The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A belated introduction

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apprentice's picture
apprentice

A belated introduction

Hi everyone, my name is Carol, and I'm addicted to The Fresh Loaf! 

I found TFL about 18 months ago when I was in the middle of a quest to produce Jeffrey Hamelman's pumpernickel. That bread has a heck of a learning curve. I needed all the advice I could get. I was at baking school – a 10-month professional certificate program – and our instructor didn't have the time or background to help. But he was very generous in letting me make batch after failed batch using school ingredients after hours.

Before you imagine I'm a sweet young thing with flour on her nose, I'd better confess that I can be sweet sometimes, but the word "young" hasn't been applied to me in years. Except by my mom and her friends at the nursing home! I was her 24/7 caregiver until her dementia made facility care the only answer. Instead of collapsing in a small heap, I decided that a change would be as good as a rest. Off I went to experience instruction from the pros. Our class produced all the baked goods for the university. Filled some retail orders, too. We started at 5 a.m., dealt with a demanding production schedule – the works! And then we went to class. Theory and practice, in other words.

Didn't know if I would end up working in the industry, but figured I'd have fun at school. Was ready to see where it took me. Managed to hold my own with the 18-24 year olds who made up most of the class, and shared top prize at graduation with one of them. Grad morning, a year ago June, I won an even bigger prize. Came down to my kitchen at home and took a Pullman pan from the oven. My first pumpernickel that didn't suck!!! 

Intended to get a lot more active on TFL. I signed up and used the nickname "apprentice" because the one thing I learned at school was how much there is to learn. But life is full of surprises. Health issues for me that ultimately resolved. Crises with my mom as her condition deteriorated. A brand new grandson to go visit in Montreal! Etc.

Things have only recently begun to settle down, and that's why you've seen more of me. Another reason is that I don't want to just take from the community. If I can help, even if it's only by cheering you on, I'll be glad. Will start a blog and begin sharing my successes and failures, no doubt learning more from the latter than the former. And of course, will continue to learn heaps from all the talented and generous bakers at TFL. 

So tips anyone? I love the fast-moving discussion at this lively and fascinating site. But how do you stay on top of the posts without parking yourself in front of the computer day and night?

Carol aka apprentice

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Carol.

But how do you stay on top of the posts without parking yourself in front of the computer day and night?
It  sounds like you found the answer to your own question. Yup. Day and night. ;-)
David
apprentice's picture
apprentice

Day and night, eh? Oh well, I'll be in good company. But one thing. I must keep some time for actually baking!!!

Carol

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

consider yourself one in the heap "from all the talented and generous bakers at TFL."  Because you are!   

Mini O

apprentice's picture
apprentice

And while I have your attention, those two loaves you did from PMcCool/Jaine's formula for barley bread, did you think it was better with less barley flour + some barley malt? How much less barley flour?

I'm going to mix it up later. Surprised that the formula is 82.5% hydration -- that is, counting both water and cream! Was it quite wet?

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Hello! I'm originally from Vancouver and have spent a lot of time cruising the Gulf Islands on our sailboat when I was younger.

Welcome on board more officially. To answer your question, it is impossible to keep on top of all that goes on here. I'm a "young mom" (almost 39) of five kids and I have a number of projects going on and I manage to sit down several times a day and come visit during my "breaks". I miss tons of stuff and can't join every topic.  But it is such a great group and the people here are so very helpful and interesting.

I'm looking forward to your blog entries. See what's baking on Vancouver Island! Paul is from the Interior.

Jane 

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Thanks, Jane! Yes, I noticed you were from Vancouver, that Paul's in the interior and I think our friend Henry is nearby. Maybe there are others from this vicinity?

There's a fair bit happening locally, as elsewhere in the baking world. We have an island chapter of the Baking Assn of Canada, a small but committed group working to advance the cause of good bread and baking generally. Among other strategies, the assn brings in good people to put on workshops for all comers. Ciril Hitz came for an all-day event when I was at school. Amazing!

Appreciate your comments on how to stay in touch with what happens here and all the interesting people with their interesting projects. You're one of them. I've been in awe of what you manage to accomplish with the busy circumstances of your life. And btw, I'd still be in awe even if you had all the time in the world and only yourself to worry about. Impressive stuff!

Carol

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Thanks Carol. Hey, I'll have to plan a trip over there and sign up for a work shop! I haven't been back in six years. Times flies when you're baking bread and raising kids, ha ha! The BC West Coast is a really incredible place and I'm so out of touch with what's going on. My dad is coming for a visit and he and his wife will bring me flour. So, could you tell me what kinds would be interesting for me to try? I only use organic stone ground here, but I'd like to try Bread flour and anything else that is interesting.

Jane 

apprentice's picture
apprentice

I'll have to do some research and see if or how your dad could get his hands on some Red Fife wheat to bring. Quite a few people in Canada are excited about efforts to bring this heritage variety back into production. There's a Red Fife Organic Growers cooperative with members in Manitoba, Sask and Alberta. There's a farmer growing it here on Vancouver Island, and local bakers are experimenting with it.

Anita's Organics in Chilliwack has made artisan grains and flours their focus. They operate a retail store on site, but their products are also widely available at health food stores, good food markets and such on the mainland. Here's their url: http://www.anitasorganicmill.com/

I'll see if I come up with any more ideas. Henry and Paul may have some thoughts, too. When are your dad and his wife planning to visit?

Carol

Janedo's picture
Janedo

They should be coming around the 17th of November so there is still time. But if they have to order anything, it would be good for them to get ahead. Those flours sound very interesting! Tell me more when you can.

Jane 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Hi Carol,

It's good to know a little about those who regularly contribute here.  Thanks for your insight.  I only stick my nose in occasionally on topics I've experienced, but look forward to picking up on your knowledge.

Best Regards,

Gavin. 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Great to meet you Carol! I like your spunk. Your comment "I decided that a change would be as good as a rest", speaks volumes about your personality. I look forward to seeing your work.

Things are a bit fast paced here. I get behind and sometimes have trouble finding my way back into a subject or thread. I've given up trying to stay current and still find time to bake. Lately I use the time between folding or proofing to log on. That way when I hear the timer go off I'm close at hand and stay on point. Anyway---

Glad to make your acquaintance Carol.

Eric

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Eric, so good to meet you, too. I've been following your work with great interest, initially because it seemed we both have a passion for rye. Then I just got fascinated with all your projects. David's, too, and so many others. Have especially appreciated your efforts to share what you're learning and make sure that good posts about new and wonderful techniques don't get totally buried. Thanks!

Gavin, your outdoor oven (and what's coming out of it!) are so impressive. I look forward to learning more from you, too. You're a great addition to the crew. Glad you didn't wait as long as I did to introduce yourself. :)

Carol

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Carol,

I am really glad you are on board here! Your experience will be a very valuable addition indeed, and in fact has already been for me. The first time I saw your 'apprentice' handle was a post about using sourdough 'discard' wisely, referring to Rose Beranbaum's blog. I followed the link and followed her tip and was very pleased not only with the resulting bread, but with finding a much more constructive way to deal with the inevitable sourdough discard.

I look forward to taking many more suggestions from you!

Soundman (David)

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi Carol,

Nice intro.  I like to hear about how life interfaces with bread.  Thanks for sharing some personal information.  

So far as keeping abreast of what's going on here, ' near as I can tell it's not possible.  From your intro post I started with comments and somehow ended up reading about barley.  The world of bread is huge!

:-∆aul

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi again, I'm wondering about flour here in BC.  Currently I use the sort of house brand organic white unbleached from the local natural foods store.  I live in Penticton.  Any ideas for me?  Thanks,

:-Paul

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Hi Paul, thanks for the welcome! We're in the right place, aren't we?

About flours milled in BC, have you tried Nunweiler's? We used their hammer-milled whole wheat to make 25 lb. of 100% ww bread every day at school. Only had one episode of high enzyme levels, cured by substituting with a few scoops of bread flour. And working FAST!!!! That was like dough on steroids! I learned later the problem can also be rectified with a shorter fermentation time and 15 ppm ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

But don't be concerned. It's not that common. I mention the incident for interest's sake, and also because it can happen with flours that are natural and have no additives. Nunweiler's doesn't use additives. The enzyme hike in wheat occurs naturally when there's a lot of moisture on the fields after ripening. The young seeds are trying to fulfil their genetic purpose and grow! If harvested then, the higher enzyme levels can wreak havoc in baking. They're in Kelowna, but small bags of Nunweiler flour are becoming more widely available at good food markets. Check their website for more info and if you want to order larger amounts.

Anita's Organic Grain and Flour Mill is in Chilliwack with retail outlet on site. Their products also available at good food markets and health food stores in BC. Maybe that's what you're using?  There's Rogers, begun by an Okanagan farmer in the 1950s. Some of their products are no-additive and others are blended. I can get Millstream's products here on the Island, not sure about the mainland.

As for locally grown wheat, not much as far as I can tell. But there is growing (no pun) interest because it's dawning on people everywhere about the impact on the planet and our food supply of the industrialized approach. So ask around. Keep an eye out at farmer's markets. The market I patronize had a bag of locally grown wheat berries recently that you could scoop from and buy what you needed. The sign even had the falling number!

That saying comes to mind about living in the best of times, the worst of times. Never dull, for sure!

Carol

p.s. I saw on a website called FinditinCanada that there's a small mill in Abbotsford. Will check it out when I next visit my brother. Also one in Willow River (Peace Country). Let's keep each other posted! 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks Carol.  It sounds like you paid attention in your classes!!!

The Kelowna outlet might work for me.  I'm in Penticton, almost in Naramata.  Beautiful, beautiful place.  We live in Paradise.  I'm quite friendly with the local natural foods store folks, one of them is going to house sit my kitties for two weeks, and I don't let just anybody do that!  Anyway, their main store is in Kelowna, it's just a satellite store here, but I can order anything from that store to be delivered here with their regular shipments.  I'll be checking Nunweiler's offerings.

In the states I used Giusto's Old Mill, a reduced bran whole wheat flour.  It had all of the germ and 20% of the bran.  They don't ship to BC, or to Washington for that matter.  I'd really like to find another flour with similar compsition. 

:-Paul