The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Keeping notes

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Keeping notes

Trying to get more organized in my bread baking. I'm not the most organized person in the world but I have actually gotten to where I can make a recipe file on my email. I also have a folder to store recipes in the kitchen if they are printed. What I need to figure out is a good way to keep notes on making my bread.

It seems that most of you are very detailed in taking notes about starter feeds, rise times, and other details when baking a loaf. I'd like to do this so that I can improve and then replicate my results. I just need to find a good, usable method. I'd like to know what others find useful in the kitchen.

Notebook, computer, diary, filefolder, 3 ring binder, etc.

Looking forward to interesting ideas.



flournwater's picture

Tracy, for any new formula I might be trying, I use one of those yellow steno pads to make notes while I'm working, noting my experiences as I go along and including any adjustments I might be making in a certain process.  Then I transfer my notes to a document on my computer, print them out and file them in a three ring binder in the kitchen.  The 3 ring binder becomes my working copy and, when I work from that source, I write on the working copy and edit my computer notes to reflect any changes I might make.  If I'm experimenting with a pretty good formula that I simply want to "tweek" in some way, I edit the document in my computer to reflect my work and file the edited version along with the original using a different but related file name (e.g. PR's Biga, PR's Biga Var. 1, PR's Biga Var. 2, etc.).

To avoid unnecessary confusion when trying to determine why something did or did not work, I try never to make more than one change at a time with any given formula.

DerekL's picture

Levenger's Circa system.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Could you expand on your use of this system?

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Tracy, I too am a devoted circa system user, but I don't use it for the purpose you're asking about here. I use it for filing the recipe printouts that I use regularly. I keep two separate notebooks, actually. One for recipes I want to try 'soon,' and another for the keepers (which has grown into my own personal cookbook). I just move the pages from one to the other (or to the trash), once I've tried them. I also use circa systems for my gym notebook, for my planner, and for scientific reference articles. I love Circa  : )

But, for perfecting recipes and refining methods in my baking, I have gone to journal-type notebooks with numbered pages (black, with labels for the spines, which I number 1, 2, 3, 4...). I originally started in a spiral notebook, and that functioned perfectly well, but after working with that for awhile, I wanted something attractive enough to keep on the bookshelf, so it's handy at all times. I have expanded to 4 notebooks currently---a separate book for each recipe or formula I'm working on, and I keep my recipe development to no more than 3 at a time. Once I've finished a recipe in one book, I can turn the page and start a new recipe, noting the page #'s in the front of the journal as a table of contents (recording the page that I start a recipe, and the page of the final version).

You can't take too many notes  : )

Eli's picture

I do almost the same and I put mine in sheet protectors. On the back I slide in another page with notes or a quick glance larger quantity. The sheet protectors also allow me to "mark" through an ingredient once it is added with a dry erase marker.

deblacksmith's picture

Since I have been a long time spread sheet user, I put all my recipes  into a spread sheet.  New spread sheet for each recipe.  I even transform a recipe that looks interesting on to a new spread sheet file.  I keep everything in grams or convert every thing into grams.  Then the spread sheet when printed has a series of boxes that I check off when I have added a given item -- I don't forget the salt that way.  But here is the part that has to do with this tread.

I have space on the sheet for notes as I proceed with the mix, rise, bake etc. etc.  Also what I think of the bread being made.  If I decide to adjust the recipe I go back and do that on the computer for the next time I bake that bread but I keep the paper copy with the hand written notes in a file.

Works for me.


Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

There are a lot of ideas I like. The spread sheet seems closest to useable although I'm not much of a spreadsheet person myself so I'm going to keep taking in ideas hoping to find one that works. I tend to think I will end up with a tabbed notebook and some sort of spreadsheet like method combination.

As for forgetting the salt, I don't know how that happened, I'm usually really good but two days in a row I've had to knead the salt in late after forgetting it. I must need some sleep.

Zalbar's picture

White board up on the wall next to my fridge with dry erase pens for jotting down things that pop into my head or while I'm cooking. When I got something worth keeping I write it out neatly in a notebook. Could be an idea, a formula, whatever.


And hey, it keeps my friends kids busy when they come to visit, just make to get the vari-color pack of pens. :)

Jahosacat's picture

I have many recipes on a flashdrive. I also have a laptop that I use primarily in the kitchen. It's easy for me to add comments to recipes and to sort them into files organized the way I like them.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

One thing I do know. I have to stop using my laptop. I've had a couple of near misses with water and other substances nearly spilling on the keyboard as well.

I just hate printing out all the darn recipes until they're the way I want them to be. I'm even worse with dinner recipes. The recipe I start a dinner with might be unrecognizable by the time I'm done with it so I hate to print out something until I make all the changes.

One day, when I retire from doctoring, I think I might like to write a recipe book. I just love coming up with good recipes. Now that I like baking bread I will have to either have a good size chapter or another book. Not one like PR or JH though. I'll never be an equal to them. This will have to be more along the lines of the Wawina Coop Wives Recipe Book. (just remember the wonderful Finnish cookbook from my mother's home community in Northern MN).