The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello, from a dabbler who starting to get more serious

RiverWalker's picture

Hello, from a dabbler who starting to get more serious


I am a guy in my later 20's, I am engaged, and while I've never been either afraid of cooking, nor fanatical about it, I've only in the last 6 months or so started to get really into baking, particularly, (being here, of course) getting into bread.

I started having looked up a simple, basic bread recipe online, and decided to give it a shot. it didn't come out quite *perfect* but it was a pretty darn good first try. after reading a bit, I tweaked this recipe some, exchanging some whole wheat flour for regular, using honey instead of sugar, so on and so forth. as I'm sure many people here agree, theres just something neat about how different variations of the 4 base ingredients and such, can give different results.

at one point I had some yeast seem to croak on me (at least at the time, the yeast I had been using seemed to just not go... had a loaf just not really rise, and putting some yeast in some slightly warm, sugared water got nothing but cloudiness) I decided to venture into getting a sourdough starter going.

I managed to get a few not-terrible loaves, then sorta neglected it entirely and gave up on it. just not sure its my "thing" at the moment.

at some point, read about and tried an overnight preferment method of doing things, and liked how it came out.

My Fiancee and I hosted thanksgiving, my parents coming down from where I grew up, and all that. fun! I went slightly crazy and made a total of something like 40-50 dinner rolls, of I think it was 4 kinds... or something like that. one of which being a 100% whole wheat one, that had been derived through experimenting with that first recipe I found and they came out *wonderfully* light and fluffy and everything. it was great.

(the fiancee is big on health stuff, so I try to do WW whenever possible, or at least, variations of things with that in mind for health-sake)

I got The Bread Baker's Apprentice from the library recently. really wonderful book! almost right away gave me some insight into some things.

the other day I tried doing "Pain à l'Ancienne" Baguettes, and it came out pretty well, following the instructions in the book. the loaves were certainly not the most attractive, but they were definitely edible, and had a very nice flavor and chewiness to them.

I STILL have a big problem somewhere in my technique, in that I seem to have a relatively hard time getting a good skin/surface tension. I'm not sure what I am doing wrong, and I seem to be getting this problem less than I was, but it still happens.
basically sometimes I've had the dough seem like it was just about right, and with one or two more "pushes" of kneading, it explodes. it goes from smooth and silky one momentto sticking like glue, tearing apart, and generally being phenomenally uncooperative the next. I suspected at one point that this was a problem with the whole wheat flour(read somewhere that whole wheat flour can cut the gluten strands or something) but while it seems to happen MORE with WW, it happens sometimes with pure-AP/bread flour too.

I am planning to finally get around to getting some of those stones from lowes or whatever for my craptacular oven, as I've been experimenting with home made pizza too, and after my latest try that didn't go so wonderfully(in addition to the oven going to 500, I think I may have turned the dial *slightly* too far, and it been in "broil" mode... wonderfully browned cheese, ... almost uncooked crust, >_< ) I really want a few of those things, and even with a tight budget, can squeeze the few bucks that they apparently are, now having actually gotten around to looking into them.

so theres that.



Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Try parbaking the pizza crust before adding your toppings. Shape your crust and put it on some parchment paper on the top of a sheet pan. Then brush the edges with olive oil, and sprinkle the rest of the crust's top with grated parmesan or romano cheese. The grated cheese helps keep the toppings in place. Put the pan in a hot oven and let it bake for about 8 minutes. Pull the pan out and lightly top the crust. Don't overload the cheese.

When you get a baking stone or the unglazed tiles, you'll be able to slip the pizza and paper off the pan onto the stone. Bake for about 8 minutes and slip the paper out from under the pizza. If you're fast, you can turn the pizza around 180 degrees first and not lose too much heat. Continue baking for another 6 to 8 minutes depending on how hot your oven is or how dark you like your cheese and bottom of the crust. This set of steps is working for me. YMMV.

PS, don't give up on sourdough. It's great for WW loaves and pizza crusts.

RiverWalker's picture

thanks for the ideas.


I may have to try that.  what really threw me about the somewhat-failure of that last pizza, and why I suspect I may have accidentally set it to broil, was that I had done thicker crusts, set on the middle rack, that while not crusty, were cooked.  and this one was very thin, on the bottom rack, and came out barely cooked at all.


I am sure I will come back to trying sourdough.  but I think for the moment I've gotta refine my skills with plain, commercial yeast first.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

of the page.  I know that watching Mark's Videos from Back Home Bakery were very helpful in helping me tighten up my loaves.  The pushing action... pay close attention.