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Store bought bread vs. bread machine bread

The subject title was simplified to convey the basic concept of the question ...

I have been buying bread at Trader Joe's (bread made from sprouted wheat berries and various other sprouted ingredients as well as their "flourless" bread) as well as Alvarado Street Bakery brand bread at traditional supermarkets (whose ingredients are many and also consist of sprouted grains and don't contain any partially hydrogenated oils or cheap sugars). I mention this because I have made a few loaves of Honey Whole Wheat bread mix from the Hodgson Mills (a brand that offers products made with only a few and high quality ingredients) consisting of stone ground whole wheat flour, whole grain white wheat flour, unbleached and enriched flour, dried honey, vital wheat gluten, soy flour, salt, and vitamin C. (I also add water and canola oil.)

The bread machine made bread tastes fresh, of course, but it doesn't seem to have the fuller taste that some of these more exotic breads have that I buy that are made from many ingredients ranging from sprouted wheat berries, rye flour, millet, and various other exotic ingredients I can't recall - even some of the sweeteners are items I wouldn't have, like dates.

I like the idea of making bread fresh, but when I see how many ingredients I'd have to have on hand to duplicate these kinds of breads, the use of a bread machine becomes something other than a "convenient" tool for someone who doesn't cook for many, and who doesn't go through bread that often.

When I heat and/or toast the store bought bread it almost tastes like it was freshly made.
The Alvarado Street Bakery bread doesn't last long at room temperature before it starts turning moldy. I've stopped buying most of the other bread, even Arnold due to some additional ingredients they use, although they do use better ingredients than most of the other less expensive name brand breads.

But even some of these breads that use many ingredients made from whole grains just have 2 to 3 grams of fiber. The composition of the bread would lead me to think the breads are very high in fiber, but not so.

Ezekial breads are very high in fiber and use very exotic ingredients, and for me to duplicate that wouldn't be easy.

How do other bread machine users deal with the challenge of keeping alot of ingredients (different kinds of flour) on hand if their bread machine is not used often? Do you also only use the machine infrequently and get the more exotic breads I've mentioned at the store?
(The cost of the high quality breads at stores like Trader Joe's isn't that high. It is more expensive than the lesser quality store brand breads sold at traditional supermarkets, but less than the premium quality breads sold there, such as Alvarado. The Hodgson Mills bread mix, is sold normally at about the same price ($2.50 for producing a 1.5 pound loaf bread) as these breads are at Trader Joe's, though they did just raise the price of their sprouted grain breads from $2.99 to $3.49 very recently.

I've come to believe that a store bought bread of very high quality, even though not freshly made (such as at a bakery) and sitting on a shelf for days, can give the user the experience of a "better" bread than a bread machine made bread that has used fewer ingredients. (I'm still game for experimenting!! I'd be willing to keep on hand whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, millet, and rye flour.)

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  1. I won't be much help in your quest because I bake bread in a primitive manner. No electrical or mechanical mixing devices are used to prepare the dough. Our double ovens are electrical devices.

    Of late I've been baking rye bread using both high gluten unbleached wheat flour and rye flour with caraway seeds. These 2 flours require more liquid than does all-purpose flour. The mixed dough is allowed to ferment for 18 hours. The dough is then shaped by hand and allowed a second rise for about 2 hours.

    I have found a store that sells both flours at very reasonable prices because the flour is not packaged in 5 or 10 pound bags.

    It is so much more stress relieving to get one's hands in the dough than allowing the dough to be under control of a machine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChiliDude

      Agreed on all points. I can't imagine giving up the space that a bread machine requires, even if I wanted to use one. But I don't; all the bread I've tasted from bread machines (a few friends have them) has been more or less bland and underwhelming.

      I also use the 18-hour ferment and 2-3 hour rise. Usually with the Lahey no-knead recipe. But you can vary the recipe to your liking. Use rye or whole wheat or other flours, add herbs or other flavors, etc. Even a plain white loaf has superior flavor because of the long ferment. And the amount of hands-on time is so little that I just don't understand needing a machine to do it for me.

    2. Fresh ingredients, fresh flour, enough "seasoning" (i.e. salt), better ovens, ...

      all that can make a huge difference between store bought breads vs. home bakes breads.

      (not that I'm an expert ...)

      1. With good store bought bread costing anywhere from $2.50 to over $3.00 making bread at home with my bread machine is definitely the better deal for us in all respects-nutrition, cost, quality and longevity. We're empty nesters so for us a loaf goes a long way as well. The highest grade flour I can buy in my local market is a 5 lb. bag of King Arthur whole wheat. It's $3.45 a bag- usually cheaper than a freshly baked whole wheat loaf from the store bakery, which is very good- and I get many loaves out of one bag of flour. From the bulk section of my store I mix up a bag of flax seed, wheat berries, sesame and sunflower seeds, millet and that costs me about $4 lb. About 1/4 cup of that and a cup of quick oats goes into the loaf. Honey is my sweetener (I traded a tent for 5 gals of honey with a beekeeper years ago). I mail order my yeast at less than $6 lb including postage as opposed to $6 for a 4 oz jar at the grocery store. It lasts about a year. I add dry milk powder that I buy in bulk. Probably the most expensive single ingredient I use is vital wheat gluten which gives the loaf added spring but is actually optional. I end up with a loaf that has lots of fiber, lots of taste. It has no preservatives and lasts longer in my bread box than a store bought loaf. If we don't eat it fast enough it dries out before it molds at which point it gets turned into bread crumbs or tossed in the freezer for bread pudding, stuffing or croutons. I occasionally do other add-ins as well: my own sprouted seeds, herbs, cheese, dried tomatoes, dried fruits, whatever takes my fancy or goes with what I want to serve.

        I use my bread machine (Zojirushi) predominantly for kneading. I don't like the way bread machines bake bread but they definitely knead dough better than I can plus while the dough is kneading and rising in the machine I can be doing other stuff. The Zo is an investment but having had other machines burn up or wear out in under a year at $75 a pop, the Zo has been the more economical investment. I bake the bread in my oven on a stone with a pan of water to help develop the crust. Others may find that baking the bread in the machine is fine. My other reason for prefering machine kneading is that as I get older *sigh* my fingers are becoming stiff and slightly arthritic. It saves me a lot of discomfort.

        My other discovery is that if I store my homemade loaf in a standard plastic grocery bag instead of plastic wrap, a paper bag, a baggie, or those expensive specialty bread storage bags, it actually keeps better and retains the home baked quality longer. Go figure.

        Overall, I prefer the ability to control the ingredients that go into my bread and there's no doubt that I can produce a higher quality, longer keeping, more economical loaf at home than what I can buy off the shelf.

        1. This is a big topic at my house. I have just gotten a used bread machine and have been experimenting. So far I have not goten the quality that I expect from the artisanal breads I buy - but as morwen pointed out one bag of flour casts less than a loaf of bread.

          I buy almost all of my ingredients bulk at the local co-op so the cost is low and I can get small amounts to ensure ingredients I use less of stay fresh. I have tried several types and am mostly satisfied with the quality.

          My husband though is not so happy - he is a real bread fanatic and is not happy to wait while I experiment to find the best ratio of flours, liquids and gluten etc. So - the jury's still out here but it's certainly fun tasting each new effort.

          1. We've finally plunked for the Zojirushi bread machine, and are very impressed so far. It has taken some experimenting to get a 100% whole wheat bread we're happy with. Initial efforts were too dry, so I subbed honey for sugar and upped the water gradually to reach my perfect recipe. Now I'm working on a variation adding multigrain cereal (Red River, but it could be any hot cereal mix).

            To answer your basic question, the only way to keep a variety of specialty flours around if you only use them every few months is to keep them in the refrigerator or freezer, because the oils in the whole grains will go rancid too quickly at room temp. I've thrown out far too many bags of flour/grains in my time, so I now put everything, unless I'm really, really sure I'm going to use it up soon, into the freezer.

            Although maybe the answer to your question was actually in my first paragraph -- try exploring the various 7-grain, 9-grain, 12-grain cereal combos out there to easily add interest to your breads. (Again, keep them in the freezer, but they won't take up much room.) And try the King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour for your basic flour -- whole wheat with a lighter texture, less gritty bran.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

              Good suggestion about exploring the various multigrain cereal I see sold in markets. They are on the pricey side though, although if using them sparingly, that might give the illusion of cost effectiveness.

              I have enjoyed the breads at Trader Joe's as well as Alvarado Street Bakery because of all the many healthy ingredients, and when they are warmed or toasted in a toaster oven, they taste so much better than traditional breads, even Arnold's. It's like the difference between fresh vs. store bought, at least on this level.

              I can't see having all those ingredients on hand that I see in some of these breads, but some of the suggestions on this board might get me motivated to experiment. The Hodgson Mills bread mix just used a few basic ingredients and it tasted far blander than these other breads.

              One poster mentioned the basics of bread on this board just consisting of just a few ingredients. Although bread can be made with simplicity, I like the idea of getting in various other ingredients for health insurance, and I have heard that the advantage of sprouted grains is that it makes the bread more alkaline, easier for the body to digest.

              Morwen mentioned using dry milk powder. That offers a convenient way to add dairy. I might try rice or almond milk and see what happens.

              I had posted on this subject to see if other people who had used their bread machines were able to make bread as good tasting as the more expensive store bought breads. Seems like a compromise might be to use the machine for kneading and the rise and letting the oven do the rest.

              I don't feel confident enough nor patient enough to knead and trust that my effort will produce the required rise in the dough during baking. For now, I'm going the convenient route by letting the bread machine automate the process.

              My first out of the machine baking will probably be for rolls, pizza dough, and bagels.

              1. re: FelafelBoy

                Just to be clear, I mean the kind of cereal that you cook into porridge, not the ready-to-eat stuff (and not the 'instant' oatmeal either). I don't think it's that expensive. At Whole Foods and others of that ilk you can sometimes buy it in bulk, for an even better price.

                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                  Yes, thanks for caring to clarify. I did think of the kind of multigrain mixture you were referring to. I have seen plastic packages of them in the organic section of my supermarket as well as in the cereal (oatmeal/grains) aisle of Whole Foods. The package sizes are about 16 to 22oz. I think, and I do recall that the price of this was in the $2 to $3.75 range. I still don't think that's inexpensive. The cost is for the convenience of having all those high quality ingredients already mixed up for the consumer. Your suggestion is a good one, of using it for both the bread and as a hot cereal (I normally make my own cereal out of oats, rye flakes, various kinds of bran, millet, ground flax seeds, and a few other ingredients). The Whole Foods near me doesn't sell in their bulk section some of the grains posters have referred to, and even the original vegetarian health food store in the metro area I live in has cut back in its bulk bin selections, too.

                  I do like the idea of buying the whole wheat white flour to compliment the whole wheat flour, in that it is of a lighter consistency. I have also seen sold in stores, "bread flour", which I take to mean that it doesn't require additional gluten in the mix to create the elasticity that comes by adding gluten to "normal" flour to be used for the purpose of making bread.

              2. re: Karen_Schaffer

                Karen Schaffer, can you give me the rec for the bread machine 100% whole wheat bread that you finally perfected? That's exactly what I am looking for.
                Thanks in advance!

                1. re: chelleyd01

                  Here's what we like. This is using a Zojirushi machine.

                  4 tbsp honey
                  1 5/8 c water
                  4 c King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
                  3 tbsp wheat gluten
                  1 1/2 tbsp dried milk
                  1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
                  4 tbsp flax seed meal
                  1 1/2 tsp yeast

                  It makes a nice, tall loaf of bread that's moist and easy to slice. Hope it works for you too!

                  Karen

              3. Like Morwen, I only use the bread maker for mixing. I prefer bread that I make myself, without the machine or the stand mixer (as has come up on the stand mixer bread making thread) but when I'm running out the door, it's easy to throw things in the bread maker, come home a couple of hours later and have dough ready to put in the oven. It's convenient. But, it's no where near as good as the bread I make that starts w/ a sponge, or even the no knead bread, but that all takes planning ahead and time. Nothing beats bread fresh from the oven (I know you're supposed to wait until it cools but warm bread...mmm) which you can't get from stores. And, the smell that permeates as it bakes... I don't need that many extra ingredients for making bread. I keep the yeast in the freezer. King Arthur bread flour, vital wheat gluten for bread only--the rest of the things are normal supplies I'd have anyway: sugar/molasses/honey, water/milk/buttermilk, eggs, etc. Home made bread w/out the machine is generally just water, yeast, flour and salt.

                8 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  I make bread from sponges and sour dough starter in the machine too. I just make the sponges as usual in advance and then put them in the machine with the rest of the ingredients. I find the machine kneading develops the gluten strands far better than my hand kneading does.

                  When kneading by hand you learn the feel of good bread dough. When I first started I learned that when the dough had the same elasticity and firmness as my baby's butt (it's a mom thing) it was a good dough. I was able to transfer this knowledge to the bread machine by raising the lid during the first knead and pinching the dough. Sometimes depending on humidity you have to add a bit more or less liquid. General rule of thumb for me is to start with exactly what the recipe calls for and then add by teaspoon if it seems too dry.

                  In response to FelafelBoy's concern about having extra ingredients on hand just for bread, most of the add-ins are already in my pantry where they get used for other things as well. Probably the only ingredient I don't use for other things is the batch of mixed grains and seeds. Karen's suggestion of using a multigrain hot cereal is probably even more cost effective because we like our porridge as well and it wouldn't be a single use item.

                  Adding the dry milk is about more than just adding dairy. It helps to create a nice grain or texture to the bread which is why I do it more than for the nutritional value. I find a bit of it in my other baked goods that don't call for milk in some form has the same effect.

                  I bake bread 1-2 times a week. I find my flour doesn't deteriorate when stored at room temp. I keep 3 types on hand, all purpose, whole wheat and bread flour, all King Arthur. When making whole wheat bread I use 1 cup of the bread flour and the rest is whole wheat. It lightens up the heavier whole wheat flour aiding it to rise better. I use the bread flour for my scones and biscuits as well but could probably get away with just all purpose and whole wheat. When it goes on sale I buy multiple bags and store it in the freezer but generally just buy 5 lb bags as I need them.

                  What helps me create artisan style loaves is how I bake them. I do the final rise on a corn meal covered cutting board having already slashed, seeded, glazed them if required. During the final rise my oven is getting hot and in the oven is a baking stone and a pan of water. When the bread is ready I slide it off the board on to the hot stone in the hot steamy oven. The combination of the bread hitting the hot stone in the steam helps it to spring and develop the crust. 10 minutes before the bread's done I pull the pan of water out. The dry heat for the last few minutes gives me a crunchy crust and a soft interior.

                  As with all things, practice and experimentation get you to those tasty artisanal loaves. I've baked bread for 25 years now and turned out a number of loaves that were bricks or tasteless over that time. In fact it's only been in the past 2 years that I've learned about baking stones and steam and there was an almost instant leap in the quality of my loaves after that. Bread dough is pretty forgiving. Be patient and unafraid to experiment.

                  1. re: morwen

                    This is a great idea, making the sponge first, and then doing the rest in the bread maker. What order do you put it in in the bread maker? Does the sponge go last? Do you use active yeast or rapid rise in this case? Just use the dough cycle as is?

                    I've always baked it in a steam oven (I use a cast iron skillet preheated w/ the oven at 500 deg for half an hour and then pour boiling water in it just before putting the dough on the pizza stone, also preheated). It makes a nice crust but I've never done the long rise so the bread doesn't taste as good. Your idea is opening up a lot of new avenues for using my bread maker. Can you do it with any recipe for bread? I still like kneading and will do it but this is a great option to have. This is why I love chowhounds--I get such good ideas here.

                    1. re: chowser

                      The most liquidy ingredients go in first. Otherwise it won't mix properly. I use the same yeast for everything- Red Star Active Dry. My machine has two dough cycles and I use the longer one(110 min). The last rise I do on the board before baking can be anywhere from 30 min to an hour or so depending on the bread I'm making and kitchen conditions. We heat our house with a pellet stove so my kitchen is always dry and the ambient temp variable. I have to keep half an eye on the last rise. Breads with a long rise generally benefit from my normally on the cool side kitchen conditions, I just make sure it's safe from drafts. So far I've been able to do it with any recipe I've tried but sometimes I have to do some adapting which may be because of my kitchen conditions. Some of those with a biga come out of the machine rather sticky, but they're supposed to be. Flour your hands when shaping for the final rise but try not to work more flour into the dough. The extra moisture creates steam pockets inside the bread that the gluten strands shape themselves around leaving the holes in long rise breads. An extra heavy layer of cornmeal on the board or peel helps slide them on the stone when they're ready to bake.

                      1. re: morwen

                        Thanks for all your information. I can't wait to try. When do you put the biga in? Usually the yeast goes in last, separated from wet. Do you put it on top of the dry ingredients? I'm thinking of taking it out during the first rise and let it go more slowly at room temperature. But, doing it this way, I might as well us the stand mixer. But, I love playing with new techniques. When I bake, I put it on parchment and slide it onto the stone. It's been the easiest way I've found, given I don't have a peel.

                        1. re: chowser

                          If it's particularly wet I put it in first. Things just seem to mix better if you layer them from wettest to driest.

                          A long last rise seems to do fine for me. I let the machine cycle through as usual.

                          I haven't tried sliding from parchment on to the stone. I'll have to give it a shot. I don't have a peel but I use a large, thin cutting board. Next best thing.

                        2. re: morwen

                          Wow, well put, morwen. My baker friend told me last night exactly what you have said here. I am a baking amateur but am trying to learn. A poster on another thread encouraged me to get the book The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart which I have done. But it's very dry and technical.

                          Thanks for the info!

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            Baking definitely is a science! I have great success with yeasted things but my other baking not so much. That's my current campaign - to bring my pastry baking up to par. I recommend the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book and especially King Arthur's Baking Companion. The science in the Baking Companion is easy to understand.

                          2. re: morwen

                            I think it depends on your breadmaker. I am in the UK and have a Panasonic (the king of breadmakers, apparently). With the Panasonic you reverse the normal order of things, so yeast goes in first and water last. I've been experimenting with sourdough recipes, and have made a version of San Francisco sourdough which is pretty good (it passed the dinner party test last night anyway). It's nice and dense, and has a good crust because I used the French cycle, which takes six hours.

                            When I have time, I intend to use the machine just for dough, and then finish in the oven. So thanks for all the tips, morwen.

                    2. I know that a lot of grains and other bread ingredients/additives can be purchased in the bulk section of a good natural foods grocer. You might try buying ingredients in the amounts you need for one recipe until you decide that you want to invest in serious bread-making stock.

                      They don't like it when you buy 35 cents worth of spelt, but they'll still let you buy it.

                      1. Felafel Boy: I have had a variety of bread machines over the years and, at the moment, a brand new Cuisineart. I do lust after that Zojirushi but this was a gift from my husband...)

                        I was brought up in a bake-your-own-bread everyday family. It was the way of the times and the townn and I love the smell and taste. We have a house rule that we won't consume any bread we haven't made ourselves...keeps the carbs down! And as my daughter is celiac and a lot of my bread making is flourless, that is a very useful rule. For celiacs, homemade is both tastier and safer.

                        But my days of doing the whole thing by hand were over the minute I first got my first bread machine. I see from this thread that a lot of folks are not keen on the baking part of the bread machine, but I don't have a problem with that aspect and rarely dig out the dough to re-shape and bake in the oven. Only for company, showing off artisanal shapes and for cinnamon-raisin bread.

                        MY rules:
                        1) excellent recipes: forget the ones that come with the machine in favour of your own library of good Bread Machine cookbooks.
                        2) NO mixes---they are inferior and expensive
                        3) excellent fresh ingredients and not just any bulk store, you need to know your source is fresh
                        4) if you have extra ingredients (wheats, oat, spelt, wheat berries, toasted ground flaxseed, potato flour, nuts, tapioca flour, almond meal, gluten, cornmeal-I've got one of everything!) keep them in the freezer in good airtight containers
                        5) if you have extra bread (sometimes we are 5 in our household, sometimes 1) slice it and freeze it-reheat or toast

                        Experiment and have fun!

                        1. I love my bread machine. The only time I actually use it to bake the bread is if I am using it in stuffing or bread pudding ot making crumbs. Otherwise, I let it do all the hard work of kneading, punching down, rising and whatnot. I shape and bake it myself. So far, recs that have come out the best are Challah, Brioche, a standard kinda sweetish white bread I make sliders with and the Clone of a Cinnabon rec from allrecipes.com.

                          The stuff in the grocery stores always starts out with "unbleached white flour", a South Beach nightmare.

                          32 Replies
                          1. re: chelleyd01

                            Lots of interesting contributions on this thread so far which will require further study and will be used as a reference for the future. I need to keep in mind the posted comment that mixes are inferior and that separately purchased ingredients will result in a better bread.

                            In reply to chelleyd01's comment about "the stuff in grocery stores always start out with unlbeached white flour" ... maybe that is the case with the stores you shop at, but markets are doing a much better job now with offering alternative breads made with much better ingredients, some of which START with stone ground whole wheat flour. I've seen in my traditional supermarkets (and I don't live in an area, that is in my immediate neighborhood within a 10 minutes drive, that you would say is in the vanguard of gourmet and healthy eating) breads ranging from gluten-free, made with sprouted grains, and include breads shipped as far away as the opposite coast of the United States. And I'm not even talking about a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's, just a normal chain store of a supermarket, not even a Wegman's mind you!

                            I'd think if you look again, or perhaps try another supermarket, you may find breads made with the kind of ingredients that make for perhaps a passable substitute for home-baked breads.

                            My Breadman TR560 was given to me and makes 1.5 lb loaves. It's quiet, stays stable on a countertop, and so far, has worked without mechanical problems. I will seek out recipes on the net and in books to get a formula that works best for this machine. I'll probably try the recipe Karen Schaffer offered including white whole wheat flour, flax seed meal, wheat gluten, and the other ingredients. Seems fairly easy, though modifications may need to be made for the smaller loaf size. . I'm still working on the dry milk powder aspect, trying to figure out what role that plays versus a rice or almond milk. Also, I need to know on what the ratio is of vital wheat gluten is to flour. I'm amazed at how few stores in my area sell wheat gluten. Only two of five stores in my area sell it even though the others sell bread machine mixes, all kinds of various flours, just no wheat gluten.

                            There was mention of slicing the bread and then freezing it. I had thought it best to NOT slice the bread, and only cut it into sections for future slicing so as to reduce the surface area to moisture. Creating more slices should increase the possibility for freezer burn.

                            1. re: FelafelBoy

                              My last machine was a Breadman TR2200c. Mechanically it was working great when I retired it. The problem was that the paddles in the bucket seized up and it was impossible to get to the mechanism due to the way they were sealed on the bottom. On the Breadman website the cost of replacing the bucket is $50- 75% of what we paid for the entire machine! I'm searching regularly on Ebay in hopes of being able to find a replacement bucket at a reasonable price. Beyond that problem the Breadman was a great machine and I used it hard.

                              The machine I had before that (can't remember the brand) lasted maybe a year but I was constantly changing belts on it until the day when the motor finally just burned out. I'm hoping the Zo will live up to it's reputation of durability.

                              The dry milk helps to create a finer grain or crumb and I believe contributes to a longer shelf life. Don't know if you'd get the same results from a veg or nut milk product.

                              Most recipes I've seen for a 2 lb loaf call for 3 Tb of gluten. For a 1.5 lb loaf I'd use the same amount or slightly less (2.5 Tb). Sounds like you've found a source for your gluten. You can order it from the King Arthur website if your source dries up. I can get the gluten locally but I order my yeast from King Arthur because a pound of yeast from them including postage is the same price as a 4 oz jar at the grocery.

                              I totally agree with all the comments dissing the box bread mixes. They cost too much and don't taste so good. You can do better.

                              I also agree with your thoughts on freezing. I freeze the whole loaf. You can cut a couple slices off the frozen loaf with a good bread knife and put the rest right back in the freezer. It thaws out quickly or you can pop it right in the toaster.

                              Use the recipes in the book that came with your machine for a proportion guide when adapting other recipes. That way you'll know that your total of ingredients is in a range your machine can handle.

                              Good luck and happy experimenting!

                              1. re: morwen

                                Thanks for the advice.

                                I visited a friend who showed me what he did with his pecans. He ground them up into a flour in his vitamixer blender. That's a practical way to add nuts into a bread flour. I didn't realize that blender could produce such flour from nuts. I don't know if a normal blender could be used in the same way due to the Vitamixer's more powerful blender apparatus.

                                Come to think of it, I'd think a coffee/spice grinder used for pulverizing spices or beans could do the same thing.

                                It's odd that the boxed bread mixes get bad reviews. I'm not talking about some of them that contain unnecessary and bad ingredients like partially hydrogenated oil. Hodgson Mills is a good brand, they use good ingredients. Their bread mixes contain few ingredients, but with the addition of many other items as I've found in the Trader Joe's and Alvarado Street Bakery bread, there is more desirable taste in those breads. I think the Hodgson Mills boxed bread mix is passable.

                                1. re: FelafelBoy

                                  I usually just dice nuts up until they're as fine as I desire. We like getting a nugget of nut in a bite. I pulverize nuts in the food processor as well as being able to turn them into paste in there. I tried my coffee/spice grinder once with nuts but had a helluva time cleaning the remaining oil out, My spices and coffee had a nutty taste for awhile - not particularly bad but not always desirable. Same problem with the coffee leaving a taste in the spices. Since then I've got a grinder dedicated to coffee and one to spices.

                                  1. re: morwen

                                    I understand that vital wheat gluten should be used with normal flour and whole wheat flour.

                                    I have seen in various stores, flour made by various companies labeled as "bread flour" (advertised on the packaging as flour to be used for making bread), and on the back of the packaging, recipes call for the normal ingredients except for wheat gluten (even though the recipe does include a combination of the bread flour and all purpose flour and/or whole wheat flour).

                                    I thought that since there was no inclusion of wheat gluten in the recipe that the ingredients of the bread flour would include wheat gluten, but they didn't. Of the brands I looked at, the ingredients looked for the most part the same, including barley malt flour.

                                    I had been planning on using a mixture of flours consisting of whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, perhaps rye flour, and a few others, along with vital wheat gluten. Is the bread flour nothing more than a convenient blend of higher protein flour that produces the kind of stretching required for flour in producing bread during kneading, heating and rising? I noticed that it didn't contain more than a minimum of fiber.

                                    If it were used with whole wheat flour, would you still use the wheat gluten? What if your bread mix contains too much wheat gluten (in that some of your used flour, such as the bread flour, would require less gluten)?

                                    1. re: FelafelBoy

                                      We had a water pipe freeze and blow, sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.

                                      All flours contain gluten in varying amounts depending on type. I don't think I've ever seen added gluten in an ingredients list on a flour bag. There may be regulations about that sort of thing, who knows.

                                      It's not so much that gluten *should* be added, you can make a good loaf without it. I add gluten to almost all my various bread recipes simply because it does enhance the rise whether it's called for or not.

                                      I tend to think that bread flour is exactly as you described and that's why I said that I could probably get away with just AP and WW as the 2 basic flours in my cupboard. I've mistakenly grabbed and added AP when I meant to add bread flour and really, I couldn't see any difference in the finished loaf. In truth I only ever add 1 cup of bread flour in any recipe I'm making to lighten it and only all bread flour in the very rare white loaf.

                                      I'm not sure what the effects of too much gluten would be. I've never encountered a problem that I could attribute to too much gluten but then the max amount of gluten I've added to any recipe is 3 Tb and that is in a 2lb loaf.

                                      I don't know how new a bread baker you are but I would suggest keeping the combinations of flours in your bread simple to start. Each kind of flour has different characteristics and handles differently so if you have a combo of 3 or more in one loaf and have a problem with the loaf it will make it harder to ascertain where and what the problem is. Master a nice ww loaf first. Get good at a white, get good at a rye, learn how these flours behave and then move on to more complex combos. Also too many flours may leave you with an undistinguished mishmash with no character at all.

                                      I know I keep plugging the King Arthur flours and website but I honestly have gotten much better results with their flours and tips. I'm not big on the science (I'm better wired on the other side of my brain) but they do offer a lot of explanations that are easily understood. They also have all kinds of different flours and have recently started offering flours that approximate european types making it much easier to reproduce european breads here. That was driven home to me when I spent time with an irish baker on my last trip trying to figure out why my brown bread wasn't as good as hers. It was definitely the irish flour!

                                      I realized that I forgot to mention two of my other favorite add-ins and I don't think anyone else did either- bran and wheat germ. Remember when you're adding in dry extras like these that you may need a touch more liquid as well to obtain the right elastic dough texture.

                                      1. re: morwen

                                        Thanks. I forgot to add that I have various other ingred for oatmeal which might work for bread, too, like millet,oat bran, wheat bran, flax seeds, and rye and wheat berries. I could put them in my coffee/spice grinder and make flour out of them.

                                        Doing this would be easy. I could just add a little bit to start.

                                        I may also want to substitute applesauce for the oil and see what happens. I've seen recipes that call for the addition of milk, butter, etc. I'd like to start simple first!

                                        1. re: morwen

                                          I just realized that a question on the yeast is just as pertinent as the gluten question. I had assumed that all recipes would require the same amount of yeast for a 1.5 loaf as provided in a bread mix.

                                          I found this recipe on the fatfree.com website for whole wheat bread and noticed a much larger amount of yeast than what is included in the bread mix for Honey Whole Wheat by Hodgson Mills.

                                          1 1/2 c Water
                                          3 c 100% stone ground whole
                                          - wheat flour
                                          3/8 c Wheat gluten
                                          3 T Honey
                                          2 t Salt (heaping)
                                          4 t Dry yeast

                                          Does the type of flour used affect the amount of yeast required to raise the dough, as I believe, or does it depend more on the weight of the flour?

                                          For the bread machine, I was told that active rise is better than the rapid rise.

                                          1. re: FelafelBoy

                                            4 t of yeast sounds like a lot to me. I use 2 1/4-1/2 in a 2 lb loaf. I use active dry yeast although the Zo does this quick dough cycle that calls for rapid rise. I've never used either.

                                            That looks like a lot of salt too.

                                            Since this recipe has no fat in it I'm guessing the increase in salt is to enhance the flavor and the larger amounts of yeast and gluten is to compensate for the extra salt and to help make it rise. Salt is not a very good friend of yeast and can inhibit it's ability to multiply. Fat is flavor and it's also sort of a lubricant for the gluten as well as helping to retain moisture in the final product. I'd be wary of a possible brick outcome with this recipe.

                                            I think the proteins in flours are more important than weight of the flours as far as rising goes. When the yeasties "burp" they stretch the gluten strands filling them with gas and causing them to rise. Gluten strands are made of proteins and how much protein there is in the flour determines the length of the strands. The longer and more elastic the strands, the bigger the rise. Adding gluten enhances this.

                                            The add-ins you mention are all ones I use too. But let me suggest that instead of reducing them to flour that you crack them instead and add them. A few good pulses in your grinder or processor. You'll lose less nutrients because you won't be heating them up like when you pulverize. Another suggestion is to crack them and then soak them for a couple hours before adding them to the loaf. Drain the water off and use that in your liquid measure. Instead of a crunch you'll get a softer chew when you bite. Makes a nice option.

                                            Applesauce is often used in place of fats in cakes and quick breads. Not sure what it would do in a risen bread, I've never tried it. But if you do I think you'll need less liquid and less sugar to accomodate the sweet and wet of the sauce. Maybe you could swap out the water amount in the fatfree loaf for apple sauce and cut back a little on the honey. Might make for a moister loaf.

                                            1. re: morwen

                                              Interesting ideas about cracking the supplemental ingredients like the berries instead of grinding them to a flour which is what I add to my outmeal. I've heard that the body just passes whole flax seeds through, so if you'd want some nutritional benefit, you would need to turn them into meal/flour.

                                              I'd think if you soaked the crushed berries in water, they might expand in size, and as you said, if they were added to the flour mixture, they would come out softer vs. crunchy.

                                              I wonder how the commercial breads are able to get certain ingredients, like sesame seeds, nuts, etc. crunchy in their bread product. With my Breadman machine, the instructions say that after a few minutes of the initial mixing/kneading step, the machine beaps, alerting the user to add the nuts and other ingredients. So once they are added, the rest of the process continues including further kneading, rising, baking, etc. Would these ingredients not get soggy during that process or does the baking restore the crunchiness?

                                              My real question is this for now ... I just learned that when a person uses their own mix in a bread machine, that active dry yeast is recommended over the "fast" or "rapid" rise yeast which is included in the bread mixes, such as Hodgson Mills.

                                              The Breadman instructions say to first place the water and oil in first, then the flour, then the yeast on top. At the first step, the machine mixes the contents, and then eventually the yeast makes contact with the water and oil and kneading takes place.

                                              I was told that when active dry yeast is used, that it should be proofed first, wait five minutes, then add to the machine. Is this correct, and if it is, then I would think this procedure would be recommended - to add the water (minus 1/4 cup used for the water used to proof the yeast) and the oil, and to let the machine go through 30 seconds of mixing, and then dump the proof mixture in. Otherwise, if the proof mixture is on the bottom of the bread pan, the mixing will involve a more sluggish content.

                                              I see the purpose of the beginning of the first step is to mix the ingredients together, and once they are mixed, THEN to have the yeast make content with the water to form the proofing product, not before.

                                              If salt slows down the proofing, then at what point do you place the salt in the bread pan? As I mentioned before, for a bread mix, the sequence for placement is water, oil, bread mix content, then yeast on top.

                                              I made a Hodgson Mills bread mix (Honey Whole Wheat) on the Whole Wheat cycle, which took 4 hours, and it was well worth the wait. The crust was excellent and the bread tasted great, better than the last time I made it on the 3 hour Basic cycle. The extra time to rise helped to form a better crust and a more breadlike texture, although this was quite far from the airy bread sold in stores. It was not exactly cake like, but I'd say a mixture between the store kind of bread and a cake texture.

                                              I also noticed that the 1.5 loaf was half the length of a store bought bread, although at least as heavy if not heavier. The dimensions were 5 inches by 5 inches. My bread machine seems to make square like loaves of bread.

                                              The machine says to not add more than 4 cups of flour.

                                              Next time if I am making the same bread mix loaf, I will add a little more water than was called for (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon), to see if I can get the loaf to rise a little more.

                                              When I first saw the loaf, I thought I had half the content of a store bought loaf, but now I see that because of the heavier and denser consistency, that one slice is at least the equivalent of two slices. I also can't see using this bread as sandwich bread due to its density. It is very good to just slice up, toast or warm up and spread butter on. Very satisfying like eating a piece of cake without the sweetness. I have also lbeen eft with a slight pleasant smell of whole wheat flour having been cooked - the smell has lasted for almost one day now, but alas, now disappeared.

                                              I was told that the bread will last at room temperature for about three days before needing to be put in the refrigerator or freezer, but it may not make it that long on my counter!

                                              1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                Yep, toss those flax seeds in to crack when you're doing the other stuff.

                                                My previous machine was a Breadman. Both the Breadman and the Zo have beeps for add-ins. I don't use them, I just toss my add-ins on top after I have the rest of the ingredients in. I started doing this with the Breadman because I didn't think they were getting mixed in thoroughly when added at the beep. Seemed like a lot of it was riding on the outer layer and not mixed through.

                                                When I put dry add-ins in the bread they stay crunchy just like a commercial loaf. Sometimes I toast the nuts before putting them in just for a little added flavor. I think they stay crunchy because in either case the add-ins don't come in contact with the water until most or all of it has been absorbed by the flour.

                                                Proofing yeast: I use to bloom the yeast when I made bread totally by hand. I don't when using the machine. Can't say I've noticed a difference.

                                                The salt goes in after the liquid and before the flour as per most bread machine instructions. By the time the yeast works it's way into the mix the salt has been mixed and distributed through the other ingredients. That's my guess anyway.

                                                You may have to sometimes add a little more water to a box mix than called for for the same reason you sometimes have to add a little more to a non-box recipe- the amount of humidity in the air affects the flour. I don't use box mixes but I don't see why that wouldn't hold true

                                                This is a personal observation, nothing scientific about it. But I've noticed that the size of a loaf is kinda like the maximum size goldfish will attain depending on the bowl they live in. When I bake a loaf without a pan on a stone it seems to rise bigger than the same loaf will when it is risen in a pan and baked. The loaf in the pan doesn't seem to rise any higher than normal but the loaf freely risen seems to grow somewhat bigger in all directions. Both have the same amount of ingredients. It may be just a visual thing, I don't know. But definitely the shape of your bucket or pan will dictate the shape of your loaf. It's a mold.

                                                Some of my loaves are quite dense. That doesn't preclude them for sandwiches for me, I just slice them thinner or eat open faced sandwiches.

                                                My loaves last up to a week before they go hard and stale. I don't get mold on my homemade bread, it just goes hard. At that point it goes in the freezer for future transformation into something else. Also, I store it in regular plastic grocery bags. Not paper bags, not zip locks, not expensive specialty bread storage bags- I've tried all of them and get the best result from a grocery bag. I also tried the traditional method of storing the loaf cut side down on the kitchen counter with no bag and that worked too. But I don't do that because I've got an active household with pets and I get sort of oogly about the thought of bacteria on the counter no matter how clean I keep it. But it did work.

                                                The aroma of baking bread is the best! Better than any potpourri or aerosol scent. It's an incentive to keep baking a loaf every few days!

                                                1. re: morwen

                                                  Thanks for your thorough reply.

                                                  So, you still put active dry yeast on top of the flour, the same way you would put the fast rise yeast as supplied in the boxed bread mix? And it still works as effectively?

                                                  Your comment about the size of the pan affecting the rising shape makes sense.

                                                  I have stored my 1.5 loaf in a plastic bag from the grocery and it has yet to turn moldy. It is still soft and edible, but I find if I toast it or warm it in the toaster oven, it comes out very fresh. I don't know if I should bake another loaf. I find that once I cut a slice, heat it, spread butter on it, that I have to have another slice. I can see how this habit can get out of control and put on weight!!

                                                  I have a small amount left going into the fourth day for one last serving.

                                                  I started reading a bread machine bread book and never realized what an art bread making is. I read some pages on various kinds of leaveners, like absorbic acid, malt powder, lecithin, and how they contribute to leavening. I would have never guessed how vitamin c affects the pH and how that affects the yeast. It really is a science!! Also read some information pertaining to what you referred to about soaking some of the berries first, toasting some ingredients first, etc. I will have to continue reading and learning before I try some more complicated bread. I didn't see a simple bread recipe in the book, but there is alot of other information that will be useful to read, i.e. how to handle the wheat berries, the role that malted barley plays, and more.

                                                  The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook lists milk in many of the basic bread recipes. I'm used to the boxed bread mix by Hodgson Mills that doesn't include any such dairy. If anything, I'd prefer the dry milk powder if I have to use milk. If I am going to use milk in a recipe, I am going to try rice or almond milk, unless you or anyone else knows for sure that these foods are counterproductive. The Hodgson Mills whole wheat bread came out fine and I'd rather opt out for leaving the milk out for the basic breads. I've had Indian bread (naan) and I think yogurt is used in the dough mixture. I may be wrong about this.

                                                  I think I need to read up more about the art of breadmaking before I start throwing in flours on my own in the bread machine, but I will be looking for very simple recipes first. My plan is to look for a recipe that just uses whole wheat flour, perhaps whole wheat white flour, all purpose flour, as the basic flours. (I have some millet and rye berries and flakes on hand. I may want to add a little bit of them. Do poppy seeds last forever? I noticed that I have had a small amount of them in a small plastic container in them for years. They still smelled like popp seeds. I may want to throw them in as well as a few toasted sesame seeds.).

                                                  The book lists breads made with an egg or two. Does this kind of mixture work ok in a bread machine? The Breadman machine I have says not to add more than four cups of flour, so I think I'd have to be careful not to add too many other ingredients before the overflow and mess happens!

                                                  By the way, on the first night after I made the bread and waited 30 minutes, the crust on the bread was great!! It was crisp and not thick.

                                                  The book says to store whole grain flours in the refrigerator because they tend to have more oil than other flours. I was planning on just pouring the flour out of the bags into glass jars I have and storing them at room temperature. I do have plastic containers, but I thought a glass jar might not leave the "scent" of plastic on the flour. Would you recommend storing the flour in the refrigerator? Wouldn't they accumulate moisture that way?

                                                  (I have stored whole wheat pastry flour, which I was told acts like whole wheat flour but is lighter, in a bag for quite some time and it seems ok. Same with the corn meal, which might also be a good addition to the bread flour!)

                                                  I have seen active dry yeast sold in small jars at supermarkets. Is it recommended to refrigerate that once opened? Previously I had thought of just buying those packets of single serving yeast, that sell for about 50 cents per packet, or 2 1/4 teaspoons. I intend to buy the active dry yeast, not the fast/rapid rise yeast.

                                                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                    Yep, I always put the yeast on top.

                                                    LOL! I had the same problem...it diminishes after awhile when the novelty wears off but never completely goes away.

                                                    Dry milk goes into my everyday breads recipes just because I really like the way it enhances the crumb. Serious milk and egg usage I mostly reserve for special loaves I don't make for everyday, like challah. Same with yogurt although I'm always looking for ways to use yougurt since I make my own.

                                                    Poppy seeds last a long time but as with everything else the quality diminishes over time. Throwing them into your bread is a great way to use them up if you can't bear to toss them. Poppy seeds are in my regular mix of add-in grains.

                                                    Definitely make basic loaves before you start experimenting. That's the only way you'll learn how ingredients behave.

                                                    Any machine bucket will only hold a certain amount of volume. The recipes in the machine handbook are a good guide to how much of any similar ingredient you can include when you start experimenting with your own recipes and inventions.

                                                    I store 5 lbs of whole wheat, all purpose, bread flour and cornmeal at room temp in big plastic jars that were formerly big jugs of pretzels. It works fine for me but I go through it rather quickly. If I buy a bunch of bags when it's on sale, those bags get stored in the freezer until I'm ready to refill a jar.

                                                    My fridge actually dries things out. If yours has a tendency to do that the flour should be fine in there. If you're not sure put it in an airtight container. You might want to do that anyway to keep it from picking up the aroma of that stray onion in there.

                                                    Yes! Refrigerate all your yeast even if it's in a vacuum sealed foil packet. But don't, I implore you, buy it in that form, jar or packet. Order it online. You'll get a full pound of yeast including the cost of shipping for the same or less than what you'd spend on a jar or packets from the grocery store. AND, it'll be fresher. Once you get it pour some in a little jar and store it in your fridge. Seal the rest tightly and put it in your freezer. I go through a pound in a year but it will keep longer than a year in the freezer.

                                                    This is where I get it and some of the more specialized flours:
                                                    http://www.kingarthurflour.com/

                                                    and this is the yeast I use:
                                                    http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/d...

                                                    1. re: morwen

                                                      I confess for some things they offer that I feel are overpriced I look at the description of ingredients and then concoct my own at home. For example, their herbal salts, some of their bread add-ins, etc. Their hard copy catalog descriptions of products can be quite elaborate.

                                                      1. re: morwen

                                                        Thanks for all the advice.

                                                        Do you buy the Red Star, SAF, or Fleischman product?

                                                        No shipping cost? In the market, I saw 4 oz. bottles of yeast being sold at prices ranging from $4.99 to $6.99. The KA website link lists a ONE POUND amount at the same price!! According to the King Arthur website, the shipping charge for the 1 lb. Red Star Yeast is about $6.50. Does some other source ship it without the charge? (supposedly, not the KA site!) Even with the shipping charge, the cost for a 1lb. bottle is less costly than buying a 4 oz. bottle at the supermarket.

                                                        Today's research got me more confused. I made several calls and learned that the varieties of yeast can take the labeling form of "active dry", "rapid rise", "fast rise", and "instant." Geez.

                                                        One company recommends active dry yeast even for bread machine bread from one's own mix. "Rapid rise" and "fast rise" is recommended for the boxed bread mixes. I was also told that instant is recommended for boxed bread mixes and even one's own mixes with the belief that the yeast of this kind consists of smaller particles and has a less yeasty taste.

                                                        The company that recommended the active dry yeast (and the packet of yeast actually says that it is ideal for whole wheat grains) recommended proofing the yeast first, then adding it right into the bread pan. From what I read of your posts, it is alright to just sprinkle the active dry yeast on top of the flour put into the bread pan?

                                                        I did find a simple recipe for whole wheat bread on the King Arthur website. I bought the White Whole Wheat Flour (the organic version has the same number of grams of fiber as the whole wheat version). There are few ingredients, so I will make this my first experiment when I go ahead and do the homemade mix version. The store I finished shopping at only had the KA White Whole Wheat Flour version in the 2 lb size, and for a 1.5 pound bread, this size will work.

                                                        Good idea of using pretzel containers for flour! I have a very large plastic container (10 inches high, 7 inches wide at its base), that previously held rice. The inside has a slight pleasant aroma of basmati rice. I'd rather store flour in glass, but I have only smaller sized glass containers, save for one. Have you found that the flour takes on a plastic flavor?

                                                        I was surprised to read that you store bags of flour in your refrigerator! I thought most foods in the refrigerator take on to some degree the smells of other nearby items. I have grapefruit, apples, celery, onions, etc. in my fridge. I know they release gases to some degree. I don't think exposing the flour (through the pores in the paper bag containers) to these gases would be so great!!

                                                        Thanks for the tip on storing yeast in the freezer. I would have never guessed that it could be stored there! If I ever get to the point of making more bread in larger quantities and find myself going through larger amounts of yeast, I will definitely consider buying online (assuming as you say there is no shipping charge).

                                                        For the time being, I now have some flour on hand, and as a backup, bought two more boxed mixes of Hodgson Mills 9 Grain Bread and the Honey Whole Wheat, for the times I don't have the necessary ingredients on hand. It will take me time to educate myself on what to do with additional items. (The 9 grain bread has alot of interesting extra ingredients in it.)

                                                        At this point, I think I am most focused on what is the best yeast to use, and at what sequence they should be added in the bread machine, and if proofing can be avoided. (King Arthur recommended the SAF instant yeast, which is also the ingredient listed in the bread recipe I intend to do. Fleischmann insisted that instant yeast was the most desired, and Hodgson Mills insisted that active dry yeast was better and that it needed to be proofed when used in a bread machine. It seems like your experiience is different. Salton, the maker of the Breadman machine, said that rapid rise should not be used, that fast rise that comes with the boxed bread mixes is adequate.)

                                                        Would you think that the Hodgson Mills active dry yeast will work adequately for the KA recipe for "100% Whole Wheat Bread?" The yeast package says, "For all flours, escpecially WHOLE GRAIN!". It also says, "25% more free for higher loaves." I noticed that the KA bread recipe calls for a bread machine setting of "basic white." There is a significant time difference on the bread machine for basic white and whole wheat in terms of resting and rising times. I found that by using the Whole Wheat setting which does a four hour cook vs. the basic bread setting which is 3 hours, the bread came out less cakelike and more breadlike, much better result. The Whole Wheat rapid setting cooks for 3 hours 20 minutes. Even though White Whole Wheat is a lighter consistency than traditional whole wheat flour, wouldn't you think, given the same fiber content, that the recipe instruction for a basic white setting would be less satisfactory than a longer cooking time? I would think that the setting for a Whole Wheat rapid program might do the job.

                                                        It's all so complicated, with each variable in breadmaking needing to be addressed. One wrong move, and the final product's quality suffers!!

                                                        PS ... Just discovered the baking tips section and other teaching sections of the KA website and find them very helpful. Like a crash course in bread baking! Its tips say that additions like nuts, seeds, and fruit should be added at the end of the second kneading cycle, about three minutes before the first rise cycle so that the additions don't get shredded. Interesting discussion regarding the relation of yeast to gluten, acidity, and sugar. (It seems like my Breadman TR560 model does not allow me to "pause" the cooking cycle, so I'd have to improvise with pulling the dough out, if needed, if the additions are not kneaded in properly, but it seems like adding it towards the end might work. I had assumed there was a "pause" option, but according to the manual, pressing "stop" is done only to reset the baking setting and timer, not to pause the baking action for manual intervention.)

                                                        1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                          lol! I think you're way over thinking this whole process!

                                                          I buy Red Star, pictured in the link I sent you. A 4oz jar of yeast in my grocery is $6.99. That's $27.99 for a lb. Shipping has obviously gone up since my last order but even so $11.95 for a lb is still less than half the cost of buying the equivalent weight from the store in individual bottles. I did not say there was no shipping charge. I said my last pound was the same price as a 4 oz jar, *including* shipping.

                                                          As far as proofing goes, both the breadman manual and the zo manual, at least the ones for my machines, direct that the yeast should be added in a small well made on top of the flour. Really, read your manual and follow the way it tells you to add ingredients. Some machines are different.

                                                          Same with settings, if I'm making ww, I'll use the ww setting. If I'm making white I use the basic setting. But actually now all I use is the dough setting.

                                                          Yep, there are a lot of yeasts out there. Look into wine yeast and it'll make your head spin. I just use active dry and it works just fine. And yes, again, I put it in on top of the flour.

                                                          Can't say I notice any plastic smell from my containers but I've been using the same containers for years now. If you prefer glass ask a local resto if they can give you a couple of gallon glass jars if they have them.

                                                          I don't store my flour in the fridge. I store it in my deep freeze. I suggested if you store it in the fridge you put it in airtight containers to keep out fridge smells.

                                                          I've put my add-ins in at the beep, my last breadman had a little compartment that dropped them in when it thought it was appropriate, I've added them at the second rise (just lift the lid and throw them in whether the machine is kneading or not). What is simplest and works best for me is to just toss them in on top of the other ingredients at the beginning of the whole process. I've never noticed that they got "shredded".

                                                          Breadmaking isn't complicated whether you do it by hand or in a machine. It's only as complicated as you want it to be. Relax! Even if you turn out the occasional brick (and you will no matter how good you get) it can still be turned into crumbs or croutons or bread pudding or at the very least bird food.

                                                          Seriously, each variable does not need to be addressed. Just get comfortable with a few different kinds of loaves and progress from there. Trust me, grandmas world over for centuries knew nothing about gluten strands and gases and technicalities and turned out perfectly fine loaves. Breadmaking is an enjoyable, soul and sense satisfying process. Our advantage is we've got machines to do the heavy labor!

                                                          1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                            I have a Breadman too, and have had great luck just with modifying the basic white bread recipe, on the white bread setting.

                                                            I think for the 1 1/2lb loaf it's something like 3 cups of flour. My general rule is 1 cup white bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup mixed flours/meals (flaxseed meal, cornmeal, rye flour, oat bran.....). I add everything to the pan as usual, and bake with a dark crust. The only thing that I really do differently is keep an eye on the mixture when the kneading starts - if it looks a little dry (like the machine is having issues getting it all together) I just drizzle in a little more warm water. Every time I get a tasty, moist loaf with a crispy crust.

                                                            It's worth a shot to experiment... I have yet to have a failure doing it this way... but I think the key is to keep a good cup or so of white bread flour in there to balance all the grainy goodness.

                                                              1. re: missfunkysoul

                                                                Thanks for your encouragement!

                                                                Hodgson Mills told me that instant yeast is preferable for bread machines in that you don't have to proof it, bu that active dry yeast can also be used.

                                                                King Arthur is known for making all purpose flour that supposedly works better for bread machines than other brands for that kind of flour. I've noticed that gluten is included in the bread flour.

                                                                In the recipe description posted by missfunkysoul, although ww flour is included for 1/3 of the flour ingredients, no gluten is included in the recipe.

                                                                My understanding is that if bread flour alone, or white flour is used, extra gluten need not be used. It's importance is relevant to the higher protein content of whole wheat flour.

                                                                Hodgson Mills has an interesting flour that is a 50/50 blend of ww flour and white flour. I like its and King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour which supposedly is lighter, more similar to white flour, while still retaining the nutrient and fiber nature of ww flour.

                                                                The dark crust setting on my bread machine is relevant for white flour breads, not for the ww flour breads. The ww flour setting allows for a longer rise, and according to the KA website, I think it was there that I read it (?), that one should opt for a longer rise, if possible, than a shorter one for such breads.

                                                                1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                                  Felafelboy, please bake the bread. We're dying with laughter with every post, wondering the next question is going to be. It's not that complicated to get decent bread, but it takes a long time and lots of loaves to get professional results. So bake already. Give it away if you have to. And don't forget to write about your results.

                                                                  1. re: Leucadian

                                                                    I'm slowly psyching myself up for the big project. My warm up exercise this evening was corn bread, thanks to ArrowHead Mills Corn Bread and Muffin Mix. (no yeast was involved in this product!!!) It came out ok except for the bottom which sort of burned on the bottom of the glass baking dish it was in, but the rest of it was ok, better tasting with Earth Balance buttery spread on the bread. No milk was added to the batter, just water, eggs, honey, and canola oil, since the ingredients already contained buttermilk. Next time, I will add poppy seeds to liven up this rather dry mix.

                                                                    I still have some of that boxed Honey Whole Wheat bread mix bread in my refrigerator. It's holding up well, and still tastes good after a heating in the toaster oven. A little loaf that weighs 24 oz. goes a long way.

                                                                    My next warm up exercise may involve doing the Hodgson Mills 9 Grain boxed bread mix, a more complicated mixture than the Honey Whole Wheat.. Then ... if the planets are in alignment, and my psychic advisor gives the go-ahead, I will put the "do not disturb sign" not only outside my apt., but also outside the building, and the entrance to this place, and begin my experiment. I promise I will post my results here before they appear in Science Magazine.

                                                                    1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                                      If you want to make better bread, stop using mixes. Make a classic 4 ingredient bread (flour, water, salt, yeast), and keep making it till you like it. Don't complicate it with anything else like additional ingredients or sourdough or retarding. Keep all the ingredients the same, just change the ratios. Find out what temperature and hydration do, what kneading does, what scoring does. THEN move to one thing that interests you, like sourdough, or whole wheat, or enrichments. Naturally you'll have more bread than you can eat and some that you don't even like. But surprisingly, other people will think it's great, and it really doesn't cost that much if you start out with an 25 lb bag of inexpensive supermarket flour, particularly in comparison to mixes.

                                                                      Bake and bake and bake. Don't expect to hit a home run the first time. It takes practice. The problem with mixes is that you don't know what is in it (proportions or quality) so you can't extrapolate your experience to other baking. Read as much as you can, and talk to people, but keep your experiments simple at first. When you look at a bread book, find the simplest recipe in the book (again, a 4 ingredient bread) and compare it to the formula you have been using, based on baker's percentages, rise time, manipulations.

                                                                      Good luck with your baking.

                                                                      1. re: Leucadian

                                                                        Just made the White Whole Wheat Flour bread, based on the King Flour website recipe.

                                                                        Unlike the Hodgson Mills Honey Whole Wheat bread mix bread which came out with specs of 5 inches by 5 inches, this came out to be 4 by 5 inches.

                                                                        I did risk using active dry yeast with an expiration date of 2006. I did so, because when I proofed it, it did show life. I had never proofed before, so I wasn't sure if what I was looking at was what showed adequate signs of life. The package said, "bubbles should form within 5 minutes of the yeast being added to warm water and sugar." To warm water, I added Florida sugar crystals (relatively unrefined sugar). I waited one minute and saw only two or three bubbles. In the next minutes I saw a few more, I took my eyes away from the mixing bowl, and in the next minute, what I saw was like a flower opening up to the sunshine. Within less than a second, a cloud of substance just went "poof" over the water and spread out to the sides of the mixing bowl. I assumed that was what was referred to as "showing signs of life." I waited a few more minutes for anything else to occur.

                                                                        To my bread pan I added the cup of water, salt, raw honey for the sweetener, and the flour and vital wheat gluten (I added the flour through a sifting basket - I wasn't sure if sifting the flour was needed - the bread machine manual says to let the flour rest for a few minutes in the bread pan before starting the operation), and then started the machine. After about 10 seconds, I poured the proofing mixture into the bread pan and saw the flour mixture begin to take shape. Then I remembered that I had forgotten to add the oil that I had taken out!!! I quickly poured what I thought was the called for amount, and it looked like the oil was getting incorporated into the dough mixture.

                                                                        During the process, it didn't look like the dough was rising to the extent I thought it should. The Hodgson Mills bread looked like it had risen higher. (The final product, in fact, measured about 20% less high, than the boxed bread mix for a similar whole grain bread.) Just prior to the end of the second kneading, I added a small amount of toasted sesame seeds and poppy seeds.

                                                                        When I took out the bread from the bread pan, it looked and smelled ok, just a bit smaller. The crust on top had also split somewhat. I remember some advice saying that freshly baked bread, when tapped, should sound hollow. This sound on this bread sounded of similar hollowness as the sound from the Hodgson Mills bread.

                                                                        The taste of the bread was decent. Its texture looked like something I associate with "quick bread." I'd say most of the grain looked like yeasted bread, but part of it looked more cake like in that the surface was more compact.

                                                                        The bread tasted moist, not much taste of salt, sesame seeds or poppy seeds, and just a mild sweet taste.

                                                                        Because I forgot to measure exactly the amount of oil, and that I poured a small amount into the breadpan after the kneading started (by about 30 seconds), I wasn't sure if the failure for the bread to rise as much as I expected (along with the texture of part of the bread being more cakelike) was due to the possible excess oil (2 tablespoons were called for - I used Canola Oil) or to the potential weakness of the active dry yeast due to its age to rise the dough mixture adequately. (The proofing mixture was not that bubbly - all I saw was a small amount of water go from a look of water and small yeast particles to a small "mushroom cloud" of gray that extended to the sides of the bowl instantly - I thought that was signs enough of life.)

                                                                        My next loaf from the remainder of the organic white whole flour will be made with a fresher package of yeast.

                                                                        (By the way, I used 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast. I was told that 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant yeast is the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast.)

                                                                        Good thing I didn't add too much else to this mixture, as was suggested to not do, so as to be better able to isolate variables that may have contributed to a less than perfect loaf.

                                                                        This loaf is still good to eat, just that each slice is more moist than it should be. So moist, that butter is barely needed!

                                                                        I do like the delicate taste of the white whole wheat flour - I was surprised that the bread still came out with a whole wheat flour color, that is, brown.

                                                                        (when I get this act down, I may experiment with brown rice syrup, or raw sugar to replace honey, to see of any difference)

                                                                        1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                                          Good. I think even the KA recipe has too many ingredients in it to be a useful learning tool. The Hodson's HWW mix looks like it's not 100% WW, so I expect it would have a higher loft than the KA WW, even with the gluten. Try a 4 ingredient bread with half and half bread flour and whole wheat, and see how that goes. Look at the Tassajara Bread book or Peter Reinhart Whole grain bread book, and use the very simplest recipe. Good luck.

                                                                          1. re: Leucadian

                                                                            FelafelBoy, Leucadian is giving you excellent advice. I wouldn't use a bread machine. I prefer to mix by hand or even in a food processor and not have another appliance to clutter a counter. But if a machine is what works for you, go for it. So much has been published on whole grain breads lately. Reinhart has a really good book on it (as Leucadian mentioned) and there is a good book on the subject from King Arthur flours. But Reinhart's signature whole grain loaf is his "struan" bread, that appears in many of his books. You can probably find it on line. I'm not partial to bread with lots of different grains in it. I like a good sourdough loaf or a loaf with the addition of maybe 1/4 corn meal or oatmeal to the total. But whatever your taste, skip the mixes and the tiny packages of yeast. Get some good flour (and unbleached Gold Medal all purpose is good enough) and make a few loaves. The process will teach you. And even "hockey puck" loaves will be something you'll laugh about later. In the end, you'll find it is as easy as making good scrambled eggs or omelets. Not even nearly as difficult as a souffle, and that's pretty easy too.

                                                                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                              I have read this with interest, and hope it is OK to add a slightly different perspective. I used to love using my bread machine - went through two of them, and then took my sister's advice and started making my bread the REALLY easy way - using my KA stand mixer. Every bit as easy as the machine - the mixer does the kneading for you, and you have more options as to shaping the loaf, adding ingredients, etc. I make all my own bread, and it is really easy....

                                                                              1. re: MexicoKaren

                                                                                For convenience, and as a way of introducing novice bakers to the joy of baking, I think the bread machine serves a useful purpose.

                                                                                It's sort of like a training wheel device to get one started in larger more hands on projects.

                                                                                Leucadian suggested a half and half bread flour and ww flour mix. Since bread flour would be a part of this mix, would vital wheat gluten be needed for the ww flour and if so, I'd imagine the amount needed would be half the normal amount.

                                                                                I did give a piece of my bread to a friend. She thought the bread was good. I had it wrapped in plastic wrap, and the smell through the wrap was inviting. I told her the ingredients, and unlike store bought bread, I could tell her everything within about ten seconds!

                                                                                In time, I will graduate from just using the bread machine for the dough cycle only, then move the mixture into the oven for cooking, and then later on, do other more advanced things.

                                                                                One thing at a time!!

                                                                                By the way, Trader Joe's sells individual packets of yeast really cheap. Much less expensive than all the other stores I have seen. They even carry the bfrand that KA recommends, SAF instant.

                                                                                It was explained to be that proofing of active dry yeast is helpful because that yeast is processed at a higher temperature than instant/fast rise yeast, so there are more dead cells that cover the live cells, and proofing creates a more efficient way for the yeast mixture to mix in with the flour mixture. I think I paraphrased that right. I had asked why proofing was recommended vs. just putting the active dry yeast on top of the flour mixture like fast rise yeast is placed. Boxed bread machine bread mixes use the instant and/or fast rise yeast and not the active dry yeast, so I figured that there had to be some scientific rationale for that choice by the manufactures.

                                                                                I am still trying to understand for hand made bread, why active dry yeast is preferred over the instant and/or fast rise yeast. I assume it is used because all ingredients are incorporated and mixed together moreso at the same time vs. that of the bread machine.

                                                                                And regarding the comment about the preference for using fewer ingredients. Maybe I am misunderstanding the reasoning. For a learning process, I can understand the need to start out with fewer items vs. a hodge podge of everything uder the sun. But for nutrients, I can appreciate some of these breadmakers including all kinds of ingredients to make sure that more bases are covered as far as vitamins and minerals go.

                                                                                1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                                                  The honey and milk in bread serve to soften and tenderize the crumb, sweeten the bread, and make the crust brown more. This makes it better for pastries and sandwiches. They are not there for nutrients; white flour gets enriched with vitamins, but WW doesn't need it because it's a whole grain flour. The 50/50 bread that I recommended above has enough strength to need no additional gluten, particularly if you use bread flour for the white flour portion.

                                                                                  You might be interested in reading about the effects of the various enrichments (milk, fat, sugar, etc.) in some of the bread books. My introduction to them was in the Tassajara Bread Book, which I mentioned above, but it's not too difficult to find other books in the library with the same information. But you don't need them to make excellent bread.

                                                                                  Finally, I now recommend that you abandon your bread maker altogether, give up the quest to duplicate a factory bread, and make a 4 ingredient bread with the direct method (add instant yeast at the time of mixing). Wax on, wax off. You will find peace.

                                                                                  1. re: Leucadian

                                                                                    I agree on making by hand. When I'm busy, I use my bread maker to make the dough but there is a zen appeal to kneading dough and feeling when it's right. I don't get that with a bread maker or my stand mixer. I prefer the no knead bread to the bread maker or stand mixer bread.

                                                                                    1. re: Leucadian

                                                                                      Funny! I also enjoyed very much the film "The Karate Kid" from which your bromide comes from, and found much gentle wisdom in the film. (I think Daniel's realization that his previously perceived wasted efforts of plebian labor were in service to awakening his higher consciousness and development of martial arts skills, is one of the most interesting moments in film history, for its genre!)

                                                                                      Your comments on the purpose of milk and honey were interesting. I was thinking of some of the ingredients in Trader Joe's multigrain bread, or Ezekial bread, where in addition to the normal whole grain flour, they also include millet, flax seeds, and sprouted whole grains. I recall reading that people of the Biblical period lived long lives, and did so without popping vitamins. The simple foods they ate were probably much richer in nutrients than the food that is grown today, but as you suggested, eating bread with at least some whole grain, does supply valuable nutrients.

                                                                                      I googled Tassajara bread and found some recipes for that bread, but I don't think it's what you are referring to. This website (chowhound) is very useful for getting advice based on personal experience. I was referred to another website for bakers which amazed me in its depth. It will require much more time to even touch the surface of its knowledge base. You may have already found it - baking911.com.

                                                                                      In time, and with time, I will no doubt use means other than the bread machine to make bread. I have very limited counter space in my kitchen, and using it to knead dough in the manner of a pro is going to require some creativity. For now, it's fun to watch the bread machine do its thing, and to learn the basic steps and elements of baking bread.

                                                                                      I'm surprised how long the baked bread is lasting stored outside the refrigerator without turning stale. I took someone's advice on this board and am storing it in a sealed plastic bag. The most recent bread I made is still very moist and I really do like the delicate flavor of the white whole wheat flour. Everything about it looks like normal whole wheat flour but it just tastes lighter even though it has almost identical fiber content.

                                                                                      1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                                                        Good luck with your baking. Thanks for the link; I'll check it out.

                                                                                  2. re: MexicoKaren

                                                                                    MexicoKaren, would you post your Pollo con Salsa Rojo recipe that you mention on your bio? A new thread of course.

                                    2. A friend gave me some of the old bread machine books (they are the small wide paperback books) that come in a four part series, I think. Author is Donna German.

                                      Many of the bread recipes call for dry milk powder. The post by Leucadian refers to its tenderizing purpose and helping crust formation. I try to limit my dairy intake to yogurt, ice cream, butter, and a small amount of cheese. I prefer to substitute rice, almond, and soy milk for dairy milk.

                                      Anyone substitute any of these milks in place of dairy milk in their bread recipes? I prefer rice milk over the others, with almond milk second, then soy. I find that rice milk has the most neutral flavor working the best in a pancake recipe, although almond milk with vanilla adds a really nice flavor to the pancake batter mix.

                                      I understand that the dry milk powder is substituted 1 : 1 for liquid milk when combined with water. If I just leave out the dry milk powder (or its substitute), I assume I would just add the equivalency in water and find perhaps a less moist bread. (In many store brand breads I see the inclusion of some kind of dairy ingredient, although some breads leave it out entirely. I don't miss it. In the King Arthur recipe for the White Whole Wheat bread, the result was moist. It seemed that the canola oil and honey may have contributed to the moistness.)

                                      In future breads, I will most likely continue to use canola oil instead of butter that most of the German authored bread recipe books call for. I assume 1 T of butter can be substituted with 1 T of oil.

                                      17 Replies
                                      1. re: FelafelBoy

                                        To me its a huge waste of energy to heat my big oven for 30 minutes to heat a baking stone and then bake just one loaf of bread. It seems really wasteful. The breadmaker uses a small fraction of the energy just to heat the outside of the bread pan.

                                        I use my toaster oven for baking most small items and the microwave whenever I can to heat food.

                                        1. re: Rhee

                                          I've never actually seen energy figures, but I would be inclined to agree that baking one loaf is not the way to go with a large oven. So why not bake several loaves, especially if they are made with sourdough or pre-ferments and have a good shelf life? And even quick-to-stale loaves made by the direct method can be frozen. To me, though, it is equally wasteful to spend a lot of money on an appliance when everything it does can already be done as well or better by your hands and an oven or using a stand mixer or food processor and your oven. I do agree that bread machines have an advantage in providing bread on schedule because of timed cycles. You can set it the night before and wake up to bread baking. But, from my viewpoint, the quality of the bread made the more traditional way outweighs the expense of buying a bread machine.

                                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                                            Hadn't thought that ecology and energy conservation would come into play on this thread! I use my toaster oven for baking some fish instead of my large oven for that reason - for small amounts, I view using a smaller appliance a more efficient use of energy. I splurge on pizza, though. My toaster oven just doesn't get hot enough to create the kind of crust on the dough that I get from heating up frozen (yes!) pizza slices.

                                            And as far as spending additional money for such smaller appliances, I normally don't! I live in a place where people abandon perfectly still usable appliances in pursuit of upgrading. I recycle them by using them! That goes for the bread machine. My neighbor may have switched to a no or low carbohydrate diet or maybe bought a stand mixer or a food processor and graduated from the bread mixer. Ditto with a juicer I got. I just hate to see things go to waste!! (The sight of these things reminded me that sometimes people buy things thinking they will use them and find after a few uses they are better stored away in the closet or thrown away.)

                                            Any advice on the questions I posed in my last post regarding the conversion factor for dry milk powder and the butter/oil ratio? I assume it's 1 to 1 for each, that is one cup of liquid be it rice milk or dry milk powder and 1 T of butter or ! T of oil. (I may experiment with cutting back on the honey, or adding some Florida sugar crystals or brown rice syrup and adjusting the water amount accordingly. The last bread I made was a bit too sweet for me as far as bread goes - for cake it was fine!!)

                                            1. re: FelafelBoy

                                              That recycling idea sounds great. I got our first food processor in the nineties at a thrift store for only a few bucks.
                                              About substitutions. I've never baked with milk substitutes, so I can't answer that. As for dry milk or buttermilk solids, you don't need to premix them with the water. Just mix them with the flour. I haven't got my notes at hand, but my recollection is that I used only 1/4 cup of dry milk solids to about three cups of flour and got good results. Check recipes on line to be sure. Also, I measure oil or butter with the liquid. The main thing is experiment and take notes. Probably everything you do will produce an edible loaf. But gradually, you'll get your perfect loaf. As a rule of thumb, in most breads the weight of the liquid is between 5/8 and 2/3 the weight of the flour. It can go higher for some Italian style loaves. It will go a bit higher if you use whole grain flours (the bran absorbs water). And in brioche doughs the lipid content can be much higher. Sugars are tricky. Unless you use osmotolerant yeast, sucrose works against you. It absorbs so much water that it interferes with yeast metabolism. Barley sugar or syrup contains maltose, which the yeast lap up. Honey works well too. Another trick is to add a tablespoonful of rye flour per cup of wheat flour. Rye contains more amylase, so it will crack more of the starches in the flour and free the maltose, especially if you let it rest for about an hour after the initial mix before you begin to knead it.
                                              If you can, take a look at Reinhart's book on whole grain breads. You should be able to find it in the library. If you plan on baking a lot of whole grain breads, it is the one to get. Having a pro who has already been there and done that can save you a lot of work. Happy Baking!

                                              1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                What a difference using fresh yeast makes.

                                                I repeated the recipe I did before (the King Arthur White Whole Wheat Bread mix) with what I thought was still live dry active yeast. When I proofed my fresh package of the same brand of dry active yeast (with the same amount of Florida sugar crystals and water temperature), I noticed immediately a difference - there were more bubbles and instead of going from a brown/gray bath of a few bubbles going "poof" into a mushroom cloud of froth, this mixture went from bubbles to frothiness that got seemed to froth higher, as well as smelling like the alcohol I associate from the smell of beer.

                                                I decided to use only half the amount of honey the recipe called for (since the last batch tasted too sweet to me, more appropriate for cake than bread), got all the ingredients in in the right order this time, and let the flour mix be mixed into the liquid ingredients by the bread machine for about 15 seconds, and then poured the frothy proofed yeast into the mix. I could see that within a short time, the flour was looking like it was reacting with the yeast differently than last time. ( I also added just a small amount more of vital wheat gluten this time, as well as more water to make up for the decreased amount of honey called for in the recipe.)

                                                As the kneading was progressing, it looked like the mix was producing a different result than before. But, excess batter was being left on the bottom of the pan during the kneading, and a ball shape was not being maintained with all the flour. I thought, "this is the advantage of kneading by hand" where you can have better hands on control over what's transpiring. As the problem section of the machine manual suggested, I added more flour in small amounts, and after repeating this during the first AND second kneading, I finally got closer to a ball shape being maintained with little flour left on the bottom of the pan.

                                                When the second kneading step was completed, the mixture was not shaped in a perfect ball shape; there was still some batter left on the bottom of the pan, a little separated from the bulk of the batter. I tried to nudge it back into the main batter.

                                                I did add alot more sesame and poppy seeds this time.,

                                                During the first rise, I could see that this bread was definitely going to be a winner! And during the second rise, I wondered if the bread was going to burst through the container's height! The rise did stop at the maximum height. The measurement of the bread was dramatically different than before - this time it was 5 '" by 7 1/4"" - quite different from the previous 4" by 5".

                                                The bread texture was less dense than before and had the right amount of sweetness to it (just a hint of sweetness - I'll never go back to the overly sweet version that the recipe called for with 1/4 cup of honey). I used the 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt, but the bread tasted like it needed more salt. Although the sesame seeds and poppy seeds were scattered throughout the bread, I was unaware of their taste. Maybe if I toast the bread, their taste will come out.

                                                So, I can say, that this attempt was a success, and that the bread turned out in the exact size I imagine the bread machine is to make (in fact, the size was more like what a 2 lb loaf is probably supposed to look like). I started with a recipe for a 1 1/2 pound loaf, but with the addition of the extra white whole wheat flour, and I may have added close to another 1/2 cup, the bread may have turned out to be something closer to a 2 lb. loaf. All I know is, that with that final rise and bake, there was no additional room for the bread to expand inside the bread machine.

                                                It will be interesting to see what happens when I use the SAF instant (fast rise, not rapid rise) yeast, also known as "perfect yeast" or "bread machine yeast" instead of the dry active yeast, to see its effect on the texture and composition of the bread.

                                                Father Kitchen - you mentioned the effect of rye flour in that it will crack more of the starches in the flour and free the maltose. Is my understanding of your statement, to mean that if rye flour is used, one should cut down on the normal amount of sugar used due to this reaction?

                                                1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                  FelafelBoy, It sounds like you are learning fast. If you use rye flour, do you cut down on the normal amount of sugar? Except for intentionally sweet loaves, I generally don't use sugar in my bread. The addition of the rye (or a pinch of diastatic malt powder per cup of flour) to whole wheat flour increases enzyme activity, which is helpful since I usually mill my own whole wheat flour. Commercially-milled flour usually has diastatic barley malt or aspergillum added to it. Without something to increase the enzyme activity in home milled wheat flour, there is not so much maltose in the dough for the yeast to feed on. Adding the rye does not make for a sweet loaf because the yeast consumes that maltose. So if you want a sweetened loaf, continue to use your sweetener. When I bake a whole-wheat and oats bread with honey, I use a small amount of oil and honey and the rye. By the way, in proofing yeast, you don't have to add sugar. The yeast can't do anything with sucrose. The purpose of proofing active dry yeast is mainly to hydrate it. That said, I have used new packages of Fleischman's yeast from a grocery store and found them dead. But I've done quite well with large vacuum sealed packages from Costco or other wholesale grocers. I suspect that the small packages were subjected to heat at some time in transit, since their expiration dates were still a long way away. So I don't trust those small packages and I don't want to pay their price or even the high price of the yeast in jars. The vacuum-packed "bricks" are actually much cheaper. And when you buy a large amount of instant yeast. You don't have to proof it. If it works the first time, I will continue to be good as long as keep in stored in the fridge or freezer. Though the theoretical shelf life is two years in the freezer, I read about one woman who kept hers for the thirteen years it took to use it all up.

                                                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                    I've decided I'm going to start buying yeast in bulk. I'm using enough of it and think that will be cheaper. What about those vacuum packs? How big are they? A life-time supply? And once you break the seal, is the yeast "loose"? Do you just store it loose then?

                                                    1. re: karykat

                                                      Father Kitchen - you seem to be the Shirley Corriher (that woman who has written books about cooking from a chemist's point of view) of the bread baking world. It is an education reading your posts!

                                                      I realized that one reason my bread rose so much (to the point of looking like a 2 lb loaf vs. that of a 1.5 lb loaf which is what the recipe called for), was because I probably added to much yeast. (I converted the 1 1/2 t of instant yeast called for in the recipe to a little more than 2 t of dry active yeast.) The package DID call for adding 1/4 t of sugar to the warm water to proof the yeast. (You said in your post that sugar was not needed.

                                                      According to my limited understanding, the yeast needs sugar to feed on.) I did notice that the proofed mixture looked pretty bubbly, and when I added it to the flour mixture, the result was more sudsy, which caused me to have to keep on adding more flour to get to a mixture that was less batter-like. When I reached the end of the second kneading, the dough mixture was more ball-like in shape, but was not as firm as my other batches, including the boxed bread mix, which of course, was more fool-proof.

                                                      So, when this bread went through its rising cycles, then its final baking stage, the loaf was almost right up to the top of the window. When I took the bread out after completion, it felt more sponge-like than I thought it should have. In fact, its texture was a cross between the previous harder more cake-like texture of the almost dead yeast made bread, and sponge cake! I need to find a happy medium!!

                                                      Next time, I will use the instant dry yeast, and King Arthur did recommend SAF brand. It is cheap at Trader Joe's - 33 cents per package. For a beginner like me who is just experimenting, I prefer to only buy a small amount as I am still only baking infrequently. It takes me at least one week to go through one loaf.

                                                      I mentioned Fleishman's because I see it is sold in the market in a small bottle and is labeled as "bread yeast". Fleishman's told me it is basically fast rise yeast (not rapid rise). It is more expensive than buying online from KA even with shipping. Until I am ready to jump into this on a larger and more frequent scale, I will just be buying smaller quantities.

                                                      For a bread machine, it seems that instant yeast is easier to work with. The KA rep told me that dry active yeast is the more tradtional kind, but that instant yeast has been made to work just as well, and is more convenient to use.

                                                      The recipe I used did call for 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey, I think, and the first time I made it with that amount, the bread tasted almost like cake in its sweetness. I realized that the bread that I have bought from Trader Joe's that wasn't high in sugar tasted fine and didn't have that sweet taste. That's why I cut down in the honey used, and it was fine. I also had added 1/4 t of Florda sugar crystals to the yeast, so there was already a fair amount of sugar in the mixture.

                                                      Most store bought bread always has sugar added to it. One variety of Arnold, it may even be the "Health Nut" bread, is REALLY sweet. I guess that some people like sweeter tasting bread. The only sweet bread I have had that I prefer sweet is Challah (egg bread) and cinnamon-raisin bread.

                                                      My friend gave me the four series of bread machine books by an author whose last name is German, and I think almost everyone of her recipes calls for sugar.

                                                      If you leave out a liquid form of the sugar called for in the recipe, such as honey, should you decrease the amount of water called for in the recipe by the same amount? What about a dried form of sweetener such as sugar?

                                                      Come to think of it, one bread, if I ever get around to making it, that may need a sweetener, is pumpernickel bread. The book I referred to calls for "bean flakes." I guess that is the recipes choice to replace cocoa powder.

                                                      Getting back to my bread ... one way I have found to compensate for the spongy texture (and it does taste yeastier than the previous version) is to toast it. It seems to reduced the sponginess and yeasty taste somewhat.

                                                      Perhaps some packets of yeast are processed in a way that leads to them going dead before their expiration dates. It may also be due to storage, quality of yeast, and type. Hodgson Mills is known as a good brand, and there must be a good reason why KA is so adamant on recommending SAF as a good brand of yeast to buy. I have only seen the packets sold at Trader Joe's. Every supermarket I have been to (four of the largest in my area) do not carry that brand. I am not a member of Costco. I've heard that its packaging of food products is not ideal for a single person who doesn't consume that much food. Otherwise, I'd join. They have excellent bake good products, like carrot cake!! (I'd guess that their breads are probably good, too, which would put my bread machine out of business!)

                                                      I was just thinking about the fresh breads made at places like Whole Foods. Are their breads so crusts so crispy and the interior so fresh-like because of the quality of the ovens, or the flour used? I couldn't imagine coming close to the breads they make their. (I am unwilling to spend $4/loaf or whatever those loaves cost given my preference and usage of such a product.)

                                                      As winter is coming to a close, I did enjoy having the homemade bread with the pressure cooked bean soup I made. Homemade soup and bread is a classic combination! (Yeah, the pressure cooker is the other piece of cooking equipment I am learning to use. If I had to know how to make one dish well, it would be soup!! It's so satisfying!! and healthy, too.)

                                                      1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                        FelafelBoy, your post this morning is awfully long, and I may miss something in my reply. Maybe I should number some of the points.
                                                        1) The scientific stuff I've garnered in the last 12 years or so came from lots of bread books plus Calvel's Taste of Bread. I've taken notes when I've seen some detail that helps me to understand the process. And occasionally I've gotten some help from a scientist brother. So don't regard my comments as written in stone. But I've found the stuff seems to work in practice.
                                                        2) I know the packages tell you to proof the yeast with sugar. But most authors tell you it is not needed. Brewer's yeast--which is what baker's yeast is a strain of--does not metabolize sucrose, which is what table sugar and molasses are made of. (I think one source says it does not readily metabolize sucrose but can if that is the only sugar available.) Furthermore, sucrose is hygroscopic, which means that in dough it tends to dehydrate the yeast. That is why sweetened bread recipes generally ask for twice as much yeast as is needed for a plain loaf. An exception is the SAF Gold yeast (which I've never tried) that resists the osmotic pressure of high sucrose doughs. We don't add sugar to flour and water to feed the yeast, because as soon as the flour is wetted out or hydrated, amylase enzymes present in the flour crack starch chains (which are made of linked sugar molecules) into simpler sugars. The yeast feeds on these sugars. Since wheat contains less amylase than rye, millers add amylase in the form of diastatic malt (from barley) or aspergillum to wheat flour to improve enzyme performance. But it isn't absolutely necessary. A longer rising time or a good autolyse before adding the yeast gives the enzymes present more time to do their thing. Adding a bit of rye can also improve enzyme performance in home-milled wheat flours.
                                                        3) A lot of home bakers add water to flour (or flour to water) until it reaches the "right" consistency. But it takes time for flour to absorb water. Suppose you put 10 ounces of water in a bowl and start adding flour. At first you have a batter, then it begins to wrinkle and fold on itself, so you keep adding flour until you think it just about has reached its limit. Let it sit for twenty minuntes and you'll find you have a very slack dough, much softer than your first impression made you think. So if you are working by hand, it really helps to give the dough time to hydrate. Generally, I work by rule of thumb proportions based on weight of water to weight of flour. 5/8 for French type bread, 2/3 for more Italian loaves, and 3/4 for really holey ciabatta type breads. I usually hold back a couple of tablespoonsful of water if the humidity is up, because the flour has already absorbed some water. I adjust later by adding the rest of the water if I need to. But my usual practice is to add the water, let it rest for about an hour, then work in yeast or leaven and salt. Water amounts will be slightly higher for high protein flours (like bread flour or doughs with vital gluten added) or with significant bran content. Variations in the amount of water change the texture of the crumb and sometimes the thickness of the crust as well as how much the loaf rises.
                                                        4) Increasing or decreasing liquid when you increase or decrease sugar/honey? I rarely use sugar, but I shouldn't think changing the amount of sugar in the dough should affect the amount of liquid. Honey will, because the water content of the honey goes into the dough. But since I don't generally work from recipes, I'm not sure of exactly how much difference it will make. But Joy of Cooking has a great conversion table that might give you that information. But if you decrease the honey, you would increase the liquid ever so slightly. Maybe only a tablespoonful or two. But to be honest, since bread can be baked from a range of dough--from dough that is fairly firm to actual batters--I wouldn't worry about it. There is plenty of room for fudging there.
                                                        5) Fleischman's vs. SAF or Red Star? I'll leave bakers who make a lot of yeasted bread to chime in on that one. (It might make a good thread.) Our cook usually buys whatever is available. Having said that, I noticed he tends to prefer SAF. For more information on the yeast question, take a look at the book "Bread of Three Rivers." If your local library doesn't have it, you can get it on interlibrary loan without a problem.
                                                        5) Honey and barley sugars (maltose) are easily digested by the yeast. But any amount of sugar in large quantities will cause osmotic pressure that will adversely affect the yeast. (You can preserve things in honey and syrup because the osmotic pressure impedes bacterial growth.)
                                                        6) Were the "bean flakes" that recipe called for flakes of carob beans? Carob is frequently used as a cocoa substitute, but it is most often sold as powder.
                                                        7) Breads from places like Whole Foods? I think you can easily make breads that are just as good at home. Flour makes a difference, but a recent test of flours available in supermarkets found that Gold Medal all-purpose actually outperformed many premium flours in making simple lean breads. I have not seen a taste comparison of flour brands, however. But I want to assure you that you can make very good bread with ordinary flour. The ovens in commercial bakeries do have advantages that home ovens do not have--chiefly steam injection. But you can compensate for that by baking in covered containers (like a Cloche from Sassafras Industries or even terra cotta flour pots). The biggest single factor in getting good flavor from your bread is a slow rise and the use of pre-ferments since it is the enzyme activity and the byproducts of fermentation that give loaves really good flavor and shelf life. Another factor is knowing how to shape the loaf properly and when it is ready for the oven. These are skills that are easily learned. So I would suggest you keep working on the loaf you are doing now. It sounds like you are on the right track. With a little more tweaking, you will have very good bread and good insight on which to build further forays into the world of bread.
                                                        8) Another approach you may want to consider is the one in Hertzberg and Francois' book Artistan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. You can actually mix up a batch of dough and store it in the fridge for up to ten days. Cut off some each day or every few days and bake it. (I wonder, could you bake a mini-loaf or a flatbread in a toaster oven?)

                                                        1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                          P.S. You complain about a "spongy" quality to the bread. Do you mean that it is chewy and the holes are big? A lot of people would envy you. If your dough is very wet, you will tend to get an open crumb (as the inside of the loaf is called). Milk or milk solids or lipids usually results in bread with a finer and softer crumb.

                                                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                            Very educated reply. Your wisdom is appreciated.

                                                            The bean flakes referred to in the pumpernickle bread made no reference ot cocoa or carob. I'd search for a different recipe that uses cocoa or carob, and just use the German bread recipe for this bread as a guideline.

                                                            I wound up tossing that spongy bread!!! I had it wrapped in a plastic bag, and its smell was increasingly more alcoholic and yeastier to the point of being unpleasant. I really believe I overdid the yeast thing. I preferred the denser bread I made on my first batch. I had high hopes for this bread in that it rose more, but its texture which was closer to what I was looking for, was excessively spongy, and if not for the smell, I would have lived with it. Toasting the bread seemed to dehydrate it and lessen the spongy quality, but that smell and to some degree taste was too yeasty and alcoholic reminding for me. The first batch I made tasted more like what I associate bread to be (except for the sweetness).

                                                            As you said, it's all a learning process, and this is part of the learning curve. (I still have two Hodgson Mills boxed breads, multigrain and Honey Whole Wheat in case of emergencies and conveniences, and I just may go back to them until my ego recovers from my recent efforts that both fell short and rose too high. Talk about going from one extreme to the other .... that's what happened to me in my last two efforts. But it makes sense, if you undershoot at one attempt, you are likely to overshoot on your second attempt, until the third time is the perfect equilibrium between the two!)

                                                            1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                              It just occurred to me that the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which is about whole grain baking, includes a section on bread machines in the new edition. It is a classic that you should find easily at the library, bookstore, or on line at a discounted price. It may solve a lot of your problems.
                                                              That excessively yeasty quality in your last loaf may have been due to the fact that you decreased the sugar in it. Since sugary breads need more yeast to offset the osmotic pressure, by decreasing the sugar you decreased your yeast requirement.
                                                              Compare your proportions with another recipe. For example, Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook gives a two loaf recipe for whole grain breakfast bread. It calls for two tablespoons of active dry yeast. But that is for leavening 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 1/2 cups of Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain Rolled Cereal, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup safflower or other vegetable oil. (I'd probably use walnut oil with this.) With less sugar, you would use less yeast. In any case, it is easier to offset low yeast amounts by giving it extra time to rise. Too much yeast and you get that yeasty quality (which some people actually like).

                                                              1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                                I replied to this and then lost it. Let's try it again.

                                                                Yeast in most direct method breads (which is what yours is) usually comes to an active dry yeast weight of 1% of the weight of the flour in the loaf. In a sweetened loaf, that is about doubled. So let's say you bake a loaf with 2 1/2 cups of flour. We can figure that 2 1/2 cups weighs about 12.5 ounces or about 350 grams. You would need 1/8 of an ounce of yeast or about 3.5 grams for an unsweetened loaf and 1/4 of an ounce or about 7 grams for a sweetened loaf. Electronic scales are helpful. And it is better to use slightly less yeast than more, since you can always let the yeast grow by giving it extra time. To calculate how many packets of yeast you need, check the weight and volume measures on the package and work from that.

                                                                When you decreased the amount of sugar, you decreased the yeast requirement, because there was less osmotic pressure for the yeast to struggle against.

                                                                You would probably find it worthwile to compare your developing recipes against others on line or in a book like Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which specializes in whole grain breads and was updated for bread machine users. (As I recall, she has a good pumpernickel recipe, too.)

                                                                I just checked Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook. It gives a recipe for a whole grain breakfast bread that makes two loaves. It calls for 2 tablespoons of active dry yeast , 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 1/2 cups of Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain Cereal, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 cup of safflower or other oil (I'd use walnut oil).

                                                                1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                  Very interesting. Your explanation makes sense. Keep in mind, I did use the specified amount of sugar in the yeast proofing (1/4 t of Florida sugar crystals). What I cut back on was the amount of honey in the recipe for the rest of the mix. I believe I used less than half the amount the recipe called for in the King Arthur White Whole Wheat Bread mix available on its website.

                                                                  For the record, today, I took advantage of a sale at a nearby supermarket and got a 5 lb. bag of KA WW flour and a 5 lb bag of KA bread flour. I have some bread recipes (and I think you listed one in one of your posts!) that look simple and just call for a 50/50 mix of the two. Also picked up some inexpensive packets of SAF "perfect rise" yeast, which acts like fast rise (not rapid rise) yeast.

                                                                  I have to get over this last experience, and will use one of the boxed bread mixes to get me going again. I was at Trader Joe's today and smelled the aroma from their multigrain bread, and given my last experience, that bread smelled very appealing!

                                                                  Next time, until I understand the measurement conversions you listed to compensate for sugar reduction, I will stick with the amounts listed in recipes. That 1.5 lb loaf that I made was not supposed to rise to the extent it did, almost overflowing from the container, and that feel, like a very elastic sponge, was sort of unworldly! But the thing that got me motivated to toss it, was that smell, that got worse by the hour!

                                                                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                                    Don't forget to freeze your WW flour so the germ doesn't oxydize and get rancid. You may want to use orange juice for about 1/4 of the water to offset any bitterness from the tanins or oxydation.

                                                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                      Do you recommend thawing frozen flour at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I have a small freezer and would have to pack the flour in smaller sized plastic containers, or even the yogurt or ice cream containers I have.

                                                                      If I used freshly squeezed orange juice (I don't buy carton orange juice anymore.) for about 1/4 of the water, wouldn't I have to adjust the sugar amount called for in the recipe? (Incidentally, the expiration date of the sealed bagged KA WW flour is far off into the future! My only concern will be that if I still haven't used the flour by the time the hot weather sets in, and that's unlikely, the heat should start affecting the flour.)

                                                            2. re: Father Kitchen

                                                              The authors of the 5-minute a day book say that towards the end of the 10-day life of their dough, the dough won't rise as much. They recommend freezing the dough after day 6. (Then defrost it in the fridge for a day. They say it performs fine then.) Or you can make flatbreads on the stovetop with the older dough. I had some at a class put on by one of the authors and it was great. Or just don't expect your bread to rise as much when it is older.

                                                              But flatbreads are definitely a good and quick option. I will be trying that with soup myself.

                                          2. Just wanted to report that I just baked the Hodgson Mills 9 Grain Bread box mix, and to my surprise, after having seen two prior Honey Whole Wheat mixes come out to a height of about 5 inches high, this bread birthed at a height of just over 6 inches, 5 inches wide. So perhaps the yeast in this box was more active than what I got in the Honey Whole Wheat bread mix. Then again, the other bread mix has as its main ingredient whole wheat flour, whereas this bread mix lists whole wheat flour after all the other kinds of various kinds of flour (rye, millet, and many others), so maybe it's not meant to rise as high.

                                            It smells good. Using a boxed bread mix, such as this, was a change of pace, in that all I needed to add on my own were water and oil, and from the box, the flour and the fast rise yeast. (I did add a little ground flax seed meal to add to the flax that was already in the bread mix. Even though I followed the instructions for adding "1 cup minus 1 T water", I did add a little more water due to my perception that the ball of flour that was being kneaded looked a little too dry.)

                                            For simplicity, it's hard to beat a decent boxed bread mix, such as this, especially since this includes such a variety of various grains!

                                            I may use the timer form the bread machine some other, morning so when I awake in the morning, the warm bread will be there. (Yes, I know not to use the timer setting if spoilable foods like milk and eggs are being used.)

                                            As a side comment, I saw on the TV program "Everyday Food/Baking", carrot ginger quick bread made. It looked very easy to do - eggs, carrot juice, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, walnuts. The Breadman bread machine manual book has two recipes for quick breads that instruct to use the "batter bread" setting. I wonder if anyone has made such quick breads such as the one I described in a bread machine.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: FelafelBoy

                                              Just cut into this warm bread after only having the patience to wait ten minutes, and heard that loud "crunch" noise as I cut through the crust. The texture of the bread was just right, and the bread, surprisingly was not sweet at all. I almost wanted it a bit sweeter, but then again, perhaps "real" bread is meant to taste like this. I looked at the grain itself, and it was full of all kinds of multigrain colors and textures. (This not very sweet bread may be better with combining with egg salad spread on top of it or some other salad. The other bread was more on the sweet side, better as a side snack.) I spread Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread on it, which melted and treated myself to truly good fresh tasting bread.

                                              I will definitely buy this variety of bread again, and perhaps experiment by adding some other things to it (like poppy seeds!!). Glad I waited up until 2 am to sample this bread!!

                                              I was unable to pull out the paddle wheel for cleaning, but once the pan had been soaked in warm water for awhile, it pulled out easily. Evidently some of the baked bread mix was acting like glue causing it to adhere to the part of the pan which it is normally secured to.

                                              1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                Thanks for keeping us up to date. I've never heard of anyone making a quick bread in a bread machine. For one thing, you don't want to knead a quick bread, for that would develop the gluten. I suppose you might mix the batter by hand in a bowl and bake it on the bake cycle of the bread machine, if you can operate it separately, though I would wonder if it would bake too hot or long. (Most quick breads contain a lot of sugar, and they might burn.) The smartest thing to do would be to send an e-mail to the manufacturer and ask them.
                                                By the way, I missed your earlier query on whether to defrost frozen flour in the fridge or at room temperature. Just measure the flour into a bowl. If you are in a hurry, zap it in the microwave--maybe ten seconds would do it--or mix with warm water.
                                                Your experiments have given me a nudge. Along with sourdough bread today, I am going to bake whole wheat-honey-oat bread. Then tomorrow for lunch potato pizza trying a super hydrated crust by Jim Lahey (recipe in Glezer's Artisan Baking), and Kaiser rolls for supper.

                                                1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                  Father Kitchen - regarding the defrosting of frozen flour ... I wasn't sure I understood your answer, Did you mean to say that defrosting is ok in the refrig or at room temp? And the mixing with warm water applies for microwave defrosting? I'd think that mixing the flour with water for microwave defrosting might make the mixing process a bit different from starting off with all dry ingredients according to a bread recipe.

                                                  You have listed some interesting projects for yourself, i.e. the potato pizza with a super hydrated crust!! Your mentioning Kaiser rolls for supper brought to mind the varieties of things that can be done with Hodgson Mills "Insta-bake" mix, which can be used for making pancakes, waffles, biscuits, brownies, and cookies. The mix doesn't have sugar and corn flour, it's basically flour, butermilk solids, sweet whey, wheat starch, salt, and a leavening agent. When I used it to make pancakes it resulted in a much purer plain flour taste, very moist, than the HM pancake batter mix which is crunchier and heavier. I could easily see how this Insta-bake mix could be used to make good tasting biscuits.

                                                  By the way, the smell from having baked the 9 Grain Bread from the boxed bread mix, was still lingering in my kitchen 15 hours later. I had thought of bottling that smell to maintain memories of that very pleasant smell. And ... the bread itself had that spongy feel of the last bread I made with that overly active dry yeast, but this bread doesn't have the yeasty overkill taste. It does lack a taste of sweetness, even though the box lists 2 grams of sugar per serving. Maybe all the grains are overwhelming the sweetener. Tasting the bread reminds me of eating natural peanut butter (no salt, no sugar, no partially hydrogenated fats) for the first time. Maybe bread is meant to taste like this. Almost every store bought bread is made with a fair amount of sugar. That's one of the things I like about pumpernickel bagels - they have a sweet taste to them.

                                                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                    Sorry I didn't answer you earlier. Today was one of those days in the kitchen that people describe as being from someplace hotter than kitchens usually are. It has been so bad that I have been laughing. Once the garbage disposal start pumping gray water into the sink, I knew I would just have to take things as they come. BUt my menu got awfully simple. THe pizza stuck to the pan--I followed the Lahey potato pizza recipe in Glezer's Artisan Baking and I followed it to the letter. Don't know what went wrong. No Kaiser rolls today, just sourdough which is usually fool proof for me, but my scale gave me wrong weights. I suspect the battery is failing. So I had to adjust by feel. And then I left the bread in the oven a tad too long.
                                                    So, to your question. I didn't mean to confuse you. If you freeze flour or cornmeal, it is a good idea to bring it at least to room temperature before you mix it into a dough. You can measure the amount you need and leave it a bowl to reach room temperature. If you are in a hurry, you can give it maybe ten seconds in a microwave to take the chill off it. THe more professional way is to use warm water. Bakers figure a base temperature that also takes into consideration the heating caused by friction in mechanical mixers. Dan Leader's first book provides some figures, but I find it is sufficient to have the water slightly warm to touch. THe main reason not to use cold flour is that yeast, while it can be freeze dried, does not like cold water, which one authority I read said can kill it. So if you pour cool water on freezing cold flour, the water will chill down and that won't be good for the yeast. Besides that, the yeast won't grow well unless the dough is at least room temperature.
                                                    The quick breads sound interesting. Time to get back to the kitchen. I wonder what else will go wrong.

                                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                      Thanks for filling us in your adventures in baking exotica 101.

                                                      If a master such as you can fall short of expected results, then there is hope for the rest of us when we find ourselves with results different than anticipated (although the margin of error is much greater with us, and with greater dimensions of catastrophe).

                                                      Your explanation regarding temperature was helpful in understanding why warm water should be used instead of cold water in helping to thaw out frozen dough.

                                                      Yes, that quick ginger-carrot bread looks easy to do, and when I saw the bread made on tv on that program, it looked very easy to make. The picture of the bread on the everyday food website looks very appealing. If you have a juicer, I would think adding freshly made carrot juice would add an interesting taste to the bread. I suppose one could substitute another kind of juice to the flour, too, such as orange, cranberry, or apple juice, just to name a few samples.

                                                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                        A small note, if I may. If you take your yeast straight out of the refrigerator as I do, you need some warm to wake up the yeast, too.

                                                    2. re: Father Kitchen

                                                      Regarding the quick bread recipe and using the bread machine for it. I only mentioned this because in the bread recipe book by Salton was a quick bread recipe which was to be done by using the "batter" cycle, which I see does involved 15 minutes of kneading which you said is verboten due to the need to not develop gluten for this kind of bread.

                                                      I reviewed the recipe for Everyday Food's (PBS) version of ginger carrot bread, and according to their procedure, all that is needed is a mixing of ingredients, and then pouring it into a pan for cooking. The batter setting on the machine as well as the longer cooking time at this cycle would be inappropriate for this bread. The ingredients look simple and the pictures of the finished product look very appetizing. (Due to chowhound's preference for not advertising, I have not provided links to the site containing the information. Just google the two terms, "Everyday Food+ginger-carrot bread", and you will find the site. Look on the site for Episode 409.)

                                                      Quick breads look so much easier to do because they lack yeast which introduces much room for error. Just eggs, oil, vanilla extract, carrot juice, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, ground ginger, walnuts. What could go wrong with these ingredients? Amazing what a difference adding yeast makes in producing a product whose quality can vary greatly just from the addition of that one ingredient.

                                                2. Have stayed away from eating bread for awhile, and decided to opt out for convenience this night.

                                                  Made Hodgson Mills boxed bread mix, "Honey Whole Wheat."

                                                  I looked at my finished product and the picture on the box cover of the sliced bread and remaining unsliced loaf. It looked like a 2 pound loaf if not larger, at least twice the size of mine. The instructions on the back of the box referred to only a 1.5 and 1.0 pound loaf.

                                                  My bread rose 3/4 of the way up the container which seemed right, since the Breadman bread machine container holds loafs up to 2 pounds.

                                                  The measurement of the 1.5 pound loaf I made was 5 inches by 5 inches. Has anyone else made bread from this mix, and what were the dimensions on your loaf?

                                                  I know that pictures of food products shown on the box cover are often different from the actual contents, but it did seem odd to me that the bread shown on the box cover looked like a normal sized loaf one would be slicing through if they had bought such a loaf at the store, not removed from a smaller bread machine like mine. A 1.5 pound loaf, more compactly made, should not have the size of the more airy less dense breads you see on store shelves.

                                                  I should have made this bread earlier to go with my lentil soup. I really would have enjoyed eating the bread with the soup.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                    I never trust promotional photos. But simply on the basis of normal baking results with whole grains, I would have thought that your 1.5 pound loaf would have filled a 9 by 5 baking pan. So I suspect that something was amiss with your loaf. Why not write to the Hodgson Mill web site and ask them what it should have measured?

                                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                      The bread pan container inside the machine is 7 inches by 5 inches in height/width, with one inch beyond the height to the cover. Given that the machine is capable of a 2 lb loaf, and the bread I made was for a 1.5 pound recipe, it seems reasonable now that the result was of a 5 by 5 dimension.

                                                      It is much denser than a store bought loaf and felt 24 oz in weight. Each slice tasted like the equivalent of at least two slices of store bought bread.
                                                      Each individual slice was much more satisfying in its richness and density. When peanut butter was spread on each slice, I really felt like it was more of a filling meal than a typical store bought slice of bread - I'd have to have at least two slices to get the same "filled" sensation.

                                                      My concern about the loaf size was due to the fact that it looked so much smaller.

                                                      1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                        Well, if doesn't feel like a hockey puck or brick, I wouldn't worry.

                                                  2. I have a bread machine that I can't find since we moved in Dec. It is hidden somewhere in the garage with everything else that hasn't been unpacked yet. I was hungry for fresh bread the other day so I went to the store and purchased a bag of bread flour and some yeast. Since I could not find my machine I used my kitchen aid instead. The bread came out delicious! (even my 1st loaf) Since that day I have made some type of fresh bread or pizza dough every morning. It beats the taste of store bought hands down and was just as good as our bakery that bakes bread the old fashioned way. So for 1.99 for 5 lbs of bread flour and 2.50 for a lb of yeast I can bake bread for pennies a loaf. And since the bread I buy from the bakery doesn't have any preserves in it it doesn't last much more than a few days anyway unless refridgerated or frozen.

                                                    I encourage anyone who thinks bread at the store is way overpriced to bake a few loaves on the weekend. It doesn't involve much work if using a bread machine or stand mixer. I go about my other business while the bread is proofing. The price and the taste can't be beat. You don't even need to use those expensive boxed mixes either.

                                                    BTW I love reading all the threads, I have learned alot and have gone on to experiment in the kitchen with amazing results thanks to all of you!

                                                    1. As warmer weather approaches the temperate climate in which I live, I am reminded of one advantage of a bread machine that I forgot to mention, which motivates me to use it versus baking bread in my oven.

                                                      For those of us who prefer not to use an air conditioner, the bread machine's operation results in less buildup of heat in a smaller dwelling such as the one in which I live than using my oven. Without using an air conditioner, the heat from my oven heats up my place significantly. It is great to not have such a heat buildup and still be able to bake some fresh bread.

                                                      By the way, I stored the left over honey whole wheat bread I made from the Hodgson Mills mix in a plastic bag. It stayed rather fresh inside that bag at room temperature (now about 65+ degrees) for at least a four days. I eventually put it in my refrigerator where after a few more days it continued to stay moist. I ate the remaining few slices tonight with some vegetarian chili, spread with some Earth Balance buttery spread. Didn't want to be without a reservoir, so I made another loaf (for a rainy day). I just love to cut a small slice and spread peanut butter and jelly on it for a satisfying snack. I really am reminded of how much more substantial eating this kind of bread is than the typical store bought bread which is less dense. This denser bread such feels more nutritious, and keeps me from eating the amount of slices I would normally eat from the lighter store bought bread.

                                                      Adding the organic canola oil seems to be adequate to maintaining some degree of moisture in the bread. I may experiment in the future and try using extra light olive oil and see how that affects the moisture. My most recent batch of bread involved me adding to the whole wheat mixture a half teaspoon of ground flax seeds and a small amount of poppy seeds.