The Knitter Kneads

panasonicOn my last birthday, Thor gave me a Panasonic bread machine.  I loved it (still do), and it encouraged me – after a 30 year hiatus – to start making bread again.  (I enjoyed having the bread machine as I wanted to make BreadMachineCkbkbread again but needed to avoid using my hands to knead.  After reviewing my breadbook(by now quite) old standby, The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, with great enthusiasm I worked my way through Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook.

The bread making bug struck big time.

breadbooksOne year later, my collection of bread making books has increased to include:

  • Amy’s Bread  by Amy Scherber & Toy Kim Dupree;
  • The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum;
  • The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart;
  • Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish; and
  • Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques & Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman.

I am now a committed (amateur) artisan bread maker.  Both Thor and I have come to adore sourdough leavened breads, particularly those with long ferments (2-3 days) and using rye, kamut and einkorn flours.

Once foreign artisan bread making terms are now part of my vocabulary:

  • using levains and the pre-ferments of poolish, biga, pâte fermentée and wild-yeast (sourdough);
  • mise en place (“everything in its place”); and
  • bread shapes:  auvergnat, baguette, bâtard, boule, couronne, épi, fendu, fougasse, pistolet and tabatièr – which, when talking about artisan bread making, sound so much “authentic” than using the English equivalents:  cap, stick, torpedo, round, crown, sheaf of wheat, split bread, ladder bread, roll, and cap.

(Of course, thanks go to my friend Alison, without whose French skills I would be mangling these terms horribly!)

My collection of bread-making tools and equipment has increased (thank you, great folks at!):

bread_toolsI now have two Danish dough whisks (different sizes), a lame (used to slash breads), a baker’s couche (pictured on the left).

bread_scales2I bought a new scale (the purple Escali Arti on the right) – a necessary tool when using the Baker’s Percentage method.  (This is a math-formula system “where all ingredients are viewed in ratio to the total flour weight” (Reinhart, p. 40).

bread_bowlsbucketsDough rising buckets, I learned, are invaluable.  I use them at least as often as breadformsI use my two large mixing bowls.

Proofing baskets (aka bannetons aka brodtforms) are immensely useful in artisan bread making.  I now have five in three different shapes/sizes.

breadcloches2Tired of burning my arms recreating steamy hearth ovens in the search for great crusts and crumbs, I bought an Emile Henry Bread Cloche (red bell-shaped), and Romertopf Clay Baker.  (They are perfect for baking boules and bâtards, respectively.)

I was concerned whether I could handle kneading or preparing bread dough outside of my bread machine.  The trick, I have found, is to be flexible and adaptable in what dough I tackle when I make bread.  Depending on the dough and my hands that day, I use any combination of my KitchenAid, the stretch-and-turn method and old fashion kneading.

bread_pic7 bread_pics5 breadpics2 breadpic1 bread_pics4 bread_pic12I am fortunate to have friends and neighbors who graciously accept loaves in exchange for feedback.  🙂



About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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28 Responses to The Knitter Kneads

  1. I use flour from several brands and mills, including KAF. I generally bake multiple loaves, gift some to friends and neighbors and slice up the remainder and freeze for us. >


  2. Susan says:

    Bread flour, and I use Central mills organic, no barley malt, and had been getting it in 50 lb bags from my health food store BUT my costco has started to carry it in 2 10 packs at 75 cents a pound…….just bought 60 lbs. whoo Hoo


  3. Susan says:

    I do have Hamelman’s book (of course i do!) just looked it up and it would appear that i have made it and LIKED it. But your version sounds like FUN and yes, I have all the ingredients. wish the Einkorn wasn’t so expensive…….will make this next week. Thanks for the tip. Good thing we have neighbors or we would be the size of Milwaukee!!!


  4. lizomatic says:

    I honestly just use the King Arthur brand flours- their bread flour and their whole wheat flour, as well. I always divide the dough in half. So, one loaf I bake the next day and the other loaf sometimes sits for 3 (or 4 even) days in the fridge…the second loaf is always better- bigger holes and more tangy!


  5. I have seen Jeff Hertzberg’s “Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day” but didn’t realize Peter Reinhart had written on the topic too. Thanks for the link! I have been experimenting with two day fermentation (baking on the 3rd) … amazing flavors. By the way, what bread flour do you use? I had been using Bob’s Red Mill’s organic unbromated flour but they no longer sell it. Their only high protein flours are an “Artisan” bread flour but it’s not only enriched they’ve added malted barley flour (!) and a whole wheat.


  6. lizomatic says:

    Have you seen this book: I got it on a whim as a birthday present to myself a few years ago and LOVE it. He uses very little kneading and overnight fermentation. The end product is very tasty, but also very easy on the hands 🙂


  7. I went from Hamelman’s rye with raisin bread recipe – are you familiar with it? – and substituted half Eincorn/bread flour with the rye. Right now I have a batch of that proofing, and along with a second batch but instead of raisins I used chopped Calymira figs, crushed fennel seeds and chopped toasted hazelnuts.



  8. Susan says:

    OK, whose recipe is the Rye Einkorn Bread with raisins? This baker, Karin Anderson, LOVES Einkorn flour and tries to sneak it in everything! not in these though and they were fabulous!


  9. Curls & Q says:

    Q – LOL! Mom had her sourdough starter, of course she gave some to all of us. Hum, sad to say, mine did not survive! LOL!


  10. fabrickated says:

    Hmm. My husband is as committed as you are and I am familiar with the equipment and some of the terminology. I am just glad all I have to do is eat it. With salty Brittany butter, fresh or a day old. What a treat. Thank you for this informative and passionate post.


  11. Educating myself on artisan breads and getting feedback from recipients of my attempts has really made us fussy! EVERY loaf of standard (dry yeast) bread pales in comparison! And if I make waffles or pancakes, they are now always sourdough. Even my daughter, who during her visit here for my birthday ate only sourdough bread, said she is now disappointed with her “usual” bread (which is made at a local bakery)! On my next visit I will stuff as many artisan loaves that will fit in my carry on. And I will take the train so I can bring some live starter … So if she wants to try her hand at baking … 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Curls & Q says:

    Wow! Lucky you! I really never did enough mixing to need a pro. Barb (Curls) and mom are the two in our family who needed that size. Really love bread and the ones you made look so good.


  13. I have a motor down too. But I know my daughter and Thor are getting me the new 7 quart pro version … So I will have two!



  14. . I just used some of my rye starter to start an overnight ferment for tomorrow’s rye-einkorn dough with raisins – Thor’s fav!

    Sent from my iPad



  15. Susan says:

    HA, I have a rye sourdough starter set up for the Rye Walnut bread tomorrow! Robertson’s recipes make me crazy and I wonder who tested them at home!!!


  16. Curls & Q says:

    Nope, all of us have old ones with the hook.Is yours the one that my sisters have and mom had that the bowl is lifted up to the beaters? Mine is the put the motor down type. Have to admit I’ve never used the hook, just the whisk and regular beater. I know Mom an Barb use/used the hook a lot. I gave my bread maker to my son and his ex-wife some years ago. Gave her the bread books too. Wish I had some back. Oh well…..


  17. He says that he feels pretty spoiled. 🙂 I wish you lived close enough to be one of my tasters!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “Spinning with food” – love that phrase! And probably like any art or craft, it is an opportunity for continually learning and perfecting techniques! Great fun. 🙂


  19. My 4.5 quart KitchenAid is nearly 20 years old but it has a little trouble with mixing dough for anything more than a 1.5 lb. loaf. So I don’t use it exclusively for mixing dough! Have you tried the spiral dough hooks on the new KitchenAids?


  20. I signed up for that very same class – though I haven’t yet sat down and actually viewed the class, but I will eventually! Thanks for the book references. I will check them out. So far, our favorite breads are lean sourdough ryes, no enrichments. And I love mixing einkorn with rye. I made a tartine a la Chad Robertson with rye, kamut and einkorn … it was a very well hydrated dough. A great crumb and crust … but we keep coming back to Hamelman’s ryes! 🙂


  21. I’ve seen the Bosch mixer (in a demo) and heard pretty much only good things about it! When I first started making bread, I realized how easy (and tempting!) it was for Thor or me to slice of a hunk (or 2 or 3!) throughout the day. So as soon as the loaves cool, I slice them, put them into zip lock freezer bags, suck out all extra air, zip and freeze. It’s a take on the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach I guess. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. jenyjenny says:

    Yum! I’m partial to the Bosch mixer… and I seriously love bread, but I cut back a bit on it since it may be partly the reason for some excess pounds I need to lose…thanks for the Breadtopia link, I’d love to have some of the proofing baskets and try out the hearth oven! Delicious post!


  23. Susan says:

    OH!! I am so proud of YOU!! Tuesday is my bread baking day and I couldn’t live without it. I spied a Craftsy class with Peter Rheinhart and took it on a whim. I have all his books and do things pretty much as he does. Not to lead you down the Garden Path or anything like that 🙂 I love 2 books by Maggie Glezer, one is Artisan Baking and the other is A Blessing of Bread, a history of all the Jewish breads in all the different areas of the world and there is THE best Challah, made with 6 braids, in there. Thoms Country Loaf in Artisan baking is my go to every week, a sourdough starter in a 4 lb loaf. LOVE it. Carry on!!


  24. Curls & Q says:

    Q – Yummy! How wonderful! Until today, I thought my mom was the only one to use the KitchenAide hook for kneading bread! LOL! Curls is our bread maker.


  25. Rebecca says:

    Woweee! That is like spinning with food: special words, equipment and techniques. No wonder you are in heaven. Looks good enough to eat!


  26. kiwiyarns says:

    Bread, glorious bread! In awe of your tools! Thor is a lucky man to have such an enthusiastic bread baker in the house!


  27. Thank you. ( I didn’t post pictures of my flops! 🙂 )



  28. Lisa says:

    Your breads look fantastic!! Hugz Lisa and Bear


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