The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Intro from Nebraska

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mbelongia's picture
mbelongia

Intro from Nebraska

Hi, everyone. I've recently stumbled upon this site and have enjoyed reading some of the posts.  I've learned some things I didn't know, and I even baked the sweet potato rolls on the home page the other day...my family ate them at one sitting!

I'm a self-taught home baker, having one day picked up "Beth's Basic Bread Book" by Beth Hensperger at our local Borders. That was about 12 or so years ago, and I've just dabbled at it ever since.

Here are some basic things I can share about myself and my breadbaking background:

Everything I know I've learned from reading, then experimenting; I'm afraid to try working with sponges...don't know why, it just seems that step more difficult; I use a KitchenAid mixer most of the time to start my doughs, then knead and shape by hand; one of my favorite experiences was baking bread in my Dutch oven for friends on a camping trip.

I'm married, have twin 14 yo daughters. I'm a structural engineer by training, although not currently working. I would love to know more of the science behind bread baking as I become a better baker.

Oh, and I should add that my mother has one specialty that I really need to learn from her: Povatica! Does anyone here bake that? My mom's family tradition is to bake it at Christmas. It's a Slavic celebration bread, and her family's variation on it is the filling is a mixture of nuts (my favorite is pecans) and graham crackers. (The story in her family is her mother mixed graham crackers with the nuts because nuts are so expensive, it was a way to cut down on the cost...and it turned out everyone loved it). The trick is to roll the dough as thin as possible so the filling and the dough are equal thickness. Slather the dough with butter, then the filling. Roll the dough as per cinnamon rolls, then roll the log so that it fits into whatever pan you wish to bake it in. Delicious!

That's about all I have to add. Thanks everyone for reading.

 

 

GAPOMA's picture
GAPOMA

Welcome mbelongia!

I too am in Nebraska.  Where are you at??  I'm in Omaha (thus the OMA in my screen name), and I've been on this site for a few years now.  I've been baking bread for my family every week for about the last 10+ years, and have learned so much from the people on this site.  Like you, I'm "self-taught" (with help from TFL), but learned 30+ years ago how much I enjoyed fresh homemade breads.  I've worked with most kinds of breads & starters in that time, including sponges.  Recently I've been doing a lot of sourdoughs.  Let me know if you need some starter, as I'd be happy to share.

- Greg 

mbelongia's picture
mbelongia

Hi, Greg! I'm in Omaha, too.  I'll let you know about the starter...I'd love some when I'm ready. I think one of the reasons I've not gone there yet is it seems like that type of bread requires a little more  planning ahead. I'm sort of a "seat of the pants" type of baker (and basically, person in general). I never know when I wake up in the morning what I'll be baking that day.

What is your "specialty"?

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

If you've been on this site for a while you've heard me say this:  I've been an avocational home baker for 40 years.  I recommend that you trust that you can learn a lot from a bread baking text book that you simply cannot from a bread cook book.  Remember that professional bakers take serious courses using text books.  You can do this too, and it would help with whatever fears you have about baking (sponges, for example) because texts start you at the bottom and build up your knowledge slowly.  By the time you get to "sponges" your fear will be gone because you'll understand them.  I recommend a short though thorough text by DiMuzio which he named Bread Baking.  It's reasonably inexpensive, especially if you get it used through, for example, Alibris.  It includes some science, but when you're truly ready, find the little paperback called Bread Science which is written by a true biochemist, I think. 

Once you make your way through the DiMuzio text (which I think's great for beginners), then move on to the much more daunting Bread by Hamelman.

I venture to say that if you watch the videos linked on every TFL page under the banner you may find comment about sponges. 

Practice, practice, and practice.  Then tell us of your successes and failures.

 

 

mbelongia's picture
mbelongia

Thank you for the book suggestions. I will put them on my Christmas list for my family. The DiMuzio book looks especially promising (I checked it out on Amazon). I don't have any problems with math; in fact I enjoy that. Chemistry isn't one of my stronger suits, but I think I can muddle through. And thank you for the video suggestions...I will definitely be watching those. I'm sure I'll have plenty of successes and failures to report on. (Just this past summer I was consistently over proofing my dough and I pulled several flat loaves out of my oven).

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Dear mbelongia, 

I just spent a little time on Youtube watching a number of "bread making sponge" videos.  There are lots of them.  Your fear reminds me of another human avocational activity:  I sing in a chorus.  My chorus sometimes has troubles getting a mid-song key change correct.  A guest conductor fixed this by noting that, while key changes have gotten a name for being difficult, they're made much easier if, instead of listening to one's inner voice chanting about how difficult the key change is, one thought only the importance of learning to sing the coming string of notes one at a time.  Sponges (and all their "preferment" relatives) simply are not rocket science once you have an overview of what you're doing.  Check out some videos.