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After five-months - Bread

Well, it's taken me five-months do this this. I finally made a decent bread. This was a project. No harder task on the planet (for me), as far as I'm concerned. Oh my goodness, my house smelled great, my tummy was happy, my child was happy, my brain exploding. But five months of failing paid off just to make a simple bread. My hats off to bakers. I could not do this for a living. You are special.

Here's a picture of my bread. I'm not sure about anyone else, but the first loaf is a proud moment. Especially struggling (and almost giving up) like I did. I have to show it. Plus, it was good!

Yeah, it was only white, but all the books said do the basics first. Ok. It took me five months for the basics!

Cheers. Let's raise a glass to hard work.

 
 
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  1. Congratulations, Jackie. What a coincidence. Like you, I took my first successful loaf of bread out of the oven today. Not that I haven't baked before, I've done quite a lot of baking. Biscuits, pies, cakes, scones; just never put much emphasis on bread and could never truly achieve a finished loaf that I felt was fit for human consumption. Today, I took my bread out of the oven and I'm walking on air tonight. I only hope I can do it again. I share in your excitement and sense of accomplishment. Ditto with the hats off to bakers; and again, congratulations. You've got some good looking bread there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Wow, congrats to you too! It's a great feeling. Cheers to you and me! And - I hope we can do it again. We will. What a great feeling.

      1. re: todao

        Congrats to JC and todao, both. Making a simple loaf of white bread is so simple that the word "simple" becomes a stumbling block. As often happens, a simple thing with few ingredients becomes amazingly difficult to do well. And with something like bread, if the first attempt isn't successful, it's easy to give up in disgust. Again, congrats.

      2. Cheers Jackie and Congratulations!

        1 Reply
        1. Congrats. :) Isn't the key to baking using the exact right amount of ingredients, and properly mixing them?

          Do you use a digital scale to weigh your ingredients? By weight is the only way to get the right amount for anybody but a professional baker. Digital scales are super cheap nowadays, like $20-30 at your local weed dealership! ;) Maybe a sifter is also key?

          Just repeating the stuff I've heard, I'll have to try it one day!

          4 Replies
          1. re: SocksManly

            Socks, Thanks. I'm not sure what the key ingredient is to tell you the truth. I just kept trying and trying. Recipe after recipe. Nothing worked until now.

            I don't have a digital scale, I don't have mixer, I don't even have a hand mixer. I've got nothing. I hope to have those things some day. I do all I can by hand. I look for recipes that I can do by hand.

            To the extent they work...I'm glad. This one did, and I'm proud to share with my CH friends.

            1. re: JackieChiles

              :) No mixer needer, I meant a sifter.. Just a simple metal cup looking thing that you pour flour into, you squeeze a handle and the flour gets mixed out of the bottom into fine granules.. It's like a glorified sieve really. Might be needed to mix salt, flour, etc so you don't end up with a bad mix of ingredients, leading to uneven baking.

              Anyways look into the weight thing, it's the number one thing for successful baking of anything, as far as I understand it. You want to be able to make it anytime!

              Good luck!!

              1. re: SocksManly

                Well Socks, while using weight in favor of "dip-level" is probably a more accurate method for measuring, always be certain you're using the same standard. That is, once you've selected a flour to use in your baking, continue to use the same flour throughout your experimental exercise period so that the only variable is the amount. One flour may not have the same gluten/protein component as another flour so that no matter what else you're doing the flour could foul up the process. Also, you'll find a wide range of weight to bulk ratios listed from various sources. One source may suggest 4.5 ounces equal to a cup of flour, another 5 ounces. Not only that, but some scales (even the digital models) can be quite inaccurate. If you always use the same flour and the same scale you will, over time, find what works. I actually found that once I got the "feel" of how the sticky the dough is, how much to knead it and how long to let it rest (after getting the ingredients right) things smoothed out dramatically. I share this lesson, hard learned as it was, so that if you're having the same frustrating experience with learning to make bread that I did you might reduce the length of the learning curve somewhat.

                1. re: SocksManly

                  You don't need to sift but a whisk is helpful to mix dry ingredients (mostly for cookies and baked goods w/ more dry ingredients). Sifting can help measure more accurately depending on the recipe but I just "fluff" my dry ingredients if I'm measuring. If you're using a scale then it's not necessary. As bread goes, for me, the last amount of flour I add is done by feel anyway so I'm not that accurate.

            2. Good job! Do you know what it was before that made the bread not work? I've found as long as I use good ingredients that haven't expired, it somehow always works out. BTW, for easy crusty bread, have you tried the no knead bread? I find it so much easier than white loaf bread. I used to do it by hand, went to stand mixer and now do a combination. I like to feel the dough by kneading and can't tell as easily if it's right with the stand mixer, even with the windowpane test. How exciting for you--you can't beat fresh bread!

              2 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                I really never know. I'm just not that experienced. I think my ingredients are ok. I think it's more operator error.

                LOL, I tried to make baguettes and those things came out like baseball bats. Hard as a rock! I tried multiple recipes for white bread, and all failed except the last one. My kneading probably has something to do with it.

                I let this one rise three times though. Once for an hour, then another hour, then about another hour in the pan. When I saw it rise high in the pan. I said, oh boy, I have a shot this time. What an ordeal, but fun.

                1. re: JackieChiles

                  Glad you found the right recipe. Try this out--it's the no knead bread that everyone was talking about here a couple of years ago. It is as good as the picture (all the pictures in it are helpful):

                  http://wednesdaychef.typepad.com/the_...

                  You can find it on youtube, too. As I started reading more and more about bread making, I realized there's so much more to know. As learning what you did wrong goes, I've found CHers to be a great source of helping to pinpoint what went wrong, whethter it's the recipe, ingredients, technique. Just ask!

              2. what a lovely lovely loaf! i applaud your persistence!
                i would have given up after about a month. :)

                i am suddenly inspired to push aside my bread maker and try to do it the old-fashioned way...