The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello, and seeking help with one-armed baking

blinsen's picture

Hello, and seeking help with one-armed baking

Hello all.  So, I've been a guest for months now, a....sponge (forgive me) for all sorts of ideas, tips, recipes.  Now I have a dilemma, and must ask for advice.  I am coming up on rotator cuff surgery, on my dominant arm, just as soon as it may be scheduled.  This means six weeks in a sling, then six more weeks of gentle motion, before load-bearing (read "dough-kneading") is again permitted.  We're a 3-loaves-per-week family, with substantial batches of scones, muffins and biscuits tossed in for variety.  Hey, there are six of us, including a daughter and three sons, all very pre-teen. I am the family cook and baker, and I'm afraid the standup freezer just won't hold 36 loaves of bread, in addition to standby suppers, cookie dough pellets, AND all the spring fruit that will need to wait for the necessarily postponed jam-canning.  Any suggestions on good one-handed breads?  I suppose freezing dough would use less space, but how to thaw and bake it?  Heck, how exactly to freeze it? The kids are learning biscuits and scones quite handily, and of course muffin batter makes for easy stirring and scooping, but kneading is still beyond their strength just yet.  Any ideas on bread-baking alternatives would be gratefully appreciated!

rolls's picture

how about no knead or almost no knead?

clazar123's picture

If you have a stand mixer to get the dough mixed, all you need to do is stretch and fold. Use the search to get a good explanation.

If you can get the dough mixed by some younger arms to a mixed (even if it is shaggy) stage, just let it rest for a while so the gluten strands form and then do stretch and folds. It will work nicely for almost any dough except a feathery sandwich loaf or ciabotta.

Get well fast and do your exercises! Rehab is almost more important than the surgery!

PaddyL's picture

....I heaved a great sigh and turned to the dough hook on my KitchenAid.  That did most of the work for me, even if it meant dividing up the dough and doing one loaf at a time and, pain notwithstanding, I did manage  to get my good hand into the dough for that last minute or so.  I'm a right-handed lady, so having to do anything with my left hand was hard, but when it came to bread, it was worth it.  If you don't have a standing mixer, I would do as the above poster suggested and have someone else do the mixing for you.  Heck, they may even come to love the kneading part too!  Good luck!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sounds to me like it's time to take advantage of your man power and organize so that everyone can share in being helpful.  When the kids are in school, it's your resting and planning time.  Also a time to make some sacrifices and rely less on home made bread and more on what the kids can cook and manage with the help from your hubby.  That also means organizing your kitchen so that they can do most of the work easily without climbing on chairs to get to plates, bowls and appliances, etc..   If you haven't got a lot of counter space, time to move in a table so everyone can work at the same time.  It may get crowded at times but I'm sure your supervisory skills are still on the ball.   If everyone is helping out and feeling needed, it is amazing what can be done and how fast the time flies.  You may have to invest in extra oven mitts, extra heat protection for the table, paper plates and small kitchen scissors and large to small lightweight bowls for your work force.  Put the glass and ceramic serving bowls away and replace with non-breakable bowls, everything should be dishwasher safe and bounce-able.   Make the whole house as easy to clean as possible and box up dust catchers.   Get some girl friends to help you with the canning later.  Don't be afraid to say "yes" when asked if they can do anything for you. 

I remember when one of my Aunts accidentally cut off her big toe.  This threw my cousins into doing everything from one day to the next and it is interesting how those months of getting organized while "mom was on her back" kick in whenever the family is home or gathered together.  It taught us cousins a few things too!  Don't miss the opportunity to teach the kids some special skills in working together and bring out unknown strengths.   Also remember to thank them and appreciate their team work.  You must be partially organized already if your shoulder is slowing you down now.   Don't be too eager to take back most of the work once the family is working together and your shoulder is better.   Train them for the long run!


dabrownman's picture

Growing up on a farm will make one well rounded inside and outside the kitchen regardless of gender.  You will be amazed at what they can actually do quite easily with you supervising and teaching them how you do it.  I loved cooking with my grandmother and mother.  They both worked and needed what help we could provide.  Plus, they were just plain fun to cook with too and we became much closer as a result.  I miss them both very much and will never forget those wonderful days int the kitchen.   This injury could be a blessing is disguise.  Do what it takes to get well, things usually work out if we let them :-)

blinsen's picture

Thank you all.  PaddyL, I have been more and more in your same boat with the dough hook, as my shoulder has gone downhill over the past few months, right-handedness and all.  And MiniOven, you put it beautifully.  The children have always been delighted to help, and have become more interested as the responsibility has increased, especial the older two, who are 9 and 7.  We have plenty of counter space, and the kitchen has been rearranging itself slowly to suit.  Investing in more kitchen 'unbreakables' is a good idea too, although I was a little surprised to discover how much of this we already have.  This slows our pace down quite a lot as well, which I guess is no bad thing!  Thanks for the ideas and the good wishes.