The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Greetings from foggy San Francisco!

emkay's picture

Greetings from foggy San Francisco!

Hello TFLers,

My name is Mary and I'm so happy to find other people that "geek out" over every aspect of baking. I'm an avid home baker and would say I'm very comfortable making cakes, pies, cookies, etc. But when it comes to making bread, I'm a novice. I recently began a sabbatical from my job and decided that I would dedicate some time to the art of bread baking. I thought it would be fun to chronicle my bread-ucation here on TFL.


-Mary (and Hobie the cat)

Wild-Yeast's picture

Hello Mary,

Nice to have you join the never ending pursuit. This is "the place" for those that gaze at bread baking in the oven, who recalibrate everything they did wrong on each and every bake. The best part is when the bread turns out spectacular only to be eaten.

Ars longa, vita brevis, et comedetis panem...,

Welcome aboard and enjoy, Wild-Yeast

emkay's picture

I love the quote Wild-Yeast. It pretty much sums it all up, doesn't it? lol

richkaimd's picture

But first, welcome to the club!  My cake and cookie baking seems to use an entirely different section of my brain than my (now 40 years of) bread baking.  From my many decades of experience, I suggest this:  learn bread baking in the organized, practiced-based way that professionals use, by studying with an expert.  So much of bread baking is based on touch and feel, mixed with a considerable amount of factual knowledge which explains what's going on in the dough that direct experience will make things go more quickly.

In the absence of a hands-on course (e.g., look into the San Francisco Baking Institute's courses), walk away from bread cook books and towards bread baking text books.  These books are specifically designed for the kind of courses taught in bread baking school classes.  They organize your process of learning helping you grow your knowledge base steadily and in a way which isn't jumping around based on what you think but straight forward and thought out by the author who has experience with the teaching process.  Look into these two texts:  DiMuzio's Bread Baking and Hamelman's Bread.  They are quite different.  I wish someone had given me the DiMuzio book decades ago.  It would've saved me from going down lots of false roads.  Both books are often available in public libraries and used at Alibris or Powell's Books.  Learning from a thorough front-to-back text is worth it!  I especially love it that, like texts books in many subjects, the DiMuzio one has practical exercises at the end of chapters.

I also think that watching lots of videos is an invaluable help.  There are lots of them linked to from this website, for example.  Immerse yourself in them for a while regardless of their subject.  Then go back to them for specific help.

And practice, practice, practice.  You'll be making more informed judgements about answers to questions posed by TFL readers/writers.  You'll even become one of those commenters that others want to read because you're so knowledgeable.

By the way, if/when you get around to looking for varieties of flours that your local market doesn't have, check out the Rainbow Coop!





emkay's picture


I used to think that textbook-style bread books were not for the home baker, but lurking on TFL has convinced me that it's exactly what I'm looking for.

It's a coincidence that you mention the San Francisco Baking Institute. I wanted to start my sabbatical on the right note so I took a 5-day course in Viennoserie at the SFBI in February. We spent 90% of the week hands-on in the kitchen which was fun and exhausting at the same time. I'm hoping to sign up for one of their bread classes in the future.

BTW, I agree about Rainbow. They pretty much have every flour and powder a person could want!