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Bread Tips & Techniques: Not Sourdough

Bread

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#31 dougal

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 02:23 AM

... Can you write about your experience in bread making that helped enlighten you or gave you the feeling that you have advanced another step?

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For me, a major leap in understanding came with digital scales, weighing flour (don't use volumes , 'cups', for solids with variable packing density), weighing liquid (don't use a measuring jug - its imprecise and so inconsistent), weighing in grammes always, and thus easing thinking in percentage terms (but not, I must admit, always strict "bakers' percentages").
Put all those together and you can cut through most recipes to see what's really going on.

A major taste breakthrough was when BBA explained *why* it should be that following Elizabeth David's remarks, about less yeast and longer slower rising, really did give more interesting flavour. Hence my adding a little rye flour (3% of the flour) and giving a cool overnight rise to allow the amylase time to work its magic.



There are things that matter in bread baking and many things that do not. Here is a rough list, but not exclusive. I'm sure others will have their views:

Things that matter:
...
Steam in the first minute, but not after
...
If you add sugar etc it will slow fermentation

Things that don't matter:
Strong flour - almost any flour will do
Steam after the first minute
Kneading - its time and water that develop the gluten, not mechanical work

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While I'd broadly agree with all Jackal10's comments - I will quibble with the expression of a few of the details!
- The flour. You can indeed make good bread with most (wheat) flours. However a different flour will produce a different loaf - different in both taste and texture . So as regards "almost any flour will do", I'd suggest that might be rather misleading if one were after either a particular quality in the result, or the achievement of consistency. Certainly a strong flour may actually be a disadvantage to the baguette baker!
I gather that iii_bake is in Thailand (from the prawns). I have no idea what flours may be available there. However it may be worth remarking that stoneground flours (with lots of tasty wheatgerm oils) would have an even shorter storage life at tropical temperatures.
- Kneading. Agreed, don't think of it as developing gluten. But do think of it as mixing, and distributing (or redistributing) the yeast and microbubbles (whether of air or CO2, the tiny bubbles that will spring in the oven).
- "Steam". Steam is actually visible because it is water vapour condensing out to a fog as it cools. What does the work on the dough is the vapour, not the visible stuff. Misunderstanding that point leads to some people being misguided into putting ice cubes in the oven - lots of cooling so lots of visible "steam" - but actually less water vapour in the air and a colder oven! Personally, I leave a shallow tray of boiling water in my oven for more like 10 minutes - but I think this *must* depend both on one's oven *and* what you are trying to achieve (rather different for a baguette and a pain de campagne) - so I'd just say boost the humidity in the oven at the beginning is useful, but IMHO it'd be wrong to be absolutist about detailed timing.
- Sugar. Some people must like sweet bread, but I personally don't. The other thing that sugar will do is give more CO2 more quickly (as when 'starting' yeast). So with added sugar, you could get to the same dough volume faster - BUT - you won't have changed the rate of fermentation of the flour much, so in the shorter rising time, you will have fermented the flour less and so developed less flavour in the bread. So while Jackal10 might say sugar slows fermentation, I'd say it gives you less flour fermentation for the same amount of rising (because the rising will actually happen faster).


The important thing is to develop an understanding (whether conscious or 'by feel') that works for you individually. Gather whatever ideas work for you - but do recognise that different people can have quite different, but often equally workable, understandings! :smile: Which very often just turn out to be different ways of looking at the same thing... :smile:
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#32 iii_bake

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 02:45 AM

For me, a major leap in understanding came with digital scales, weighing flour (don't use volumes , 'cups', for solids with variable packing density), weighing liquid (don't use a measuring jug - its imprecise and so inconsistent), weighing in grammes always, and thus easing thinking in percentage terms (but not, I must admit, always strict "bakers' percentages").
......
I gather that iii_bake is in Thailand (from the prawns). I have no idea what flours may be available there. However it may be worth remarking that stoneground flours (with lots of tasty wheatgerm oils) would have an even shorter storage life at tropical temperatures. 
.......
The important thing is to develop an understanding (whether conscious or 'by feel') that works for you individually. Gather whatever ideas work for you - but do recognise that different people can have quite different, but often equally workable, understandings!  :smile: Which very often just turn out to be different ways of looking at the same thing...  :smile:

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Another WOW n Thanks.
I like baking so i have digital scale and Yes, i am from Thailand.
Now i live in Singpore.
When i was in Thailand and worked with BBA i had my cousin carry Bags of King Arthur AP & Bread Flour all the way from US for me. We have Gold Medal AP but not unbleached though, we also have bread flour but i always put the blame on the flour and thought i would really feel the right stuff using ingredients from the same source as the recipe's owner :huh: .
Now that i am in S'pore, i can find Gold Medal Organic AP and Bread Flour.
I can also find Waitrose Strong Bread Flour.
So it seems i am in a much better position for flour sourcing!

You guys' experiences are worth noting and they are indeed interesting.

Thanks again
:smile: :rolleyes: :wink:

#33 Tepee

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 05:59 AM

Now that i am in S'pore, i can find Gold Medal Organic AP and Bread Flour.
I can also find Waitrose Strong Bread Flour.
So it seems i am in a much better position for flour sourcing!

[snip]


You can say that again. You can also find Doves Farm (and their spelt flours) which can't be found in the whole of Malaysia. I've to get my flours from organic food outlets...and there are not much choices.

Happy bread-baking!

Edited by Tepee, 10 August 2007 - 06:00 AM.

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#34 dougw

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 11:40 AM

After reading the Julia Child book about her time in France, I got to wanting some fresh baked bread. Being a novice baker, I trusted the recipe completely. Since my wife took the book out with her this morning, I found the recipe on the web and got to work. My dough came out perfectly, and I was so excited. I was suspicious when it said to bake at 450 for 30 minutes, but I dared not question Julia.

Well, I'm sure Julia was right but whomever reprinted her menu was WRONG. As anyone who knows anything could have likely told me, my bread was black on the bottom and wet inside.

Curses.

#35 Lior

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 11:42 AM

Failures are so frustrating! But, make it again and itwill taste that much better!!

#36 Anna N

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 12:02 PM

Yes, do try again! I made two loaves of bread from a trusted book this am and they looked lovely but the first taste told me something was missing - yep - salt - none called for in the recipe! So I made it again and added 2 teaspoons salt - NOPE - that's too much salt - 1 teaspoon should be perfect. So before the week is out I will be making it again.
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#37 Dave Parrott

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 12:16 PM

The timing sounds ok. But don't get too hung up on it. Look for that nice brown colour. I like to brush mine with a egg/water wash & make a few angled slits with a knife before baking the loaf. Let us know how it goes on your next try.

#38 dougw

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 01:25 PM

The timing sounds ok. But don't get too hung up on it. Look for that nice brown colour. I like to brush mine with a egg/water wash & make a few angled slits with a knife before baking the loaf. Let us know how it goes on your next try.

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I did the scoring and the egg wash. It was burning in 15 minutes!

I'm thinking preheat to 450, then kick it down to 375 next time.

#39 andiesenji

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:11 PM

Have you had your oven calibrated recently?

I routinely bake bread at 450 F. and have no problems, either on the stone or in pans.
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#40 dougw

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 06:10 PM

I guess I need to have it calibrated. It's less than 6 months old, and I checked it when we got it with an oven thermometer.

Maybe the bonfire I built in the bottom moved things along too fast...

Seriously, though, I was browsing the podcasts on iTunes today, and Cooks Illustraed had a video podcast up where they perfected the NY Times no-knead recipe. I shall try it presently...

15oz flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
7oz water
3 oz pilsner
1tbsp white vinegar

Mix, cover in bowl with plastic.
Set aside to ferment for 8-18 hours

10-15 turns to knead, form into ball
Place in parchment coated skillet. Oil parchment.
Oil bread and proof 2 hours covered with plastic loosely.

Preheat oven to 500 with lidded Dutch oven inside
30 min before proofing is done.

Transfer dough using parchment to pot.

Cover and bake at 425 for 30 min.
Remove lid and continue baking until bread is 210 degrees
20-30 minutes

Cool 20 min.

#41 Anna N

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 01:14 AM

. . .

Seriously, though, I was browsing the podcasts on iTunes today, and Cooks Illustraed had a video podcast up where they perfected the NY Times no-knead recipe. I shall try it presently...

. . .

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I have made it and it's a lovely bread but do be aware before you start that the handles on most LeCreuset lids and on some other lids will melt at these temperatures!
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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#42 Joe Blowe

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 10:25 AM

I have made it and it's a lovely bread but do be aware before you start that the handles on most LeCreuset lids and on some other lids will melt at these temperatures!

Yes, yes! And that is why you should upgrade your knob! About 4 bucks at Lowe's or Home Depot...
So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

#43 devlin

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 09:52 PM

Man I hear ya 111_bake. Every year coming upto Thanks Giving and on through the rest of the holidays pure frustration. Frustrated because what I could make in the spring never came close in the fall.

And I mean I gave up. Recently my cousin pointed out temp and humidity change. House is bone dry in fall unlike spring.

Got myself thermometers  for the oven and fridge and man do they tell a story. The oven temp is off like 30 degrees and the damn fridge is inconsistent which I kinda already knew.

Have a baking stone on my wish list, would I be wasting money getting one of those?

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You probably will not be too consistently proficient if you bake bread only twice a year. That's probably okay, if you're baking bread only twice a year. :smile:

About the stone. No, it's not a waste of money, and in fact you'll find it a huge help in producing a better loaf. Make sure you preheat your oven on high for at least an hour and then turn it down to the required temp to bake.

#44 BBJoe

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 11:27 PM

I have a question for you bread heads. I recently baked a couple of loafs of lean dough with poolish and ran into a problem that seems to frequent me. The gringe is spreading fairly well but as it spreads apart it forms a little gap. Note that not all of the slashes do this. I'm thinking that I'm slashing too deep but I also thought that it could possibly an ovenspring problem.

Here's the formula

Poolish:

100% flour
100% water
pinch of yeast

Final dough:
70% flour
.63% yeast
60% poolish
37% water
2% salt

btw, I'm using AP flour.


Any help is greatly appreciated (criticisms welcome too!).


Posted Image

Posted Image



edited to make the pictures manageable.

Edited by BBJoe, 25 March 2008 - 11:29 AM.


#45 tino27

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 11:04 AM

Are you slashing at a 45 degree angle?
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#46 BBJoe

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 11:54 AM

Are you slashing at a 45 degree angle?

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Actually no... Which seems silly to me now since I've read countless times to slash almost parallel to the dough. I guess it just wasn't registering with me for some reason. I was watching a Julia Child segment on french bread last night and when she slashed her loaves a little light bulb went off in my head. I will see if this fixes the problem.

#47 CaliPoutine

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 07:53 AM

I'm not sure what forum to post this in, so I thought I'd try here first.

I made a yeasted sweet dough from a Carole Walter book called Sweet breads, muffins, coffee cakes, etc, etc( or a similar title to that effect).

Anyway, The recipe called for 1 packet of active dry yeast, but I didnt have that so I used 1.5 plus 1/8tsp of instant. I also used "light sour cream" instead of regular. Those were the only changes I made except of course I didnt proof the yeast.

The instructions said the dough would be soft( it was) and throw it in the fridge overnight before using it. I did that and it didnt rise at all( Yes, the yeast is very fresh).

I took it out, shaped it into balls( I was going to make crumb buns) and put them in my oven on the proof feature and 45 min later, nothing.

It didnt rise at all. I left the other half of the dough out of the fridge to see what it would do and NOTHING. I just made hot cross buns 2 weeks ago with the same yeast so I know its fresh.

What do you think went wrong?

#48 Brigid Mary

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 02:04 PM

Cali, I've made this recipe many times. it doesn't rise in the refrigerator at all,as far as I can tell. I'm not sure, I think it rises a little bit once I shape it but not much, once again I have a hard time telling, so obviously it can't rise much... when I bake it though it poofs up and tastes wonderful. Have you tried baking the dough yet?
I use instant yeast as well. I always stir it in with the liquid like she says, but I don't let it sit so long. I'm not sure what's wrong with your dough. I really wish I had a better answer for you!

#49 CaliPoutine

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 08:56 AM

Cali, I've made this recipe many times. it doesn't rise in the refrigerator at all,as far as I can tell. I'm not sure, I think it rises a little bit once I shape it but not much, once again I have a hard time telling, so obviously it can't rise much... when I bake it though it poofs up and tastes wonderful. Have you tried baking the dough yet?
I use instant yeast as well. I always stir it in with the liquid like she says, but I don't let it sit so long. I'm not sure what's wrong with your dough. I really wish I had a better answer for you!

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Thanks for the response.

I actually threw it out because I was having ppl over for brunch and I didnt want to risk it not coming out. I ended up using the streusel that I made for the crumb buns on a sour cream coffee cake recipe( my mom's) that I've made many times.

I was totally bummed about the dough though, especially since I wasted 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter.

#50 tino27

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:18 AM

Cali, I can't speak specifically to the recipe you were trying to make, but I know that when I use regular instant yeast for my sweet breads, they take a REALLY long time (like 8-10 hours) to rise. I picked up some SAF Gold (from Amazon, no less) which is instant yeast specifically designed for high fat/high sugar doughs and it works MUCH better. It literally cut the time in half from my regular instant yeast. Now I keep two kinds of yeast in my freezer.

BTW, SAF makes a "Red" variety as well. This would be equivalent to the regular instant yeast you already have.

Hope that helps.
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#51 BBJoe

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 07:32 PM

I actually have a question regarding fermentation times. How long can a dough ferment before it really starts to degrade? I know gluten will eventually break down, yeast will put out an undesirable flavor and die, and other enzymatic activity will occur that I don't fully understand as of yet, but how long does it really take for those things to occur?

I do realize that yeast activity will be in accordance to temperature, so put this question into perspective, let's say we have a standard lean dough formula like this:

100% flour
70% water
1% instant yeast
2% salt

Then we ferment it at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. How long would it take for the dough to show undesirable characteristics?

I'm assuming that the yeast would be the first thing that would cause problems, so to add another twist to the question(s); how affective would folding the dough at every hour be in keeping an active yeast colony?

Any input will be greatly appreciated!

#52 lennyk

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 04:50 AM

I've been doing the pain l'ancienne from the BBA with decent results except for the cosmetics.

The dough is on the wet side and any attempts to move it around whilst shaping or after cutting result in wrinkles from it snagging on the well floured counter.

Posted Image

can't get it to keep tight and taut unless I actually work on it on the baking sheet

Any suggestions ?





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