The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reality Check: I'm Still a Novice

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Reality Check: I'm Still a Novice


Before I started bread-baking 10 weeks ago, we used to always have excellent hearth bread in the house from one or the other of the wonderful artisan bakeries in the area.  But lately, we've been eating my bread, except for the occasional bakery challah or bagels.  When I get great bread in a restaurant, I take it as a challenge: someday soon I can do it just like this.


But yesterday at the grocery, I bought some smoked turkey for dinner, and realized my weekend bread is stale.  So I bought a loaf of an old standby, Acme's Pain au Levain.  It makes me realize how far I have to go before I can bake great bread.  It is humbling.  Gorgeous to look at.  Perfect crust and crumb.  And deliciously sour and complex.


After that experience, I needed to bake something sweet to give me courage and determination, and avert a lapse into hopelessness.  


Floyd's cream cheese blueberry braid did the trick (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/blueberrycreamcheesebraid).  I used apples instead of berries, and topped it with cinnamon sugar.  It is wonderful.


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With the other half of the rich dough, I made improvised chocolate-cinnamon-pecan rolls.  They were nothing to look at (in fact, I think I'll add them to OWS's "Ugly Loaf" thread), but boy were they delicious.  I rolled the dough out and filled it with cinnamon-sugar, chunks of Scharffenberger semi-sweet chocolate and toasted pecans. The dough was too sticky to roll up properly and I overfilled them.  I also should have baked at a slighlty lower temperature.  But I'd gladly eat ugly pastry with my eyes closed.


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Now I am reinvigorated to keep at the quest for great homemade hearth bread.


Glenn

 

Comments

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Mmmm, apples and cream cheese w/cinnamon, mmmm.  Sounds like a good enough reason to me, to have some delicious pastry, I'm going back for seconds!


That's such a great recipe!


Sylvia

arlo's picture
arlo

Comparing yourself to a widely known artisan bakery can be detrimental Glenn, i've done the same (Zingermans). I think for your amount of time spent baking, you have advanced so far and keep baking excellent loaves.


There is something about a bakery that separates it from a home oven. I have tried to replicate some of the recipes I have been making everyday for a year at my bakery but they are never exactly what they should be at home.


Still, they taste damn good and make me smile.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I completely agree with your argument Glenn. Frustrated by a hearth bread at home? Let's have dessert! Your breads look great from here.


Eric

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Sylvia, Arlo and Eric--

I really wasn't fishing for reassurance, but I appreciate it.

I'm not sure if sweet bread is easier to make well or if mediocre sweet bread is more satisfying than mediocre lean bread.

There are parallels in cooking. If you brown chicken in bacon and then braise it in garlic and wine, it's hard to screw it up. It'll taste good. But making an exceptional coq au vin, takes skill and practice.

Glenn

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

[ I'm not sure if sweet bread is easier to make well.. ]


Sylvia

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I'm with you on one thing - I'll gladly eat ugly pastry with my eyes closed.  It's a good thing I don't run a bakery.


Rosalie

belfiore's picture
belfiore

Remember, most of us weekend bakers have day jobs...only so much time to work on improving our skills. Also remember that when you go into a retail bakery you only see what they want you to see... the ugly loaves end up in things like bread pudding! 


I'd sit down at your kitchen table blindfolded any time!


Cheers,


Toni

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I'm not hard on myself.  I didn't mean "ugly" in a bad way.  I plan on being easy on myself today.  Just sourdough pancakes.


Tomorrow I plan another batch of proth5's baguettes.  And maybe lahmajouns.


Glenn