I feel as if I’m getting to the point in my bread-making experience where I’ve done just enough to know how very far I have yet to go before I’m really good at it. I take some small comfort in the idea that, having learned to play the violin as a child, the patience to pursue this slow curve is already trained into my hands. Here’s hoping the muscle memory kicks in as easily as it did when I was ten.

Feeling confident but not yet cocky about my basic country loaf, for try #4 out of the Tartine bread book I decided to mix it up just a bit and do a run of the baguette recipe using the fendu shape (also the version that appears on the cover of the book, I believe). In the end, I got bread alright, and plenty of it, but I also learned a lot of things. While nothing I did destroyed the end product, I think it will be a lot better next time when I mix the initial dough a bit more carefully (myself and my available bowls were overwhelmed by the sheer weight and volume of dough on the table) and, now that I have a a better feel for the flour and crease shape, I think I have a clearer understanding of how to get the correct look from the final loaf. Alas, I’ll just have to do it again. And again. Not to mention start purchasing flour in the large burlap-sack size.

I used to get seriously distressed when recipes didn’t work for me the first time out, and yet I have trouble following instructions to the letter. I learned to play music by ear and I find myself cooking more by picture and smell and feel than by any amount of typed direction. The more comfortable I get in my kitchen, the more value I place on making time to practice and play around with what I’m doing so that I’m actually learning something for the takeaway–risking mistakes for the chance of stumbling onto something more personally satisfying. It doesn’t make the occasional complete failure  any less frustrating, but I’m just starting to understand that I’ve been in this place before.