Wordloaf Year-in-Review 2021
no wonder I am so exhausted
2021 was the first complete year of full-time freelance work for me, and MAN was it a busy one. I knew that already, given how non-stop it has all been, but until I looked back over the year this week, I had no idea just how productive I’d been, both here at Wordloaf and beyond. I thought it would be useful to catalogue the highlights all in one place, both for my reference and yours. (This is also a precursor to me finally updating the Wordloaf Index post, sorry about that.)
Here at the newsletter, I ranged over a wide variety of bready topics, including:
That Levain Feeling: How to diagnose and revive a flagging sourdough starter.
St. Quarantiny Day: Looking back on the Quarantiny Starter Project, one year on.
Everyone Loves a Panade: On my favorite use for stale crusty bread, the panade.
Loaf Classic™: On folding dough and sourdough baking.
On the Fractal Nature of Bread Baking: On how bread baking is endlessly challenging (and endlessly fascinating).
On the End of my America’s Test Kitchen Days. Hopefully the last time I ever need to talk or even think about this subject.
Mill Yer Own: Readers share their thoughts on milling flour at home.
Test Baking Without Tears: On scaling down when working with a starter that is of dubious potency.
Hot, Hot, Hot: On baking bread during heat waves.
Vacation Baking: On baking bread while on vacation.
On Style Guides: On how different recipe style guides are maddening to work with.
Starter Starter Kit: On how I feed my sourdough starter.
Pizzember 2021: The 2nd annual month of pizza-related content.
And finally, in September, I launched the Monday Morning Open Thread series, a weekly open forum for you all to discuss whatever is on your minds and swap bread stories.
Guest Appearances & Book Chapters
Something I started to do here and there in 2021 was invite other people to contribute to Wordloaf. For 2022, I plan to make this a regular, at-least-monthly feature of the newsletter, and I have many more amazing people lined up to contribute. Each of the 2021 guest spots was linked to 2021 books that I loved so hard:
“Wheat”, from Kate Lebo’s The Book of Difficult Fruit: I shared the "Wheat” chapter from Kate’s book, along with her recipe for whole wheat pie pastry.
Sourdough Culture, by Eric Pallant. I shared the introductory chapter from Eric’s wonderful history of sourdough and bread baking.
I shared twenty-eight recipes here (not including the four more yet to come). TWENTY-EIGHT RECIPES! Back in my Cook’s Illustrated recipe-developing days, the most I ever completed in one year was thirteen. And that twenty-eight number doesn’t include the twenty-two I developed for other venues (listed below). Seven of the Wordloaf recipes remain subscriber-only, though others were originally shared as subscriber-exclusive previews but eventually became available to everyone.
I started teaching virtual baking classes this year, first using Airsubs (R.I.P.) and now using Ribbon. I plan to offer classes at least monthly in 2022, both through Ribbon and at other venues like King Arthur Baking Company, Edible Boston, and the Maine Grain Alliance. Videos for past classes are available to rent via the links below.
The Sourdough Lifestyle: I taught this introduction to sourdough baking three times in 2021, and plan to do another session early next year.
Baguettes sans Peur (Baguettes without Fear): Coming up on 12/28!
Writing and Recipes Elsewhere
Revenue from paid subscriptions here represents only about one-third of my total income, so despite this newsletter being pretty much a full-time endeavor, I still need to do loads of freelance writing and recipe developing to make up the difference. The good news is that every one of these assignments were things I wanted to work on.
Baking as Art at Night Moves: On my friend Kerry Hanney and her amazing Maine bakery.
Classic Kouign-Amann: I know I’ve been talking about this recipe for ages now (I worked on it for more than a year!), but it really is coming any day now, and you can be sure I will let you know when it drops.
Ankarsrum Assistent Mixer Review: I wrote this love letter to my stand mixer a few months back, and am desperate for it to appear in print, since it’s a good one. But it keeps being delayed for some reason. Expect a link when it drops.
Sun’s Out, Buns Out: Three squishy, mashed potato flake-based sandwich bun recipes.
Rye and Mighty Cookies: Three holiday cookies using 100% rye flour.
Stained Page News
In June, Wordloaf was nominated for an IACP Award, in the Newsletter category. (In October, it did not win, but it was still an honor to be nominated.
Despite generally hating to talk about myself, I appeared on two podcasts this year, and enjoyed doing both very much:
I pledged to donate 10% of the proceeds of revenues from your subscription fees to organizations dedicated to fighting hunger and food insecurity. In 2021, we gave $1200 to Food For Free and $1200 to The Greater Boston Food Bank, two local organizations working to lessen food insecurity in my area. I those numbers will go up next year.
What’s in Store for 2022?
This post is too long already (so long that I couldn’t send it out as an email), so I’ll save the sneak previews for my first post of next year. But you can rest assured that my plan for ‘22 is to give you more of the same, but better!
As of now this newsletter has 6,160 subscribers and 725 paid members. That’s more than 10%, which is a very respectable number, I am told. To all of you who have signed up so far: Thank you so much.
If you are one of the remaining 5435 non-paying subscribers and you appreciate the work that I do here and elsewhere, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription if you can. I mean it when I say that it can’t be done without contributions from listeners just like you, and it is only $35 a year or $5 a month.