The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does bread making make you a better cook/baker?

MadAboutB8's picture

Does bread making make you a better cook/baker?

I think bread-making makes me a better cook/baker. It's actually more like a knowledgeable and confident one. 

It makes me look at the fundamental ingredients of each recipe and thinking about ratio/percentage of ingredients, how each ingredients will react together, what each ingredients are for, what are the eggs, butter, liquid percentage to the flour and how can I tweak that:) It makes me more analytical about the recipe and empowering me to create my own variation when I understand the fundamentals. Thanks to baker's percentage calculation.

I've been baking bread regularly for about six months now, still considers myself a newbie, but a very enthusiastic one. I bake bread at least once a week, mainly sourdough.  It's been six months but I still jump with joy everytime I see my loaf with a good open spring and widely open crumb:) It's been a very satisfying and productive hobby.

Does bread-making also make you a more accomplished cook?


flournwater's picture

IMO, I'm a better cook today than I was before I got involved with bread making.  Perhaps because I find I am more aware of how each ingredient develops the consistency and flavor profiles within the menu items I prepare.  I think bread baking raised my sense of appreciation for how each individual ingredient contributes to the finished product.  Before I started baking bread my cooking amounted to combining a bunch of ingredients without much regard for timing their introduction to the recipe.  That meant a potentially great meal often ended up as only a good meal; or a failure.  I've always been confident about my ability to prepare a good meal (sometimes a bit overconfident) but I wasn't always as focused on the process as I am today.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If you like to bake, want to bake, but get too stressed out with baking, certainly stress won't make you a better baker.  If you can grapple and overcome the stress, then yes; like many things in life learning to do something overcoming the obstacles and feeling confident makes you a better person.   Stress is a motivator; too much stress is a deterrent.  Each person is different.  What is easy for one is not easy for another.  Sharing experiences help to reduce the stress factor to a motivating one.  Sharing experiences at TFL have helped me be a better cook/baker.

I think no matter what one chooses to cook or bake, there are things already learned that can cross over and apply to other areas, baking or otherwise.  Here also at TFL, ideas flood in from different areas, biology, physics, chemistry, and geology to name a few.   Look how quickly we get side-tracked into other subjects and somehow find correlations and new ideas.  

So I think the question could just as easily be: 

Does chopping wood lead you to be a better baker?  Yes, esp. if a wood fired oven is standing nearby.  Observing the grain in the wood could be compared to scoring a baguette.  Certainly scoring a baguette the length of the loaf leads to a different kind of split as scoring across the loaf or diagonal to the loaf.


Does driving a car lead you to be a better baker?  yes   (So does not driving a car.)

Does learning to boil water lead you to be a better baker?  yes

Does scuba diving help you to be a better baker?  yes  (I didn't say one had to get wet.)


foodslut's picture

Strictly textbook definition of "more accomplished"?  Short answer - yes.

I loved cooking before I started baking bread three years ago, and I see no difference (improvement or decline) in my other cooking skills, so I don't think I'm a BETTER cook because of my baking.

A better way of saying it might be that baking makes you a broader, more versatile cook in that you can prepare one more type of (quite popular) starch to integrate into your menus. 

In a similar vein, does making your own hand-made pasta make you a better cook?  Maybe, maybe not, but it gives you one more tool to put into your culinary tool belt (or, to overwhelm you with analogies, another "canvas" over which you have maximum control for your culinary creations).

There's also wisdom in Mini Oven's subject line on this one:

Depends on whether you enjoy it or not

If you're happier, good sign.  If not, wonder why?

Keep enjoying the baking AND cooking!

wassisname's picture

Now that you mention it... my cooking has really suffered.  In quantity if not quality.  Much of my (kitchen) time and energy goes into the bread.  I rarely cook anything elaborate or even particularly interesting these days.  That works for me, as I am pretty happy eating simply, but it's startling to think about all of the things I used to cook but don't anymore.  So, for now I'll just go with the flow.  I'm sure eventually the balance will shift again and that will be fun, too!


foodslut's picture

.... my partner tells me she's seeing me do WAY less "batch cooking" on the weekends now that I bake.  She's happy to take up the slack, though, because I'm happy to bake bread for her to give away as thanks for favours.

Still, I don't consider myself a worse cook because of this - maybe one who's slightly out of practice.

rodentraiser's picture

Judging from my dinner tonight, absolutely not. But then, I really don't like to cook. I really don't like to bake bread all that much either, but I am obsessed right now with learning all I can about it. Baking bread is a skill and a challenge and I'm having a blast working with it. As to cooking my own dinner.... *sighs and fans the smoke away*

MadAboutB8's picture

I've been doing some thinking about this topic. Come to think of it...bread-making made me a better cook/baker because it is the first kind of cooking/baking that intrigued me so much so that I was looking for ways to educate myself, from both reading and practicing. And the knowledge has expanded into some other cooking areas and has enable me to understand more about baking/cooking from a fundamental perspective.

I've grown culinary-wise from the bread-making journey I took 6 months ago...and I'm loving it!


berryblondeboys's picture

Anything that gets you in the kitchen, working, makes you better. Then more you learn, manipulate, practice, the better you get.

I started as a good cook first - really good with veggies, soups, staples with simple ingredients, but lots of flavor. then I learned to cook meat better, and to grill veggies and meats/fish. Then I moved onto cakes and baked goods and FINALLY delved into baking bread where I am still a novice. I'm finally becoming a completely well-rounded cook.

rolling out fondant was easy for me, as I already knew how to do that for pies and cookies, adding spices, rubs to meat was easier for me, because I had learned hwo to do that with veggies first, and so on.

I love to work with food, period and finally got my dream kitchen (as much as it could be) this past year - gas cooktop with 5 burners and vented hood to outside, double ovens - one being convection, tons of counter space and storage space and all the tools you can imagine (though missing some for bread yet).

17 years in the making of learning and growing as a cook.


What I am finding though, now that I'm 40 have comfort zones, I'm trying less 'new' recipes as I have such a stable of favorites. I'm going to make it a point to try ONE NEW THING a month for each 'cuisine' type. One new type of bread, one new veggie prep, one new soup, one new meat, one new baked good. I have all these recipes I've been meaning to try FOREVER, but you get stuck in the comfort zone - where you don't have to look anything up to buy ingredients at the grocery store, stuff like that.


I'm glad you found a passion and that it's spreading to other cooking advenures.