Home Bread-Bakers v096.n028.2

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sue@interport.net (Curly Sue)
Sun, 28 Jul 1996 12:58:46 -0400 (EDT)
>From: jbluedun@sover.net (Jeffrey Hamelman)
>Subject: tools are made, born are hands
>Date: Tue, 23 Jul 1996 19:33:29 -0400

>I am a new subscriber to this most interesting site. Also, I am a baker by
>profession. This September 1 will be my 20th anniversary as a commercial
>baker. For thirteen years I have owned my own bakery, in Vermont.

Glad you're aboard Jeffrey!

>Although I love the feel of a hand-kneaded loaf, I know indisputably that
>for the initial mixing process, there is nothing that surpasses a machine.
>Of course, in a commercial bakery, the initial mix is not even concievable
>by hand. My bakery is relatively small, 400 loaves is a good day, and while
>each loaf does get worked by hand, all the doughs begin in a mixer. As far
>as making good breads at home goes, I guess bread machines seem a little
>like condoms to me, that is, they remove us from the direct experience. Why
>rely on some sealed and remote machine to do it all?

First of all, I can understand why you would use a machine to mix the
initial dough for 400 loaves.  However, I don't understand why you would
recommend it to the home baker but then criticize bread machines.  People
who use Kitchen Aids use them to knead the dough- where is the transcendence
of that?  I disagree with your assessment that they are so much more
involved with it than I am because they use one machine than another; you
have simply drawn an arbitry line that fits your needs.

I think that you misunderstand how bread machines operate.  Yes, they do all
the physical work.  But they are not "sealed" or remote.  One can observe
the process by lifting the lid, watching, and poking the dough.  I find it
very interesting to stand with my cup of tea and watch the different stages.
I rarely walk by it in the kitchen while it's going without checking in on
my bread.  Believe it or not, I *enjoy* my bread machine!

You also don't realize that having a machine to do the work does not release
us from understanding the changes bread dough undergoes.  Of course, at one
extreme you can buy pre-packaged bread mixes for the machine, but this seems
to be the minority of people who make bread.  Most of us use flour, water,
yeast, eggs, honey, oatmeal, and other ingredients.  We can no more ignore
seasonal changes in humidity or temperature, or the effects of different
types of flours, sugars, yeasts, and other additives than you can.  The fact
that we don't physically knead the dough doesn't mean that we are so far
removed that we don't know what's going on!  Woe to those who don't.  We
learn the same way someone else does- experience, trial and error.

As to whether one can make better bread manually, I don't doubt it.  As to
whether most people who make bread by hand do, I doubt it.  I have read many
statements to the effect that you have to let the dough rise for a long time
to get this flavor or that, that you have to fuss with water and baking
stones, and other such things that are not routinely done with a bread
machine (although one can mix the dough and take it out for the rest).  But
those people who I know who make bread that way and also soundly criticize
bread machines, don't do those things!  I've read the recipes... "let the
bread rise until double in volume, about an hour".  I've read of ways to
speed up the rising ("put in a warm place, such as the oven with the pilot
light" and others).  And you know something, for all their professed love of
manual bread-making, they don't make it half as often as I do!

Before I bought the bread machine, I didn't make bread.  Period.  It's not a
choice between kneading and bread machine.  I find a lot of creative
involvement in making different types of bread.  I experiment a lot without
fear of wasting an afternoon on something that doesn't work.  Sure I've had
experiments that have gone wrong or never worked so the ingredients were
wasted, but probably that would have happened if I made it "by hand."  The
bread machine makes being playful possible.

>I would like to consider this the beginning of a dialogue. If you have an
>opinion on this, why not post it? By the way, it was William Blake who said
>it: "Tools are made, but born are hands."

And I say "My kingdom for a dishwasher" !

Now, in return for presenting some reasons for using bread machines, my
question is....  why do people who don't have bread machines care so much
how others make bread?  Seriously, this topic comes up over and over again,
and I honestly don't understand it.

Girls just want to have fun!
As you climb up the ladder of success,
Don't let the boys look up your dress.