I WANT TO SHARE MY STORY WITH YOU
I believe everyone can bake. Truly, everyone. And I’m not saying that to motivate you to do something you are not belonged to. I’m speaking that from my own experience.
Before we jump into recipes and fantastic baking tips that will help you put your hands in baking bread, let me tell you a brief story about how I became a baker.
I was a picky eater boy. My wife will say I am still. I didn’t grow up around my grandma’s cooking; neither remember iconic dishes my parents used to make for holidays. Food meant nothing but pure need literally.
No vegetables, no fruit, no fish, no seafood, no onion pieces in the pasta’s tomato sauce, no herbs in any stew or soup. Shnitzel and pasta were my best friends. I think you got it—plain boring food.
My first memory about food was a few years ago when I traveled to visit my uncle Tal in New York. It was one of the dinners he cooked at home, inviting friends over for Shabbat dinner. I remember him asking me: “can you taste the food please, tell me if it needs salt or anything else”. The picky boy inside me answered: “I don’t eat any of these veggies. I’m sorry”. He refused: “I worked hard to cook that dinner, don’t be a kid. Taste it”. I tasted it. And honestly, it was spectacular. Roasted beets on homemade Labaneh cheese, Zaatar, and olive oil. Chicken stew with pumpkin, onions, and confit garlic. Crunchy radishes salad seasoned with strong lemon juice and dill. Mind-blowing. At least for me at that time.
After a few months of traveling, tasting new food I’d never had before around Asia, I returned to Israel. I was signed to a Tel Aviv University business program and just moved to the city to get used to my new neighborhood. Tal told me: “if you have some time before you start your studies, learn how to cook. Go to work in a restaurant you appreciate their food”. So I went to North Abraxas, one of Eyal Shani’s restaurants in Israel, and asked for a job. I told them I have no experience in the kitchen, besides being my family’s toasts chef. They always told me my toasts are incredible. We are talking about pita, average cheese, ketchup, olives, and a spicy sauce. You know, no experience in the kitchen. The executive chef said we could give it a try for a week, see how it works for both sides.
Like going on a mission, equipped with a little notebook and a pen, I ran in the kitchen, taking notes from every action the cooks took. I mean every single move.
How much water they fill the pot to boil a cauliflower, the cooking temperature of every dish got into the oven, the exact amount of salt to cook pasta, and why you first season your salad with lemon and not with olive oil. Everything. I remind you, food was new for me. I knew nothing about it. And going to work in a kitchen was the best school for me.
As time passed, I got better. And I canceled my course at Tel Aviv University. I realized how much I love food. And I wanted it to be around me forever.
Still never experienced in baking.
At first, my parents didn’t like the idea. I can understand them; they are both Ph.D., my dad in veterinary, and my mom in microbiology. They expected me to be an engineer or a medical doctor. Instead, they got a cook. But I was so passionate about it; I knew it was about time, and they will support me.
Three years later, working for the leading chefs in Israel, Still never experienced in baking, I decided to expand my knowledge and get a bachelor’s degree in the field. Looking for gastronomy courses worldwide, the one that interested me the most was UNISG, the university of Slow Food Organization in Italy.
I signed up. And they accepted me. Congratulations.
I moved to Bra, a little town in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy, and began my studies. I was meeting students from any place you name, learning about different cuisines and cultures, developing new cooking methods.
Still never experienced in baking.
When I was in my second year, I talked with my dad one day, and he suggested me to start baking bread. He participated in two short baking courses in Israel and fell in love with bread making. He said: “bread is not like cooking. When you bake, you understand that you need to know what impact every touch can bring to the final result. It’s not easy. It’s a long process. There are many failures and obstacles. But the more you practice, the better you become. Just start”.
I had nothing to do that day. So I started. That was my first experience in baking. I asked my dad for an easy-going recipe, not too many steps. I took a piece of sourdough starter from a friend in town. I watched like 100 videos on youtube on “How to bake a sourdough loaf”.
I was ready to begin my journey.
I improvised some techniques I learned from YouTube and gave my dough the maximum love and care that was needed. And it came out beautiful. Nice crust, gorgeous odor. I let it cool down and then I cut it. The bread was dense.
Then I realized. Everybody can bake bread. I had no more experience than any other person before this loaf. BUT… the more you practice, the more you understand the process, the better your bread will be.
I kept practicing every day since then. I watched all the videos about bread and sourdough on YouTube, listened to podcasts, read dozens of books from the University’s library, talked with bakers and social media bakers. I was working to get better.
And it’s not like every loaf I made was better than the previous one. Not at all, cut this ****. But every time I observed and learned what I can improve for the next time. I always asked myself questions that led me to new experiments. What if I change the quantity of water in the recipe? How would it effect the bread if I leave the dough to rest in room temperature? What flour mix should I make? And many more doubts we will discuss further on.
Everyone can bake bread. It is just putting it in your system and getting used to it.
I didn’t know how to bake, never worked at a bakery, didn’t attend any baking school, neither took a course online.
All my knowledge it’s from watching lots of videos, reading books, talking with social media bakers. And practice. Practice, practice, practice.
While I was looking for the best figures to watch online to learn how to bake from, I got lost many times. Intimidating terms, professional explanation, and lots of data.
I never understood why to make such a basic food so exclusive. As I told you, I taught myself. I’m not more talented than you. I do believe everyone can bake.
I just learned how to understand what I do. I learned the baking language. And I’m here to teach you that as well.
At the end of the day, bread is only flour, water, and salt. The only difference is you. And you will make it your own. Don’t be scared, just start.
I opened this academy to give you inspiration, to company you in learning all the basics, give you the softest way to start. No big terms, no recipes you don’t understand anymore. I talk in your language. We start from the really beginning. And we start now.