A|B Testing Sourdough (and who it leaves out)
November 19, 2018 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Do You Even Bake, Bro? How the Silicon Valley set fell in love with sourdough and decided to disrupt the 6,000-year-old craft of making bread, one crumbshot at a time - Eater Longform, Dayna Evans
“[In tech], we call it iterative testing because you gradually improve a thing until it’s optimized,” he explained. When a few years ago a friend asked him which recipe he was using, he sent the recipe he’d been keeping in his notes. He had titled it, “Sam’s Version of Michael Ruhlman’s Version of Jeffrey Steingarten’s Version of Jim Lahey’s (According to Steingarten) ‘Miracle Bread.’”
There’s a difference between home and professional baking, but the way we center the male experts is exactly what ends up influencing and dictating how the amateur home bakers bake. “It is insane to me how many people say that Tartine was their inspiration for getting into sourdough and that the first loaf they made was the country loaf,” said Lexie Smith, a pastry chef turned bread baker and artist, whose Instagram is dedicated to her breads. “How is this the only access point that people have?”
posted by CrystalDave (103 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
The truly funny thing to me is that if you were to choose something difficult to optimize a process for in the kitchen, levain raised breads would be very near the top of my list. Done well it's way more about feel and intuition. If you could make an industrial process out of it we'd have way better supermarket breads.


Also the best levain breads in NYC are made by a woman ( She-Wolf)
posted by JPD at 3:13 PM on November 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


If you could make an industrial process out of it we'd have way better supermarket breads.

Supermarket breads are made with cheaper ingredients and may be formulated for shelf life instead of taste.

You could scientifically create the best bread ever and it might never make it to shelf because it costs twice as much, or lasts half as long.
posted by explosion at 3:16 PM on November 19, 2018 [13 favorites]


what is wrong with these people
posted by Omnomnom at 3:17 PM on November 19, 2018 [35 favorites]


I do the master recipe from "Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day", and you know, it's four fucking ingredients, water, yeast, salt, and flour, and literally the least amount of work possible to produce freshly baked bread and....

I stand by my hypothesis that our brains are way too big for our own good.
posted by mikelieman at 3:21 PM on November 19, 2018 [12 favorites]


maybe sourdough is interesting to male nerds because it’s this way to be precise in cooking that doesn’t involve pastries, which has this very gendered association.

It's a good thing someone's doing the work of making sure male nerds interested in baking are open to how they might be guided or limited by gendered associations.


Seriously, everybody, is sourdough the new Fedora? Because I liked Fedoras but now when I want to use them to shade my balding head I have to choose between navigating a nest of assumed statements my hat is making and maybe just grabbing something else.

Maybe sourdough is interesting because good sourdough is delicious and fresh bread is delicious and sure, it's a challenge to systematize but also it's delicious.
posted by wildblueyonder at 3:28 PM on November 19, 2018 [18 favorites]


"Breadplating"
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 3:31 PM on November 19, 2018 [19 favorites]


See the same level of odd hyper optimization stuff happening in sour beer brewing as well, which is also capable of supporting a lot of science as well as a lot of "ehh.. this works best I've found in doing it 200 times"
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have an old sourdough starter named Eliza Doughlittle. I don't bake with her that much these days, but I've resolved that she live until we see the first female President.
posted by stchang at 3:38 PM on November 19, 2018 [107 favorites]


I think the difference between the traditional artisan and the modern artisan is that the former had a craft that they understood inside-out and eventually passed on to one or two other people, whereas the modern iteration just will not shut up.
posted by pipeski at 3:41 PM on November 19, 2018 [65 favorites]


No-knead bread is great. Tasty, cheap, easy to make, and doesn't require a lot of active work. I probably made it twice a week back when it was super popular. I stopped because I prefer rye breads and my wife prefers whole wheat breads and at the time we didn't find any acceptable variations of no-knead bread that went in either direction. Then for the longest time my wife used a bread machine to make different kinds of bread. I don't know why she stopped doing it. Both ways you get a good product for minimal cost and work. We really should get back to baking bread.

As far as the article and these techbros are concerned it all just seems like more of the fads for optimizing and maximizing and finding the best of any one thing that so many people focus on these days. Let them do their A/B tests and create the ultimate sourdough. Maybe then some kind soul will make an easy version of it that is 90% as good for 10% of the effort.

That whole pastry is gendered female was just weird to me. In my mind the platonic pastry chef is some French dude. Maybe the consumption of fancy pastries is gendered female but the baking of them? That's male.

Anyone here have any good, easy rye or whole wheat recipes? Or more topical a good, easy, and foolproof sourdough recipe? I've never tried sourdough because I have no faith in my ability to get a starter going.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


We are long past the point where anyone who thinks they need to or should "disrupt" anything (certain governments excluded) goes right into the wicker man.

OK I'll go read the article now.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:47 PM on November 19, 2018 [24 favorites]


I guess just learning a thing and making it a hobby without becoming an insufferable obsessive pedant is not in the cards?
posted by thelonius at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2018 [62 favorites]


Seriously, everybody, is sourdough the new Fedora?

Feels like sourdough is the new IPA - same kind of 'male nerd' hobby-ism. I fucking hate IPAs and they've ruined my experience of going to breweries. If I have to pick between 5 different sourdoughs at the deli I'll eat my damn fedora.
posted by homesickness at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2018 [24 favorites]




crumbshot ugh could we not do this. (Not the poster; the Eater headline).
posted by Nelson at 3:50 PM on November 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


what is wrong with these people

Capitalism and Toxic Masculinity
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:09 PM on November 19, 2018 [49 favorites]


*20 years later* it's not a cremation, it's artisanal baked dead
posted by phooky at 4:10 PM on November 19, 2018 [18 favorites]


CTRL-F Robin Sloan

Aha! Yes. I loved that book. I would really recommend it! I think it does hit that sweet spot of poking fun at tech bro culture but also honouring people who really are that into baking sourdough.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:18 PM on November 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


crumbshot ugh could we not do this.
Ugh, I didn't even notice this. Ok, back to "set it all on fire, retreat to the woods".
Or at least Pie Instagram, things can be pretty without being quantified and porn-ified there.
Otter Instagram is also adorable.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:19 PM on November 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Move fast and bake things?

> What was rumbling beneath these questions became clear: Tech guys were crowding the craft with their penchant for disruption, and in promoting fact over feeling, so many would-be bread bakers — many of them women — were getting boxed out.

Once again, here we have men who perhaps feel alienated or excluded from traditional patriarchal markers of masculinity compensating by crowding their way into traditionally “feminine” pursuits and “improving” or “perfecting” them with the application of “male” attributes like SCIENCE and RATIONALITY and TECHNOLOGY.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:21 PM on November 19, 2018 [50 favorites]


i'm just leave this unrelated comment here
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 4:23 PM on November 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


1. Bros really do ruin everything; the idea that women can’t or don’t bake bread or brew beer like some techdouche is so gross.

2. The dumbass open-crumb Dutch oven boules these dudes are baking are useless for making peanut butter sandwiches. Waste. Of. Time.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:26 PM on November 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


I mean I think the gender appropriation aspect of this is completely fair. You have a privileged group doing a thing and taking credit and passively/implicitly excluding another group of participants, that's what this is, historically. And I hope there are ways to balance that out.

But that's not the same as saying using a science or technology lens on traditional knowledge is somehow bad. You kind of have to consider that traditional ways of knowing were founded on injustice. Artisanal methods were culturally evolved but that also meant it took a lot of people losing out in order to get culturally valued outcomes. That modern science can be used judiciously to bring new understanding on traditions, and make knowledge accessible and reproducible, is kind of really really important.
posted by polymodus at 4:28 PM on November 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


The dumbass open-crumb Dutch oven boules these dudes are baking are useless for making peanut butter sandwiches.

I just made sandwiches out of a delicious but holey ciabatta and my spread just fell throught holes and onto the counter. It was quite useless.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:39 PM on November 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


My feelings about my sourdough are the same as my feelings about cast-iron skillet maintenance - these were humble crafts that were just one of many of a working class person's things to do that day, no need to fuss too much over it. My loaves all come out different shapes and crumbs and that's okay.
posted by Think_Long at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


I think that the framing of "using science and technology as a lens on traditional knowledge" is far too generous. Complex processes, high sensitivity to conditions, and subjective measurements make this a breeding ground for pseudoscience. Instead, what we have is people using the language and tools of science to bolster their authority and claim superiority over those whose methods are, by standards they never agreed to and which are not appropriate in the first place, less rigorous. There is no such thing as the scientifically best sourdough. There is absolutely nothing wrong with someone working to improve their recipes, using experimentation to make bread they like, and sharing their results. But there is something wrong with not recognizing that this is exactly what everyone has always done.
posted by Nothing at 4:57 PM on November 19, 2018 [50 favorites]


We have an WhatsApp group where we discuss how to bake with our 100% rye starter, Waldemar. It’s a German thing but now Waldemar has spread to California because some of us live there/used to live there. Bread baking has a different significance since we can’t get German rye bread in exile (no, the ‘German bread’ you can buy here is not a substitute).

There is hardly any measuring, fussing, or disrupting; Waldemar is strong and doesn’t complain (as long as he’s fed with rye flour - he can be baked with other flours as well, but for eating, he likes 100% rye). He’s been going for 4 years I think.

As for genders, we (the bakers) are all female. We refer to Waldemar as a ‘he’ but actually my daughter’s 7-year-old friend corrected me today when I showed her our ‘pet’:

‘How do you know it’s a ‘he’?’
‘Um, I don’t know, I was assuming...well, actually, it’s a lot of little bugs in the starter, so technically...’
‘It’s a ‘they’. I think it’s a ‘they’.’

...because they have been learning about pronouns at their awesome hippie school, so now it’s Waldemar (they/them).
posted by The Toad at 4:57 PM on November 19, 2018 [65 favorites]


This isn't even a new thing. One of my nerdly specialities is the history of patent spinning wheels, in which the Victorian Gentleman Inventor (TM) suddenly took an interest in the woman's craft of spinning yarn and made Great Improvements in spinning wheels during the early/mid-1800s. Every patent spinning wheel is stupid in its own way, but probably the worst offenders are the wheels that are so large and complex that they require about 12 linear feet of space to function in, which shows that none of these Great Men ever set foot in the tiny living spaces of the impoverished women they purported to be interested in helping. There's been techbros messing around with our shit for almost 200 years now.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 4:59 PM on November 19, 2018 [90 favorites]


i don't think doing things the "engineering" way is just an aesthetic choice or a play to get more cultural capital. nerds don't know any other way to live in the world. like i'm guessing that for a lot of the nerd bakers, they're not going to even be able to make sense of what they're doing without measuring everything and enumerating all the parameters.

this article makes a strong case that there is a problem with whose aesthetic is actually respected, and who gets the cultural capital (and the actual capital). and unsurprisingly a lot of these Silicon Valley sourdough bakers are competitive and insufferable. (you can replace "sourdough bakers" with basically any other activity in that sentence.)

but I don't think there's anything inherently perverse about the approach itself.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:10 PM on November 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I can't eat wheat bread any more because boring middle-aged person food restrictions but I am getting a lot of vicarious pleasure from this thread. I would appreciate if everyone could keep talking about their bread-making hobby in a lot of detail while simultaneously criticizing bros thanks.
posted by mai at 5:14 PM on November 19, 2018 [49 favorites]


I would appreciate if everyone could keep talking about their bread-making hobby in a lot of detail while simultaneously criticizing bros thanks.

It’s the yeast we can do.
posted by Celsius1414 at 5:41 PM on November 19, 2018 [37 favorites]


I dated a lady who did this about six years ago and found it insufferable. That is, I thought this hipster shit was awful before it was cool think this hipster shit was awful. Does that mean I win?
posted by es_de_bah at 5:44 PM on November 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


Once you master breadmaking, you move on. Otherwise you start a bakery.
posted by valkane at 5:47 PM on November 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


While you toyed with blockchain, I mastered the loaf
posted by thelonius at 6:11 PM on November 19, 2018 [44 favorites]


Still, I felt alienated by the dry manner in which tech bros explained their methods. Hadn’t women been baking bread as a duty in the home for centuries? Wasn’t bread an artisan craft, a feeling more than a fact? Was optimization really a path toward a better loaf?
This accepts artificially binary framing way too much, IMO. Duty is dry, craft is fact instead of feeling even if the facts are calibrated onto human senses rather than numbered instruments, if a better loaf exists getting there is optimization by definition, but let's stop and check the definition of "better". And let's check for local maxima in our optimization, too, while we're agonizing over the pain.

Is it fair to say that it's class appropriation as much as gender appropriation? Professional bakers are probably in the jobs they already had, but it seems to be could-have-been-management-but-swerved guys who get the press puffs. There's less of this at The Fresh Loaf, a site I enjoy for its helpfulness and good nature, but not none.

Personally, I have been having similar thoughts a lot for the last couple years and even more after my immediate hacker crew got all into Modernist Bread. I mean, I like talking to them about flour grinds and how to get steam into a standard home oven, but it isn't new, and Why Now, My Peeps? Why not when I last described the rheology of gluten and your eyes glazed over? There's been scientific study of bread for decades, centuries. ... I have an evil suspicion that it is interesting exactly because richer people have demonstrated spending a lot of money on it. Euro decks if you're Modernist, wood-fired clay from the Fresh Loaf, but still way more Stuff than you actually need to provide your table with a different tasty bread every day or three. My oven is comically not-fancy but I have an Ankarsrum, so.
posted by clew at 6:11 PM on November 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


I always like the tactile experience of making bread, the touch, the yeasty smell, the incredible aroma of bread baking. I like the simplicity of making bread with basic ingredientsI'd like to get some starter from my friend and make some sourdough but that's as fancy as I'll go. The flatbread I made not long ago was a hit. I do love getting really great bread at Standard Baking in Portland or cinnamon rolls at Big Sky Bread Company, very different and delicious.

Coffee? It was great to be able to get good beans petty much everywhere, but I'm not going to get worried about the precise water temp. The Brewing renaissance got to me when they started making beers with blueberries or pumpkin, and then recently I had some salty beer that was really Nope. Wouldn't somebody like to make a nice English bitter that doesn't taste like grapefruit juice? Bread? As long as I can get flour, you aren't going to be able to screw this up for me.
posted by theora55 at 6:21 PM on November 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


As a left-brained engineer I can say that there's nothing wrong with tinkering and optimization. I don't agree with this article's framing of methodical vs. intuitive baking at all - for one thing I think true intuition can only come from experience. What's annoying is how these guys find a new hobby and then think they invented it. In his 'Beginner Sourdough Recipe' Maurizio says "When I first started baking there were only a handful of resources with step-by-step help for baking sourdough" like Tartine invented sourdough bread in 2010.
posted by muddgirl at 6:24 PM on November 19, 2018 [27 favorites]


I love making bread but I hate making these breads because they’re functionally useless for anything but consuming with a little butter. The holes make for terrible sandwiches, they go stale in a matter of minutes and a tooth shattering crunch is the opposite of what I generally want in a bread. The sour quality makes them generally not pair with anything. Useless useless nonfunctional bread.

I much prefer making Japanese sandwich bread or challah. It has more useful applications, stays fresh longer and it’s not riddled with gratuitous nerdery.

The same dudes who are into this were really into selvedge denim a few years ago and that annoys me.

I’m going back to the kitchen where my challah for thanksgiving stuffing is currently undergoing its second rise.
posted by mikesch at 6:33 PM on November 19, 2018 [21 favorites]


All that being said, why has it not occurred to me yet to start baking my own sandwich bread? I have a barley intolerance/allergy which means a lot of store-bought breads are off-limits.
posted by muddgirl at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


My mathematician brother still has the sourdough starter from our mom, who died 35 years ago. Some people keep family history alive. Living culture.
posted by kozad at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2018 [16 favorites]


I bake my own bread (both no-knead and regular sandwich loaf) but I've never made sourdough. This will sound ridiculous, but I think I'm waiting for someone to gift me a starter. I don't want to just go to a store and get a pre-packaged starter...I feel like a sourdough starter is passed down through families and friends. Maybe I'm being too romantic about it. But I'm not dying from my lack of sourdough, so I will wait.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:39 PM on November 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


As a middle path, Elly Vortex, you could put out some flour and see if you catch a good starter -- what will the world send you? Pretty romantic!

(I caught a good one in San Francisco, as one would hope, and it was maturing towards really good and then it caught an Ick. Not rope, but something foul. Oh well.)
posted by clew at 6:58 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can’t do a good starter in my kitchen since I have dogs and they have some weird yeast going on. When I briefly made my own sourdough I went to my favorite bakery/cafe with a premade sponge and worked on my laptop for a day so I ended up pirating their yeast and it worked really well as long as I was interested in the upkeep.
posted by mikesch at 7:02 PM on November 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


Sane people: there are some things that even the techbros can't ruin

Techbros: hold my IPA
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:10 PM on November 19, 2018 [16 favorites]


I love making bread but I hate making these breads because they’re functionally useless for anything but consuming with a little butter. The holes make for terrible sandwiches, they go stale in a matter of minutes and a tooth shattering crunch is the opposite of what I generally want in a bread. The sour quality makes them generally not pair with anything. Useless useless nonfunctional bread.

So okay, if I like sourdough flavor but don't like tooth-shattering crunch, is there a homemade bread subgenre for me?

Like, I've had store bread that was sourdough-tasting but had a texture closer to normal sandwich bread. Is that a thing humans can make at home, or does it take fancy equipment?
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:46 PM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yes, you can make it at home, using a starter and anybody's white-flour recipe and rise-timings for starter bread but kneading it and baking in a pan like sandwich bread might work right off. Might take a little fiddling to get the exact sourness you want.
posted by clew at 7:48 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Alexis Beingessner:
My granny made git like 50 years ago. She only changed recipes with notes at the end, so all her recipes are stored as a series of patches to apply to get anything. Even if she has never made the original recipe; history is immutable! Even gives you git's authentic garbage UX!
“Iterative testing” is what human beings have always done when they spend their lifetimes honing the practice of baking, or cooking, or sewing, or any other practical arts. It’s great if these dudes want to continue the tradition, but not if they need to erase the people who came before them.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:07 PM on November 19, 2018 [16 favorites]


I much prefer making Japanese sandwich bread or challah.

Oh hey, Hokkaido Milk Bread buddy! I love baking but only occasionally bake bread. Milk bread (via tangzhong) is by far my favorite. Easy, tasty, keeps really well. Last time I made two batches and experimented with one as various braided dinner roll shapes. I'm considering a parker house roll kinda thing next time.

Mmm...
posted by tocts at 8:21 PM on November 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


So, one of earliest memories was as a little kid, down by the bottom of the gas oven, watching the pida bread and pulling it out, just as someone would toss another one in. This isn't that stale cracker horrible stuff called pita in American stores, it's a glorious silken dimpled loaf that breaks and cuts like like a pillow of ground wheat and sesame. I've been making that recipe the same way my great grandmother made that recipe, and the kneading, and flipping from hand to hand to stretch with the specific way you have to hold your fingers to make the dimples, I dunno, bread is how I connect to the women who came before me. Who didn't have the luxuries of making bread a hobby, but who made it an art none the less.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:29 PM on November 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


There are a lot of important points here about the ugly consistent trend of how easy and automatic it is for men's voices to displace women's as experts. That part's a big problem.

But for fuck's sake, going deep into the details of a productive hobby that isn't hurting anyone... that part isn't a problem.
posted by Zed at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


If you want starter to come with a tradition of affection attached to it, you could do worse than pick up a culture from the Friends of Carl Griffith. I have a lot of affection for any group that would cheerily distribute sourdough starter to anyone who asks, free of charge, and keep doing it for nigh on twenty years in the memory of the generous gentleman who started the whole thing.
posted by sciatrix at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


I have an evil suspicion that it is interesting exactly because richer people have demonstrated spending a lot of money on it. Euro decks if you're Modernist, wood-fired clay from the Fresh Loaf, but still way more Stuff than you actually need to provide your table with a different tasty bread every day or three.

Yeah, it's weird to think of this as a new thing, as if sourdough was the latest Apple release or something. But most of these tech bros, for all they pride themselves on their libertarian ways, are really just looking for some iteration of Tony Stark to stan. Maybe Tesla can release a version and they can all persuade themselves Elon Musk came up with the recipe.

Every patent spinning wheel is stupid in its own way,

...hm? Mechanized spinning absolutely replaced hand-spinning in commercial production in the early to mid-19th century and radically transformed the amount of yarn and thus cloth that could be produced for the marketplace.
posted by praemunire at 9:01 PM on November 19, 2018


or challah.

Chabad has some really good recipes for challah if anyone wants to try their hand at a few tried and true recipes that doesn’t need a lot of sourdough bullshit. (Of course I speak as a life-long San Franciscan who loves sourdough... from Boudin. But as a Jew- make challah. It’s much more forgiving and has so many applications. Sandwiches! French toast! Stuffing! BREAD PUDDING!!!) (srsly make challah its an amazing multipurpose bread- CHALLAH: for more than shabbat!)
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:09 PM on November 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Dip it in your kombucha for extra tanginess.
posted by lipservant at 9:10 PM on November 19, 2018


I would appreciate if everyone could keep talking about their bread-making hobby in a lot of detail while simultaneously criticizing bros thanks.

That article hit waaaay too close to home for me as it described how tech dudes iterate and change variables. I texted my wife that I was going to have to stop making bagels now. Which is sad, because I now get consistently good results with a recipe I developed by hybridizing recipes from Cooks Illustrated (better baking method) and Bread Baker's Apprentice (better flavor). I also keep rigorous notes when I smoke brisket.

On the other hand I failed to grow my own sourdough starter and I've never so much looked at the Tartine book, so I'm bro-ing it at least a little bit wrong. Also I love pastries.
posted by fedward at 9:15 PM on November 19, 2018


There are not enough recipes being posted in this thread. That is all.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:21 PM on November 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


Finally the tech bros ruin something I don't like!
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:22 PM on November 19, 2018


this is the worst bread episode of GBBO ever
posted by schroedinger at 9:22 PM on November 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


it would never have happened if Mary Berry was here
posted by schroedinger at 9:24 PM on November 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


Aw man, I basically want to complain (as a recovering techbro) that I was into this BEFORE IT WAS COOL.

A German hippy friend gave me some starter about, I dunno, 12 years ago? And I immediately realised I could adapt the NYT no-knead bread recipe and make very delicious bread for next to no cost forever. And I've got really, really good at it (although these days I do put a bit more effort in).

I mostly tell people it's super easy, if you fuck up at first just toast it, don't worry, keep at it, it's meant to be fun. I wrote a little PDF I give people when I give them starter culture.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:12 PM on November 19, 2018 [15 favorites]


Supermarket breads are made with cheaper ingredients and may be formulated for shelf life instead of taste.

You could scientifically create the best bread ever and it might never make it to shelf because it costs twice as much, or lasts half as long.


Substitute "costs twice as much" with "costs 1% more" and you'll have valid enough reasons to cut quality (valid to the bean counters, that is...)
posted by Harald74 at 11:25 PM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think I'm susceptible to getting caught up in this kind of thing. Since I'm an engineer and knows a lot of engineers I can have all the craft beer I would care to drink, but since I drink like one bottle every other week, brewing's certainly not a hobby I should take up myself. Eating bread, on the other hand, is something I do every day. But I think it's probably for the best that I just read the (interesting) article and continue to very occasionally bake some bread that turn out differently every time.

(BTW, I did a Ctrl+F for "local maxima" in TFA. Am I a bad person?)
posted by Harald74 at 11:40 PM on November 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


All that being said, why has it not occurred to me yet to start baking my own sandwich bread? I have a barley intolerance/allergy which means a lot of store-bought breads are off-limits.

Covered "Pullman" pans. I even have a 1/4 size one, because it doesn't last long.
posted by mikelieman at 11:55 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


From a long line of millers - and all my forefathers would batch test the flour to make sure that when the farmer's wife complained that the bread was the result of poor flour - we knew it was not our fault. The saying in the family is, "Maybe talk more to the wife and less to the miller."

In German, the respectful address to a woman is "Gnaedige" - the kneader. "Lady" is of the same origin.

So for me, making bread is a physical, almost spiritual, expression of culture. I can make bread from rye, millet, rice, wheat or any other flour. If I have fresh yeast, I eat a cube or two of it - the tartness, the resistant texture - something I expect increasingly few savour. My major issue with sourdough starters - every yeast strain is different - but any yeast strain can give you a starter. It is not some occult specialist knowledge. And taste it before you use it.

Especially for people who are allergic or sensitive to foods, it should be easy to create a "loaf" which satisfies the hunger for bread. My mother (from the aforementioned line of bakers) currently uses rye, salt, poppyseed, walnut pieces, dried currants - which is gluten-free. My favourite pizza dough recipe uses wheat, potato flour, olive oil, salt, and (optional) milk powder.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 1:00 AM on November 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: They have some weird yeast going on.
posted by zaixfeep at 1:10 AM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


As an “intuitive baker,” the tinkering camp had always been a mystery to me, even with one of those devoted tinkerers tinkering in my own kitchen. “Women are more matter-of-fact [with the bread recipe],” Robertson told me. “They just make it.”

Ugh, go away.

No matter how mundane the task, whether it's baking bread or putting meat over a fire or brewing a cup of coffee or WHATEVER, so many people somehow manage to turn it into a dick measuring contest. I will never understand that urge. Did the ingredients turn into bread? Congratulations, you did it. Did the hot water make the coffee beans into a drink? Good job, you won. Could it be done better? Probably, but unless I'm getting paid, this particular man-human is going to find it hard to "obsess over the details" and blog about it.

I get the curiosity, I understand that knowing how to avoid mistakes makes each iteration of the process easier, but getting competitive about most things, let alone a loaf of freaking bread, seems completely alien to me. The "women are just more intuitive" cherry on top of this particular obsessively engineered cake really makes me want to walk into the sea and never return.
posted by wakannai at 1:57 AM on November 20, 2018 [20 favorites]


Yes, you can make it at home, using a starter and anybody's white-flour recipe and rise-timings for starter bread but kneading it and baking in a pan like sandwich bread might work right off.

I just make bread in a tin using sourdough. It doesn't get all the holes and crust of stone-baked bread; it's like factory-yeast sandwich bread, but heavier and tastier.

I make it a few times a week to keep the family in bread; ain't got no time for recording measurements and instagramming. Using sourdough regularly means I keep my starter going easily and don't have to buy as many tins of yeast.

Here in the UK it's Bake-Off that seems to have got everyone into bread baking. My bread bible is by a former GBBO finalist, though I don't follow his recipes exactly any more. Happy to make cake, too, though not every other day. GBBO has cut through stereotypes wonderfully, which is one reason the Daily Mail complains about it.
posted by rory at 2:10 AM on November 20, 2018


Metafilter: riddled with gratuitous nerdery | makes me want to walk into the sea and never return | It is not some occult specialist knowledge
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:29 AM on November 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


As a (female) tech nerd I've occasionally felt vaguely guilty about not being more rigorous with my sourdough bread making. I just throw stuff in a bowl and eyeball the quantities, and I'm sure that this is not optimal.

But I don't always have the time or inclination to make bread at exactly the same time during the day, and my neglected, refrigerated starter is not always in the same starting state, and the ambient temperature in my flat isn't always the same, and I don't always have the same flour available, and... when it comes down to it, I really can't be bothered to pedantically measure everything or take detailed notes when I know that no matter what I do I'm going to get something edible which I'm going to like more than storebought bread.

I have a very vague no-knead long rise time recipe that I follow, usually with half rye and half wholewheat flour, which requires minimal intervention and gives me pretty good results. I've learned a lot of general principles -- I know when the dough is too runny or too dry, and I know that if I bake a very wet rye dough in a pan it will probably collapse, and so I shouldn't do it no matter how tempting it is to be extra lazy. But apart from that I don't really care if my bread ends up more or less flat or a weird shape or denser or looser.

Every iteration teaches me something, and I think I've had fewer hilarious missteps recently. I prefer to learn how to react correctly to the behaviour of the dough I have than to change my workflow to be more precise when I make the dough.
posted by confluency at 2:34 AM on November 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I make sourdough bread when I make bread. How I do it is here and it's kind of a free-form thing. You might get something useful out of the directions, you might not. If your technique isn't real good or you don't understand how risen it needs to be, you'll get something edible but flatter than it oughtta be. If it's flatter, don't worry. It still tastes good toasted. Or made into croutons. Practice. Watch some YouTube. Find out what works for you. Seriously, it's just bread. Probably you'll get something edible. If you practice and pay attention, you can get something REALLY edible. Best of luck!
posted by which_chick at 3:06 AM on November 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don’t know why this was the thing to break me, but it was. It’s a little bit funny. But also...Jesus fucking Christ.

To make baking bread a competitive, misogynist, dick measuring contest you have to be...

I mean. There is something wrong with these men. Like, deeply. To be so obsessed with dominance hierarchies that you turn everything into an expression of your own screaming need to validate or improve your position on an imaginary ladder, to make sure the women are all kicked off the ladder as you go, to pound your chest about it as loudly as you can on fucking Instagram...

It is, in a very real way, inhuman. it is a regression from the things we identify as separating humanity from animals.

Just pathetic.

Christ I am so sick of these dudes. Go have your screaming dick measuring contests somewhere else, you fucking apes. If that is how you choose to live your one life on this earth I can’t stop you and I wouldn’t try, because being a pathetic hierarchy obsessed moron is, I suppose, a human right, but good fucking God go do it somewhere where you won’t bother the rest of us. We’re trying to have a society here. And you are absolutely exhausting.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:10 AM on November 20, 2018 [39 favorites]


Now that I've vented my spleen about the whole concept of Silicon Valley bread competitiveness, I'm reminded very much of noted misogynist and awful human being Roosh V and his weird "coming out" video about baking bread, where he unironically proclaims:

I’m not a woman. I am ultra-masculine, as you can see. But baking and cooking in general is a scientific thing and men like scientific things.

To which I can only say BEGONE, DEMON! Take your beard and your theories about negging and evolutionary psychology and return to the pit whence you came!
posted by wakannai at 5:05 AM on November 20, 2018 [12 favorites]


The only bread I make with regularity is soda bread, e.g. once a year around St Patty’s day. It’s fast, easy, and tastes great, as befitting a bread that would have been a daily staple. People made bread to eat, not to show off. A bread that took SCIENCE and hours of time would not have fit into the day except maybe for special occasions.

My mom used to bake bread, some really good crusty loaves with a good hint of salt on the outside... I keep thinking I should try making it for my own kid. Everyone should have at least one good childhood memory of the smell of baking bread. But it’s low tech. Oven, bowl, hands. If you have to buy a $250 special appliance to make it work, you’re probably overthinking it. Either that, or you happen to sell $250 appliances and you’re hoping I’m a sucker.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:43 AM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I keep thinking about my great-grandmother, who literally never went to school and who was illiterate until, as an adult, she made her children teach her what they learned in school every day and learned to read at the same time they did. I don't know if she ever learned how to write. She was by all accounts an amazing baker, despite the fact that she literally did not have a day of formal education. And yeah, baking is science, but you don't need an engineering degree to do that particular kind of science.

It's funny, though, that these dudes have realized that cooking is basically algorithmic, but instead of elevating the people who have always cooked, it's made them think that they can do it better.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:44 AM on November 20, 2018 [12 favorites]


If you have to buy a $250 special appliance to make it work, you’re probably overthinking it. Either that, or you happen to sell $250 appliances and you’re hoping I’m a sucker.

I will say that I'm a convert to the food processor for everyday bread dough, lately. I can get a beautiful dough ball that windowpanes perfectly in maybe 5-6 minutes, start-to-finish, including setup and cleanup.

Of course that won't make my cornucopia any less lumpy, but ...
posted by uncleozzy at 5:51 AM on November 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh, tech bros. Is there anything they can't ruin?
posted by slogger at 6:23 AM on November 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


My perennial frustration in the Bay Area was finding good soft rolls or anything approaching bread that wasn't one or more of too crusty/sourdough/mass-produced/full of sugar, although Mills Hoagie somehow pulled it off. They wouldn't sell them to me though, or reveal their source. Everything else I could find in that ballpark was of the crusty variety that was sorta the right texture inside but cut the shit out of the roof of your mouth.

And baking your own is much harder there; the exact same recipe my Grandma used to make delicious fluffy stretchy white bread in Colorado repeatedly yielded a flaky mess in Oakland. Dunno if it's the wrong clade of yeast or what.

Anyway, nowadays I rarely eat bread, find sourdough largely overrated, and these douchebags can have it as long as they stay away from my Rugbrød and Naan and good corn tortillas (and I really miss living around the corner from Neldam's, which is apparently now called something else).
posted by aspersioncast at 6:38 AM on November 20, 2018


Christ I am so sick of these dudes. Go have your screaming dick measuring contests somewhere else, you fucking apes. If that is how you choose to live your one life on this earth I can’t stop you and I wouldn’t try, because being a pathetic hierarchy obsessed moron is, I suppose, a human right, but good fucking God go do it somewhere where you won’t bother the rest of us. We’re trying to have a society here. And you are absolutely exhausting.

Quoting because favoriting isn't enough. Co-fucking-signed, Schadenfrau!
posted by apricot at 6:46 AM on November 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


I just think it all sounds a bit tunnel-visioned. I mean, I like sourdough, but you know what else is good? Pumpernickel. Kulich. Naan. Croissants. Buttery Rowies. Bara brith. Pan Dulce. Brioche. Cantucinni. Parkin. Chelsea buns. Stollen.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 7:09 AM on November 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


they’re functionally useless for anything but consuming with a little butter.

I do not see this as a problem.
posted by Melismata at 7:22 AM on November 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


What's new is old again. We were geeking out about bread techniques on rec.food.sourdough 25+ years ago.

One of the things that makes sourdough bread especially conducive to this kind of geekery is that, while it's reasonably easy to make a decent-to-good loaf of sourdough bread, it is quite difficult to consistently make an outstanding loaf of sourdough bread and most everyone bakes the occasional doorstop. This is because there are so many variables that can change the outcome and, not for nothing, but the acids (lactic and acetic for the most part) responsible for the bread's characteristic taste are also responsible for degrading the glutens that trap CO2 and leaven the bread.
posted by slkinsey at 7:40 AM on November 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I, too, am hugging schadenfrau so hard.

I had to look up windowpaning (you can stretch dough to see-through when it's properly kneaded), clade(yeast, phyllum, something), Euro deck(deck flooring for fancy people).

I always smirk when I drive by the shoe store DSW because in my usenet days, that stood for dick size war and I am immature.

I am delighted to be reminded of the Friends of Carl Griffith starter. thanks, sciatrix.

Bake bread. The Betty Crocker recipe is a decent start, but there are plenty of others. Make errors, read, but Bake Bread.

It's a great post when we can all argue, share techniques and stories, make fun of dudebros, and inspire people to bake. I think the article is not terribly well written but this thread is deeply enjoyable. Thank you. I will make bread soon.
posted by theora55 at 7:44 AM on November 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


After I get over the disgust, I am reminded of Anthony Bourdain, who never forgot and frequently brought up in any of his shows that at the heart of timeless staple foods across cultures are people, primarily women, working with a dearth of money, resources, and time, and gastroscientists and celebrity chefs for him were an antithesis of that. I feel like he got it. I miss him.
posted by koucha at 7:47 AM on November 20, 2018 [16 favorites]


It's funny, though, that these dudes have realized that cooking is basically algorithmic, but instead of elevating the people who have always cooked, it's made them think that they can do it better.

This is what tech bros do. It’s all they do.
posted by winna at 7:49 AM on November 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Whither Alton Brown?
posted by zaixfeep at 8:32 AM on November 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Hang on. Take a look at Dayna Evans's evidence, here. It's encapsulated in the links in her second paragraph:

if you keep the company of millennials with sufficient disposable income and leisure time, you’re surely fewer than two degrees of separation from a sourdough bread-baking hobbyist. These well-off, internet-raised 20- and 30-somethings have turned to baking bread to self-impose a little offline time ... If you didn’t know about this new offline hobby, don’t worry, it’s being obsessively documented online. “Crumb shots,” images of the interior texture of a loaf of sourdough, are now as pandemic on social media as novelty milkshakes once were.

The links are by:

sourdough bread-baking hobbyist: Sophie Lucido Johnson, a writer and artist in Chicago

have turned to: Eve Peyser, from Brooklyn, who writes about politics and culture for Vice.

bread: Erin Slonaker, Brooklyn-based "home baker of naturally leavened #sourdough bread, with a starter named Constance".

self-impose: Anthony - sourbrobaker - "Traveller | Baker | Freshly milled wholegrain flours | Slow fermentation | Melbourne"

offline time: ogi_the_yogi - "food lover! I bake #naturallyleavened bread, multicultural desserts and drink a lot of #lambic" [she isn't a tech bro and doesn't appear to live in Silicon Valley]

images: Antony from Melbourne again. He seems to be the source of the stupid porn puns, in the hashtags on this image.

texture: daugenbread - "Danny, baker" - lots of percentages of hydration etc. with this image, but no info about his location or tech-bro-ness.

This isn't very convincing evidence of a Silicon Valley Tech Bro invasion of breadmaking. Looking more Brooklyn hipster, unisex, and/or random, so far.
posted by rory at 8:58 AM on November 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


And here I thought this was going to be the story of a beer-based starter created by a cast member of Trailer Park Boys.

"Just a little drinkie-poo for me and another for the starter. I named it Julian because it's so tasty."
posted by haileris23 at 12:04 PM on November 20, 2018


Look, I'm on board with a backlash against any narrative of bread that suddenly excludes tons of influential historical bread-bakers from the narrative.

But why is it a problem that some people like to overengineer, beanplate, track, whatever, their bread? And why do people here on metafilter, which is fully of nerdy overengineering beanplating types, have so many issues with it? Who is it hurting? It's bread.
posted by mosst at 12:41 PM on November 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think it's the presumption of capital D Discovery and Innovation that goes along with these dude hobby groups that galls. It's like, of course a country baker knew that giving the dough a longer rise would improve results, but she had other things to do and needed it to be baked by dinner so she couldn't be bothered to do a half stretch-and-fold every hour.
posted by Think_Long at 12:56 PM on November 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Thanks to the GBBO, the mister is super into baking. I don't bake, so I don't care that he gets kinda bro-y about it, and I enjoy the fruits of his labor. He mentioned bread once, and I firmly put my foot down because that is MY thing.

He then almost immediately made popovers which sparked a huge bread or baking debate. But at least he's never done that again.
posted by Ruki at 1:57 PM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


But why is it a problem that some people like to overengineer, beanplate, track, whatever, their bread?

I am a man, and I work in tech, though I am adamantly not a tech-bro.

I can totally see why for many, this seems like an extension of tech-bro-ism. There is a thing that happens where primarily men, particularly geekier men, seem to seek out hobbies not because they're drawn to them, but because they're drawn to performatively knowing a lot about them.

It's happened to cooking, to brewing, to carpentry, to a bunch of other topics. And I know, this sounds awful -- I hate that it sounds like I'm saying some "fake geek girl" shit. But again, as a dude who works in tech, this is just a thing I've seen throughout my life, where the sizable subset of dudes who don't really self-reflect on how social pressures tend to push men's opinions or experiences into the forefront kinda stomp into a hobby or craft, act like they just invented it, and start up holy wars about this technique vs. that style vs. ... ugh.

So, the problem is not that people want to geek out about a thing. I love geeking out about things. The problem is that there's a specific way men often do this, jumping into crafts or hobbies that have existed for a long time, that's gendered in shitty ways and really off-putting.
posted by tocts at 3:35 PM on November 20, 2018 [13 favorites]


I don't think that the issue is geeking out about a thing. Geeking out about a thing is great. I think the problem comes when you geek out about a thing and assume that you're automatically going to do it better than anyone else has ever done it, because the people who did it previously were probably not as smart and awesome as you. It's geeking out without acknowledging that you're building on something that has been created by a lot of people who were at least as smart and ingenious as you are, and probably smarter and more ingenious because they were often doing it in more-difficult circumstances, with fewer resources. If you're coming from a place of appreciation for people who were already doing this thing, especially when they are people of lower social status than you, then you're probably ok.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:43 PM on November 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think that the framing of "using science and technology as a lens on traditional knowledge" is far too generous. Complex processes, high sensitivity to conditions, and subjective measurements make this a breeding ground for pseudoscience.

Well I see it as an issue of science versus scientism. I think that the traditional is in tension with newer epistemologies. A lens does not replace one's eyeballs, or one's intellectual vision, etc.
posted by polymodus at 11:41 PM on November 20, 2018


I remember being fortunate at the time to eat at Per Se, the extremely fancy restaurant in New York City. When they gave me some of what looked like dinner rolls, I took one bite and was floored. I'd only ever had cheap Chinese diner-quality dinner rolls, or airplane dinner rolls, but that buttery airy warm soft bite was of the best foods I'd ever eaten. When I told my waitress that it was a revelation for me, she smiled and simply said, "It's surprising because these are just like how my Grandmother made them, too."

So how do you draw the line for forms of social appropriation, in a framework that's capitalist-but-in-name, intersected with class, gender, labor, and technological dynamics? The urban vs the rural? It seems the only way to sort this out is to have a conversation about it.
posted by polymodus at 12:18 AM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I'm still not that convinced that there's very much there there when it comes to this supposed Disruption. Evans makes another early reference to "a sample caption from breadstagram", a hashtag that has 50,000 hits on Instagram. The Top Posts on #breadstagram as of this morning are by:

zoe.zhuhui • Vaasa, Finland x 2 (F)
ph_darietto_mlb • Melbourne, Victoria, Australia x 2 (M)
katiebirdbakes (F)
izuyo0719 x 2 (Japan, gender unknown)
mediterrabakehouse • Mediterra Bakehouse (est. 2002, gender unknown)
svetlozara.ilieva (F)

Are any of these tech bros?

She doesn't get to her Tech Bros evidence until the section beginning "Technologists, who think analytically and strategically, stormed sourdough with a host of tools and techniques that built on — and sapped any semblance of romance from — Robertson’s artisan approach." She cites Ken Forkish and Nathan Myhrvold, both technologists and men, who both wrote bread books which won James Beard awards. Okay, two tech guys wrote bread books. And then a tech guy put a spreadsheet online. And another who lives in New Mexico started a blog. And one or two other anecdotal mentions. And... her fiance. Who "spent his childhood watching his mom bake bread and had always been drawn to its magic". (Why not see that as the reason for his bread-baking hobby, rather than his after-the-fact musings about A/B testing?)

The article has various strategically placed phrases intended to make us feel as if breadmaking is somehow being usurped by Silicon Valley: "technologists ... stormed sourdough"; "tech bros invading the sourdough trend"; "the tech bro invasion"; "the tech bros who obsess over an age-old idea, commit to disrupting it, then get bored and move on"; "these tech bros ... were able to insert themselves, through an outward posturing as experts, into the dominant narrative of the bread world"; "maybe ... we just have to wait for the tech men to get bored and move on, leaving the rest of us to create and bake and cook and share as we wish without feeling limited by their obsessive expertise-seeking or what they might perceive to be our technical failings."

But all we see here is that some men working in tech out of thousands and thousands of men working in tech have taken up bread baking, a pastime loved by far more people than them alone. How is someone taking up a pastime an "invasion", a "storming", a "disruption", an "insertion"? That some tech guy writes a blog and another posted a spreadsheet hardly constitutes any of that. The more compelling argument is around Forkish's and Myhrvold's books. There aren't that many comprehensive bread books, relatively speaking, so any that do appear will get attention. Fair enough. But storming, disruption, inserting, invasion? Maybe when Myhrvold's comes down in price to $29.99.

I was vaguely aware of Forkish's and Myhrvold's books, but haven't bothered getting either (Forkish's, anyway; not gonna pay £££ for Myhrvold's); I don't follow #breadstagram or that guy's blog; I don't care what tech bro bakers "might perceive to be our technical failings". I'm actually not convinced that they would be focused on "our technical failings", anyway. They're clearly focused on what they see as their own.

San Francisco was known for its sourdough long before Prueitt and Robertson opened Tartine. Harshing on people who live and work in the Bay Area for being interested in sourdough is like harshing on New Yorkers for banging on about bagels. If the problem is with men in tech having non-tech hobbies, then just say that. But if that is the problem, is the solution supposed to be that men in tech should only have hobbies related to tech, that are nothing but a continuation of their day job, so that we can safely mock them for being obsessed only with tech? What if they spent their childhood watching their moms bake bread and had always been drawn to its magic?

(Now, if anyone can help me figure out how to make bagels properly, I'm totally interested. A/B test those suckers all you like, I don't care, as long as they turn out as something other than sad, flat disks. Just don't post them to Instagram with the tag #thisismyOface.)
posted by rory at 3:15 AM on November 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Maybe the fact that you felt the need to write a thousand-character interrogation into the idea that men coming into a hobby and pretending they were somehow unique groundbreaking innovators of something women have been doing forever are irritating might help explain why tech bros are exhausting for the rest of us.
posted by winna at 7:11 AM on November 21, 2018 [8 favorites]


Are you seriously trying to "objectively" parse whether or not dudes with a particular sort of obnoxiously "objective" approach to topics that frames themselves as Definitely Scientifically Right and other ways as Definitively Wrong are entering a hobby and sucking up the air with their One Right Way?

...wow.
posted by sciatrix at 8:24 AM on November 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


I mean...what if they're not really sucking up the air? I've spent some time on bread-related social media recently and I see tons of women and a very international community, so this article's take didn't really resonate with my experience, either. It's okay to try to gather data to gauge whether that anecdotal take seems accurate.

With books, I'd say there's a more obvious gender gap, but with social media and other community-based discussion...eh.
posted by mosst at 8:34 AM on November 21, 2018


Are you seriously trying to "objectively" parse whether or not dudes with a particular sort of obnoxiously "objective" approach to topics that frames themselves as Definitely Scientifically Right and other ways as Definitively Wrong are entering a hobby and sucking up the air with their One Right Way?

No, I'm trying to question why everyone has latched onto this article as confirmation of How Shitty Silicon Valley Tech Bros Are when it's pretty thin on evidence of tech bros, and most of its actual links to examples of online sourdough obsessives are to people who live somewhere else, aren't in tech, and are at least half women. If this was a NYT lifestyle piece everyone would be ripping into how thin the evidence was.

By all means, continue to point out the shittiness of tech bros for the actual shittiness that goes on in the Valley. But this is pretty weak evidence that they've "disrupted" bread baking, trampled over thousands of years of baking history, or even played a dominant role in the baking revival of recent years. And it's even pretty weak evidence of the shittiness of tech bros. Who came up with that actual "crumb shot" tag that annoyed us upthread? Was it a tech bro? This article doesn't establish any such thing, it just insinuates it.

Using weak or dubious evidence to confirm pre-existing negative beliefs about a social group isn't great, whatever the group.
posted by rory at 11:02 AM on November 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


I only skimmed parts of the article but it's not clear to me if the author is suggesting that Tartine Bread's author is also complicit in social appropriation? Like, is the remark about the 20 page sourdough recipe intended to criticize the author?

I think part of the disagreement could hinge on whether you fault the books/authors, or some "young white men" in how they're utilizing these books, or both.
posted by polymodus at 1:32 PM on November 21, 2018


polymodus: "Like, is the remark about the 20 page sourdough recipe intended to criticize the author?"

I don't know if the author meant it as a criticism, but I took it as one. I've made a lot of bread (and have a lot of books about making bread, and went to culinary school to learn how to bake) and a 20 page recipe for sourdough is way too long. I've tried making the country rye from Tartine Bread but it's too complicated. Sourdough is great because it's so simple, and Tartine bread is the opposite of that.
posted by repute at 3:50 PM on November 21, 2018


I actually think a 20 page document for chefs trying to cook something at the level of fine dining is pretty reasonable. What is the problem is when the way this work is done reinforces and ingrains societal privileges rather than make information and opportunities accessible, when credit is subjected to biased revisionism, etc.
posted by polymodus at 5:57 PM on November 21, 2018


This thread has resulted in my wife and I trying no-knead bread and it is indeed really low effort (in terms of activity -- you do need advance planning) and really really good.
posted by Zed at 4:40 PM on November 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


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