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Your first loaf, got a story?


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#1 chromedome

chromedome
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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:08 PM

Hi, Peter!

I'm a newly-minted cook and baker in Alberta, Canada (hard wheat heartland). Newly-minted in the professional sense, anyway, as I'd been cooking and baking at home for 25 years before settling on a career change. I found a copy of "Apprentice" in the library at my school and absolutely devoured it (I'm a bear for the science underlying it all...read McGee in one marathon session).

Anyway...

My first loaf came about when I was 15. I'd gone away to university and Mom was just too far away to keep me supplied anymore, so I decided to make my own. After all I'd watched her enough times, hadn't I? I got it pretty much right, except for shortening. I knew she put some into her bread, but I didn't know how much...so I guessed, and put in half a pound for a two-loaf batch.

That bread was well and truly shortened, let me tell you!

I didn't let that deter me, though, and within a month was baking acceptable bread. Over the years I've continued to expand my knowledge and try different ways of doing things (most recently your adaptation of "pain a l'ancienne," which my family just loves).

What's the story of your first loaf?

Second question: so far I've only read "Apprentice" and "C&C" (both great reads, btw, above and beyond the sterling information they contain). Which of your earlier books delve into your spiritual underpinnings? I am an adult convert to Christianity (late 20's), but even before that found bread-baking to be a profoundly spiritual experience. Few shared experiences are more human than breaking bread together, after all! I'd be interested to read more of how your spiritual and culinary lives shaped and enriched each other.
Fat=flavor

#2 Peter Reinhart

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 03:16 PM

Hi, Peter!

I'm a newly-minted cook and baker in Alberta, Canada (hard wheat heartland).  Newly-minted in the professional sense, anyway, as I'd been cooking and baking at home for 25 years before settling on a career change.  I found a copy of "Apprentice" in the library at my school and absolutely devoured it (I'm a bear for the science underlying it all...read McGee in one marathon session).

Anyway...

My first loaf came about when I was 15.  I'd gone away to university and Mom was just too far away to keep me supplied anymore, so I decided to make my own.  After all I'd watched her enough times, hadn't I?  I got it pretty much right, except for shortening.  I knew she put some into her bread, but I didn't know how much...so I guessed, and put in half a pound for a two-loaf batch. 

That bread was well and truly shortened, let me tell you!

I didn't let that deter me, though, and within a month was baking acceptable bread.  Over the years I've continued to expand my knowledge and try different ways of doing things (most recently your adaptation of "pain a l'ancienne," which my family just loves).

What's the story of your first loaf?

Second question: so far I've only read "Apprentice" and "C&C" (both great reads, btw, above and beyond the sterling information they contain).  Which of your earlier books delve into your spiritual underpinnings?  I am an adult convert to Christianity (late 20's), but even before that found bread-baking to be a profoundly spiritual experience.  Few shared experiences are more human than breaking bread together, after all!  I'd be interested to read more of how your spiritual and culinary lives shaped and enriched each other.

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Hi Chromedome (hey, that could also be me!),
Thanks for your great story! In answer to your second question (and actually the first as well), the book that delves most into the spiritual/metaphorical side is called, "Bread Upon the Waters" (Perseus Press). It also tells about my early bread baking experiences. I think my first breads were banana and carrot breads at the Root One Cafe in Boston. (Anyone ever eat there? It was my first restaurant, a collective in Boston between 1971-74--great vegetarian food like Soy Joy Casserole and Kundalini Cauliflower) I also made bread for a street theater group I was in for a short while, The Stomach Ache Street Theater (an offshoot of the Bread and Puppet Theater of Vermont). I ground the wheat, added salt, yeast and water and baked it if off to share with the audience after each performance. Quite a nice ritual. For more of those stories, though, do check out the book--it uses the 12 stages of bread as a metaphor for the journey of life and the search for meaningfulness. I think it's my most important book (and thus, the one with the fewest sales).

#3 chromedome

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 12:39 AM

Thanks!

I'll see what I can do about tracking down a copy here in the frozen North.
Fat=flavor