The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New TFL addict from Montreal

SimonBakes's picture

New TFL addict from Montreal

Hello everyone,


I am a 30 years old from Montreal city, in Canada, and I'm glad i found this fantastic source of information. I used to be a professional chef, but working crazy hours with crazy people eventually got to me, and i all but stopped cooking at home for the people I love. So one day i just decided i had enough of that, found other work and resumed cooking at my place for friends and family. Last year I added a smoker to my arsenal, with fantastic result (cold smoked salmon anyone?) and last week, i walked in a store where they had a brand new KitchenAid Pro Series 5 at 250$ instead of the usual 500ish i've seen them at. I always wanted a good, reliable tool like that to add to my kitchen equipment and start a baking side to enrich my cooking experience, and i figured that was kind of a message now was the time.


I've read a couple reviews of the KA Pros, and seem like people have various opinion on them, the negative ones coming mostly, if i understood right, from the fact that it's not fantastic for making big batches. If i don't plan on baking for an army, but more in the lines of a loaf or two of bread a week, and a cake of some sort here and there, was that a good deal ? I usually read alot before buying something, but the price of the KA always put me off so i never really got into digging for the reviews and such. seeing it at that price, and seeing there was 2 left, i just kinda jumped on it (or more likely sat in front of it for 15m deciding what to do).


So i started digging around, found this site, ordered two bread making books (Bread maker's Apprentice's and American Pie)  to get me started, on top of reading the "lessons" section here and a few posts here and there, mostly about buying a baking stone.


So to make a long post come to an end, i'll just repeat that i am mighty glad to have found this site, and i'm looking foward to knowing all of you, learn from your techniques and experience, and get myself to know Bread making and baking from scratch, something i have been dreaming of doing for countless years.




PaddyL's picture

I'm in Montreal West, little town beside N.D.G.  You'll find a lot a good bread baking tips on this site.  They're all a very friendly and helpful bunch of people who are passionate about their breads.

dwcoleman's picture

Smoking is awesome, I bought a Weber Smokey Mountain this year and have smoked about 20 lbs of ribs, 15 lbs of pork butt, as well as some chickens as well.

I started off with the Kitchenaid Artisan before moving up to the Pro 600.  It couldn't handle my low hydration needs(pizza dough and bagels) so I bought a Bosch Universal.  You can always sell your Kitchenaid and upgrade remember.

Check TFL, there is an awesome post detailing smoked meat, with you being from Montreal I'm sure you would be interested.

Floydm's picture

Welcome to the site, Simon.

richkaimd's picture

First, as said by others, welcome to the club!

Second, besides reading TFL regularly, don't forget the search function when you've a specific question.  Turns out that most of my questions have already been asked and answered many times over. 

Third, I use Youtube for videos of techniques that I'm struggling with.  TFL has videos, too.  When you get around to slashing slack dough breads (unless you're a natural) or whatever the heck is a gluten window, videos can be helpful. 

Fourth, I'm a broken record on this subject, but I think that texts on bread baking are very useful, possibly more so than even the best cook books.  Read TFL for book recommendations.  While Hamelman's is good, I'd recommend a simpler one, DiMuzio's Breadbaking, as a place to start.  I luckily found it a closing chain book store.  It may be found cheaply at one of the on-line used book sellers.  Try Alibris or Powell's books.

As you make your inevitable mistakes, tell us about them.  Then we can all learn.




PastryPaul's picture


At home I use a similar model (I assume you got the one advertised at Canadian Tire?) except mine is a tilt-head and has a slightly more powerful motor. I can easily make 4 loaves (say a kilo of dough) in it provided I don't go bonkers on the mixing speed. It's a good model and I bought three of them for the shop as well since big mixers don't do so great on small batches.

FYI: Before buying a thin pizza stone, check with kitchen counter guys for a sink cutout... you know, the part they cut out to fit the sink in. You can usually buy them for a song and a smile and they make great baking stones.





SimonBakes's picture

yeah that was my plan, after reading a couple of posts from here about the pizza stones cracking and what not.


is marble/granite ok, or should i try to find something else ? i heard alot of posts of marble cracking, but it seemed to be due to poor use (ie : change in temps, droping water, etc), more than material. from what i gathered so far, all the granite/marble in montreal seems to be sold treated. they usually say they can rough it up and take it out, but i'm guessing thats not great. what stone would you recommend me to look for, from a counter making business ?






ps : Paul, whereabout are you ? I'm in Parc-Ex.

PastryPaul's picture

I don't know about treatments. I just bought a cutout from a polished granite slab. The edges are rough, and it's sink shaped (obviously)  and it will replace the marble chunk my dayghter "borrowed" on a permanent basis. I don't see why there would be a difference between marble and granite. Maybe someone here can enlighten us both


foodslut's picture

You will, indeed, get loads of great info from the folks here.

Janetcook's picture


I am another one who stumbled upon this site and have been addicted ever since.

I will second what dwcoleman said above about the KA. I got a good deal on one too but was disappointed that it didn't have a lot of power and struggled with whole grains - which is what I bake with.  Luckily I was able to return it and I bought the Bosch also and am VERY pleased....The cost was not that much different but it's capacity to handle anything I throw into it are phenominal....800 watts of power does go a long way.  Customer service is also excellent - at least where I am located.

Lots of good info. here on all sorts of items that will enhance your bread's just a matter of locating them which has been made very simple with the search box.

Have Fun and Happy Baking!


JC1957's picture

Welcome to the site. There is a wealth of information here and people willing to help. I personally use fireplace bricks to line my oven with and have had them for over 15 years w/o cracking or breaking any of them. In my old oven, they would fit 2 deep by 4 wide but now I have to turn 1 row 90 degrees and use only 2 bricks in 1 row and 4 in the other. I have the KA Pro 600 Series mixer and it struggles with lower hydration doughs like the rye breads from the last 2 days. Both times I made it the mixer only lasted for a couple of minutes of mixing before the motor quits and that's while holding the handle so the bowl isn't all the way up. I have also rebuilt this mixer and replaced the main gear inside because the old one stripped some teeth off while mixing a soft dinner roll dough. I'm going to have to check out the Bosch mixer if I'm going to keep mixing doughs like the past couple of weeks.
From another smoker.

HeidiH's picture

Although I do wrestle my Le Creuset roaster in and out of the oven with a pork butt in it, I am relieved that my six tiles are each about 4" x 6." They are much easier to cope with than a big stone, both for storage and for cleaning.  I can also reconfigure them depending on the shape of whatever I'm making.  Just something to consider in the tiles versus big stone debate.  Of course, I have "Christened" the bottom of the oven with pizza toppings going through the cracks between the tiles.  So there is that to consider.

And how would I ever shape my radiattore or get ridges on my gnocchi without the backs of the baking tiles?

lumos's picture

Just something to consider in the tiles versus big stone debate

I used to use an unglazed, terracotta flooring tile as a baking stone which worked really well.  But it was quite thick, being a flooring tile, and I think that's the key. Ordinary wall tiles would be too thin to retain heat against low temperature of dough, preventing it from sufficient oven spring and they tend to crack quite easily because of thermmal shock.

(Using the back of tile for rolling pasta dough or gnocchi is excellent idea! Never seen it before. I must dig out my old tile from the back of my junk room and try it myself soon. Thank you for sharing, Heidi! :))

A lot of people use granite as baking stone with success. Not sure in where you are, but in UK a lot of kitchen shops and supermarkets sell 'granite chopping board' with one side polished (not treated) and the other side unpolished with non-slip rubber pads.  You can place it in the oven with the unpolished side upward (with the rubber pads scraped off) as a baking stone, which I used to do, too.

A few years ago I found a small manufacturer of kilns and pottery equipments not far from us and ask them to cut corderierite kiln shelf to fit to my oven. They usualy come in various thickness, so you can choose whatever thickness you want (I recommend at least 2cm) and it's food-safety. And it's extremely strong againt thermal shock, too.  I've been very happy with the result So this is another possibility of a baking stone.

Oh, I nearly forgot.... Welcome to TFL, Simon!  :)

Best wishes from the other side of the pond,