The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

first post

nate9289's picture

I've been reading TFL and the countless blogs of its contributors for a while now and finally have decided to jump on board!  I figured this first post would be sort of an introduction, a get-to-know-me page.  

So, during the past 8 months I've spent my first year post-college teaching English at a high school and middle school in the Lorraine region of France.  I live in a shabby apartment inside the high school, ill-equipped for any kind of cooking or baking that's not of the microwave variety.  Hence the "difficulties" part of this post.

My "oven" is a toaster oven with the timer dial missing:

 Toaster oven


The only measuring utensil - much less scale - is a large plastic 1L cup with markings for water, sugar, flour, and rice:


I have random old pots to double as bowls; no whisks or wooden spoons; and no counter tops, just a small kitchen table (with an unforgivable tablecloth) and a cutting board: have you tried to keep 1kg of wet dough in the confines of a tiny wooden rectangle?  I assure you, it's not easy. 


Now, to the "delights" of learning to bake in France:

Organic T65 flour available for about 80 cents a kilo:


Nice Levure Boulangère, although I doubt this is much different than instant yeast found in the USA:

Great examples to follow from just down the street!!:


So far, the difficulties would seem to outweight the delights, except for one fact.  For the past three months I've been fortunate enought to be doing an apprenticeship at an award-winning boulangerie in my town.  Usually 2-3 mornings per week before teaching my classes I walk down the street to the boulangerie help with everything there is concerning bread: mixing the different doughs, shaping the breads, scoring, loading and unloading the breads in the oven, and getting them ready for sale in the store or delivery.  We make about 180 different breads and pastries daily, and I'd say about 30 of these are strictly variations on bread.

I'm going to bring my camera in with me one morning since there's only a couple weeks left and take pictures of my boulangerie and the different processes we use, since every one does them differently. 

In the past couple weeks I've tried to adapt what I've learned to baking at home, although as can be seen from above, this is not nearly as easy as I'd thought.  I'll be posting my attempts online from the two weeks I have left in my shoddy apartment, and then hopefully continuing from my home kitchen back in the USA.

Bon appétit et bon pain!




lookingforrain's picture

Hi everyone my name is Jeff, I am 19 and I've been baking bread for about two years. I started on a whim after having made pastries since I was knee high to a toadstool, I enjoyed my first few adventures with bread using instant yeast but I was always a little dissappointed in the flavour. So I started a batter sourdough starter. I really liked it but as teenagers are want to do my interest shifted and I forgot about my little Ricardough, who subsequently passed away. So for a time I stopped baking bread but continually inspired by the amazing bread produced by the amazing people on this site I once more started a yeast culture, this the forerunner to a group of starters niftily named The Yeasty Boys, and I have finally returned to breadmaking. In time I hope to fill this little blog with my own delicious creations to add this wonderful compendium of breads.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

This has been a day of firsts.

  • Actually started last night by making the sponge for my "Wayne Thomas's English Muffins" and leaving it in the fridge overnight for first time.

  • Finished and cooked the muffins this morning, they look great.

  • Decided to try the #111 Romertopf clay baker (that my wife scored at a local thrift shop a couple of days ago for $6 !!) for the first time so I made a simple white bread from a recipe on called One Perfect Loaf.

  • This resulted in the first real "ear" I have managed to get (at least from one of the two slashes). I have started to slash with the double-edged razor on kabob stick thanks to this site. Some work still required.

  • I decided all these firsts were worth my first blog post.

I hope this tastes as good as it looks. It was far and away the most oven spring I have had. As soon as the bread cools I'll get a crumb shot and then post the pics. I imagine some would say this should be a little darker. I agree, but the wife likes it this way for sandwiches. Also, I am baking this in an anemic gas oven on our boat. I followed the recipe as far as soak bottom, proof in bottom, soak top, place in COLD oven. After removing the top for the last 5 mins, I realized it was never going to brown (always a problem in this oven) so I stuck it in the microwave/convection on broil for a few minutes. I think next time I'll remove the top sooner, as it was still moist inside after 45 mins (at an attempted 450+).

Comments and suggestions always welcome. Love this site.






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