By Kristen Nowak Winn
The best thing since sliced bread?
For a group of local amateur bakers, itâ€™s having a community to share it with.
Exchanging recipes and tips â€” and of course, tasting bread â€” form the bulk of the Brunswick Bread Bakersâ€™ monthly meeting agendas, which were started by a Brunswick resident who baked more bread than she could eat.
â€œI bought a bread machine, and I started going crazy with it,â€ said Valorie Snell, also an artist and photographer. â€œI started talking to my friends, and I kept talking about it and talking about it. And then I started bringing in the bread I was making, because I was making too much bread. And then I found out that a lot of people have bread machines, but they donâ€™t talk about it. Even more than that, people have bread machines that are still in their basements, or some havenâ€™t even opened the box.â€
Brunswick resident Valorie Snell kneads dough to make bread. In November, Snell started the first meeting of the Brunswick Bread Bakers Club, which exchanges recipes, shares tips and tastes each otherâ€™s creations monthly. (Andrew Dolph | Staff photographer)
Newly formed, the Brunswick Bread Bakers Club gathers on the second Monday of every month at the Brunswick Community Recreation and Fitness Center, 3637 Center Road. But donâ€™t let the groupâ€™s name deter any out-of-city bakers; they welcome anyone who shares their love of loaves.
You donâ€™t even have to bake something to attend, but if you do, come prepared to divulge your secrets.
â€œWhen you make your creation, you bring in copies of your recipes so we can give it out to everybody, and then I also put it on the blog,â€ Snell said, referring to the groupâ€™s Web site, brunswickbreadbakers.blogspot.com.
More than anything, the recipes are a learning experience for the bakers.
â€œIf it fails, you did all that work, bring it in anyway, and weâ€™ll talk about what might have gone wrong and how to change it, how to fix it,â€ Snell said.
Start from scratch
How the bread is baked is up to the individual. Several in the group knead the dough by hand, like Delma Atkinson of Brunswick, while others let the machine do the work. Either way, at each meeting theyâ€™ll produce a counterful of carbs, whose warm, sweet scents carry throughout the center. Sticky buns, apple bread, white, wheat â€” as long as itâ€™s DIY-style, itâ€™s fair game.
â€œI prefer something homemade, from scratch,â€ Atkinson said. â€œSometimes it doesnâ€™t always turn out the greatest, but you can control whatâ€™s in it, too. My husband had a heart attack, so after that I started baking with applesauce or olive oils.â€
Health motivates many of the bakers to start from scratch.
â€œIf you buy good whole foods and whole grain breads, it gets really expensive,â€ Snell said. â€œAnd if you look at the ingredients on these breads, theyâ€™ve got everything in there, all kinds of things you donâ€™t really want to eat. So I said OK, Iâ€™m just going to make it myself.â€
For Snell, that concept dates back to the years she spent with her grandparents in Croton, northeast of Columbus.
â€œWe used to live there when I was real little, and I just loved that,â€ said Snell, who also lived 18 years in San Francisco and savors sourdough. â€œThatâ€™s actually a part of what has to do with this is my grandmother made bread, and she had to cook it in a wood stove. She baked everything. That did influence me a lot. Back then, they had to make bread.â€
The Brunswick Bread Bakersâ€™ next meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 9. For more information, call Snell at 330-220-8590.
Winn may be reached at 330-721-4053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.