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Some reasons why I didn’t bake before

June 17, 2012

Since posting my first entry in November 2010,  I’ve continued to bake bread on a regular basis. I had been doing so for about 3 years, slowly forming an understanding of the process.  The more I understand, the more I realize I don’t know.  I am still a self-taught baker,  relying on books, experience and feedback for my education.  Sometimes I’ll follow a recipe so that I can begin to get a feel for a type of bread or to become aquainted with an ingrediant or technique. Other times I’ll make a bread that it is more my own.  It is usually a variation of a recipe or a one that uses a combination of different techniques or ingrediants.   There is always an anticipation of  how close the result matches my intent or vision.  My first post  “The Starter” wrote  about my first sourdough bread venture.   The bread was successful and gave me hope that I could become a decent baker.  I could not have imagined back then that I would be routinely making sourdough bread.  To be sure, there are hundreds of more loaves to make before I can say I have a  grasp of what I’m doing, but I’ve learned that it takes  just a little effort  and a few tries to  begin to make a very satisfactory loaf of sourdough. Once I made the determination and baked some acceptable loaves I realized great sourdough or other more complex loaves were not something  “left to the professionals”.  Yesterday and today I’m making the  “Sourdough Rye with Raisins and Walnuts” from “Bread , A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes” by Jeffrey Hamelman.  I’m baking this particular one because it sounds like a very nice tasting bread and because it’ll  give me more experience with  sourdough rye.  It’s a step toward making his “Vollkornbrot” , which is 100% rye.  While in the midst of making the sourdough, I can’t help but wonder what it is about breadbaking that has kept me curious, engaged, and interested through these few years.  Are there common personality traits that describe a baker?  For those who have made it a lifelong passion,  (I’ve only come to it recently), it requires physical work, practice, patience, curiosity, an acceptance of some disappointments now and then, creativity, and intuition.  These traits can easily describe people who dedicate themselves to other crafts and disciplines.  Even though I have been cooking professionally for about 26 years,  I didn’t develop an interest in baking until relatively recently.  It never was part of my home experience growing up.  It also wasn’t part of the job description at my various employments. There were no breadmakers around to spark a curiosity. My present job gives me freedom to bake regularly.  When I realized how fun and engaging it was to me, it became part of the job description.  I found ways to enhance the evolving menu with various types of bread.  As long as I was there, it was going to be a  routine. Another reason I didn’t bake before is because it seemed like it required lots of skill, time and yes, work.  It didn’t seem like a relaxing activity  on my days off.  Why work so hard  when you can go to the store.  I soon  realized that mindset was a delusion.   Soon I was baking at work and home. I was unaware how  easy it is to make a good loaf of bread.  I was also blind to the limitless possibilities for understanding and creativity that the activity of baking bread presents to the curious.

I gave a few reasons why I had not baked before.  The next post will give reasons why one should  continue to bake undauntedly or at least give it a try.

Thanks for reading.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2015 6:13 pm

    I bake because I like to know the ingredients that go into my bread. Store-bought bread has too many unpronounceable ingredients! I love the aroma of freshly made bread. I love all the butter I can manage to slather on a freshly made piece of bread! I love the adventure of it because you never know what it’s going to taste like depending on the flour you use, the eggs, the liquids, spices, fruits, whatever! I began baking when I was a teen in my home economics class and I never stopped, umpteen years later ; – ) but based on the ways your loaves always look, (perfect) you still do a better job than me!

    • November 24, 2015 12:24 am

      Hi Marcella, I also like to know what ingredients are in my bread. I was kind of surprised when I finally realized how much better home made bread can taste compared with the commercially made loaves. You’re right about all those chemical sounding ingredients. The bread may have a longer shelf life, but they can taste pretty dull and unnatural!
      One of the fun parts of baking bread is seeing if the final result looks and taste like you envisioned it would. It doesn’t always match, but I’m sure you’ll agree likely that it will taste good anyway! Yours always look good and delicious!
      I always take notes when I try something different so that I can remember how to improve on it next time. I’ll look back at my notes and can’t even remember making some breads even though it was only a few months ago!
      I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a perfectly made loaf!
      Thanks for reading, commenting, and being the first to like on this over 3 year old post!

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