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In the time you waste poking around your phone right now, you could have fresh bread for dinner.

Last week a customer walked in. I was busy preparing some cracker samples and he stood at the counter, eyes searching for a menu. I know what this usually means. "What do you have for fresh bread today?" he asks. "No bread today. Only on Fridays. I make sourdough crackers here," I explain and since I have removed all references to bread and replaced them with crackers inside and out to avoid such confusion I ask, "Just out of curiosity, what makes you ask about bread?" "Oh, I don't know. I didn't even look I guess," he admits. "I see now: crackers, crackers, and crackers. OK, I'll probably be back on Friday." "Were you hoping for something in particular?" I ask to gauge his expectations. "Well, I grew...

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Crackers: The Evolution of Bread

I was drawn to baking because of the lack of truly great bread around me. When you don't have fresh bread, all you can do is imagine it. I imagined baguettes as the most perfect expression of flour, water, salt, and yeast and I set out on a journey to chase that perfection. My love of baguettes has not waned, but I have learned a lot about this idea of perfection. I have learned that bread is a temporary thing. There is no such thing as perfect bread, just perfect moments. And I learned that bread making has not been perfected, it is continually evolving and transforming. This knowledge has freed my mind and allowed me to explore and push the...

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10 Essential Tools for Bread Baking

For now, humans have the edge over machines when it comes to making bread, but only slightly and the robots are coming for us. So let's make the most of it and get busy making some great bread while we still can. Our hands are our most important tool. We don't need much else. These essential tools will get us started and be there for us for a lifetime wether we bake one loaf a week or dozens every day. 1. Digital Scale Put those cups and tablespoons away, you won't be using them for bread baking. The main reason is that it is impossible to accurately measure flour by volume. You can test this with your new digital scale....

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Meet my mother, courtesy of The Sourdough Project at Ron Dunn Lab

Family secrets die hard. We love the story that our natural wild yeast sourdough starters are totally defined by their environment. We want to believe that San Francisco produces the best sourdough because of something in the air. We might as well believe it. There's no way to know for sure. Until now that is. Well, that is not exactly true. Scientists have been identifying the yeast and bacteria that make up sourdoughs for some time now and we have learned there are dominant species that span the globe, and many others that add to the unique character and flavor of each sample. But how exactly is this affected by age, geography, and travel? The Ron Dunn Lab at North...

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Five Favorite Bread Baking Books

To be honest, there is not a bread book out there that I would not grab up in an instant. And there are many greats that I have yet to come in contact with such as Raymond Calvel's The Taste of Bread or Nathan Myhrvold's new five volume $500 set Modernist Bread. Perhaps I will find them under the Christmas tree this year, but for now, here are a few titles that have inspired and informed me.   1. Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day Peter Reihart has many books, some more extensive and some more specific, but this is the one that started it all for me. The simple concept that makes artisan bread baking available to everyone every day is long-slow-cold...

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