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sturdiness of homemade pan breads?


essvee
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Sorry for the awkward title. Couldn't figure out how to word it concisely. Here's my dilemma. I have worked hard, studied hard, and have finally after many travails been able to consistently produce a good loaf of sandwich/pan bread. The problem is, unlike storebought or even bakery bread, my bread is not very durable for lack of a better word and falls apart when used for sandwiches. Wah.

I have used both all-purpose and bread flour with no discernable difference. Any suggestions? Thanks.

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Are you allowing the loaf to cool completely before slicing? If you want a really sturdy, close-grained loaf, make pain de mie....a/ka/a a pullman loaf. You need a special, oblong loaf pan, which has a fitted, sliding metal lid. The lid prevents the loaf from expanding above the pan, resulting in a tight crumb and sturdy, very sliceable loaf. King Arthur flour sells pullman pans here, as do most well-stocked kitchen stores.

Without a pullman pan, you must rely on the bread alone for a sliceable texture. Achieving a close, even crumb usually requires some sort of enrichment: DMS (aka powdered milk) and potato starch (dried potato flakes) are two usual additions to even out the loaf texture. Or, go for all three, plus a little fat. Enriched loaves like brioche also slice well, but they're rather rich for sandwiches.

Post your bread recipe and folks can make suggestions on how to tweak your existing loaf.....

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Thanks, Celeste. I just purchased B. Clayton's bread book, and I noticed that a lot of his loaves call for powdered milk. Now I know why.

I also noticed, in his 'French and Italian' section, that he references a pinch of ascorbic acid to strengthen the cellular formation. Hmm. Can anyone speak to that?

I do allow the loaf to cool completely. The bread I make the most often is a heritage recipe from my great-great-granny-- oatmeal molasses. I recently made Clayton's Roman Meal bread, but substituted Uncle Sam cereal for the Roman Meal cereal.

Both breads are sturdy and handsome, but they fall apart when used for sandwiches, or even if you butter them too excitedly after toasting.

Here's the oatmeal bread recipe. No sponge, just two risings. Thanks for your help.

1 cup oats in 2 cups boiling water

add 1/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup sugar

1 T salt

3 T veg oil

6+ cups flour

2 t yeast in a little warm water

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Vitamin C oxidises an enzyme that otherwise attacks the gluten.

You only need it for flour that has been milled in the last month or so, but it might help. Only a pinch is needed.

Seems a lot of sugar, which won't help.

I reckon you have about 500g water to 660g flour or about 75%.

That makes a pretty sloppy dough, almost a batter.

Reduce the water by 1/4 cup to 1 3/4 cups (about 66% hydratiion) will make everything more controllable and a better crumb.

Weighing rather than volume measures will give you a more accurate control

Don't overprove either

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I agree, that sounds like a lot of sugar. In fact, I'd leave out the sugar ... just go with the molasses for sweetness. Is your dough too slack? Don't be worried about using the exact amount of flour ... rather go by the feel of the dough. Depending on humidity, temperature and the flour itself, it may take more or less. Finally ... how thin are you slicing your loaf? Would thicker help?

Good luck ... I like the sound of the recipe, we may have to try oatmeal bread just for variety.

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1 cup oats in 2 cups boiling water

add 1/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup sugar

1 T salt

3 T veg oil

6+ cups flour

2 t yeast in a little warm water

I'm sure granny's recipe makes a lovely oat loaf, but it's not ever going to make a fine-grained slicing loaf. The oats are coarse & dense; oats don't have enough gluten to make yeast-risen bread on their own. Their texture interrupts the gluten forming of the wheat flour. So, you're going to have to ditch the oats to get the texture you're seeking, and you need to enrich the loaf with conditioning ingredients. In commercial white bread, you'll see "dough conditioners" in the ingredients list: at home, you can use DMS, milk, butter, potato starch (or potato water) to similar effect.

One baker's formula for pain de mie (from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice)is 100% bread flour, 2% salt, 8% sugar, 6% DMS, 3% yeast, 4% egg, 8% shortening/butter, 58% water (total 189%). If you're not into formulas, here's a link to King Arthur's pain de mie recipe, which uses whole milk, DMS, potato flour, AND butter to achieve fine-grained texture.

Avoid all temptations to reduce the amount of water in the loaf, as it won't make the bread finer in texture, but rather just dense & heavy. I routinely make high-hydration ciabattas & other italian breads--and I can tell you that wet dough equals excellent bread.

Edited by HungryC (log)
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Thanks, Celeste, and for all replies. Good information about oats and bread. I will stop making the oatmeal loaf for sandwiches.

Let me refine my question. I want to make sandwich bread, but I want them to be multigrain breads. Pain de mie is not what I'm looking for.

So I'm looking for suggestions on how to make multigrain breads that will hold together enough for sandwiches, like the loaves you can buy in the store and also the bakery. Perhaps the answer is as simple as: use the recipes in Clayton's book that call for nonfat dry milk.

Are there any other ways to 'strengthen' a whole grain or multi-grain loaf?

I hope I am not coming across as obtuse, and I truly appreciate the prompt responses, which don't happen for most questions I post. Thanks again.

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So here's King Arthur's 100% whole wheat pain de mie.

For a wonderful tour of the whole-grain baking world, check out Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Baking. Multigrains & whole wheat perform differently than refined wheat flours, and different grains obviously do very different things to dough. WGB will open up a whole new world of soakers, grain mashes, etc.

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From looking at the recipe, my gut feeling is the oats are absorbing too much of the water and the flour isn't getting hydrated enough. Seems to be a really stiff bagel-type dough with that much water, isn't it?

It could be a couple other things, though. What's the timing on your rises and proof? Are you using coarse grained salt?

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