The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie from Seattle, WA interested in the science

lashleigh's picture

Newbie from Seattle, WA interested in the science


I was gifted a starter in January and this site has really helped me out a few times. I feel like I know enough now, and have done enough of my own experiments, that I might be able to add some useful content. Of course, what kind of guest would I be to come knocking without some bread, so here is a picture of my favorite loaf.

This was just a normal walnut bread, 20 % whole wheat and 80% hydration. I baked at 500F the whole time instead of turning the oven down to 475F and it just came out really wonderful, I managed to snap this picture before it disappeared completely. 

My boyfriend and I spent last year on a tandem bicycle trip around the country. One of my favorite parts of the bicycle tour was all the wonderful food we got to eat, especially getting our hands on some good sourdough bread. Besides eating it, I have really enjoyed the scientific aspects of bread making. I keep a journal and I worked with my boyfriend to build a distance logger to more acurately measure rise times.

Just to give you a sense of scale on my nerdiness, this is definitely not the nerdiest thing I've done. In fact I think it is really cool, I'd love to talk to other bread makers who get excited about the science! 


G-man's picture

Welcome from a fellow Seattleite!

I'm interested in the science of it, but I must admit I prefer to let others do the tests while I read their conclusions.

lashleigh's picture

Thanks! That's fine, I also like to read other peoples conclusions, the Debra Wink posts were so helpful to me early on. 

BluesmanEP's picture


Your bench looks like mine!  Good to see someone else uses an arduino while they're baking.  I'm always trying to combine my hobbies - I'm currently working on a temperature / humidity controlled proof box, and a 'formula-aware' scale' that knows the percentages and ingredients for each type of loaf.  I want to just select the formula and enter the number of loaves and have the scale tell you what / how much to put in.  That's the idea anyway... now I've gotta find the time to finish them.


Happy baking!

lashleigh's picture

I would love a temperature and humidity box! I was browsing adafruit recently and checking out the humidity sensors, it's amazing how not expensive the parts are. The formula aware scale is a cool idea, I built a rails app that I punch in my starter amount and desired hydration to get gram values for flour/water/salt. Doing it in my head was probably a good mental math workout, but it got boring. 

I'm so glad that there are other people with arduino's in the kitchen!

yy's picture

Nice looking loaf!

What's the nifty little gadget on top of the beaker? 

lashleigh's picture

The gadget is an arduino, a simple prototyping board. It has a couple goodies hanging off it to connect to the wifi, but the import piece is not visible. There is an IR distance sensor facing the dough that measures the height of the dough and the time of each measurment. This allowed me to really get to know my starter and make better predictions about when my bread would be ready to bake. I am hoping to add both ambient and dough temperature sensors in the future, right now I'm relying on glancing at the thermostat.

bnom's picture

One of the great things about bread is that you can take a scientific approach or a sensualist approach and still end up with a delicious product.   Having a simple mind myself, I like to keep things simple but that's cool that you're having fun with science.