The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Should a sleepy mommy be baking bread?

caribbaker's picture

Should a sleepy mommy be baking bread?

I first want to say that this site is wonderful.  For the past week I have been checking it out on a regular basis and picking up tips and ideas on how to make my bread baking better.  Here is my issue, I would love to contribute however I am not sure if my experiences fit in see I am a very sleepy mommy..there is a two year old living in my house... I probably don't have to go on...anyway...I get very inspired by the entries in this site and very determined to bake something from someone elses entry and then I start reading about hydration and varieties of flours and peoples questions about very precise technical things and I start to glaze over, not from lack of interest (I am even in the profession) but because I'm sleepy and then I go into the kitchen and do something like this:

Dump my starter into my kitchen aid bowl

Put some tap water in there and stir it around, if I have had some extra sleep the night before I might even break it up with my hands.

Open up my bag of AP flour - smell it - hope it doesn't smell like the boat (living in the Caribbean things can be a bit funky)

Dump some in and mixt it till it is a stiffish dough.

Cover it and leave it alone for about 2 hours

Divide it and put some back in my starter sontainer and mix some more water in to bother the bowl and the starter container.

I put the bowl in the mixer and turn on with the dough hook and slowly add flour as I look around for something to make my bread interesting.

Grated coconut leftover from my hubands pina colada session last weekend!  Perfect!  In it goes, with more flour.  It is getting sticky now.

Ooooh! a few bananas right on the edge... I'm having fun...

Hey look! a half an avocado from my daughter's lunch...will it make my dough black?  Will the fat help keep it longer?  Oh well let's see, tommorrow is another day if something weird happens.

Ok, now enough flour to make a somewhat stiff dough and then lets let it rest for bout till the bathroom is clean (in some cases that could be days  but fortunately today that is only about an hour or so.)

Next, finish kneading a bit in the mixer, oh yeah add till salt it is seasoned and it tastes good.

Grease a big bowl and ball up the dough, cover it and let it rest.

I like the tips on kind of folding the dough a few times during the first rise to work the dough further and develop flavor, so I do that

It is starting to look beautiful

Once it is risen, I shape it and set it to rise on a silpat lined sheet pan

Once it is risen, it is slashed and put into a hot oven(my oven doesn't have temperatures on it) with a pot of boiling water.

It bakes very nicely and is a little dark inside ut it tastes great

So you see, I have bread but not a very precise method to be able to share info with people

I also need to say, that I am actually a pastry professional and pretty good at what I do, at other times in my life I would NEVER consider baking like this...but as I have mentioned...I'm kind of sleepy and I just want bread.  In a week I will make up to 6 different doughs (bread, pizza, bagel etc.)

Should I be encouraged, discouraged?  Can I be helpful to any one in any way on this sit do you think?  I have the utmost respect and awe for what people are doing here and am very proud of you all and pleased that so many people are baking bread. 

Any thoughts anyone? 

arif's picture

if I tried to do what you're doing, the results would be complete disaster. Clearly, the bread spirits are moving through you producing unique and flavorful breads.

I say go with it!

Really, this is quite the inspiration to let go of the formality that sometimes accompanies baking and go with what's at hand and what feels right.

Kate's picture

I have two kids (2.5 years and a baby) at home and I WISH I could bake like you. I love to experiment with recipes and tweak little things and spend days making a loaf - but sometimes I need to just be able to throw stuff together based on what I've got and not worry too much about measurements or have to think too hard, but I can get so caught up on what I'm SUPPOSED to be doing and what it's SUPPOSED to look like so I admire your ability to let loose and go with the flow! The more I bake the more familiar I get and I'm able to improvise more now, but please do keep sharing!


caribbaker's picture

Thank you both for your encouragement.  I was thinking... what if you could do what I did.  I only started doing it like that about a month ago.  It stemmed from two things:

1) the woman I work with two days a week makes bread from what she knows in her head.  She has worked in that kitchen for 20 years, alot of it making bread and I watch her feel the bread dough as it is kneading and work from there.  I have also given her recipes and she will look at them and tell me what she thinks it needs or changes whe would make based on what she knows.  She gave me confidence somewhere in the back of my head to know it was possible.

2) As I may have mentioned before I can only get AP flour that is reliable here (even at work the head chef doesn't order bread flour and as "part time girl" I don't really say anything) so I feel kind of limited and was loosing interest in looking up recipes with cool ingredients.

Plus theres the sleepy thing, sometimes it seems all to much for me! 

Anyway, I was thinking, that if you know how to bake bread, you know some basic things about it and could probably do it.  I think alot of our grandmothers baked without a recipe for things, they just got to know what they were looking for.  This web site helps alot because people talk alot about ways to improve their breads and many of the concepts will work for anyone.  

I think I will try to keep sharing.  I may even try to get some pictures up at some point.  I didn't do it earlier because somehow our camera got dropped in the ocean.  But we got a really great shell in return!

By the way Kate, nice job being able to do any baking at all!  How you accomplish that is probably what we should be talking about! 


sphealey's picture

> I love to experiment with recipes and tweak little

> things and spend days making a loaf - but sometimes

> I need to just be able to throw stuff together based

> on what I've got and not worry too much about

> measurements or have to think too hard,


To me that is where the breadmaker really comes in. I love making artisan bread using hand techniques for myself and my family. But when my family needs a sandwich bread in the middle of the week, I don't think it is compromising my principles to throw some ingredients (or even a mix! horror) in the breadmaker and set it for 5:30 am. We also use it to make dough for various oven bakes (the Bobs Red Mill Potato Bread mix makes a great dough that can be shaped into hamburger buns and baked on the stone in 12 minutes).


In fact I have started using some preferment techniques and other tricks I have picked up from artisan baking to improve the bread machine recipes. It will always be soft and moist, but it can still be improved a lot with just a few minutes' work. I set it to make a sweet raisin bread with a preferment that was a big hit at the last sleepover.



Jeffrey's picture

Yes, i think it would be very nice for you to share like this.  Somtimes all the persision, sort of gets in the way of having fun.  Making up recipes on the fly takes courage, even more to share them.


Please keep it up, and let us know when how it's going from time to time.