The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why do you bake? What kind of baker are you?

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Why do you bake? What kind of baker are you?

In the world of knitting (and elsewhere) there's discussion about being a process knitter or one who knits for results.  Paul's lament about running out of freezer space because he wasn't eating fast enough made me wonder about bread bakers.  What kind are you?


I enjoy knitting, but mostly I like the results.  Although how many lace shawls does a jeans-and-sweatshirt girl need?


And I do like to bake.  But it's the results I'm more interested in.  I love having good, fresh, healthy, homemade (by me) foods available to me.  Sometimes it's the challenge.  But I like to eat those good foods.  I can't let my freezer empty out of homemade breads.


So, do you bake because you like the process of baking, or do you bake because you like the bread?


Rosalie

merkri's picture
merkri

Both.


I think it started with liking the bread, and then somehow grew from there.


When I was younger, people started teasing me about how much bread my diet comprised (my cousin always joked about making me a "Got Bread?" t-shirt poking fun of the Got Milk? advertising campaign).


At some point, a couple of things happened that got me into baking: a relative gave me some of his sourdough starter that he's maintained continuously for 29 years (no joke), and I built a wood-fired oven. When you have that sort of commitment to a starter hanging over your head, there's a lot of pressure to do the same. The best way to maintain it is to use it, and so I started baking regularly.


The wood-fired oven was initially sort of an excuse to be outside in the fall starting big contained fires that actually did something, but it got me really interested in the process of baking.


So now I think it's a bit of both.

Ford's picture
Ford

I bake because:


    The bread in the grocery stores is not satisfying in flavor or texture.


    The bread I bake is satisfying.


    I enjoy the process of baking.


    Building a loaf is great therapy.


    It is an inexpensive hobby.


          OOPS!  Just lost power, must shut down.


Ford

ulikando's picture
ulikando

I started baking when I realised that for the price of 2 low end supermarket "loaves" I could make at least 3 great quality homemade ones. 


After a year of homemade bread I now do it for: The process (it's quite meditative kneading dough) ; The results (no way could I go back to shop bread). There's also tons to learn about it, so I will never be bored of bread.


Oh and I've got a pet out of it (my sourdough). 


I think that the love of the process is the deciding thing though. Almost everyone likes good food but it's those that would cook just for enjoyment that make a great end product that they're proud of. 

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I always loved breads, any kind of breads.  I was the "Bread Girl" at home and if I was given a loaf of bread I wouldn't stop eating until it's all gone.


My love for breads was a start.  When I became a college freshman I had a minor in Home Economics and cooking was part of the course.  Then I realized baking actually helped release my stress so I baked whenever I was stressed out.  My roommates usually got a lot of breads, pies, cookies etc around finaly exam time or when I broke up with a guy. 


Now, I just love baking.  The excitment of experiement and discoveries are like presents time on Christmas Day.  Coming to TFL to see what new breads people make and how I can reproduce you all did and how my bread will turn out... it's a game, a challenge, a surprise, a puzzle, and a reward all in one pot.  I still feel like a 7-year-old when I turn on the oven light to watch the oven spring in the first 10 minutes of baking.  When the aroma fills the house and the bread comes out crips on the crust and soft in the crumb and the flavor melts my heart (and everybody else's), it's a promis that never fails. 


Lately, I discovered another reason to bake - sharing my baked goods.  When people want to pay for my breads and kids come to my door and ask if I have anything for them to eat, it's the most satisfying feeling in the whole world.  When they say "You get to someone's heart through the mouth" it's absolutely true.





montanagrandma's picture
montanagrandma

I get satisfaction from my baking. From the working of the dough to the final product. I love the ability to change the tastes of my breads with additional seasonings. I bake yeasted breads and sourdoughs. I have 9 SD starters, most are still in the dryed stage. Too much summer activity to use them all right now.


I bake bread every Tuesday for my ladies group I belong to. They love to try all my experiments ;-).  My grandchildren, 3 & 5 love to help and have come away with some great 'little' breads and breadstick they helped knead, roll, bake. Last week we took part of their dough and they rolled bread sticks.... the remaining dough they made their lunch.. I put the mustard on the dough and then they layered some ham and cheddar cheese on it. 'We' rolled it up and baked. They made one for their mom and dad..talk about proud kids!


I grew up on a ranch in Montana and my Mom used to give cooking lessons. Everything was homegrown and made, so I have been spoiled from day one. If I can make it, I don't buy it. You name it I've made it..graham crackers to marshmallows. I freeze, can, and pickle anything I can get my hands on. The kitchen is my haven.


Besides all that....you get to eat all your mistakes and sometimes they can be very good!

AW's picture
AW

I bake:


To honor my grandmother and to recall mother-daughter moments


To refine a task for which I might possibly fail


To ensure I may remain humble but to celebrate success


To heal a broken soul and demonstrate love without saying a word


To nourish those I love


To feel the strength of my body, including my heart, grow stronger

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

What kind of baker am I? I am a stumbling, bumbling Mr. Bean. I am the kind that looks at the 3-loaf column in the recipe when measuring flour, then looks at the 1-loaf column when measuring water.


Why do I bake? It's hard to find good bread near my home. There are a few bakeries in town with a few, good, overpriced breads, but even those often disappoint. The French bread is rarely fresh from the oven, and the "rye" breads, on the rare occasion you see them, are often 10% white rye plus food coloring, or aren't even rye at all (one "highly recommended" shop has three or four kinds of bread labeled 'whole rye' in English, but the original Mandarin label says 'whole wheat'; the latter is correct).


I also enjoy the process of baking, especially now that I'm producing fewer hockey pucks and more edible loaves.

PiperBaker's picture
PiperBaker

Why?  Because you can't find whole wheat bread anywhere in Turkmenistan (Well, that I'm aware of so far...).  I also get enormous satisfaction out of producing my family's weekly bread from a few simple ingredients. 


What sort...well, that depends.  Some days, I follow instructions exactly.  Most often, though, I go out on a limb and experiment wildly, throwing out all formulae and just doing it by feel.  At least, until I get too many marginal loaves, then it's back to the written, but often a new recipe or formula.  Speaking of, it's about time to go back to the formula to re-ground myself.  Last week's bread came out good tasting, but the dough was waaaay too wet for what I wanted it to do.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I bake for the enjoyment of experiencing the challenge (therefore I try to avoid baking the same bread more than twice unless I need a unique kind of bread for a special dinner) and because every loaf I bake provides a new learning experience.


So, I suppose you could say, I bake because I enjoy the process.  I enjoy the results too, but not as a consumer.  I probably give away more of the bread I bake that I actually consume myself so it's clear I don't bake for the joy of eating it.

alabubba's picture
alabubba

I bake because my family eats. That's how it started at least. I started baking when I was a child, My mother would bake and I was always the kid at school that couldn't afford "Good" (read store bought) bread. Instead I would take sandwiches made on sourdough, and pumpernickel, and rye. It wasn't until I was older that I realized just how good I had it.


Twenty years later and I was a married man with 3 kids. I started baking bread as a way to make a small paycheck stretch, As a way to feed my family just like my mother, and her mother and her mother.


Now, in the present, I think that people have lost the connection to the food they eat. I have a friend that completely freaked out when he discovered that the chicken he bought in the grocery store was once an actual animal!


I have decided that, for the most part, I will make as much of my food myself. No more frozen "TV" dinners, No more "POP TARTS" ect. It can be a lot of work, Making a Sunday spaghetti dinner for the family takes all day but to know that the food my family is eating is healthy and nutritious is reward enough.

montanagrandma's picture
montanagrandma

noodles for that spaghetti dinner are wonderful. I add basil to some, spinich to others. Adding herbs and flavors really 'kick up a notch' your meals. Wonderful that you are using your talents and abilities to feed your family with love.

LindaIg's picture
LindaIg

Clearly process lured me to baking; now the admiration of my spouse and friends keeps me at it.  I am a sourdough newbie and learning from this forum with an intensity I have not experienced since law school.  I'm producing more than acceptable results and having grand fun doing it.

Augmister's picture
Augmister

I am a newbee "doughboy" who has no fear of trial and error and marvels at what is possible.  My wife is on a very restricted sodium diet (<250mg /day) and the thing she misses the most is bread.  I decided to join he on this diet so their would be a single approach in the home to solve this issue.  As we are empty nest professionals, I started with a bread machine.  I get the daily updates on this blog and my mouth constantly waters with the sights and stories of all the "breading" going on here.  My jump to the oven and baking stone is inevidable!


We both like the full bodied multigrain breads and have been very successful in a short period of time, mastering receipes and making bread three times a week.  I am baking bread with no salt.  Tastes great!  


My latest venture is into Day 4 on the pineapple juice based sourdough starter.  Grew 100% last night and hope to keep feeding it unrefridgerated for two weeks on the counter, for max flavor, before we bake the first sourdough loaf.


What I love most about baking bread is the practice of the science and creativity of the art.  Though not an engineer nor chemist by training, my day job revolves around multi-physics high tech engineering applications and it is nice to come home and conceptualize, design and produce a satisfying product.  The Bread Geek is born!  Many thanks to all that post and share here.  A1+ blog!

GabrielLeung1's picture
GabrielLeung1

The thrill of researching and applying new ideas to concrete products. If it wasn't interesting, I wouldn't do it. If it was simply about following a recipe, it would be very dull.


So I bake because I love exploring new theories and techniques. 

Glacrwlf's picture
Glacrwlf

I wanted to bake bread ever since I watched the anime: "Yakitate!! Japan" online. Kazuma Azuma's (The main character's) Ja-Pan (pun on the country and Japanese word for bread: Pan) are incredible and some were even on real shelves of Japanese markets for a short time! Have you heard of Yakitate!! Japan? If not, look it up! it's awesome!


My home country, the Philippines, has it's own national bread: Pan De Sal (Salty bread). The Tagalog word for bread is TINAPAY, so Filipino+Tinapay=Filipay! I wanted to make that since I got interested in baking! I currently have 33 THEORIES, not creations, in my book. When I go to college, I'm going to try some of my theories out! If some succeed, I'll mark them down! If not, I'll scrap it. What do you think? Does emulating Yakitate!! Japan for the Philippines' sake sound like a good idea for bakers? Please respond!

GabrielLeung1's picture
GabrielLeung1


I hate to admit it, but that is also how my baking life took off. I started off with a culinary arts class in secondary school, but after watching a few of those episodes, my interest really took off. 


haha, but its a better thing to get hooked on then most things on tv!


Breaddiction's picture
Breaddiction

I would definitely attribute some of my initial interest in baking to Yakitate!! Japan.  My friends had introduced it to me and I started getting more into it and watching the episodes that came out on youtube faster than they did. We grew up eating rice and I never really enjoyed eating bread, but once I started baking for myself, I started to better appreciate the nuances of baked goods.


First, I experimented with sweet (banana, zucchini) breads, then began researching yeasty breads. Overhearing my enthusiasm in microbiology lab, the lab manager gave me my first starter.  It was kept on my college dorm desk where I would carefully mix spring water and flour that I had weighed out in lab. 


I had been lurking on this site for almost four years, but this summer, after graduation, I've finally given in and joined this community to join in the discussions.  As a biology/chemistry/music student, the scientific aspect of yeast fermentation, gluten development, amylase reaction on the crust, etc, really bring out my happy inner nerd.  For me, baking is not about just the eating or process of making bread- it's learning a new skill, slowing down to smell the aromas, and appreciating a craft that people have devoted a lifetime to hone...


I feel so green, but am excited to learn more from this forum.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I bake, therefore I am.

dabigo's picture
dabigo

Mostly for the bread.


Second for the intellectual stimulation of playing with the recipes.


 

possum-liz's picture
possum-liz

Because I like to bake, it gives my creative side a bit of exercise--and I don't have to find a spot on the wall to hang my creations. It's a link to my grandmother, one of my earliest memories of her is a steamy winter kitchen and big fat loaves of bread.  My family likes 'real' bread and so do a the people who actually get out of bed early on our monthly local market day so they don't miss out! I get a real buzz when I see how much people appreciate the bread.

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

I have been baking since I was eleven years old. I really don't remember why I started to bake only that I have always been good at it and seemed to have a natural born knack for it. Now I bake to please my customers- and make a little "dough" on the side.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I'm not sure who I identify with more-process or outcome-identify with generations before-economical-satisfying-intellectual stim-etc-etc


I bake for all those reasons. I guess I felt I needed a new hobby, last fall, and decided I wanted to become expert on bread. HA! I am humbled.


So my journey has been wonderful-humbling,reaffirming and delicious. I bake our daily bread for breakfast/lunch and have enjoyed the intricacies of sourdough. I started SD because I wanted to make bread like my grandmother-without the commercial yeast , and see what that was like.They learned to live with a lot of failure in life! If the yeast failed-they didn't have a store to rescue them (well, maybe my great-grandma didn't). They dealt with it-make do or move on. That may be a large part of character-building experience that is missing in this era. Sadly,it could be that people ar re-discovering it.


I'm one of the diminishing few who work and cook. We plan simple and quick meals and use the freezer. Lunches are homemade. I've just started into making yogurt-boy is it easy!


Breadmaking has given me more than a hobby-it's much more satisfying.And once again The Fresh Loaf has proven the power of community-thank you for this simple query.

Aprea's picture
Aprea

I love to create - first it was making my own pasta, then sewing, then photography - now bread and deserts (mostly bread).  My family loves how they get to enjoy the benefits of my pursuits of baking.  I love it because of the nurturing it requires from start to finish - the studying, the property changes we witness in the dough.  


I also think part if it is from a deep seated survival instinct - when you read the various world history accounts - bread and grain was the energy of our past.  My fear of the state of the world makes me want to be able to be self-sufficient.  My next quest is a back yard wood burning oven.


Cheers - and thank you for the question...and all of your responses.


 


Anna


 

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I've been thinking about my reasons since I first posted this.  And I've decided that I find my spirituality in making things for myself.  I don't do everything from scratch.  But I don't like buying something that I can be making.  Respect for the earth involves being thoughtful about what we do and aware of what we might be taking for granted.


I knit, but I don't spin, and I don't raise sheep.  I bake bread and grind my own grain but I don't grow the grain.


So where does that leave me?  What kind of baker am I?


Rosalie

SusanWozniak's picture
SusanWozniak

Although my mother did not bake bread, our family -- like European families -- could and did walk to an independent bakery where bread and wonderful pastries were baked fresh each day.  We never had fluffy, soggy whipped white bread from the supermarket because no one liked it.  Then I became a hippie and my friends were about visiting the farmers' markets and eating whole foods.  I soon became a Quaker and the young Quaker mothers baked bread for their families.


As a wife and mother myself, I could save money baking at home.  My kids grew up shaping their own little loaves, sprinkling them with cinnamon and sugar and rolling them to bake in tiny pans.  These loaves were their breakfasts.


Once again single, I bake because I am not fully employed . . . its the ageism thing . . . and because I like to knead dough.  My grown daughter bakes as well.  My son sometimes bakes cookies with his own daughters but not many as my daughter-in-law has wheat problems.  And baking heats my chilly house in winter.

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

I learned to bake bread when I was a teenager - a neighbor showed me how to make my first loaf. At first, it was because I loved bread - everyone in my family did. Then later, when I became a mom, money was tight (always was/is), so it was both to save money - and to make great bread and pizza (which was our favorite meal).


Now, my children are grown. I share my home with one of my adult sons - who loves my baking & cooking, but is seriously trying to lose weight... being just near mom means expected additional poundage. I bake because I love the process, it's a challenge to try new techniques - and because, at one point, it became really easy for me. I also enjoy the wow factor - it's disappointing that I have fewer people to bake for... I need ideas on how I could sell a few loaves here & there..

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

I'm all about the results.


 


I moved about a year ago and couldn't find decent bread anywhere. I pulled out a french bread recipie from Bittman's "How to cook everything" and while it worked the first time and was easy, it wasn't exciting. So I picked up "The Bread Bible" and "The Breadbaker's Apprentice" and went to town. Less than a year later, my wife and I are selling about 70 loaves a week at a farmer's market.

GabrielLeung1's picture
GabrielLeung1

[edit] hm. this is directed towards another comment, my mistake [edit]


I hate to admit it, but that is also how my baking life took off. I started off with a culinary arts class in secondary school, but after watching a few of those episodes, my interest really took off. 


haha, but its a better thing to get hooked on then most things on tv!

landgrvi's picture
landgrvi

Nice thinky post!


With knitting I'm *way* out at the process end of the spectrum - I hardly ever finish anything and am perfectly happy to unravel it all if I don't like something about it - but I hate to throw away food, so with bread I am a bit more focused on the result. I guess that's because I can't unbake.


That said, it's the process that keeps me truly interested, and the changes the bread goes through along its journey from raw ingredients.


Making bread also rewards both precision and spontaneity, so I can bake to fit my mood. Knowing the general principles I can just toss a dough together and be sure that the bread will be yummy; or I can get out the scale, carefully follow a formula and instructions I'm not familiar with, and explore a whole new part of the giant world that is bread!


From a purely practical point of view, I make bread because I don't like to buy it. Good bread's expensive, cheap bread is yucky.


 

MotoJack's picture
MotoJack

I'm a new minted bread builder.Only started learning about this stuff a short time ago.I really enjoy the process of baking bread and it still sorta seems like a magic trick the way these simple ingredients can turn into something so good to eat.As much as I enjoy "building" the bread however,I like the "eating" part most.It's much like a strong motorcycle engine.Fun to build,but "funner" to ride.