The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I don't want to give up

Schola's picture

I don't want to give up

I am due to have a mastectomy early in New Year, but cannot bear the thought of giving up bread baking. Am I unrealistic to think that I could use the stretch and fold technique over  several hours with very little heavy physical work? I've been told to expect tiredness or even exhaustion. But if people can help with the washing up and carrying I reckon I could do something? Any ideas please? 

GermanFoodie's picture

stretch and fold, I don't have time to go into those details - so hats off if that's what you've been doing. I reckon many dough hooks are shaped to somewhat "simulate" stretch & fold. My breads turn out despite the fact that I'm basically breaking it across the knee most days. Don't stress over this - just use a food processor (KitchenAid etc.), retard overnight etc. and let others do the cleanup.

Oh, and good luck w/ your surgery. That must be tough.

Chuck's picture

I currently use exclusively stretch&fold (I'm elderly plus I have a bad back) and find that it alone works perfectly well. Of course in addition I rely on significant autolyses and long slow ferments. By far the most "muscle" my breadbaking now requires is for the initial mixing of the dough.

I started out with bread flour, but then branched out, first to KAF-AP (11.7% protein) and then to GM-AP (10.5% protein) and then even to a WW-AP mix (65%-35% so far) with no problems at all. (I do find that with potentially weak doughs it works better for me to do S&F fairly frequently - sometimes as often as every half hour rather than every two hours). Depending on the feel of the dough, sometimes I do just one envelope fold per cycle, other times two envelope folds per cycle. And I've learned the hard way to always fold from the same side so the "out"side begins to form a gluten sheath.

With the goal being the highly varied -including some quite large- holes of "artisan" style bread, this works well. I suspect (but have never tried the experiment) it might not work so well if I were trying to produce a more uniform very tight crumb (what's sometimes called a "sandwich loaf").

richkaimd's picture

My father in law was an unsual guy.  He had lots to teach about how to live a good life.  When he was told, after his right total mastectomy for breast cancer, that he'd have to undergo 6 mons of physcial therapy before returning to work he realized that he and his family would go broke if it took that long.  He learned from the physical therapist what exercises he'd be put through and did the whole thing in a month.  He then returned to full time work at his dental office.  He lived another 40 years.

I don't claim to know your situation.  I just know that in some cases it's possible to fight your way back to normal functioning faster than even the professionals imagine.  I wish I'd seen the shock on my father-oin-law's surgeon's face.

My best to you.