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Project by Andy posted 03-09-2010 07:47 AM 5363 views 5 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One of my many other interests is making breads, so I finally got around to making a peel. Nothing fancy, just some 3/16 birch plywood and an alder handle. I whipped this out while the bread was baking and finished it with cooking oil.The oil finish works well where food and heat are involved and is easy to redo as needed.
This bread is an old fashioned sourdough and came out perfect. It had a crisp surface crust with small blisters and was chewy and elastic just under the surface. The crumb ( the breads center ) was soft and chewy, slightly tangy and full of big holes. I ate half a loaf with real butter while the other one was baking :-) I made the starter from scratch several months ago and have tried several styles of bread, but this was the best, not only the recipe but the entire process made this a success. Using a baking stone, steam and an oven temperature of 500 degrees really kicked it up a notch!
I make bread most every Saturday and sometimes even Sunday. I eat a little (or a lot) and give the rest away to various friends while its still fresh. I now have a following.haha

To me bread making and cooking in general have a role in how we work with wood. It teaches discipline, patience, planning but also how to get involved in an emotional level. We see, hear, feel, smell and taste when we cook and the same holds true in woodworking. Not taste too much unless we get sawdust in our mouth, but its still involved.

When I get myself entirely immersed in a project, not just hand and eye, I do much better. That doesnt happen all the time, it just doesnt click for me, so I cook (or shoot pictures). Cooking, and especially bread making is a personal experience for me. Its a simple food that can be modified so many ways and still give great results. I try to get consistant results, which sounds pretty easy with a recipe involving only flour, water and salt. But accuracy, timing, and technique are critical. Unless I mess up in a major way, the flops are still edible, but thats the challenge, no flops. Its like making a box with poorly mitered corners, or a rough finish, sure its a usable box that someone would still like to own, but you will know you could have done better. Thats where the discipline comes in, stay after something until you get it right. You just have to want it is all. Its the feel of working the dough by hand, the shaping into rolls or loaves and that wonderful smell. Eating hot buttered bread is one of the best things known to man would you not agree? It doesnt cost much and is very simple if you just follow a standard white bread recipe for getting started. It takes about 30 minutes to mix it up, then let it raise while you are in the shop. Check back in and see if its raising from time to time and make sure its not drying out. After a couple of hours you will need a break from the shop, so thats when you shape it into your favorite style, preheat the oven then and bake for 12 minutes for rolls and about 20 min for loaves.
There are many books, websites and even online videos to get you going. Get a handle on standard breads using yeast and then give sourdough a try, its addictive.
I pay for my bread addiction by going to the gym 4-5 days a week, but its a fair trade.

I am not wealthy but I am in the dough.

By the way…my wife says I am an evil person :-)

-- If I can do it, so can you.

26 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118310 posts in 4920 days

#1 posted 03-09-2010 07:57 AM

Cool peel Andy
Have you ever tried the breads at the Umpqua Store? Now called the light house center bakery?


View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 4450 days

#2 posted 03-09-2010 08:59 AM

mmmmm sourdough

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View janice's profile


1122 posts in 4768 days

#3 posted 03-09-2010 09:12 AM

I love it! The whole story too. My husband could use one of these.

-- Janice

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 5348 days

#4 posted 03-09-2010 10:11 AM

I want one of those. But i want one of those outdoor wood fired pizza ovens with a stone cooking surface to go with it. :)

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4677 days

#5 posted 03-09-2010 12:19 PM

Nice peel Andy and I’m sure with you on the homemade bread. We make a great sourdough bread from Rye of all things with sunflower seeds. It’s my staple for breakfast and lunch. This particular bread is a ready blended flour pack call Danish Rye, so you just mix it with yeast and water. My wife also bakes great bread from scratch, but maintaining the starter for sourdough is always a little iffy and the results aren’t always that great. Obviously you have more expertise in this area. So what does this have to do with woodworking? Well the bread gives us the energy to work in the shop!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5503 days

#6 posted 03-09-2010 01:20 PM

be one with the dough.. be one with the wood.
Yup—same thing11!

making bread is a glorious experience. I used to have a wood stove/oven and I made all my bread in the wood stove. It was wonderful. We had it stored at my Mom’s farm, during one of our moves and unfortunately forgot about it when she sold the place. I miss that stove.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6879 posts in 5322 days

#7 posted 03-09-2010 03:02 PM

Hi Andy;

Well, that looks good enough to eat!

MMMMMMMMM, warm bread with butter… my favorite.

Great post,and a nice job on the Peel? I had no idea that’s what they were called.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View ohwoodeye's profile


2750 posts in 4496 days

#8 posted 03-09-2010 03:12 PM

That wood thing sure is “apeeling”
Well done.

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5642 days

#9 posted 03-09-2010 03:21 PM


It makes my mouth water.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View SgtSnafu's profile


960 posts in 4614 days

#10 posted 03-09-2010 03:23 PM

Well done on the Peel, and the sourdough (one of my favorites)

Thanks for sharing

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

View wooleywoodsmith's profile


152 posts in 4703 days

#11 posted 03-09-2010 03:23 PM

very nice. as a fellow wood worker and lover of bread I likey very much. I did the same thing as you whipped out a peel while….. in the oven. Mine was pizza and made from cedar.

-- wooley

View Andy's profile


1725 posts in 5251 days

#12 posted 03-09-2010 03:23 PM

@Jim-not yet but I have been hearing about their wonderful breads, so plan on doing some sampling.
@Miles-I agree, thats the way to do it right, a person can make one pretty easy too.
@Mike-Wow! Your bread sounds great and healthy to boot. Actually the sourdough is something I have done off and on for 25 years, but it can be quirky, but worth the effort.
@Debbie-You got it! Mom says that the wood fired stove was her favorite for cooking and baking, breads came out with a great crust. Not too fun to cook on in the heat of summer though :-)
@Lee-Thanks! I always thought they were just a giant spatula or scraper.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4918 days

#13 posted 03-09-2010 03:52 PM

I don’t know which looks better, the peel or the bread.
You got some skills kid, there’s no way around it.

View Maclegno's profile


224 posts in 4404 days

#14 posted 03-09-2010 05:32 PM

Delicious! Round here they use Peels (new word for me) about 10 feet long. By the way the Italian word is PALA di fornaio, could be the Etymology of the word. I’ve never tasted sourdough sounds wholesome.

-- Maclegno,Scotsman in Italy

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 4651 days

#15 posted 03-09-2010 06:07 PM

That is some delicious looking bread Andy! It would have gone perfectly with the rib eye’s last night. 6-:
Great looking peel too. May it pull many perfect loaves from your oven!

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

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