The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New forum member...hello

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rainwater's picture

New forum member...hello

I have worked as a chef most my life, and worked in two bakeries for short periods.....but this doesn't guarentee that I know how to make a great loaf of bread. I can make a dream cake in the french/european style, but I never baked the bread in these bakeries. The first bakery (exclusive hotel) had a midnight baker who worked solely who made all the bread products including the fresh puff pastry. He was american in a european kitchen, and could bake the pants off everyone. He shared more with me sociably than most, probably because I wasn't a rude european, but all his recipes were in chemical notation formula....only he could read the recipes. That was many years ago, and who knows where this strange baker found himself in life. I remember his bread products and puff pastry were excellent. The other bakery was run by a belgian fellow, and he had a great reputation for his baguettes. He baked what seemed like thousands of these baquettes, which were mostly distibuted to resteraunts and hotels. He used all european equipment for mass produced bread, and it was interesting to me that when baking in such huge quantities, he had to use cold/refrigerated water to keep the bread from rising too fast.....he always saved a huge chunk of dough to start the bread the next day....I guess all his loaves had a small portion of his very first dough he made in this bakery. I'm sure anyone here would have found the equipment used to portion the dough, proof it, roll it, and bake it very interesting. This is the bakery where I learned to make very delicious cakes in the european style......not sure I could repeat this after so many years.
alas.....the fellow was a mess, and his bakery was always on the brink of being closed down by the health department. This, of course, didn't deter patrons and establishments from eating up his bread by the thousands. His croissants, and pastries made with the croissant dought were the best I've had anywhere....I'm spoiled.....I didn't realize at the time that I was so close to maybe the best croissants/pastries I've ever had anywhere. To this day, I always compare croissants to his. His bakery finally closed after his ex-wife and his ex-wife took him to the cleaners. Sad to say....this filthy little bakery made my favorite baguettes and croissants of all time. That being said, I've had occasion to make fresh bread in dining situations, and patrons have always been crazy about my bread.....but I've never been satisfied.....and baking at home is a much bigger challenge than baking huge quantities I think. Large quantities just seem to do what they are supposed to do, and the commercial yeast is probably more dependable. Baking at home is a huge challenge for me.....I never know what the bread is going to do. So....with this experience, I am proofing a loaf as we speak from lesson two with half whole wheat flour because I'm a brown rice health nut.....let the games begin.

saintdennis's picture

Hi Rainwater,

welcom on board TFL. You will learn lot from this webside how to bake breads.Where you come from?? Are you French???


rainwater's picture

No.....I'm not French......I'm a native Texan. My whole career has been in Houston, TX. The "European" kitchens were hotels that I worked in that were supervised and manned by mostly Germans, Swiss, and a few French. This was @ 30 years ago.....lot's has changed now. Kitchens are mostly manned by Hispanic cooks, and chefs too in Houston. They, as a culture, are great cooks and chefs. My favorite Italian resteraunt, which is owned by two gifted Italian restaranteurs, are manned almost entirely by Hispanic workers and chefs. Interesting story. I was gifted a short coarse in baking by one of my employers. The instructor was a Mexican immigrant whose first job coming to this country was to bake the bread in a French bistro. His English at the time was rudimentary, and the bistro was owned/operated by a French fellow. He told my instructor that the bread had to be baked no matter what! ! ! Even if a Hurricane blew the roof from the bistro, he wanted the bread baked! Well, one day my instructor came to work and there was no wood for the wood burning oven used to bake the bread. He proceeded to brake up the wooden chairs to bake the bread...... :) :) The owner was furious, but realized his mistake, and was least there was bread for lunch!

cleancarpetman's picture

Its great to have someone with some restaurant/bakery experience.  I worked in pizza when I first started out over 30 years ago.  I knew enough to be dangerous to myself and others.  This site has great knowledge from hands on experience and they are very helpful and friendly to boot.  The folks here got me up off my flat end and baking again and I absolutely love it.

Jump right in


newgirlbaker's picture

glad to have you here.  I am sure it will be like riding a bike for you, you never forget how.  There is alot of awesome information on this site, everthing you want to know is either here or can be answered by one of our knowledgeable contributors.  Welcome aboard!