Adventures in Breadmaking, Part 1

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

With the long distance assistance of my bread-making friend turned temporary sensei (which included about 20g of his precious “goo” (sourdough starter), sent by mail) I’ve embarked on a bread making phase. This is after a hiatus of I’d guess about 40 years, the last time I tried baking my own, long before the days of the surge in sourdough seriousness (they’ve been serious about it in other cultures – pun neither intentional or un- – for centuries, at least, I mean in the commercial sphere). Back then, as a “youth” I used commercial yeast, and, as I recall, I mainly made loaves in rectangular pan. I also tried Julia Child’s recipe for authentic baguettes; but that was a tremendous pain, and probably accounts for the long fallow period of my personal bread baking.

The results of the first attempt, last night, were, to my mind equivocal. I’m sure I made dozens of mistakes, some half-knowingly, almost willfully stupidly. What can I say? It doesn’t seem worth getting seriously uptight about. But this too shall pass, and probably sooner than the existential threat that beleaguers us all (and wouldn’t it be pretty to think it will take longer?).

It doesn’t sit as high and pretty and boule-like as I’d like, at least part of the reason being the foolhardy/half-ignorant decision to use whole wheat flour, Red Fife, which I ordered and had delivered from a small mill in the south at some expense. The bag clearly said bread flour, but that was addressing certain fundamental characteristics of almost sacramental significance to serious breadmakers. God bless them.

Otherwise it was fairly painless, some aspects even fun. And the results, even if not entirely photogenic, frankly to this ancient palate, taste mighty good.

I can already understand how each batch, especially the first, is instructive, and maybe by the 24th batch, I’ll be happy with the results such that they’d satisfy even someone far more finicky than I am trying not to allow myself to be.

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