The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What go you started in breadmaking?

KansasGirlStuckInMaryland's picture

What go you started in breadmaking?

My breadmaking itch started as a young child while reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  In one of the later books in the series there was a scene where the pastor complimented Mrs. Ingalls on her wonderful bread and wanted to know the secret.  Turns out it was sour dough.  There was a brief description on how to make a starter even.  I tried to make a starter, but my mother caught me with a bowl of water and flour in my bedroom and squashed that idea.  Fortunately for me she didn't squash breadmaking.  She encouraged me to follow a real recipe in an old Better Homes and Gardens bread book. 

My first loaves were a hit though I did make the mistake of preheating the oven as I started assembling the dough!  I advanced on to the cinnamon roll recipe in same book.  In retrospect, compared to zolablue's cinnamon rolls, these were pretty blase cinnamon rolls, but for a beginner they were a triumph.  Through the years I was requested to make bread for certain meals and to be included in meals delivered to grieving families.

When I first moved out on my own I made all my bread.  I even tried my hand a bagels.  My bug left me after I moved into a house by renting the basement.  I had to share the kitchen and my housemates were not exactly the sharing type when it came to me using the kitchen to make bread.  Through years, even after moving, I rarely made bread except for Dilly Casserole Bread, though I always meant to come back to it.

A couple of years ago I discovered a place in North Carolina that offered week long classes in all sorts of folk arts, including breadmaking.  ( if you are interested).  I signed up for a week of breadmaking and I have been elbow deep in flour ever since.

I was fortunate in be bitten by the breadmaking bug, not once, but twice in my life.  So what's your story?

flournwater's picture

I've been cooking since I could reach the top of the stove and always wanted to be successful with baking also.  Cakes and pies weren't too difficult to learn but I didn't know there was anything better than a Betty Crocker Cook Book for bread making and my bread experience was disastrous for a lot of years.  Quick breads prepared from a batter were OK, but they weren't what I had hoped to produce.  You can only do so much with corn bread and the like.  So, I just gave up because I concluded that my well developed cooking skills didn't mean I'd also be a capable baker. 

I saw a television demonstration on the "no knead" bread, located the video on the Internet and gave it a try  -  using my cast iron dutch oven.  Wow!!!  I actually could make a pretty good loaf of bread.  That got me started and soon thereafter I found, Peter Reinhart's The Baker's Apprentice and it all grew from there.  Waiting until you're nearly seventy years old to finally learn how to make a decent loaf of bread is a long wait.  But it was worth it.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

I got interesting in making bread when traveling to the Bahamas on our boat. Since bread doesn't keep very long and freezer space was precious we could not bring a lot with us. We usually eat sandwiches for lunch and we cruise to out islands where there is not a lot of opportunity to buy bread.

I started with a bread machine, but was never 100% satisfied. I went through a short phase of using the machine for the dough cycle, but now I do it all by hand.

My favorite is probably English Muffins, using the recipe from Joy of Cooking, but using an more up to date method as found on

Great with eggs!

Wayne's English Muffins



wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

Someone on another thread asked for crumb shot (looking for those nooks and crannies) so I finally posted a couple at:

French Foodie's picture
French Foodie

I started baking bread just about two weeks ago...yep I'm green.  I've been taking my cooking very seriously for about the last four years or so.  Through my cooking, I learned to love good fresh food and have begun to shun the preservative laden and over-processed garbage that is in much of the supermarket shelves.  Within the last month I realized that bread was the weakest link in terms of my fresh product perspective and started investigating more.  I think that was the first time I really took a look at the ingredients list on the packaged bread I was buying.  upon my findings of a disgusting amount of preservatives I began my bread making quest, currently trying 2 or so new recipes per weekend in order to eliminate store bought bread from my diet.  This weeks goals are a second go at Anis' baguettes (first one's were too gloppy due to misunderstanding of folding technique), some sourdough banana bread, white and ww sandwich bread, as well as some dinner rolls.  It sure is nice to have a 4 day weekend to bake.

KenK's picture

I began cooking when I was 9 or 10.  My mother was a good cook but really wasn't particularly fond of it.  We could have whatever I wanted (within reason) for dinner if I prepared it. 

 I have baked yeast bread a time or two over the years but recently took it up because of the poor quality available in our local grocery.  Even stuff like Wonder Bread would already be stale before it was bought.

My parents went to the John C. Campbell school many times in their lives.  My dad was a hobbiest blacksmith and basket maker.  My older brother taught blacksmithing classes there for awhile.

qahtan's picture

My then to be husband came home one day with 1/2 pound fresh yeast and asked me if I would make Hot Cross buns, that was the start of it.

  We have been married 53 years next march, I still make all our breads, cakes etc, well I say all, but at the odd time I do like a "shop"cake. ;-)))) qahtan

Janknitz's picture

My mom was a good cook and a great baker, but she could not deal with yeast doughs or rolling out dough as for a pie.  She made some killer cookies, cakes, and brownies, though and lots of them to sell for fundraisers for our congregation's sisterhood.

I always loved the idea of baking bread (I think it was my Little House on the Prairie phase, too ;o) but my attempts while in high school were dismal.  I didn't know what well-kneaded dough should feel like, and I made some real bricks before giving up.

 When we got married, my husband's parents gave us a KA with a dough hook as a wedding gift.  Eager to "nurture" my new husband (LOL, nowadays he does most of the cooking) I wanted to make things for him, including bread.  The directions on how to do it in the KA manual were some of the best I've ever seen, and I had success!!! 

Those first years of marriage were very stressful because we made four major moves,  constantly changing jobs, trying to start a family, etc. and bread baking really helped me ground myself.  It was my one constant.

It was around the time those DAK bread machines with the hundreds of recipes were popular and despite my assurances to my husband's family that I didn't NEED a bread machine, they got us one.  I did end up using it to make doughs that I baked in the oven, and actually it was quite handy around my working schedule. In those days, I only baked straightforward breads (nothing "artisan" style), so the bread machine worked well as a dough maker.  My favorite recipes came from the Sunset Bread books (two editions) and I still use them a lot to this day-anybody remember those???  I also had "Bread Alone", but my attempts at artisan style and using those methods at home were utter failures.  We lived in Hilo, Hawaii, at the time and the humidity and heat were challenges to even regular bread baking. 

I continued to bake most of the bread in our house (specializing in challahs) until life hit me between the eyes many years later.  I was working two jobs, attending a doctoral level university program at night, had one child, and got pregnant with my second in the middle of my schooling.  There was not even enough time to load the bread machine anymore, and it went to live in the garage. 

 When I graduated and established my practice, I always promised myself I'd get back to bread baking, but I never seemed to get there, except the occasional challah.  Mostly we were buying some great breads from incredible local bakeries, but at a big strain to our budget.   I had no idea I could produce breads that were almost as good myself (I don't flatter myself to think I'm as good as any of these well-known pros, but I make some very good breads nowadays).

One day while surfing the net I came across something about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  It looked really interesting, and I went out and bought the book that night.  I made up a batch of dough, and amazed myself by making some WONDERFUL bread the very next morning.  Remembering previous attempts at artisan style breads I was totally surprised that I could do that so easily.  And my bread baking took off again.  Suddenly I was baking constantly and banned my family from buying any bread at the store. 

 Eventually I found TFL, and began branching out from AB in 5 and traditional kneading methods.  I started my own sourdough, learned about stretch and fold, began experimenting with grains, steaming methods etc.  I love reading the posts here.  For the most part this is a group of incredibly intelligent, creative, and interesting people and there's always something new to think about and learn.

 Economically, we are experiencing the downturn very deeply, and being able to bake my own wonderful breads for pennies on the retail dollar is a plus (or would be if I'd just stop buying bread BOOKS!).  It is also a great stress reducer.  Somehow, I feel that no matter what happens to us financially, I can always make bread, and at least one little part of my world will always be OK. 

 I get in this "zone" when I'm making bread.  The cares of the world go away.  It's a vacation from the stress and worry.  And when I'm done, there's some great bread to enjoy. 

Patf's picture

and I think it started from when we used to spend the summer with an aunt who was married to a farmer. She baked all her own bread and cakes in their Aga cooker which was one of the first in the UK.

She always made wholemeal bread, and that's what I started with, though now I do a variety of yeast baking, including challahs.

She used to add some black treacle to her dough, which I did also for a while, but now living in France can't always source it.

So I've been baking for 30 or 40 years, though I did give it up when there were four teenagers in the house who could each eat a loaf in one meal. I made huge pizzas then.

Now there are just the two of us , so back to baking;

flournwater's picture

If you feel like returning to your roots, why not pick up some black treacle on the Internet:

No reason to forego a pleasurable memory just because you're in France.

althetrainer's picture

My mom was a good cook but she was not very good at baking.  I liked mom's cooking but nothing was like walking pass a bakery smelling the fresh baked goods.  Oh, the first bite of a freshly baked sweet bun, sweet and soft, so good!  I liked it so much that I even consider working an internship in a local bakery until I realized how harsh the condition would be.   For years my interest in baking was drown out until I finally left home and went to attend college.  My second semaster I signed up a cooking class.  The day they taught me how to bake a loaf of white bread I was in heaven.  I couldn't believe how some flour and other simple ingredients could make something so divine.  I still remember holding the loaf in my hand, feeling the warm and smelling the aroma, I fell in love.  It was over 20 years ago and I haven't looked back.

Patf's picture

....for tha link, flournwater. I'll try ordering some. Otherwise I will buy some on my next trip "home". Pat.

Muffin Man's picture
Muffin Man

  I was wandering in Barnes & Noble one day and came upon "Bread Alone" by Dan Leader.  It looked interesting and had stories, not just a collection of recipes, so I bought it and was hooked.  I agree with several others that he makes things more complicated than really necessary, but he was able to convey his passion for baking and I was hooked.  I worked my way through Berenbaum, Glezer, Hammelman, Reinhart, et al and have come to really love baking.  Breads, in particular, are my 'Valium', providing the relaxation I crave and the adventure the kid in me (who wonders how he got trapped inside an old man) craves.  i cannot imagine a hobby I could enjoy more.  As a side benefit, you cannot make closer friends than those with whom you share bout extra loaves.  I'v been baking for five or six years now and find this to be among the most helpful sites around.  There is a wealth of information here and more just for the asking.  Enjoy

Kroha's picture

My husband and I lived in a condo in Cambridge, MA with our two small children.  It was a very cold winter, and our heating system broke all the time.  I started baking bread late in the day to warm up the house for the night.  But mostly we would buy freshly-baked bread from one or another of the great local bakeries we have in the area.  Fast forward a couple of years, and my son got diagnosed with allergy to tree nuts and peanuts that prevents us from buying bread from bakeries lest he has a life-threatening reaction.  After the diagnosis I felt like there is no food in the world that is safe for him to it (of course, that is not really so).  I just kept cooking and baking, cooking and baking, as if to proof to myself that my child will not go hungry.  So, when I was 8.5 months pregnant with my third child, I baked a batch of 16 loaves of bread and froze them to eat through his first couple of months, when I knew I would not have the time to bake.  Meanwhile, I read as much as I could about bread making, and started baking at least every other day some time this past summer.  I wish I had more time to read and learn, but I do as much as I can.  My husband and the kids love the bread so much, I just can not stop now.  And I like the adventure, the learning, and the time in the kitchen when I can get into a nice rythm, the flow of of work, and think.   I bake mostly whole grain breads, and have learned a lot about grains, growing and milling in the US.  So interesting to read everyone' stories.  Thank you for starting this discussion.

bakerking's picture

When I was young we moved every couple years, new home, new shool, new friends... the one constant was my mothers baking. Every Monday she would make 7 loaves of white bread, rolls and cinnamon rolls. In my late teens I worked in a remote part of S. Washington for the DNR and tried my hand at bread baking. Two years ago while while looking through my wife's Martha Stewart magazine - my wife does a lot of baking- I came across an article on 'Artisan Bread' with recipes and said we should try this sometime. I cut the article out and saved it for a year, last winter I dug it out and tried French Bread and baguettes and brought them to a Super Bowl party. I was hooked. I found this site, bought Hammelman's "Bread", Reinhart's "BBA", Bertinet's "Crust" and just continue to keep trying new things. It is amazing how excited people get over a loaf of good homemade bread. No matter what else is served people rave over good bread. Seems to be a universal craveing.


jannrn's picture

Being from the South, I am blessed to come from a LOOONG line of fine southern cooks. My mother has always made biscuits and as long as I can remember, my grandmother's loved the convenience of "store bought" breads but I was always drawn to the yeasty breads. When I got out of college the first time, I found a recipe for whole wheat bread in one of my mother's OLD cookbooks that made 3 large loaves. I LOVED the destressing that kneading provided for me!! I baked 9 loaves a week and gave away 8 of them!! Then life jumped up, and I got married and had 2 beautiful daughters. While I tried to make every Middle Eastern bread I could find, the results were many times, VERY disappointing!! You could have built a house with the bricks I baked trying to get Pita Bread!! The saddest thing to was that no matter how hard I tried to make biscuits, they too were bricks! I guess that is a good thing because to this day if I could make biscuits, I would not be able to get through the door!! After a divorce, nursing school and many years of lusting, my daughters (with my moms help) purchased a bread machine for me. It was like opening floodgates!! It got me back to my roots and has helped to nurture my love of things home made and preservative free!! So here I am, 35+ years after that 3 loaf recipe and I made almost all our breads (unless a surprise rises) and today have Pita Bread rising (not bricks anymore) and English Muffins baking! Oh and my daughters bake breads too now!! I also just bought a rolling pin for my grandson who LOVES to help his mom in the kitchen!! I am a BLESSED woman!!

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Last autumn, my husband and I were living in our VW bus on the coast of Montenegro during torrential rains.  Here, actually:


But we would walk through the storms just to get to a tiny village shop for somun bread, these highly simply artisan loaves with impeccable, huge holes and a lightly salty floury taste... We would eat four between us in a night.  

"That's it," I told him.  "I'm going to learn to bake this when we're at home!  Just try and stop me!" 

So when we returned to a dry place with an actual oven I tried one painfully simple recipe… it was nothing like somun, and still that was it: I was addicted, forever more!  As we both predicted, I also lit my clothes on fire four times, but we’ve ended up with so much homemade bread!

In the year since then, I've never actually been able to create a real live somun, but I've had so much fun diversifying my recipes and playing with the yeast, joining TFL and plotting each day what I'll bake next...  

I love everybody's stories here!  Thanks to all!  


Przytulanka's picture

This sentence is very popular in Poland.  I can say that breadmaking helped me to win my husband heart.

When I met him  I didn't know anything about the  breadmaking (as I didn't know that  he would be the love of my life).  It was my first vacation  in NY so everything was  new to me. I don't remember where I found the  no-knead bread recipe but I decided to give it a try. And we were very satisfied with the result even though I used a regular pot.

So we stopped buying bread and I started my adventure with breadbaking. After a few months (few weeks before our wedding day) I decided to make my own starter (whole wheat and  than whole rye)  and stop using commercial yeast.

My sourdough boys-I love them:

My 1st sourdough loaves: (I was very proud of them)

zytyni na zakwasie pszennym

Now I use my starters regularly and I bake bread 2-3 times a week. I love making large  whole grain boules . From time to time I try something different - but I think I don't have enough patience to make rolls or bagels. 

My husband is often the first person who slices a  fresh baked (still warm) loaf. I'm always happy when the bread tastes good and very sad when something goes wrong.

wmtimm627's picture

After I retired from the Navy, I stayed with my brother for a while. He and I have a penchant for all things VERY spicy and the local Great Harvest store made a fantastic Cheddar Jalapeno loaf that was only available on Saturday, and only if you got there early enough to snap one up. Since that time, I've tried to duplicate the bread, buying numerous books and doing much research on the web. Never have found a way to make it that well.

Having bought so many books, it was only natural that I started into other stuff and my big start came with Charles Van Over's Best Bread Ever. I have yet to make a baguette that I wasn't totally satisfied with.