Updated December 17, 2013
Who are Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers?
We are avid home bakers of yeasted, artisanal breads. We come together in-person to share our bread-baking experiences and learn from one another. All levels are encouraged--from those who have just begun bread baking, to those with years of experience. (If you are an advanced bread baker, you might prefer to join our spin-off group, CABB2.)
Begun in January 2011, Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers strives to support and inspire those actively baking bread at home. Our events are free--or the price of a cup of coffee, and we're organized by two passionate amateur bakers, Jacqueline and Dado.
Our blog: www.amateurbakers.org
Like us on Facebook
What do we do?
One of our popular events is the "Taste-and-Tell," to which each baker is required to bring his/her own freshly baked, yeasted bread. Bread in this context includes baguettes, boules, batards, pizza, focaccia, rolls, challah--in short, anything made by fermenting grain with yeast. We sample each bread, ask questions, and learn. Bread "failures" are encouraged; they are often the best teachers.
The goal of our events is to encourage our bakers to bake bread regularly at home, and to share their experiences with other home bakers. The benefits come bit by bit, as one develops the experience to better predict bread-baking outcomes, and the skills to bring into being the bread in one's mind's eye. Over time, one's baking improves by leaps and bounds.
What may I learn?
We often introduce a focus topic related to baking bread with yeast. By "yeast" we refer to both wild yeast (present on the surface of grain and often cultivated as sourdough) and commercial yeast (e.g., the active dry yeast available at supermarkets, and the instant yeast often used by professional bakers).
These focus topics are chosen to challenge and inspire our bakers, to deepen their knowledge and experience of working with yeasted dough. Recent focus topics:
Stenciling to Personalize Your Loaves
Soakers for Multigrain Breads
Baking to a given focus topic is not requirement, rather a suggestion to inspire one's baking. The only requirement to attend an event is to bring one's home-baked yeasted bread.
We have relationships with a small, local farm, from whom we may purchase wheat berries; and a small, local mill, from whom we may purchase flours and meals milled from locally-grown, organic grains. We encourage our bakers to incorporate fresh, locally grown ingredients into their breads whenever possible. And we seek to increase our access to, and knowledge and appreciation of, ingredients that go into making delicious, nutritious bread.
How experienced are our bakers?
Our bakers range widely in experience, from newbies who have recently baked their first loaves, to veterans who have been baking for decades. We are continually impressed by how thoughtful, patient, polite, curious, respectful, encouraging, pedagogic, and rigorous our bakers are. All of our bakers have curiosity and interest for developing their bread baking skills, and a desire to share what they learn with others.
How can I get started baking bread?
If you are just getting started bread baking, you may find helpful these Words of Encouragement for New Bread Bakers. You may also find much to inspire you at www.thefreshloaf.com, an active, online, social network of amateur bakers.
Why is our group private?
Our group is private so our bakers may have a safe place, out of the public eye, to share their loaves and grow in their bread-baking skills.
Is there a cost to participate?
Our events are free or very low cost, e.g., the price of a cup of coffee. We are grateful to our generous sponsors, who make this possible.
Not in Chicago?
If you are in another city and would like to observe our group--perhaps you are thinking of starting your own bread group?--please click "Join Us!" and tell us about yourself. Welcome!
Some of our favorite online resources from the wide world of bread:
Some of our favorite bread books:
Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Emily Buehler's Bread Science
Other bread groups around the world of which we are aware. If you know of another, please let us know!:
Bread Making Club (Cotteridge, Birmingham, UK)
Hudson Valley Baking Society (Hudson Valley area, NY, USA)
Los Angeles Bread Bakers (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Kansas City Area/The Fresh Loaf Meet Up (Kansas City, MO, USA)
Saint Paul Bread Club (Saint Paul, MN, USA)
Tacoma Bread Club (Tacoma, WA, USA)
Thanet Baking Club (UK)
Our generous sponsors:
Please email: jacqueline [at] amateurbakers [dot] org.
If your school or community center would like our bakers to give a workshop free of charge, please email: education [at] amateurbakers [dot] org.
Press and Publicity:
For media inquiries, or to request our press packet, please email: press [at] amateurbakers [dot] org.
© 2011-2013 Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers
The materials on this website may be freely copied and distributed so long as our copyright notice (© 2011-2013 Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers) and website address (http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Amateur-Bread-Bakers) are included.
BreadStorm™ beta software licenses for our bakers who bake using weight.
Providing a monthly meeting venue & flour for bakers to bake into bread.
Providing locally milled whole wheat flour, rye flour, and cornmeal.
Providing freshly spent brewer's grains, to bake into our loaves.
Serving refreshments at our "Homemade Bread Showcase," July 13, 2011.
Textiles for our tables at our "Homemade Bread Showcase," July 13, 2011.
Providing a venue for our "Homemade Bread Showcase" on July 13, 2011.
Promotion of our "Homemade Bread Showcase" on July 13, 2011.
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