The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Wife made bread

BXMurphy's picture

Wife made bread

So, here's me with my scales, test tubes, thermometers, and bubbling goo struggling to make a decent loaf. All my timing was thrown off by an overloaded schedule. Even refrigeration went a day too long.

And there's my saintly wife, standing there, smiling, after I come home from four or five hours of work with two perfectly baked loaves done old school.

I want to throw myself out the window. :)

Soft, white, warm... bread just like Mommy would have done. <sigh> If it weren't for her, I probably wouldn't have had bread this week.

I think everyone needs a good wife. Can I hear it for all the women out there!?! I love you all!


jameseng's picture

I've read that the ideal starter is a combination of yeast and bacteria, coexisting in serendipitous harmony. Sounds like a lovely metaphor to me. You and your wife seem to be living the metaphor! Terrific!

weavershouse's picture

This was fun to read. Thanks.

Yippee's picture

Sometimes, common sense is most of what you need to accomplish a good loaf because bread making is not rocket science - speaking from a woman's stand point...

You're a lucky guy. So is my husband...

BXMurphy's picture

Kid, I'm tellin' ya.... I'm spending DAYS fermenting, stretching, folding, poking, sweating in a hot kitchen, worrying... COUNTLESS hours reading, studying, conversing... I read the whole Grains and Milling forum, just about every other loooog thread I could think of to search on, I must have watched every Youtube video, bought and read Reinhart's book, checked books out of the library... I did the handbook, the lessons, the glossary... heck, I even browsed the shop on TFL!

I've bought whole wheat berries at Whole Foods and milled it in a Mr. Coffee grinder. I've baked three scalds to varying degrees of miserableness.

Bricks! Kid, the lot of 'em have been BRICKS! Family and friends tell me they're great. I made croutons out of them and could have lost a tooth! Family and friends... I want to strangle them! At least I'll be front-page news.

And then I steps away for four hours and come home to a commercial yeast bread better than anything I've managed to put out. Cooled and ready to eat! I used it to mop up the juices from the stir-fry she made with fresh chicken and a side of Spanish rice.  IN JUST FOUR HOURS!!!!!

Yeah, I choked down the stir-fry, the lovely drippings on her moist and tender bread, and my pride. And drowned my vanity in an amber-colored liquid.

Just shoot me. Two in the hat. Please.


alfanso aka Vito Scoreleone's picture
alfanso aka Vit...

as I'm sure that many contributors and readers on TFL shared your pain at one time.

Sometimes it is best to get a grip on the simplest and not try to get to step #5 before Steps 1,2,3 & 4 are safely under our collective belts.  It is easy to get enticed and entranced by some of the things that the members on TFL post.  These are folks that by and large have been "plying the trade" for a long time to get to "Step 5".  

If you want to avoid the level of frustration that I can read coming through in your posts, my suggestion is to first shoot for the moon before trying to hit the stars.  Find a simple and simple to execute low-failure bread to make.  Something with AP flour and IDY (instant dried yeast).  Something that may be a one step (direct dough) bread recipe without any of the fancy-shmancy poolishes, bigas, or levains involved.  It may be boring and not sexy, but might just start to give you a window into what it takes to get to Step 2.  

It would be a shame to come up short so many times as to give up.  So don't.  But do try the simple first, leave the advanced stuff for the "advanced Murph".   Others may disagree with my take on this, but that is what this community is all about - getting cooperative as well as divergent opinions on this little corner of the world.

novels's picture

Hahaha! This is painfully accurate sometimes. In all hobbies, I think, we tend to overthink and over-worry about the possibly minor details of our endeavors, and it ends up complicating the process and situation.

Precision is useful in a lot of recipes and baking but not always. Let this be a lesson to us!

Danni3ll3's picture

I just reread my previously posted comment and thought: "Gee, I wasn't very nice!" Keep at it Murph and it will come. Sorry about my previous comment. Not usually like me. 

BXMurphy's picture

Every time I come to one of these moments, I'm reminded of a quote from the movie, The Godfather II, where Fredo argues with his younger brother, Michael Corleone, now head of the Mafia crime family, for his rightful place...

Fredo Corleone: I'm your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over! 
Michael Corleone: That's the way Pop wanted it. 
Fredo Corleone: It ain't the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!

And the next thing you see, Fredo's sleeping with the fish...

I can do this... I'm smart! :)


jameseng's picture

Every time I put a loaf of bread in the oven I said a Hail Mary and every time I said a Hail Mary the bread came out beautiful: oven spring, grigne, beautiful color. You believe that? It's true, that's the secret.

Actually, what's the name of the baker in The Godfather? Nazorine? And then there's Enzo, too.

BXMurphy's picture

That could work... I'm going to try that!


leslieruf's picture

we have all been there, and you will get there too!  

my first successful sourdough was Hamelmann's Pain au Levain (and I had been trying to make a starter for a couple of years and failing many times over ( should have read TDL then but didn't).  My break through was making a firm starter at about 66% hydration, and because life got in the way, neglecting it for a month in the fridge. When I got back to it and fed a few times I was able to make this bread and I have not looked back since.  

I learnt from TFL to use steam and eventually progressed to a dutch oven and  overnight shaped retards and baking from fridge in the morning.   For me it works doing a series of slap and folds over a couple of hours then a bench bulk ferment until dough has doubled followed by shaping and fridge retard.

 I am not experimenting a lot, although I want to,  but Alfanso has made good points.  I have belatedly started making 1:2:3 SD and have been getting excellent results.  My starter (about 60-65%hydration, mostly AP flour equivalent)  is not quite 2 years old, lives in the fridge and gets fed every 6 weeks or so. I make up my levain to suit whatever bread I am making. 

Hang in there Murph, get the basics right and you will be away laughing!


Jane Dough's picture
Jane Dough

Think we've all made a few bricks.  

I started the whole sourdough/natural leavening journey like many others as in "No problem. I can do this.".

Well I could but it took a while before I finally started getting consistent results and it was only after I scaled down my expectations and started really paying attention to what I was doing.  I started baking 1-2-3 loaves again and and again. And eventually I got the hang of it.  

Sadly for some of us Rome was not built in a day. But eventually it all came together. 

Hang in there Murph. It will happen.