Doughy Daydreams: Could I Go Dough-Pro?

For a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with, I haven’t worked since August of last year (besides a couple of agency shifts). I have found baking, and blogging about baking, to be a tremendously beneficial activity in giving the long, empty days a sense of purpose and achievement. At the risk of turning this into an open-journal therapy session, there have been times when I needed a boost to my mood, and baking has provided it in spades.

I have been looking for work, unsuccessfully, since the beginning of the year, and have begun to lose hope of finding anything suitable, especially considering that, long-term, I know what I want to do (Music Therapy) and am 2/3 of the way through the three year MA that will allow me to do it (though on a hiatus). But in the mean time, I need to earn some money, and even when I’m qualified, I am unlikely to begin working as a therapist full-time over night. I’ll be piecing together freelance work from therapy, music teaching, etc.

Like many, I’m sure, the thought of earning money from my bread-headed obsession has crossed my mind more than a few times. Continue reading

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Back to Basics: Dan’s White Sourdough

You would think that the first loaf in the first baking book I owned would have been a sensible place to start. But I skipped over the white sourdough recipe (from A Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard) in order to get to the mill loaf, which got me so excited a while ago. It’s taken me a while to go back and try the white.

I’m glad I did. Continue reading

Mellow Bakers – Quick White Loaf

Here we are, at the tail end of April. Where, may I ask, has the first third of 2012 gone? Up in a cloud of flour in my case. Though not as much flour, of late, as I would have liked.

On reading my blog a good friend of mine said, amongst kind words, that I apologise too much for not writing; that people wouldn’t really notice the dates of posts, and that I ought not to mention it. So I’m keeping absolutely schtum. Zip. Nada. Not a word about being behind in the mellow bakers Handmade Loaf bake-along despite only being in month one. Just as well they’re/we’re mellow…

So – quick white loaf. I must admit that, going in to this bake, I was a little bored of white breads. Despite a preference towards the more whole of meals, I have baked mostly white loaves since taking up all this yeasty business. On top of that, another of Dan’s recipes – his sour cream loaf from Short and Sweet, has lodged itself firmly at the top of my favourite white recipes list.

On the other hand, this bake offered the chance to try a couple of new things: baking with fresh yeast, finally sourced from Sainsbury’s, and adding millet flakes. Add to all this a couple of bodged transfers from improvised peel to baking stone in the recent past, and the stakes for this bake were particularly high.

Can you feel the excitement? Try and remember to breath. Continue reading

My First (and Fabulous!) Tin Loaf

I’ve made a few loaves and shaped them by hand, and I’m beginning to get the feel for baking bread.  I’ve produced a steadily improving sequence of loaves, picked up some helpful techniques, as well as learned a few lessons the hard way.

Having watched the first Fabulous Baker Brothers show on Channel 4, I realised I’d not yet baked a loaf in a tin, and so decided to have a go following Tom’s recipe (the title was not just self congratulatory). Continue reading

Proving Improvements – Getting the Hang of the Basics.

In this, the second slice of my doughy journey, I’ll describe some of my experiences, and some of the things I found most useful, whilst learning to bake bread.  Read about my bready beginnings in the first part, here.  It bears mentioning that, as I write this, I am still very much in my “fresher” period of baking; a few months in with some loaves I’m happy with under my belt, but I’ve still a lot to learn.  My hope is that, by writing as I do so, I’ll help those at a similar stage, and learn from the communal wisdom of the baking blogosphere as I go.

Having chanced upon a pleasing first-ever loaf, my second disavowed me of any delusions of grainy grandeur I had developed, I had experienced both satisfaction (making me want to bake) and the challenge of failure (making me want to bake well);  I had to try again. Continue reading