Becoming a Home Baker

Maybe I should have said “Becoming a Home Baker Again”. My last gig with Cadwyn Ogwen (local community food hub) was not working out for me. I haven’t baked for sale since Christmas, had my 74th birthday in February, membership of Bread Bakers Guild of America expired yesterday, my Public Liability Insurance runs out next month. Lets face it, I’ve retired.

It’s a well known fact that bakers never have any bread for themselves – something crops up and they have to part with the last loaf. Since Christmas, being brain-dead and just baking for ourselves, I realised I was becoming an Oh-Shit-we’re-running-out-of-bread-again type baker – what did I bake last time? Campagne. I’d better do a Classic this time, the repetition in danger of spiralling into infinity.

Absolutely no need for it; I’ve got a big repertoire, it’s just changing the mind-set, not thinking what Special to do for the punters this week, what’s likely to sell well, but what would WE like. Come on, Michael, sit down and plan.

Can’t exactly explain this but in baking sometimes things happen ahead of and independently of your thinking (like your hands learning something and not telling you about it until you start to wonder, how do I do that? and slowly thinking it through). So what made me decide to bake a plain, savoury brioche for the first time in years?

Answer? I don’t know. But I’m glad I did.

Formula will appear shortly in Bread Formulas but in brief:
Strong Bread Flour 100%
Milk 25%
Starter 50%
Butter 25%
Eggs 22.5%
Salt 1.5%
Method: check out other brioche formulas in Bread Formulas

Next, I happened on a can of Guinness in the Pandemic Food Bunker and thought “Nina’s Bread with Dark Beer”.

I first met Nina Holm Jensen when she came to Wales from Denmark for the first Bethesdabakin’ weekend in 2007 (and again for the fifth event in 2012). These Danish chappies are damned clever when it comes to blending different flours. In this one she mixed Strong Bread Flour, Wholemeal Spelt and Wholemeal Rye at a ratio of 63.0%, 31.0%, 6.0% which combined with the Guinness, makes for rich, deep flavours that develop as the bread ages. Formula here.

Anyway, Clever Clogs here got confused several months ago and swapped the spelt and the rye quantities. Came out really well by accident. So, what you see here is an Intentional Accidental Nina’s Bread with Dark Beer.

The single loaf of the home baker is pretty sad but you can always make two and give one away (bet you never thought of that). So Gareth who drove us for our second Covid jab last week and who’s just now able to swallow bread following a throat operation got a soft Brioche. Carrie, our local wonderful ewes’ cheese maker who loves bread got the beer bread.

But then, when she collected it this morning, she asked if I wanted some of the curd and whey left over in the cheese making process to experiment with, I started to think, have I really retired? are there other phases of bread production yet to come?

Categories: Uncategorized

4 thoughts on “Becoming a Home Baker

  1. Here’s wishing you a long and happy retirement, Mick. I’m defo going to try the Guinness bread. I’ve used some of Carrie’s buttermilk/whey in a few loaves, it has an amazing effect on the crumb. Thank you for all your recipes and posts, I hope they don’t disappear because of your retirement. All the best, Colette (Cynnyrch Chwarel Goch)

    1. Hi Collette – retirement is a relative term. I first retired when I was 65 back in 2012 – had a big party in the rugby club (nw demolished). So, who can tell? Looking forward to trying out Carrie’s whey.

  2. Love the story and will trying my hands at making this loaf of bread. There’s always something about bread that is real bread, you haven’t retired things just slowed down to give us bakers more ingenious ways to use great ingredients to produce the best Real Breads. Would like to know how the whey bread comes out

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