The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from Tennessee

bsawyer58's picture

Hello from Tennessee


 I've been lurking for a while so I thought I would introduce myself and thank you for this incredible site.

 I am a reformed woodworker that has decided to learn to bake after more than a few mishaps in the woodshop.  I figure it is better to burn my fingers every now and then, than to continue to pound them with hammers and other things.

 I found this site about two months ago and started immediately with a couple of the Rye recipes.  (I know, but I started trying to build materpieces in the woodshop before I could cut a straight line also).  My wife finally stepped in and told me to start with something simpler so I started with the "Lessons" page and have been practicing these loaves each weekend for the past 6 weeks. 

 We had a fresh loaf last night with Lasagna and salad and I got a passing grade from my wife so I am branching out a little.  I started my first Sourdough starter last Wednesday and when I woke up this morning to check it out, it had bubbled out of the container and made a wonderful mess on the countertop. 

 I may not try the Sourdough right away but I wanted to have the starter ready when I take the plunge.

 I would like to take the approach of gradually increasing the complexity of the bread and practice each new loaf until it passes the "Dinner Test".  I would like your opinions on this approach and your recommendations for a list of breads to learn.  If I could manage 1 new bread per month, that would be 12 different breads in a year.  That's a lot more productive than I was in the woodshop. 

 Thanks to all that contribute to this site and the encouragement and help that you show all of us "Newbies".

Best Regards,

Bob Sawyer

docpat's picture


 You may be in the beginning of the learning curve for breadbaking, but I bet you can make one heck of a bread cutting board! Woodworking is an art. Breadbaking combines art with science. As you seem to be learning, making a good loaf is easy, making a great loaf takes time and skill. Hang out here, read, learn, practice and it will come. And if you make a mistake in bread baking,you can always use it for doorstop or bird food. 

bsawyer58's picture

Thanks for the encouragement.  I actually have a nice stash of persimmon that has been drying since last fall.  Persimmon is incredibly hard when dry and I have enough to make a good sized board and a small peel.  Something to work on this weekend while the bread is rising. 


edh's picture

Welcome Bob,

As an unreformed woodworker (part time now), I can tell you that you've found the perfect Other Obsession, as well as the right place to indulge it.

I'm also a pretty recent convert, just in the last year, and couldn't recommend a better approach than yours. When I first started up, I tended to jump around a bit, and had more disasters than necessary. Once I slowed down, and went at baking like I do turning; keep doing it until you get it right, things got much better, very quickly.

There are still the occasional loaves that my husband and son suggest might be better used as bowl stock on the lathe, but not as often as before!

You might want to look at a couple of books as well; I'm sure you've seen lots of mention here of Reinhart's Bread Bakers Apprentice, and Hamelman's Bread, as well as several others. They can be really helpful to get started (and keep going).



bsawyer58's picture

Thanks for the encouragment.  It's good to know there are others that understand the obsession of woodworking and how it applies to all we do.  I hadn't considered bowls but I did think about turning some pens out of the French bread I tried the first couple of weeks but was concerned it would dull my gouge.

Trying my first Sourdough this weekend.  If it doesn't turn out, look for my submission to Woodturning Online.

bakingfarmer's picture

Hello Bob, I'm in Middle Tn. Just registered on this site, looking forward to the advice that is here. Hope your sourdough turned out for you. See you around. Catherine