The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Mad Hatter

davidg618's picture

The Mad Hatter

Curiouser and Curiouser

Recently, I was on the short-list--I don't think they had enough people show interest to ever have a long-list--for the editor's job on a carriage driving magazine . The organization's Executive Director interviewed me, via telephone.  Among her many questions was one that struck a nerve, my pleasure nerve: "Dave, I don't get it," she said. "You're retired. You got the world by the a**; why do you want this job?"

Without a moment's thought I answered her. "I'm seventy-two," I told her, "and I'm as curious today as I was when I was five. However, now I know there's a lot more to be curious about than I did then." Despite this brilliant answer, I didn't get the job. ( I do, however, write for the magazine.)

Among my many curiouslties is bread: eating it, buying it, storing it, serving it, and, most of all, baking it. I baked my first bread in a frying pan, over an open fire, in Northeast Pennsylvania. I was twelve, a Boy Scout, and taking one of the tests for the Cooking Merit Badge; the Boy Scout Handbook called the bread "Bannock". My finished Bannock's bottom was burnt, its innards were doughy, its outside crunchy and dense. It was delicious.

In my teens I watched my little Welsh grandmother bake bread, and rolls, and near the holidays date pinwheels, Welsh cakes (a fried cookie), and currant bread. On birthday's she made tortes from stacks of froice (welsh crepes) When I earned my driving license I delivered her makings to church bake sales, Saturday morning breakfasts, and a few regular customer who ended each week with a loaf or two of grandma's white or whole wheat. She charged fifty-cents a loaf--expensive, but worth it. I offered to help her, but she only smiled and kept kneading. Her small hands set a beat; her eyelids nearly closed. No way would she share that soul-mending meditation.

Married with children, on weekends, or home from the sea, I'd bribe my children with homefried doughnuts, white bread ala grandma, and near the holidays I continued the tradition: Welsh cakes, and date pinwheels where, and are, my signature offering in our commuity's Christmas cookie exchange. My children fled the nest, my months at sea grew, and my curiousity turned to new hobbies, among them beer brewing, and wine making. I just can't get away from things fermenting.

A decade retired, I have the the time now to do it all: cook, bake, brew, vint (is that a verb?) write, watch the Science Channel, and occasionally nap. And, curiouser and curiouser, my vocabulary, and knowledge grows and mutates; e.g, hydration, proof, and retard have taken on new meanings; wort, sparge, rack, sourdough, mirepoix, and King Aurthur populate conversations. I'm expected to show up at community potluck dinners with a bottle and a loaf; I've been sent home to fetch when I haven't. Until I found The Fresh Loaf I'd no idea this baking virus I suffer is endemic.

This is fun; I've never blogged before. If you chose to waste your time reading my mutterings DON'T expect daily entries. I'll drop a recipe now and then. Any one interested in Welsh cakes?



Susan's picture

We're glad you started a blog.  By all means, share the Welsh cakes with us! 

Looking forward to your literary and kitchen contributions,

Susan from San Diego

davidg618's picture


It's posted on my blog.


SylviaH's picture

 davidg...Oh yes, please do drop off some of those lovely recipes!


davidg618's picture


It's posted on my blog.


hsmum's picture

Yes please on the Welsh Cakes!  I tried to make some for the first time a couple weeks ago and I was sadly disappointed in the result.  Don't know if it was the recipe or my technique!


davidg618's picture


My recipe is posted on elsewhere on this blog, as well as another direct from a home baker in Wales.


ques2008's picture

You shuda gotten the job!  But I salute your eternal curiosity.  And I include myself on the waiting list for your welsh cakes and other creations!

PS:  I used to swoon over tom jones.

davidg618's picture

It's posted elsewhere on my blog.

I used to tell people the top three sexiest Welshman in the world were Richard Burton, Tom Jones, and me.


poppyfields's picture

Now you know why there are so many empty seats at the table.  There are a lot of us mad hatters out there.

I agree that was a brilliant answer.  Long live curiosity, long live learning!  Please share your expertise so we can learn from you, too.  I look forward to your blog.

gosiam's picture

That low vice, curiosity! (Lord Byron)

Looking forward to your blogs'n bakes.


davidg618's picture

all of you, for your kind welcomes.

The recipe for Welsh Cakes is posted, on my blog along with my usual mutterings (Feel free to skip them, if you choose). Also, I've posted my take on bread machines, and a fococcia alternative. Lastly, my first post, in the Intrductions Forum, includes a sourdough whole wheat approach with two preferement I'm pleased with.

Thanks again.