The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter, water, flour, salt, passion and the guidances of The Fresh Loaf!

suzanne pepin's picture
suzanne pepin

Starter, water, flour, salt, passion and the guidances of The Fresh Loaf!

Ok, this is my first entry into my personal blog and hopefully not my last one (excuse my syntaxe as French is my first language...).

It has been a long journey into trials and errors, but I kept my passion for making the perfect sourdough bread and today, I believe I have achieved the beginning of the perfect sourdough loaf, for myself anyway.

So here it is... I follow these instructions from Susan from San diego, up to the 'T' without changing a thing.  Et voilà, my perfect sourdough bread is borned.

It was made with my homemade starter 'Bécacine', borned May 05 2010.  The smell of sourdough is very present and I am so pleased with the easiness of this method.  For baking, I used the method 'Roasting lid' because this method seems to work the best for my condition at the moment : living 6,000 feet above the sea level in high altitude, in central Mexico, and I have to make breads with what I have around me and not always run to the store, which is pratically, non-existant here. 

For the colander, I replaced it with a straw bowl for tortilla, well floured, and cover with a coton dish towel, it worked like a charm. I don't have a pizza stone so I used the back of my cast iron pot to deposit the bread to be on it.  It did the job also.

Now, my big problem was to understand the process because here, everything with yeast in it will raise very quickly but also go down very fast because of the altitude, some days are better than others...  So the manipulation of the dough had to be restricted to a minimum and had to be studied closely to know the right time to move it.

It has been a long journey since May 05.  This bread is my 13th bread.  All the others ended up in the field for the birds, the snakes, black widow, scorpions, fire ants, etc... around me.  I could have kept them for building a wall of brick actually.

So it shows that it is not only a recipe that makes the perfect dish, it is the 'knowing how to cook, bake' that makes the difference, the location we live also and the passion for it.


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Suzanne.

Welcome to TFL!

Your bread looks wonderful - An outstanding debut.

You have shown excellent judgement in your choice of breads to learn with and in persisting, in spite of disappointments, until you mastered it. That's the best way to learn for new bakers, in the opinion of many.

Looking forward to seeing more of your baking!


suzanne pepin's picture
suzanne pepin

Thank you David, it has actually been a full time job just reading your blog lately, as you have so much info there.

A small question from me to you: since I live so far away from civilization and a book store is out of possibilties for me, my Amazon account on line is my 'best friend'!  So how would you rate, on a scale of ten, those two books, before I proceed to buy just one on line and pay double price and shipping and all, for the time been?

I have been baking my own bread since 1987, in different conditions and countries, mosthly sourdough breads because it is easier for me to cary it with me.  It is the first time I live so high about sea water and believe me, all my bread baking experience are now down the drain as I have to re-learn everything.  I need formulas that I can ajust and I need to understand the method of 'why' it is not working.  I refuse to add chemical yeast to my bread, to get the spring needed to breath more air in the oven... maybe I am on the wrong path here...

LindyD's picture

Your very creative adaptions have resulted in a beautiful bread.  Well done!

Thank goodness you can stop feeding the birds - and those other rather unpleasant critters in your fields - and feed yourself and your loved ones instead.

suzanne pepin's picture
suzanne pepin

Thank you LindyD

I got used to those littles bugs around.  Back home, we have polar bears and black bears which to me, were a lot worst than those here ;)

ehanner's picture

Welcome Suzanne,

Your bread looks very nice. You must have adjusted to a higher altitude judging from the look of your bread.

Both of the books you mention are good references. Since you have been baking for several years, I suggest you would be better pleased with Bread by J. Hamelman. Every recipe produces a perfect loaf, his writings are clear and his style is professional.


Candango's picture

Congratulations, Suzanne.  Your bread looks great and I'm sure tasted great as well.  You noted that you don't have a pizza stone.  No problem.  You solved the problem by using the iron top to your roaster.  Another possible solution, especially since you are in Mexico, might be to use some of the saltillo floor tiles.  These can be cut to fit your oven, giving you a quite large platform to bake breads and pizzas.  I would think you could find them in your area and probably quite cheaply.  Good luck with the baking.

wally's picture

And your passion certainly shows through in the bread.  Congratulations and welcome to TFL!