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Wordloaf Year-in-Review 2022
Exhausted but elated
2022 was a sprint and a marathon for me. When I said that I’d had a busy year the last time I wrote one of these things, it turns out I had no idea what busy really means. I worked more hours in 2022 than I ever have before. I am wiped out and ready for a vacation, but also know that it was worth all the effort. (And again, these were all projects I wanted to do, so I am not complaining.)
Here’s a round-up of all I got up to on 2022, here and elsewhere. (Like last year, this post is also a precursor to me getting around to updating the Wordloaf Index post.)
Here at the newsletter, I covered a wide variety of bready topics, including:
The Wordloaf Mega Bread Equipment & Ingredients Guide, which I just updated to be more mega a few weeks ago.
How to Read a Bread Recipe, on reading well-crafted bread recipes, and what goes into making one.
On Prefermented Flour, all about prefermented flour (and preferments).
The Acid Test, on sourdough enriched breads.
Triple-A Flour Power Hour, a conversation with Alicia Kennedy and Amy Halloran about flour.
Wheat or White?, on the complicated question of using 100% whole grain flours in breads.
What I did on my Summer Break, on rejuvenating your bread baking practice in the classroom.
Size Matters, on loaf and other bread pans.
I shared twenty recipes here this year, not including the twenty-five contributed by others. Only seven of these were subscriber-only (🔒), which is less than you were promised, I know. But I plan to make up for the shortfall next year in a big way (more on this below).
Simple Peach (or Nectarine) Preserves (for future brioche buns or kolaches)
Sourdough discard English muffin bread (The Final Cut)
Smoke Sheaths (A Wordloaf-Haterade collaboration)
Gingerbread Cookies (NEW!):
I had eight guest Wordloaf guest contributors this year. One of my favorite things about having this platform is that it allows me to feature the work of friends and other talented people, and to pay them. Each contributor received $200 for their work, which is not a lot, but is also not bad considering I am a one-man band. I am always looking for new contributors, so please reach out to me if you have something you’d like to write for 2023.
The Story of "The Story of the Staff of Life," from Amy Halloran.
In pursuit of vegan 'milk bread,' from Gan Chin Lin (with a recipe).
Baking Isn't a Solitary Act, from Dayna Evans.
That Lone Wolf Bread Lyfe, Rhianna Morris on debigulating bread recipes.
When Instagram Can’t Help You with Troubleshooting, from Jesse Raub.
It’s Alive!, from Anna Sulan Masing.
Eight Lessons from My Panettone Saga, from Olga Koutseridi.
What Makes a Challah a Challah?, from Rachel Mennies (with a recipe).
I shared excerpts from twelve new bread and bread-adjacent books this year, along with twenty-three recipes, many of which were unavailable anywhere else. And I raffled off copies of many of these to several lucky Wordloaf paid subscribers.
A Q&A With Cathy Barrow, on her book Bagels, Schmears, And A Nice Piece Of Fish, plus four recipes from it.
An excerpt from The Kingdom of Rye, A Brief History of Russian Food, by Darra Goldstein.
This year didn’t include as much online teaching as I’d hoped. I held just three classes of my own (The Sourdough Lifestyle, Soda Breads, and Flatbreads for Everyone), along with four for others (Home Milling & Rye Gingersnaps for Edible Boston, Matnakash for the Maine Grain Alliance and Milk Street, and Choreg, also for MGA.) I plan on rebooting virtual workshops in 2023 and holding them on at least an every-other-month basis, beginning in late January.
And I taught two in-person workshops, one with Tara Jensen in VA, and one on enriched breads for King Arthur Baking Company in VT. I have a bunch of in-person classes in the works for 2023, including another one with Tara, location TBD, so stay tuned for the details on all that.
Writing and Recipes Elsewhere
Revenue from paid subscriptions here still only represents only about one-third of my total income, so despite this newsletter being pretty much a full-time endeavor, I needed to take on loads of freelance writing and recipe developing to make up the difference. This year, I started working for a few new venues, including developing recipes for the Anova Precision Oven and for Ooni (the Ooni recipes are done but not online yet). And there are 5 more Armenian recipes for Serious Eats that I completed this year but that haven’t been published yet. Which means that (if I am counting correctly) I developed twenty-eight recipes in 2023 in addition to the twenty I published of my own on the newsletter. (FIFTY-EIGHT?!!! Ugh, that is too many.)
Faux ‘Nduja (this one just dropped yesterday)
Triple Dutch, three Dutch baby recipes:
Round Glass Living
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, $1200 to The Greater Boston Food Bank, and $600 to Project Bread, three local organizations working to lessen food insecurity in my area. As usual, these numbers will go up next year, since the number of paid subscribers here has too.
The Bread Baker’s Pocket Reference Guide
When I first mentioned the idea of a pocket reference guide for bakers, designed and illustrated by my friend Johanna Kindvall, I got a very enthusiastic response. At the time, I thought it would a) take a couple of months to put together, and b) that we’d sell few hundred copies or so. I was wrong on both counts: It took the better part of th year to complete, and so far we have sold more than 1300 copies! (And that’s not including the couple of hundred I sold wholesale to various retail shops.)
While it’s likely too late now for Christmas delivery (though you can try, since I recently added a Priority Mail option), I have plenty of stock should you want one:
The other thing I spent a lot of time on this year was the 63-page book proposal I wrote and submitted for consideration just before Thanksgiving. As you all already know, the book was acquired by Ten Speed Press for Fall 2025 publication. I have 18 months to write this thing, starting on 1/1 of next year, so I have a LOT of work to do.
I won’t bore you with all 63 pages of the proposal, but this brief section should give you a good sense of what (and what not) to expect from the book:
Breaducation will focus solely on fermented loaf breads (a large enough topic alone). It's important to mention the sorts of things you won't find here. There are no recipes for viennoiserie or other laminated fermented pastries, which are complicated and diverse enough to deserve a separate volume of their own. And while it will cover a handful of classic untopped or topping-lite flatbreads like pita, lavash, and focaccia, flatbreads in general are another huge topic deserving of their own volume, especially once you include pizza and other topped things. Ditto for gluten-free breads, which are a subject best left to experts in working with non-gluten-containing flours, of which I am not. Finally, it won't include non-yeast-leavened baked goods like quick breads, cookies, or biscuits, all of which I make and love, but which are not really breads.
In case you were wondering if the book project means I’ll be dialing back work on or distracted from the newsletter, fear not. My plan is to use Wordloaf as a scratchpad and a laboratory for the book, so you’ll all have a front row seat for its development. And I plan to share book recipes in development here too, though I think I’m going to keep those behind the paid subscription paywall, because I don’t want them freely available until the book is out in the world. So sign up now if you want access to them!
And, thanks to the generous advance I received from Ten Speed, I plan to dial back the freelance work I’ve been doing to a trickle, which will make it much easier to focus on the newsletter & bread book more fully. So I actually expect to produce far more content here going forward.
What’s in Store for 2022?
More of the above! More recipes and bready topical posts from me, with a much greater focus on the contents of the future book. Along with recipes and essays from guest contributors, book excerpts, and news from the bread world.
And though—as I said above—I don’t plan to cover pizza in the book (the sequel, on the other hand…), I am still going to run our annual month-long coverage of all things ‘za, which is now going to happen in January, only a few weeks from now.
Finally, I plan to take fully advantage of Substack’s new chat feature, both as a way to build community around here, and as a place to trade recipe testing results for the book project. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to download the Substack mobile app, so that you can participate in the chat feature. (One of the many nice things about chat vs. comments, is that anyone can share images easily.)
Finally, as this is the last official post of the year, I want to express how much I appreciate all of you. That I get to think and write about bread full time is a dream come true, and it wouldn’t be the case if not for your enthusiasm for my enthusiasm. Thank you so much for following along. I wish you all a peaceful holiday season and a happy New Year.