The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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TinaBee's picture
TinaBee

New Member!

Hello! I have lurked around here for a few weeks and joined this morning. I have baked bread for a number of years, all self taught (that goes for cooking and baking in general!) and have recently decided to dig a little deeper and learn to make better bread and food as well. Since the price of a culinary school is out of my reach, I'm hoping to glean as much as possible on making bread here and am visiting a few other 'culinary' forums to improve my meager skills!

First loaf of sourdough baguettes are in the oven now...just realised I didn't slash the tops...must read to see if and why it might be necessary....will eat bread anyways I am sure ;)

Schola's picture
Schola

Welcome to TFL - a great site for learning and sharing ideas. I lurked for a few weeks  before I signed up. I am determined to improve my bread making skills and in particular sourdough. I have just taken out of the oven my wholemeal sourdough loaves for the week. The shaping leaves a lot to be desired and the slashing is below par, but it tasted quite nice. At present I am not certain whether the taste was satisfactory or if I could have got a greater rise to the dough. How do you find out that kind of thing?

TinaBee's picture
TinaBee

How do I find out that sort of thing?

Read...practice...read some more...practice...eat some failures...practice....

join TFL :)

My two out of three loaves looked like big lumps when they came out, but were as good as the gal I got the recipe from but I wrote down questions as I was waiting on them in the oven and searched them on this forum...learned alot in just a few minutes of reading careful a handful of posts.

Glad TrapperDude (my husband) likes to eat bread!

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

What I'm about to write, I've written to Newbies many times.  I'm assuming that since no one's taken exception to what I've written, there's at least a mix of agreement and laziness going on.  Here are my tips: 

1.)  Read TFL a regularly.

2.)  When you have a question, use the Search box on the upper left of every page first.  There are very few questions that have not been asked before.  You'll get good answers and more faster.

3.)  Watch all the videos on TFL, on Youtube and those that you find using your favorite search engine.  Then refer to them again when you're having a particular problem.

4.)  Practice, practice, and practice some more.  Then tell us about your successes and failures.  We need to learn from you as much as you think you may need to learn from us.

5.)  Since you're reading TFL and other sites, I'm going to assume you read elsewhere than what's on the net.  Consider buying not just bread cookbooks, but also buying a bread text book.  Cookbooks and text books are different beasts.   I so wish I'd had a good textbook when I started more than 40 years ago.  Texts take you from the very beginning in an organized fashion.  Cookbooks don't; they teach you sort of willy-nilly.  I have lots of texts, but for a beginner I recommend DiMuzios Bread Baking.

Welcome to our happy bunch!

 

TinaBee's picture
TinaBee

Thank you for the welcome and advice!

Yes to all of it and a double 'YES' to reading textbooks...I didn't know a whole lot about cooking until I read (and re-read often!) "Professional Cooking" by Wayne Gisslen. It cost a fortune (to me anyway) on Amazon used, but it's worth it's weight in gold! I'd next like to tackle Michael Ruhlmans', "Ratio", but math not being my strong point, it's a trying book for me.

What textbooks on bread do you recommend? 

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

I recommend DiMuzio's Bread Baking as an excellent place to start.  But if you're something that's beyond a place to start, try Hamelman's text Bread.  It's longer, denser, but great.  The CIA's text Baking and Pastry is worth looking at.

TinaBee's picture
TinaBee

Oh my...thank you for answering my textbook question that you had already answered when you welcomed me with the great tips...
I'm going to blame my lack of comprehension on the head cold my grandson gave me yesterday...he so likes to share :-/

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Ah, yes, sharing's a wonderful thing!

I suggested some tips to consider using TFL and some text books.  I left out one last tip.  It's this:  consider using TFL to find someone local to you who could serve as a mentor in  working with doughs of varying hydrations.  Techniques for Northern (lower hydration) and Southern (higher hydration) doughs are so vastly different that hands-on experience with a kindly teacher can be quite useful.