The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

does anyone else bake like this?

ronny cammareri's picture
ronny cammareri

does anyone else bake like this?

Greetings to all; I really enjoy the site, and find it fascinating. I just don't find many discussions that reference the way I bake.

I don't care what kind of yeast I use, or what kind of oven; I DO care what kind of flour, and having clean, filtered water helps, but beyond that, it doesn't seem to matter much. I weigh ingredients and follow a ratio but never use a recipe; my bread just sort of evolved---wheat flour/water/salt/yeast.

I used to bake 1/2 & 1/2 whole-wheat and white bread, but lately shifted to all white when I found Wheat Montana flour--can't say enough about what good bread it makes. I DID get "Tartine" for Christmas but I'm dreamin' if I think I'm going to that much trouble.

Made a loaf with sun-dried tomatoes last night, with kale & sausage soup. Hope some others here reading are like me---sort of winging it and happy with the results. Happy baking!




PastryPaul's picture

I'd guess that maybe 99% of TFL'ers can or do bake from the seat of their pants. Bread is not all that complicated. Mind you, you want the same bread next year as you made today, or in a professional environment where consistent results are key... well, the seat of the pants method just won't cut it.

That having been said, I use "your" method at home.


linder's picture

I'd say your method is where in lies most of the fun for me in baking, being able to take a recipe/formula or whatever, know it well enough to fly with it.  Sometimes my flights are planned and sometimes I mismeasure and have to correct to get back to a good feeling bread (enough water/flour), senior moments happen at the most unexpected times.

It's a great day when the bread rises!


Love the screen name by the way -- Moonstruck!

ronny cammareri's picture
ronny cammareri

Must have seen it 100 times!

Glad there are others flying along, not a care in the world---hey, if it works, it works!  But, I wouldn't like to try it like that baking professionally.

Ciao, bella!

I676's picture

Hey, that's how I do it too! Unlike you, however, I haven't gotten a scale yet (that will come), which may make me more of a tinkerer than a baker.  I have a basic volumetric recipe that I vary based on intuition and hoped-for results.

But I have to say, I'd like to tighten my approach up a bit; I think therein lies a lot of learning that could help me take it to the next level.  Either way though, I'm having fun. And the bread is good (and when you do it my way, every loaf is a surprise).

ronny cammareri's picture
ronny cammareri

Man, excellent---"every loaf a surprise!"

I read & watched Alton Brown for the chemistry of baking (plus he's funny) and just try whatever sounds good that day. 

The less I pay attention or fuss with the dough the better & better it comes out; starting to think it's a cosmic message. Plus, my scale cost $5.95 at LAX-C (cheapie Asian market).

PaddyL's picture

I've made bread so often that I now look at recipes as ideas more than anything.  I seldom follow a recipe, preferring to go my own way, and feeling the dough.  I don't use a scales and nothing gets measured except the salt, and I make very good bread.  My sister, who has stage 4 cancer swears that the sourdough cinnamon swirl bread that I make for her is what is keeping her alive.

gerhard's picture

It depends on what you are making, in bread flour, water, yeast and salt are essential.  As long as your dough is not liquid, so dry that it can't rise or too salty you will have bread, maybe not the same results as last week but easily recognizable as bread.  Lot of other products have very little margin for error so adherence to the recipe is key.   At work I make a lot centres to be enrobed in chocolate and if I was cavalier with measurements and temperatures we would be producing mostly seconds.


pjkobulnicky's picture

Or something like that. I wing it but as I am winging it I do measure and I do record the essentials on a scrap, just in case I hit a real sweet spot and want to replicate it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

just like every adventure into something new, it is a little scary at first but once you get the knack of it, it becomes second nature.  I also don't like to fuss but sometimes fuss leads to insights and added skills, shortcuts in a positive direction.  

So I have to disagree, I do care what kind of yeast I use.  It gives me more choices.  

I care about all my ingredients, they work together.  Just lately my tap smelled of chlorine.  That explains the extra fermenting time on my last loaf, and extra time my starter needed to ferment before chilling.   Now a pitcher stands full of water airing in the kitchen and buckets for watering my flowers/salad plants/herbs stand in the tub.  The plus points are whiter than white sheets.  

Wheat flour, stuck on one favorite, huh?  I can understand that.  Now that you've got that figured out, you won't forget it.  Time to try a challenge on the side.  Take the same flour weight and switch out some of the flours trying different carb or fiber content, flavours, and explore how different yet similar different grains can be.  How varied is your flour bucket list?   :)

Grenage's picture

You don't need to weigh the flour, water, salt (etc), but it can actually make things faster.  I used to plough through and add water if it was dry, or flour if it was wet; now that I have a rough ratio, I weigh to that ratio and adjust if required (by much smaller amounts).

If one is following a recipe, one obviously needs to follow the weights, or the result won't be true to the recipe.


varda's picture

with other bakers, say because you are a member of TFL, then you have to be able to say what you did.    I tend to rough out a quick sketch of what I plan to do - then modify it at the counter based on whim or whatever, but record everything I do, then come back and make a final draft.   That way if things come out really nice, I will have a record of it so I can replicate and/or share.   And if I have a really great idea (happens all the time) that comes out really, really badly (also happens all the time) then I will know that it wasn't so great after all.   Part of this has to do with the fact that I have a bad memory and will do the same stupid thing over and over again unless I leave myself some reminders, and conversely will never remember how I got wonderful result X.   For young folk like yourself, this is probably less of an issue.  -Varda

ronny cammareri's picture
ronny cammareri

Mini Oven---I don't have any flours on my bucket list, will you recommend some of yours?

Varda--I didn't think about sharing results with others, maybe I should record some of my more interesting experiments :)

I think it's because my work requires precision and accuracy that baking strikes me as relaxing, and I have a cavalier approach to it. I never thought about others here who might also BAKE professionally (or be professionally trained).

Baking to me is a kind of mystery, and I do love that ineffable feeling of "how will it turn out THIS time?" Taking mundane ingredients and getting hot fantastic bread as a result? It's great, every single time.



hanseata's picture

I also started out with one bread I basically developed myself. But always the same? How boring! If I don't bother looking at other recipes I won't even know what's all out there, and what's all possible, but keep simmering in my own juice.


dabrownman's picture

same SD multi-grain, tinned,  Challah bread with variations for many years.  Way back then there wasn't any recipes that I could find for multi-grain challah but it was easy enough to develop one over time.  It is still one of my favorite sandwich breads even though I haven't made it in almost a year.   But, that was about all I knew about bread until I found TFL a year ago.

Now I have made over 100 different breads of all kinds since then.  No more boredom for me and my brain is now full of important bread baking stuff that wasn't there before and my baking skills and methods are about 10 times better too - all thanks to the fine bakers at TFL   Figuring there are only 1oo more years of different breads to bake at 100 a year,  I won't get to them all..... but,  that won't keep me from trying :-)  I don't think I am any different, bread wise, than many other bread baker's out there either.  I see them all the time right here.

harliebe's picture

I learned to bake in a Yankee kitchen when I was about eight or nine years old and baked a couple times a week until I was out of  High School.   We only ate home baked bread and pastry.  My grandmother or aunt would give me a measurement for water and I took it from there.  I baked white, whole wheat, multi-grain, sweet dough, dough for rolls and probably a few others. I never did get rye pumpernickel right--still can't. But I baked with them or they were around for questions until I had the basic bread learned.

On retirement I began to work from a recipe book to make a wider selection of breads and pastries and also to learn some new methods.   Many of these I bake regularly--my favorites involve working with very wet doughs, for example crocodile bread, but I stick with recipes until I get the feel of the dough at different stages and understand any uniqueness.  If I attempt to experiment using a basic dough without sufficient practice the bread ends up wanting.

 I, too, hate to constantly repeat the same recipe but have learned one viable system.  By request, I constantly make a rich raisin bread which is worth the calories.  While it involves a number of processes I can do it on automatic while trying a new recipe or two at the same time. 

One last comment.  I too enjoy working with specific flours.  All of my basics come from King Arthur Flour and have for over 60 years.