The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A belated hello, from New York

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

A belated hello, from New York

I never formally introduced myself to TFL, and figured it was time to rise to the occasion.  While reading the ingredient lists for so many supermarket items, including bread, I became fed up with the amount of chemicals, conditioners, preservatives, artificial colors, etc., that are so prevalent in commercial bread, so I decided it was time to learn how to make my own bread so I can give my family healthier and tastier choices.

Or maybe it was because I wanted to create things that were delicious (because, truth be told, I can purchase excellent bread at Grand Central Station that purports to contain only flour, water, salt and yeast and while it may cost $5 a loaf, I don't find that to be too high a price to pay for good bread).

I do have a blog to which I post occasionally, called Eating With David,which I started to blog about healthier eating. It is not particularly polished, or chock full of content, but if things like hemp seeds, chia seeds, coconut oil and oats don't scare you, there are a couple of very tasty recipes there that I recommend.

My breads have been rather limited so far -- a couple of white bread loafs, a few ciabattas and one of my favorites, the Basic Country Loaf from the Tartine Bread book.  I successfully created my own starter using KA Flour and I have some dried Oregon Trail starter (the one that is mailed to you for free if you send a postage paid envelope to them), but have not yet activated it since I don't feel ready to care for two starters and the one I have seems more than adequate.

So far, I have not found the Basic Country Loaf to be a particularly quick bread to make. By that, I mean, if anybody suggests that the "hands on" time is very short and therefore it doesn't take much personal time to make the bread, I would have to disagree very strongly.  Making that bread is a long process. Not that I am complaining, but I would not mind hearing from anybody who makes that bread and who makes other similar breads that seem significantly less time consuming to make. 

Anyway, hello, and I hope I can be as much help as those who help me.


golgi70's picture

From another New Yorker (transplanted in very Northern California).  I know the bread you speak of purchasing and it is quite good and certainly worth $5 a loaf.  Can't remember the name of it but in that cool food section of GCT there are two bakeries with good bread if memory serves correct.  

As for less "hands on" formulas:  If you use the search bar above you'll find oodles of discussions/formulas some of which take close attention for much time, like the famed Tartine, while others take attention but let the dough do a lot of the work.  One suggestion might be the San Joaquin Sourdough which spends a length of its time in the fridge during bulk fermentation and is a famed loaf round these parts.  

Happy Baking



David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I will check out San Joaquin Sourdough. I have a feeling the Tartine loaf can be made without tying me up to the kitchen for so long. I did try doing the bulk fermentation overnight but I think my pantry was too cold and, as a result, I still had to do the turns throughout the morning.

dabrownman's picture

breads that do not use commercial yeast, take a day to make.if you spend 8-12 hours the day before to get the starter and resulting levain up to bread making speed. 

Thus is the Sour Life :-) 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I don't care if the bread takes 48 hours to make -- what I meant to convey was that the Tartine bread I've been making requires a lot of *my* time -- mixing the leaven into the dough then requires me to turn it 6 times over four hours; while it only takes a minute to do the turn and thus takes a total of 6 minutes, it still requires me to be near the dough for an extended period of time.

Now, if a similar bread were made simply by mixing the leaven and kneading the bread for 20 minutes and then can put it away until ready for shaping, I would prefer that even though I am spending 14 more hands-on minutes in exchange for the freedom to leave my dough for an extended period of time.

Bakingmadtoo's picture

Emmanuel Hajiandreou uses a method that is much shorter and works well, only tying you up to being near the dough for around an hour. You do a series of short kneads/turns in the bowl, every ten minutes, five times. I still generally start off using his method whichever recipe I use. 

Hello, by the way! I have never formally introduced myself either, always feel a bit shy about it!

the hadster's picture
the hadster

I joined this group about a week or so ago, perhaps longer.  I've posted comments and such, but never went through the introduction bit because, well, I don't really know what to say.  But, you've inspired me.

I made my first loaf of yeast bread, actually I made rolls, when I was 17 years old during a NOLS course.  We were in the Tetons and I used a frying pan with a lid.  I dug a small pit, built a fire, let it turn to coals, covered it with some dirt, put my frying pan on top - more dirt around and on top - and then built a small fire with twigs on top.  I fed this fire with twigs for about 40 minutes.  Let me tell you, that was really good bread.

I never looked back.  I was still in high school, so I made bread for my family.  It was okay - better than store bought but not great.

I existed with mediocre bread for a long time.  Then one day I was at Barnes & Noble (normally, I'm on restriction because I must own cook books and I have too many.  However, I occasionally permit myself to enter the store. :->).  It's a good thing I went shopping that day, because I found Peter Reinhart's book "Crust & Crumb."  I had purchased Daniel Leader's book "Bread Alone" earlier - but he went on and on about friction factors and buying grain from specific fields... A lovely book, and now that I've read "Crust & Crumb," it's helpful.  But, Peter's book made sense.  Or I had been reading for long enough and finally the light bulb went on. 

At any rate, I followed the instructions in Peter's book for sour dough, including building the sour.  I was a mad scientist.  My family smiled indulgently.  We were having some friends over and I took up most of the fridge with dough and shaped loaves waiting to be baked.  I threatened dire consequences if anyone touched my dough as it sat proofing on the dining room table (only place where there was room) tented under yards of plastic wrap held up by soup cans.  I commandeered the oven during peak pre-party production time.  I sat in front of the oven with my mister and a watch and misted every 2 minutes - per instructions.  The loaves came out of the oven about 2.5 hours prior to dinner.

It was the best bread I had ever made.  The crust was blistery and it shattered when I cut into it.  The inside was cool and creamy.  The crumb was irregular.  The bread was light and chewy at the same time.  The oven spring was huge.  I didn't get an ear, but I didn't care.  The next day, the small amount of left over bread made amazing toast.

Every year in the summer my brother, sister and I throw a party for our friends - most of whom we've known about 35 years or so.  The kind of friend who knows all the crazy and embarrassing stuff because they where there when it happened.  We spend too much money, prep for days, cook for hours, and have a great time.  Now my brother will discuss with me how much room he needs in the fridge for his stuff and will it interfere with the bread.  My oven needs come first.  My bread has become one of the center points of the meal and I have to make extra for folks to take home.

All because a man called Peter Reinhart wrote a book that made sense to me.  I wish I could thank the man personally.

I am still a mad scientist and have jars of wild yeast starters in my fridge.

That's me in a nut shell.