might hate it after awhile.  so - I'm very careful about what I obligate myself for.


Bread baking is something I seem to have the basics of, but there are SO many variables, this  may take awhile and since my love of eating will never diminish, this is a project I doubt I'll ever give up on.


My son has my character trait.  We joke about it all the time because the rest of the family thinks we're nuts.  I have 5 brothers and all of them feel about things the way my son and I do.


This can be a very humbling trait.  When I can't do something properly and consistently I get very discouraged, but only for a time - then I have at  it again until I'm happy with it.


My friends call me a perfectionist.  I"m really not.


Susie


 

asicign's picture
asicign

Gardening, Cooking, & Baking...


Always loved cooking and baking, but gardening hasn't been possible because of lack of sun in my yard because of all the trees.  However, Hurricane Ike took care of that problem last year, knocking down a major shade provider.  So I planted a garden this spring.  I had some failures, but some major successes, such as bountiful basil (which ha gone into a number of dishes and breads/pizzas).


 

poppyfields's picture
poppyfields

Ah, but isn't that the point?  We read to understand the concepts so we can be intuitive and creative, right?


I can relate perfectly to Avatrx1.  Why memorize dates and lists and tables when you will just forget them later?  Much better to understand the underlying concepts so you can then calculate what you need when you need it again, or draw further conclusions - above and beyond those school lists.


What does this all have to do with bread making?


I can't say (have not read enough or thought it all through, LOL!) but even these responses have implied some ideas.  I'll start a list . . .



  • the pleasure of having successfully made something most people purchase.

  • the victory of doing better than 'the man' as embodied by Wonder Bread (etc.)

  • demonstrating our mastery of the subject by producing something delicious

  • bread making, as an art form that you can apply scientific principals to, can never completely be conquored.  One is seldom totally wrong or right - you can constantly improve while enjoying success at the same time.


what else, folks?


 

sourdough ho's picture
sourdough ho

Very interesting. INTP's unite through dough!   The happy intersection of Art and Science.   

avatrx1's picture
avatrx1

AMEN!


 


Sounds like you've hit on all the points correctly  IMHO


Now onto finishing my homemade butter.  It's made, but needs to be "squeezed".  Always a good way to use up leftover heavy cream and it's GREAT on homemade bread!


One more thing - if you really screw up the bread - the dogs are more than happy to take the discards, so nothing goes to waste


Susie


aka avatrx1


 

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

I'm sure it really doesn't matter what type we fall into as long as we're having fun. Dave

MotoJack's picture
MotoJack

The thing says I'm INTJ and I really don't know if that's good,bad or what.Does it mean I'll turn out to be a master bread maker?I'm getting a kinda late start in this stuff and need all the help I can get. 

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

I'm sort of new here - well, actually, I've been lurking a long time. Been baking for what seems like forever, (mostly bread, pizza, and biscotti - and I homeroast my own coffee, too), and was so thrilled when I found this site. Decided that it's time to come out of lurkdom.


Which brings me to my own Myers-Briggs personality type. I'm an INFP. Couldn't do charts if my life depended on it. Have a hard time following a recipe - it's mostly through what I feel is right...even my coffee roasting is aligned with my personality. My roasting equipment is a bargain cooking pot and a succession of wooden spoons (they wear out fast w/the high heat).


I keep saying that if I were younger and healthier I'd love to work on breads professionally - or take on another, similar challenge in the kitchen. I think of this as a craft.... but honestly, I have no business sense at all.


Guess that's why there are starving artists. (and that's why I learned how to bake bread, hahaha - I'm not starving!)