The Flailing Baker is the personal baking website of Alan Isaacs.
First off, I LOVE 100% whole wheat sourdough bread: the rich, nutty, earthy flavor, the enticing sourness, the moist, chewy texture, the utter overwhelming pleasure of a mouthful of warm wonderfulness accentuated by a salty pat of butter.
And I LOVE baking: inhaling the aroma of fresh wheat that rises when flour meets water, coaxing the right stretchiness from a ball of dough, marveling at the flouffy magic that happy yeast works on what would otherwise be just batter.
What a joy and wonder is bread, to create and devour!
So I'd love to just explain how to create a fullproof loaf every time. Yet ... I did put "flailing" in the name of this site, because, as it turns out, making that perfect loaf of bread turns out to be HARD.
Usually with recipes, I bring my inner scientist to the fore: I tweak and tweak and tweak until FINALLY I achieve perfection: a sequence of steps that, when followed precisely, result in a repeatable product.
With bread baking, well, it's not so simple. Tweak one thing and something else changes; tweak nothing and things change anyway. The number of variables is daunting (see the recipe), to say the least.
Working with 100% whole wheat flour is especially tricky. Adding a portion of white flour does make it easier to achieve a nice airy loaf, but at a sacrifice (for me anyway) of flavor. Okay, maybe I'm a bit stubborn on that point.
The key thing is, I don't want "flailing" to come across as negative. That process, trying again and again, two steps forward, two steps back—there is dignity in it, even honor. It is the process of being human. And it is the scientist learning humility.
To put it another way, I'm a scientist struggling to become an artist, and that's a worthwhile vocation, a necessary one, if one is to become more whole.
The goal of The Flailing Baker then is to chronicle the journey I'm on with flour, water, salt and yeast, to describe the joys and sorrows, the pleasure and pain . . . well, I'm getting a little carried away. Mostly the journey involves eating lots of yummy bread; catastrophies are rare.
Finally, I hope too that other bakers might find their pathways smoothed a bit by my own experiences. Onward!
For more about me, see the about page on TFB's sister site, Exult O Shores.