If you’re like me, you spend a bit of time going through recipes and lurking or participating in online forums. You will often see pictures or read about different kinds of equipment people will use to bake their bread. In turn, you will be compelled to get that gear.
Don’t. At least not immediately.
As with written recipes where the timings are highly dependent on the kitchen environment, in many cases, the equipment people use is congruent with their other gear or their own personal processes.
For instance, I recently read about someone who invested in a KitchenAid 8-quart commercial mixer. They were complaining that their hook wasn’t working very well on the little 500-grams of flour recipe that they were using. When queried about their baking volume, they admitted that they only baked one loaf at a time every week or so. I’m not sure about anyone else who read that post, but it got a bit of chuckle from me. Talk about overkill!
But it’s not an isolated incident. I’ve read or heard about similar accounts of people getting all sorts of items that they report they never use or are too much for their needs. People spending thousands on stuff! It’s crazy!
In the guitar world, this seemingly nonsensical (and expensive) urge to get gear is called Gear Acquisition Syndrome or GAS. It’s a compulsive response to seeing and hearing gear. It’s not just a one-time thing. I suffered from GAS for years, accumulating tens of thousands of dollars worth of guitars and amps and accessories. And the worst thing about it is that most of it just collected dust until I sold most of my gear off. But as a working, active musician, I kept a lot stuff.
When I really started getting into baking, I saw how I could fall into the same trap with baking accessories. So based on my previous experience with guitar gear, I made a conscious decision to only get stuff that I absolutely needed to get the job done.
It’s not that I’ve completely foregone getting baking accessories. But I do a lot more evaluation on what an accessory will get me before I make a decision. And I really ask myself if I absolutely need it.
For instance, though my volume in baking has definitely picked up, and though I really could use a higher-capacity mixer, I’m holding off for now. One of the reasons for this is because I’m limited by my oven capacity. I can only bake two boules or batards at a time, and only 6 baguettes. Technically, I could get another baking stone and double my capacity, but that wouldn’t be fair to the other members of the family who might need an oven.
And speaking of a baking stone, right before I bought mine, I was baking entirely in a Dutch oven. But I wanted to make long loaves. And my family kept on asking me if I could make baguettes and ciabattas and French bread. So it was easy to justify getting the stone.
This all boils down to what I call the Law of Necessity which basically states: If I don’t NEED it, I don’t want it.
The qualifier of course is – at least for now…