The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Belated introduction

SaraBClever's picture

Belated introduction

Hi all, just noticed there is an "introduction" thread here and though I've had an account here for a while I've never posted to this! I live in New England and I've been baking bread for a few years.  For me what is so fascinating is how much there always is to learn.  That, and the fact that I am always a little amazed each time yeast works its magic.  Plus, I love to eat bread.  So many nuances, yet with such profound effects on the final loaf!  Most of my friends think I am some bread baking expert but I come on here and see how much there is to learn. 

I'm hoping to become a better all-around baker, but also to really get deeper into sourdoughs and whole grains.  I love white flour breads too but am trying to cut down on these.  Luckily I do love the flavor of whole grains, though I usually prefer a mix.

I've really upped my bread baking these past few months while on maternity leave, spending time with my toddler and my new baby (my toddler knows to say "mommy's making dough!").  With a stand mixer it's not too hard to fit in as I am around during the day, and my hands can be "full" with other things.  The challenge will be to figure out how to bake when I am back at work (Suggestions, anyone?).  I only bake bread once or twice a week now but would love to bake more.  My long term goal is to never have sourdough discard because I am always using it for the next loaf.

My favorite books so far are Reinhart's BBA and Dan Leader's Local Breads.  I just ordered Hamelman's Bread and can't wait!

pmccool's picture

If you are baking white bread for your family, it's still better for them than the white bread you would have bought at the store.  Not so much for what you put in it, but for the things that you don't put in it.  And if you enjoy the flavor of part wholegrain / part white loaf, then make that, too.  It's even better, nutritionally, than the all-white bread.  Since your children are small, they'll grow up thinking that whatever you make is the way bread is supposed to taste.  That's a lot better than having to convince a kid that there is more to bread than Wonder Bread!

I usually bake on the weekends, since my work schedule isn't leaving any time for baking during the week.  There are a number of techniques you can use.  One is to mix and knead the dough in the evening (maybe after the little ones are in bed), then stick it in the refrigerator.  At some convenient point during the next day, or even the day after, you can pull it out of the refrigerator and shape it.  Then let it warm up and, when it's ready, pop it into the oven to bake.  Minimal fuss, maximum flexibility.  Or, let it rise once, then shape it and then put it in the refrigerator.  A lot of breads can go straight from the refrigerator to the oven without any interim warm-up period if they were shaped prior to refrigeration. 

Use the Search function at the top left-hand corner of the page.  You can use terms like retard or retarding to uncover a lot more detail about what I mentioned in the above paragraph.  Try a search, too, for "5 minutes".  That should turn up a number of references to a book that is based on making a large batch of dough that is then refrigerated.  If you need fresh bread, cut off a hunk, shape it, let it rise and bake it.  All for about 5 minutes of effort.  Hence the book's title.

Happy baking.


SaraBClever's picture

I will definitely check that out.  I think I saw that book in a store but, well, I have a lot of bread books already,  I'll see what people say about the method because I don't care for most store-bought bread.  My son loves pepperidge farms raisin bread and I had a bit of it recently and nearly spit it out.  (I used to love it).  Pepperidge Farms, too, is "higher end" supermarket bread, isn't it?  I guess you can't go back, can you?