The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi from Newbie in Cleveland Suburbs; seeks advice and mentor

bastet469's picture

Hi from Newbie in Cleveland Suburbs; seeks advice and mentor

Hi everyone,

My name is Wendy and I'm on an extended visit to my hometown of Cleveland. I'm new to bread making and anxious to learn. I was happy to find this site a few years ago and now I finally have the time to utilize it. I welcome any advice and ideally would love to have a mentor.

I love cooking and most of what I know I learned at my Mother's knee and like her (ATTN:Ladies), I'm proud to say, I got my hubbie because of my cooking. Due to her death however, there are gaps in my skills that I've been trying to fill; like bread-making. Being from the South, Mom made biscuits almost everyday and dinner rolls regularly as well. She only made traditional bread once in a blue moon when she found a recipe in the newspaper or from a friend and I never got around to having her show me. I've heard what a generous and caring community this is. I'm hoping you all will take me under your wing and guide me through this process. To be honest, getting help from other cooks makes me not miss her so much.

I usually wait until I come home to hone my skills because her kitchen is much bigger and better equipped than mine is in Maryland. Mom made Dad buy the house because of the kitchen. He likes to eat so he didn't protest too much. Lol. With double wall ovens, two refrigerators and tons of counter space, it's a cooks dream. From the cookbooks I've read on bread baking so far, I'm gonna be using every inch of it! So far I have The Village Baker, The Bread Bible, Artisan Bread Every Day, and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. 

I've decided to begin with starters. Today, using King Arthur brand flours, I'll be starting Peter Reinhart's pineapple starter and Joe Ortiz's cumin starter. When learning a new skill, I like to compare different schools of thought to see which one comes out the best. 

I'll be happy to post photos along the way. I just need to know where to post them. I look forward to being part of the community and making new friends.

Your new student,


pmccool's picture

This is a great place to pick up a lot of information and help about making bread.  It's good to have you join the community.

While I'm sorry that your mother is no longer available to help you hone your baking skills, it sounds as though you have all of the work space you need in her kitchen.  I don't know if you have a kitchen scale.  If you don't, that would be the one thing that I would advise you to buy.  You can find a digital model that will handle 5-6 pounds, displaying both ounce and gram measures, and having a tare function, for $25-35.  Measuring by weight instead of by volume can be an adjustment but once you do, you'll never want to go back.  It's easier, more reliable, cuts down on dishwashing--what's not to like?

Make liberal use of the Search tool at the upper left hand corner of the page.  You may find that your questions have been answered multiple times already.  If they haven't feel free to post in the appropriate Forum.  For things like photographs or accounts of your adventures, you may prefer to create Blog entries instead of Forum entries.  

Have fun with your learning1


eddieh70301's picture

I am currently using Reinhart's starter. It's about 60 days old and it is great. Have used it to make one of Ken Forkish's recipe along with pizza dough and pancake & waffles. I will say that this starter is not very sour yet. Maybe that's how it should be or it just has not reached it's height yet. But it was my first starter and I'm satisfied.

The cumin starter you mentioned in your post sounds intriguing. Might have to give that a shot.

You do have some good books in your arsenal, but I recommend Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. I didn't think I would like it but his recipes are easy to follow and the pictures are great. Most of his recipes are high hydration, in excess of 70%. I thought the dough would be difficult to work but it's been fairly easy. He does mix everything by hand and I'm still learning his techniques, but it is kinda fun. I have cheated a bit and used my KA mixer but I do plan on following his technique later down the line.

Good luck in your baking quests.