Experiments In Domesticity

Marriage, Motherhood & Modern Housewifery

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Bake It Like You Mean It: Bread Baking 101

I’ve been making bread for many years and eating bread my entire life. My mother spent a good deal of my childhood producing delicious homemade bread, cinnamon buns, and rolls. I love bread. No matter how healthy my diet gets, I will never eschew bread.

In the last five years, I have begun a hot and heavy flirtation with whole grains. Most recently, I have been going steady with Gold Forest Grains’ Red Fife. No matter how I try, or which foolproof book I read, I have yet to make a loaf of bread that I am really proud of.

Enter the wonderful crew at Shovel & Fork. I have been signed up and waiting for their Bread Baking 101 course for months. I have also been dreaming about beautiful, delicious whole wheat loaves. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to put all this wishing, waiting and hoping into action.

Taught by the hilarious and knowledgeable Chad Moss, it was a wonderful day of learning, practising, and eating. We even got to sample wares pulled straight from the backyard cob oven. I left with a few grams of starter; two proofing loaves of 70% Red Fife, 30% Sunny Boy unbleached organic; many notes; and renewed confidence in my bread making ability.

I got home, fired up my regular, boring old oven, and waited. When I judged proofing to be complete, I popped my Dutch oven in (forgetting to score my loaf – whoops!) and crossed my fingers. An hour or so later, I took out the bread and turned it on to the butcher’s block with high hopes. I was not disappointed, my crust looked lovely.


Mr. Moss warned us off cutting into a straight-from-the-oven loaf (dashing many romantic hot bread fantasies in the process): it is still baking and should be cooled overnight for the best flavour to develop. He suggested warming a chunk in the oven, if hot bread is your particular bag.

This morning I cut into my loaf and discovered a tighter, denser crumb than I had hoped for (not a long enough second proof), but a massive improvement over past whole grain loaves.


Upon tasting, Musicman, Ladybug, and I were all in agreement that this was a fine first effort. Given the tools Shovel & Fork has provided me with, I am excited to continue tweaking until I get it just right. I am also much less intimidated by the whole starter process than I was.

Stay tuned for bread updates, and for the results of the Kitchen Garden and Cob Oven courses. Let the dreaming begin …