The Fresh Loaf

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Introduction from Breadnik

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breadnik's picture
breadnik

Introduction from Breadnik

Having used this site for ages, and having greatly appreciated and learned from the collective wisdom of my fellow bakers, I finally decided to join the Fl. So now, I figured, is as good a time to introduce myself as ever.


Here's my story. A couple of years ago I did not know how to bake anything. All the foolproof recipes that my more baking-talented friends gave me simply said, "add as much flour as the dough will take" or "knead until the dough would stop sticking" -- but the dough would take as much as I'd give it or will never stop sticking, thought I! I honestly tried baking bread a few times, and failed miserably every time, producing absolutely ugly loaves that were as heavy as a brick, and as raw on the inside as they were burnt on the outside -- in other words, completely and utterly inedible. After a while the word "yeast" would send me into a major panic mode, even though in all other respects I was a very fearless and rather successful cook.


And then some kind soul sent me the link to the youtube no-knead bread recipe. Now THAT seemed totally foolproof. I worked up some courage and decided to try it. It came out! Not to push my luck too far I waited a few days and then tried it again. It came out again! At that point, having gained just the tiniest bit of self-confidence, I started reading cookbooks and trying some "real" recipes. Some came out, some didn't. But my failures ended up being even more educational than my successes -- I started actually "getting it."


One day early this summer I was at a local farmers' market. I had a loaf of my Russian corainder-rye bread that I brought at the request of a friend. Well, the friend couldn't come to the market, so I gave the loaf to the market manager. As soon as the market ended that day, she found me through common friends and asked me if I could become a vendor at the market. Apparently, my bread was different enough from everything else that was available that she wanted to have me join them.


It took me a little time to rework my recipes from cups/spoons into grams and milliliters (my brain works in metric only) and to figure out how to scale up from baking 10-15 loaves a week to over 100 in one day (for the market, I generally make a push and bake all of my 120-150 loaves on Friday, but that would be all of my weekly baking). By mid-July I started selling my breads at the market. I absolutely love it! It is very hard work, it doesn't make a lot of money (although I am not in the red, thank goodness!) but I feel that after a lifetime of working much less "real" kind of jobs I'm finally doing something that makes people happy. At least, my customers' faces make it all worth my while.

saintdennis's picture
saintdennis

Welcome on the The fresh loaf. Are you Russian???? Can you share yours recipes???  Lot's luck.


 


 

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you for your kind wishes. Yes, I am from Moscow, Russia, although I've been living in the US for years. My Russian rye is actually inspired by the bread I grew up with, although it is greatly simplified.


I can certainly share my recipes, although, I'm ashamed to admit, most of them are just like the rest of my cooking, more of a direction that I'm going than actual precise recipes. But I'll share whatever I can.


What's the etiquette here, do I post my recipes and/or pictures of my bread under this blog or should I start a new entry?


Thank you in advance.

Kroha's picture
Kroha

Welcome to TFL.  What a nice story!  I would also love to have the recipe if you are willing to share.  It sounds like Borodinsky bread.  I am planning on making it this fall, and know someone who has tried many times without success.  I used to eat those fragrant loaves growing up in Riga and when I lived in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad).  I would love to try baking one at home.  I also prefer metric strongly and have trouble following recipes in cups and ounces.  My common sense just does not work outside of the metric system.  You breads look beautiful on the picture posted on your website.  I always realize how much more I have to learn when I see such beautiful loaves. 


Best wishes,


Yulika

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you, Yulika. So you are a fellow Russian, too, I assume?


I will share my recipe, I promise, especially since it's so simple. But I will have to do it later tonight -- the weather today is too beautiful to waste it on sitting at the computer, so I'm trying to get some farm chores done.


My Coriander Rye, unfortunately, is not quite a Borodinsky but something in between Borodinsky and Rizhsky, with quite a bit of wheat flour added  -- as opposed to classic Borodinsky, which indeed seems to be very difficult to make. I for one have not yet worked up the courage to try it. BTW, if you read Russian I can direct you to a very, very good recipe.

crunchy's picture
crunchy

Welcome to TFL, breadnik. As a fellow Russian who loves rye breads, I'd love to see a very good Borodinsky recipe!


 

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Dear Crunchy,


I just posted my recipe (along with the picture) a couple of hours ago. Can't post a "pretty" link yet as I still haven't managed to get the Javascript to work in any of my browsers, but here's a raw link: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/14478/russian-corianderrye-simplified-version. Mind you, this is NOT an authentic recipe but a much simplified version that produces a result somewhat in between Borodinsky and Rizhsky. If you read Russian, I can direct you to a very, very good recipe, complete with pictures and very detailed explanations.

crunchy's picture
crunchy

read Russian, that is and am very intersted in the recipe you're talking about.

breadnik's picture
breadnik

First of all, please bear with me while I figure out the glitchy html on this site and learn to post nicer looking links.


Re Borodinsky. I'm surprised this recipe (Russian only) http://crucide.livejournal.com/149839.html has never been posted here. I seem to know that its author at least used to read, if not participated in this community for awhile.


He also posted a recipe of what classic Borodinsky once used to be (quite different from what we think it was): http://crucide.livejournal.com/165252.html#cutid1.


Both are waaaay over my head at this point. The poster is very good about explaining his techniques and answering questions. But I'm just not yet where I can ask meaningful questions. So I figured someone who knows what they are doing could try  it and report back here. ;)

Kroha's picture
Kroha

So I would very much appreciate the link to a good Borodisnky recipe.  I am from Riga, but my native language is Russian.  I have also lived in St. Pete and Moscow.  I am very curious about Rizhsky bread because we did not have it in Riga.  It is cool now in Boston, where I live, so I have been barking more dense breads, including ryes.  I will try yours as soon as I get around to it.  Thank you for posting the recipe.  Simplified is good as far as I am concerned.  With three kids under three, efficiency is a necessary virtue. 


Vsego xoroshego!


 Yulika

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Yulika,


Your "barking bread" was awesome! May we all have some singing bread, but never a barking one. (Note: I used to be a translator and an editor, so I just happen to notice and pick on typos -- except, of course, embarrassingly enough, my own. No offense intended whatsoever!)


Three kids under three? That was triple-quick. How did you manage that?!

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

My grandparents came from Russia a long long time ago so I would like honorary status in this spontaneously formed TFL Russian Club even though I can neither read, write, or speak Russian!  I can however bake bread,  I previously posted a Borodinsky Recipe here:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9459/100-rye


Welcome Breadnik,


Jeff

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Jeff,


You got it, honorary status and all. After all, I'd have to request the honorary Russian status as well -- what with being half Jewish and half Armenian. There are only two major things different between us: I can read, write and speak Russian and you can't, but you can bake the real Borodinskiy and I can't. (All the other differences are minor, I'm sure -- I'm fairly certain we're both of us humans). ;)


Your recipe looks similar to other classic Borodinsky recipes I've seen, but it's hard for me to quickly convert ounces into grams etc. this late at night. Most of them are rather self-explanatory but I'm just too chicken to try them out yet. BTW, that whole discussion blew me away -- honestly, as much as I love eating rye bread, I don't care to work with it at all. It's very heavy, wet and sticky and makes my arms hurt (ouch-ouch!). I guess I'll just have to keep learning and acquire a taste for baking it as well as eating it.


Thank you for directing me to the rye bread thread. I'll have to read it carefully to actually absorb all the useful information on it.


Cheers,


Nika Breadnik

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I see now that this is actually the Spontaneous Quasi Russian TFL Club and I am no less proud to be a member.  I have spent time in Moscow, Minsk, and Vilnius but did not make it to Latvia.  My Russian speaking relatives are scattered in Lithuania and Belarus on that side of the pond and over here they in mostly in the Northeast speaking Polish and English.  As I see it, an Armenian Jew is a perfect blend with all of this people mixing and moving about the planet, as well as a Latvian and who knows who else....One thing that is clearly common is the exposure and attraction to real bread that not long ago was impossible to find in the USA.  Some things are changing for the better.


One day we should all convene for dinner or at least bread!!


Many have told me that Russian is the most expressive language on the planet and I envy your skills with the language.


Jeff

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Jeff,


It's nice to hear that you know the city I was born and raised in, Moscow. I've also been to Vilnius but that was 25 years ago (goodness, that sounds scary!).


I'm in mid-West and will be happy to cook dinner -- especially since getting involved with bread for me initially was just an extension of my being a foodie. ;)


I was just talking tonight with a lady from Poland who asked me why I don't go live in Italy (which we almost moved to at some point). My answer was simple: I couldn't make a living baking European artisan bread in Europe, and nobody would want Wonderbread over there.


Since we are talking, could you help me figure out the etiquette on TFL? Is it generally frowned upon to have discussions that go beyond bread baking, even in private blogs, like we are having here? I noticed that people in forums and private blogs seem to pretty much stay on topic, and was wondering whether that's only because we are here to talk bread and nothing else may be of interest, or whether because there might be an unwritten policy to not talk about things not directly related to bread? Also, is it permissible to talk about bread in more general terms -- that is, not recipes/formulas/bragging/troubleshooting but about philosophy/history of bread/food and other things indirectly related to our primary subject?


I'm not able to draw these conclusions myself from reading TFL and will appreciate advice.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

While I do not know with certainty I would say that just about anything bread related is good discussion for the forum.  As far as straying from the bread topic as we have done here...I would say that straying any further than this would be poor practice.  Private messages may be more appropriate from here on in this line of discussion. 


On the other hand TFL has brought together a world wide network of bread bakers and this is an extension of that idea.  I try, not always successfully, to stay on the bread topic.  If there is a clear cut rule on topics and discussion I am unaware of it.  I do think that a little diversion is a good thing now and then.


Jeff

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you, Jeff. 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Hi Breadnik,


A certain amount of off-topicness is quite alright and probably a healthy addition to conversation.  If people want to go way off-topic for quite a while, there are 2 or 3 ways I'd recommend to doing that:



  1. Put it in a blog post rather than a forum post since the comments for blog posts don't show up at the top of the homepage

  2. Put it in the off-topic forum

  3. Use the private messaging system if it is just a conversation between a handful of people.


Yes, absolutely, talking more broadly about baking philosophy, cooking, and history is quite acceptable.  We're pretty relaxed about the rules here as long as people treat each other with respect, don't dominate the conversations, and try to offer encouragement to those seeking assistance.


Welcome to the site!


-Floyd

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you, Floyd. This confirms my sense of what'a acceptable, and I will act accordingly. And once again thank you for this fantastic place for all of us to come together. Fabulous work!


Nika aka Breadnik

Kroha's picture
Kroha

Perhaps I feel like barking at my kids sometimes as I bake bread?  So, a little Freudian slip?  My most revealing Freudian slip so far has been saying "Freudian sleep" once...  I have been pretty sleep-deprived for the past few years, one does not have to be a Freudian to figure that out.  I have almost three year old twins (a girl and a boy) and a 6-month old baby son.  The older ones and my husband LOVE bread.  My son is severely allergic to nuts, so instead of buying potentially cross-contaminated bread from commercial bakeries like we used to, I started baking my own.  I do not love the reason for it, but I love baking.  I feel very strongly that my son should know the taste of good bread.  For now, I bake as fast as I can, but I am eyeing some more involved and unpredictable recipes, and looking forward to the time when my baking will be more leisurely and less akin to juggling.  That last sentence is too long for being grammatically viable in English, I am sure.


Oh, and like many "Russians" in the US, I am also only "somewhat" Russian, my identification as such being based more on the language I speak/read/write and the culture I grew up with than on my ethnicity.


With that, I wish everyone on TFL good night.


Yulika

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Yulika,


I am amazed that with three tiny children you still find time to do something you love -- bake bread. But then, sometimes, at least for me, it is almost the only time when I can truly connect to myself, so I'll find time to bake (and to read!) even if I have to sacrifice my sleep.


Good luck!

Kroha's picture
Kroha

Thank you for your kind words, Breadnkik.  I think that everyone works within constraints of their particular life situation, and the challenge is to work what we love into our lives.  Fortunately, bread baking allows for that.  I love Reinhardt's approach in Whole Grain Baking for its flexibility, and am considering getting his new book, which, from what I understand, is specifically designed to help bakers work the process into their schedule.  And having kids for me is an impetus, rather than an obstacle, to bake.  Hearing them ask for "svezhij xlebushek, kotoryj mama ispekla" ("fresh bread baked by mommy") is quite rewarding.  I was thinking about starting a forum on Why We Bake to ask others to share the role that baking plays in the fabric of their lives, but it would probably be way off-topic, though likely quite inspirational.  In any case, I am grateful for the discussion here.


I am looking forward to trying your Russian-style rye, but I need to get the coarsely ground whole wheat flour first.  I am all out. Thank you for sharing the recipe.


Best wishes,


Yulika


 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Yulika,


The "why we bake" topic has come up before and is most definitely NOT off topic.  Please pursue that thought if you want to.


Jeff

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Yulika,


When I don't have coarsely ground wholewheat flour I just use whatever I have on hand or even replace is with white flour. The resulting bread is slightly softer and tenderer but I'd rather have this than have no rye bread, it's become such a staple in our household.


Oh, and I absolutely second Jeff's sentiment in that Why We Bake is a very important topic -- after all, often times WHY we bake determines WHAT and HOW we bake.


Good luck!


Nika aka Breadnik