I’m struggling with this…


Recent bread loafMy recent passion for bread and baking has caused a bit of an internal upset. Not the baking thereof, but rather the writing about it. I’m doing a lot of that, recently. Writing (and, yes, baking too). And of course it comes with the attendant research into bread’s history, the combing through websites for recipes and book reviews, the hunt for equipment and the discussions about yeasts, pH balance, sourdough starters, Canadian versus American flours, protein contents, vintage and ancient grains… gawds, I’m having fun.

And it is, if you don’t mind some hyperbole, damn tasty fun.

It’s both culinary and hands-on science, with a bushel of history tossed into the mix. I haven’t had this much fun since I discovered the ukulele, back in 2008.

I suppose everyone needs new challenges, new horizons, new mountains to conquer. Bread – well, so far artisan, rustic bread – is my latest Everest.  Which is a bit synchronistic, because sourdough is often described as the “Everest of breads” and sourdough is one of my next projects. Enroute to that pinnacle, I have a lot to learn. But sourdough is on the horizon for this winter.

It’s a bit of a throwback for me because I was baking bread 25-30 years ago with all the earnestness of a wannabe chef. My notes from classes at the Toronto Academy of Culinary Arts date to the mid-1970s. I was making bread (albeit mostly in bread machines by 1988) into the late 1980s. I stopped after we moved here. Now I’ve started again.

BouleThanks to both a spate of new books on breadmaking and the internet, I can now re-indulge that interest and share the experiences of others, as well as their recipes. It’s an obsession, I admit, but a creative one.

I am pondering starting a whole new WordPress blog zone for my baking and research about bread. One amateur to another, it would be. Here’s me flailing around with recipe after recipe, tweaking, tinkering and photographing. And about the historical impact and implications of bread, as I have recently posted (on the impact of ergot and witchcraft via bread). My naked tweets would be – unlike Anthony Wiener’s – about my bread results.

Bread blogging is actually been and being done successfully on other sites such as The Fresh Loaf (highly recommended if you’re into bread baking, by the way). But I am reluctant to create my own blog zone on their site (if for nothing more than I want to be able to create recipes in my preferred format and style, which is possible through WP plug-ins). Besides, there have a lot more accomplished people there, and my efforts would seem presumptuous.

Recent bread loafI’m not a master baker by any means (and will never be, of course, since this is merely a home-based hobby, not a commercial enterprise) and, although my efforts to date have been excellent (to my pedestrian taste buds, of course, but my wife and friends agree…), I have a lot to learn and discover. Which is the point of a separate blog: to detail my experiences, my efforts, my experiments, and to discuss all the things I learn along the way. And to review the books and equipment I gather as I do this.

The upset is: should I simply continue to post here, or post bread-related material on a separate blog? Which leads me into the whole what-is-a-blog-for question. This blog  is, of course, a personal effort and written for me not for you (although I do appreciate your attention, dear reader, it’s not written for or about you). It’s just that my blog tends to meander through all sorts of interests and obsessions – from typography to virology – and mayhap breads may get lost herein.

Then too,  I hesitate to burden the already suffering server load with additional plug-ins such as the recipe apps I would want to include. And then there are all those photographs -tedious as they may seem to non-bakers  who read my site now. Perhaps a separate site would be more appropriate, a place where I can document my breadmaking experiences and reviews, where my photos of rising doughs or crackling crumbs would find welcome.

Would it benefit me, or anyone else to have all of this on a separate site? Or do I really care if anyone else reads it?  Should I put my energies into baking, rather than writing? I don’t know. I think I need to open a bottle of wine and contemplate the complexities. Or maybe start a new batch of dough… either way, I am contemplating it…

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