Welcome new comers and true believers alike! Welcome to my bake shop. For all intensive purposes, call me the Weirdough. A professional cook by trade, I've always had an interest in food of all kinds. Throughout my career, I've attempted as many facets of cooking as I could, seeking out new methods, styles, ethnicities.
When I was working for a hotel several years ago, I met a cook who was skilled in the art of "grandmother cooking" as I like to call it. He could whip up rustic desserts on the fly. He could make soups and casseroles that were reminiscent of my grandmother's home cooking. Amongst the wonderful things he made, his bread stood out above the rest.
Where I come from, the most common form of bread is a pan loaf consisting of three buns, rolled by hand and smushed together, then baked to a very light golden brown. It's the kind of bread you would find in your grandmother's pantry, that she'd serve with a hearty smear of butter and homemade jam over the top. This is the bread that the previously mentioned cook would bake on a daily basis.
Being a novice at the time, I was amazed to see the transformation of grainy flour and stinky yeast into velvety soft loaves that emerged from the oven. Granted, my mother baked bread all of my life, but as a child I was never interested. It always seemed like it was such a chore. But my colleague had a passion for it, and a sense of understanding when it came to baking. I wanted to learn.
So I began staying late on morning shifts. I'd watch over his shoulder, listening to his explanations of what he was doing. Eventually I began my own attempts at bread making, with decent results. After a while, we divided the task, and took turns making the bread each week.
This got me started on what would turn into one of my biggest passions. I began to study bread making. I sought out what books I could find on the craft. I read basic recipes, books on technique, texts that broke the bread making process down to chemistry and micro-biology. The more I read, the more I began to understand the nature of the beast, and what it would take to become a bread baker.
Over the following years I worked at a bakery, which wasn't at all to my taste. I learned a lot about handling dough and shaping loaves there, but the work was very repetitive and tedious. I quickly went back to cooking in restaurants. There I brought my new skills and recipes with me, and soon replaced the regular bread supplier with my own buns. From there, I went on to try opening my own restaurant, where we baked a wide variety of breads for sandwiches, served homemade soups and salads, and made a wide variety of home style meals for supper. This wasn't a good venture. Long story short, after a year and a half, the business fell apart. I was left broke and looking for a new job.
Nowadays I still work as a cook, back in the hotel scene. Now my baking is restricted to what I make at home. That's why I decided to begin this blog. I miss being able to share what I create with people. I want to make a record of my experiments and everyday baking, and perhaps show people how much fun it can be in the process.
Throughout this blog, I want to find a way to reach those who are nervous when it comes to baking bread and pastries, and help them take the first step towards trying. I hope that as the posts build, this will become a place for people to share ideas and become enriched by the wonder of baking that has been such an important part of my life. Enjoy!