Bread (and pizza!)


I didn’t have an outsized desire to make bread, but someone in my apartment building put three high-quality bread-baking books out by the front door under a paper saying “Free”, so I took this as a sign from the heavens to pick up a new hobby. After perusing their pages, I was immediately excited to get started. I ordered a handful of items I needed (e.g. a quick-read thermometer) on Amazon, and as I waited for them to arrive I couldn’t stop studying the process.

The three books are Flour Water Salt Yeast (FWSY) by Ken Forkish, Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, and Bread Making at Home by Jane Mason.

The beginnings

I began with FWSY as it seemed the simplest and most home-cook friendly way to get started making artisan bread. I practiced with the Saturday loaf recipes with white flour, whole wheat flour, and mixtures, before stepping up the preferments. I have since settled on making the 80% biga quite regularly. It fits well into a normal day’s schedule if I’m working from home, requiring only a few disruptions for a few minutes out of the day. Below are some photos of boules I have made following these recipes.

I have recently experimented with adding ingredients to my bread, starting with a raisin and pistachio bread, then trying a dried cranberry and pecan bread. The folks at work enjoyed them, so I’ll keep trying out more flavors, maybe trying some savory combinations, too.

Raisin and pistachio in a <em>biga</em> with 50% whole wheat bread.
Dried cranberry and pecan in a <em>biga</em> with 50% whole wheat bread.

This recipe also makes great focaccia!


Lately, I have moved to using the same bread recipes for pizza. I love the flexibility of pizza, topping them with whatever is in my fridge or catches my eye at the market.

I have recently purchased Ken Forkish’s The Elements of Pizza and have already learned new techniques to incorporate into my cooking.

(More photos coming – I’ve made more varieties, but forgot to take photos.)

Joshua Cook, Ph.D.
Joshua Cook, Ph.D.
Computational Genomics Research Scientist

I am a computational biologist with a particular interest in Bayesian modeling methods.