The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Out of Lurkdom... another Oregonian

noelvn's picture

Out of Lurkdom... another Oregonian

Hello all, from Portland OR. I'm also new to the site (been lurking for about a month), but not to baking. I figure I might as well introduce myself, since I've finally started posting here and there...

I mark the beginning of my baking career as the day the mixes that came with my Easy Bake Oven ran out. I stole the _Joy of Cooking_, harnessed my newly-acquired grasp of fractions, and shrank cake and cookie recipes down to Easy-Bake sizes by dividing by the number of eggs (I couldn't figure out how to divide an egg...). As a voracious teenager I'd come home from school, bake a pie or cake, and with my equally voracious brother, eat pretty much the whole thing before dinner. I didn't start making bread 'till college, when I lived in communal vegetarian hippie houses and learned to bake with whole grains via the Tassajara sponge method (I still sponge/preferment just about anything yeasted). Later I was vegan for a few years, and had a pretty popular Vegan Baking (& general vegan cooking) site, still viewable through the wayback machine. It was mostly about quick breads -- vegan yeasted breads being pretty obvious...

I became a professional baker via an apprenticeship at a low-end whole-grain bakery (the sort of place that used lots of that nasty unrefrigerated margarine-in-a-box crap). But then for a number of years I baked in one of Portland's early artisan bakeries (for locals, it was at Bread and Ink on Hawthorne St. in SE, during the period when they were selling their baguettes around town). Moved on to other things about 12 years ago, but (of course!) I continued baking, for myself and anyone else I could capture and feed. Baking professionally gave me a Costco-sized sense of what a reasonable sized batch was ("well, if I'm going to go to all the trouble of baking, I should make at least several dozen of the blasted thingies...").

I was mostly a lurker on in the mid '90's to early 00's, and also hung out on a few bread machine lists back then too. Kind of an odd combination, but I blew out my wrists doing ceramics in my early 20's, and so kneading has felt kind of iffy ever since. Due to life complications, I hadn't been baking for the last few years, and returned to the internet baking world to find that kneading seems to have gone out of style, which is fine by me. I'm looking forward to experimenting with these techniques to make breads full of nice big holes -- the bread machine does tend to knead things into that fine-holed texture.

Oh, and I enjoy typing away on the computer, as the length of this post attests. Once I get over my initial shyness, I fear that I tend to blither on and on...


leemid's picture

I look forward to hearing your stories.