Eater.com has an interesting article – if you’re a bread nerd. It talks about the popularity of bread making among the tech set, particularly in Silicon Valley. It’s something I’ve noticed myself. It’s also something I recognize in myself.
I bake bread. I have the requisite techie background. I recognize all the bread-lebrity names mentioned and own all the books referenced in the article. This sentence actually makes sense to me
“Loaf from yesterday’s cut video. 80% bread flour, 20% whole wheat, 80% hydration, 2% salt, Leaven was 100% hydration, whole wheat, young (4 hours), and comprised of 10% of total *dough* weight (60g for a 600g loaf). Hand mixed via Rubaud Method for 10 minutes. Bulk for 3.5 hours, low 80s F, with coil folds at 60 minutes and 120 minutes (around 40% rise in volume).”
The author makes the point that bread nerds and thought leaders are predominantly male. Well, that goes with the tech assertion. After all, the tech industry is predominantly male. I’d like to think the gender imbalance is less than when I started, 3 trillion internet years ago, but it’s a truth.
Personally though, I think the appeal of artisan bread making has less to do with gender and more to do with a way of thinking. People in tech think linearly. They appreciate systems made up of known entities and factors. Bread is made up of four entities: flour, water, salt, yeast. It is transformed by two factors: time and heat.
Am I boring you enough, already? Bear with me.
But here’s the thing. Even though the system is well defined, our controls are less so. Even though I have a well defined system (O.K. call it a recipe) for making bread, I don’t always get the same result. I enjoy chasing down the variable that made a particular bread different. It’s the engineer in me that likes to break things down so that I can build them back up again. I enjoy the process. The bonus is the outcome – a fresh, fragrant loaf of bread.
If you’ve ever made a loaf of bread then tweaked your recipe to make it again … have a look at this article. Maybe you’re a techie at heart.
Ucluelet, Vancouver Island. 2019