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Bread Baking at Home


I was asked by some to start a board concerning bread baking at home.

I agreed.

So, if I can help...awesome. No one will learn more than I.

NO...we'll learn together.

We'll deal with anything that contains yeast, from Brioche to pre-ferments, to sour doughs.

So...let's play and learn together!

If I don't know the answer, I know where to find it.

No being bashful here...we're just all breadheads!

Adagio Bakery & Cafe

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  1. Thanks Adagio!

    I'm more confident working with yeast bread dough and have been pleased with the resulting bread. I've used my cast iron dutch oven and cookie sheets to make 'artisan' bread. Do you have recommendations or things to look for in a loaf pan? I'm going to start making sandwich bread for everyday use.

    Also, how to tell that the bread is fully baked - without letting the load cool and cutting it open?

    2 Replies
    1. re: rtms


      Normally, a 4X8x2 inch pan will hold about a pound of product. Roll the dougn into a cylinder and place it in the pan to proof.

      Proofing is done when you gently press the dough and it comes back slowly.

      Bake around 440F with Steam (a cast iron fying pan on the floor or lowest rack of the oven will do nicely. Load the pan and throw a cup of hot water in the frying pan, close the door and do NOT check for 15 minutes, then open the door to let out any moisture, turn the pan.

      Good color is an indication of a fully baked loaf. However, you can turn the loaf out of the pan and thump the bottom...it should be hollow.

      Also, squeezing the sides...they should be firm.

      Practice, practice.......practice!

      1. re: rtms

        Yep, good color is a great indication. Also, you can knock on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it's done.

        As for loaf pans - I don't even own one. I bake my bread freestyle on, well, whatever I have on hand. Right now, that's a roasting pan. I'll bake smaller batches in a stainless steel pot that's had the handle (plastic) removed - that works great for the husband to have fresh bread for breakfast every morning. And he gets fresh bread every morning.

      2. I'd like to hear about the use of a poolish & biga--why is that different than just no-knead with an extra step added?
        I'd also like some frank talk about oven limitations--I've got an old electric (which does the no-knead just fine.) But should I not try certain breads?

        36 Replies
        1. re: blue room

          Has anyone tried leaving their yeast dough in the fridge over night to rise? Does it work? Does it give bread more flavour?

          1. re: Smachnoho

            Yes, I've done this with the Lahey no-knead dough--it does rise, just very very slowly compared to how it rises on the counter in the summer. I always like the flavor, but personally have never had 2 loaves (one slow, one fast) to compare. I read that fermentation is what causes flavor. It *seems* like the same amount of fermentation must take place in both cases, if both bowls of dough end up the same size. I would like to know also how this works.

            1. re: blue room

              Adding a pre-ferment will change the flavor!

              A biga 60% hydration left over night will make the bread a bit more acidic.

              A poolish, 100% hydration will make the bread more lactic...think yogurt!

            2. re: Smachnoho

              I'm baking pizza this evening and the crust that I am using is a whole wheat crust that has been resting/rising in a Rubbermaid container my fridge for a week.

              A week might seem too long to some but a long slow rise is a sure way to extract the maximum flavor from a yeast dough. I wouldn't leave it out on a 68° counter for more than 48 hours, but because the action of the yeast is slowed dramatically at 40° a week in the fridge is quite safe.

              Rising time= flavor.

              1. re: Kelli2006

                I didn't get why rising time=flavor.
                But just found (at a site called "The Kitchn") this explanation:

                "When dough is refrigerated, the yeast and bacteria go dormant, but the enzymes that have been breaking down flour starches into sugar keep on trucking. This gives you a much higher percentage of simple sugars in your final dough than you would otherwise. The final loaf will have sweet nutty flavors and the crust will get nicely caramelized."

                1. re: blue room

                  One more question, if I leave my bread dough in the fridge overnight, should I shape it into loaves after I take it out in the morning and then bake or should I shape it into loaves and then put it back in the frige for a few more hours?

                  1. re: Smachnoho

                    Shape first...then retard overnight.

                    This works really well with Levain breads.

                    Adagio Bakery & Cafe

                    1. re: Smachnoho

                      You can do it either way.

                      Personally, I usually let the dough go through its first rise, then shape it and stick it in the freezer, but I've done it both ways and it's worked fine.

                    2. re: blue room

                      The yeast in retarding does not go to sleep, rather, it slows down.

                      There will be an increased acidity present the next day.

                      Usually, retading is limited to about 16 hours, otherwise the acid strength is way too much.


                      Adagio Bakery & Cafe

                      1. re: blue room

                        When you use the no-knead method (Lahey-Sullivan) or a sourdough or pre-dough to make your bread, there are two types of lactobacilli that affect the dough, and one type of yeast. This is true no matter where in the world you make your bread.

                        The lactobacilli come in two different forms: hetero and homo. Heterofermentative and homefermentative. They play the major role in bread rising and flavor. Less important, but still important, is the yeast.

                        Most of sourdough's flavor and leavening come from the heterofermentative type of lactobacillus, which pumps out acetic acid (vinegar, for sourness) as a by-product and favors a temp below 82-85 degrees F. The other type of lactobacillus -- homofermentative -- pumps out the lactic acid (more mellow and complex than acetic acid) and does its thing above 82-85 F.

                        So, a long cool fermentation increases sourness. By controlling the temp of the starter and dough, you control the type of lactobacillus that has the upper hand in fermentation, thereby controlling the final flavor and sourness of the bread.

                        Debra Wink, the co-author on a number of scientific sourdough articles whom I quoted above, sums up things nicely on her great bread baking website:

                        -- more fermentation time generally means more acid
                        -- lower temperature increases the percentage of acetic acid, or sourness.
                        -- lower temperatures produce acids more slowly; higher temps, more quickly
                        -- higher temperatures mean a higher ratio of lactic to acetic acid. This is a mellower acid; the flavor is rounded and complex.

                        You can experiment what temperature (or combination of temperatures -- both in and out of the refrigerator) gives you the flavor you prefer.

                        I have also found these tips helpful to producing artisan loaves:
                        -- heating the cast iron pot in which you will bake your bread in a hot oven for an hour (from the Lahey method)
                        --introducing steam into the oven at the beginning of the bake for good oven rise; this can be as simple as throwing a half-cup of water into the bottom of the oven.
                        --dusting the loaf with flour before the final rise, and slashing the tops of the loaves in a pretty pattern

                        Good luck to you. If you need links to the Lahey-Sullivan no-knead instructions (both initial and revised), let me know. There are other very good threads on this on Chowhound. I really think the flavor, look, and texture are excellent with this method.

                    3. re: Smachnoho

                      You can do that after shaping if you like.

                      It's called...retarding the dough.

                      It will absolutely affect the flavor as acids will build up during that process.

                      Also, you will notice the bake will produce little bubbles on the crust. If you don't mind that then go ahead.

                      Retarding bread is a great way to come in the morning and go right to the bake.

                      Some loaves lend themselves to retarding more than others. Experimentation is key.

                      1. re: Smachnoho

                        I'm currently doing the Artisan Bread in Five method wherein you mix up a large batch of dough (enough for 4 1lb loaves) and store the dough in the fridge for up to two weeks to use at your leisure.

                        I let my last batch sit longer than two weeks (life got in the way); the last two loaves I baked were almost sourdough in taste - absolutely delicious. So in my experience: yes, letting it sit in the fridge absolutely results in a more flavorful bread.

                        1. re: jencounter

                          Best part about bread baking, and the first rule is...if you like it...it's right!

                          Now...go bake some more!

                          Adagio Bakery & Cafe

                        2. re: Smachnoho

                          It certainly does help-to a point. I have found that up to 48 hours is optimal in terms of increasing the flavour

                        3. re: blue room

                          Poolish, biga, madre, pate fermente...are the "flavor packets" of the bread.

                          The pre-ferments, as they are called, add the flavor profile. You can bake a straight dough without a pre-ferment but it just won'e be as interesting.

                          Oven limitations are the biggest thing. However, there isn't a home oven I haven't been able to overcome.

                          Steam is all important and if you read the above post, you will see an explanation.

                          Knowing your oven is the most important thing, and an internal thermometer would help to see if your oven is accurate.

                          Loading the bread in a home oven is a problem because when you open the door...you loose a hundred degrees right off the bat.

                          I stone is a wonderful thing. Go find "fibrament" on the web...they are great.

                          No-knead? Please explain to make sure we're talking about the same thing.

                          1. re: Adagio

                            "No-Knead" is a term used for the relatively new bread baking technique of stretch and folding high hydration bread dough over a period of time to develop gluten rather than kneading dough (either by machine or by hand).

                            One of the first to use this method was Steve Sullivan of Acme Bread Bakery and has become popularized by Jim Lahey (the New York Times No-Knead Bread (aka NYT No-Knead bread)), the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" (aka "ABin5), Cooks Illustrated, and Peter Reinhart in his new book "Artisan Breads Every Day".

                            It's revolutionized bread-baking for home bakers in that the method allows home bakers to make up a batch of dough and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or so and each day, cutting off a portion that's ready to bake in a very short period of time. Home bakes can come home from work and have freshly baked, deeply-flavored bread for dinner every night;

                            1. re: housewolf


                              We do "stretch and folds" all the time.

                              Normally, it depends on much gluten you form off the mixer.

                              It's never knowing when to turn on the mixer...it's when to turn it off.

                              However, I feel, a certain amount of mixing is always needed.

                              In normal bread, we do a stretchen a fold in the middle of a two hour bulk fermentation.

                              On higher hydration breads like Ciabatta, we do a 3 hour bulk fermentation and two stretch and folds.

                              This is not a revolutionary method for home bakers, but a normal device for pro bakers as well.

                              As for keeping dough in the fridge for 5 days...there will be a LOT of acid formed.

                              If you like that...great.

                              Adagio Baker & Cafe

                              1. re: housewolf

                                Correction: Peter Reinhart's new book "Artisan Breads Every Day" is not about no-knead. The bread is kneaded on the first day, then allow to cold ferment in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Reinhart found that he likes the flavor of the bread better when using extended fermentation at refrigerated temperatures.

                                It is a method used by pro bakers - make the dough the day before, then shape, proof, and bake the next day. It's more a matter of scheduling when you need to have fresh bread available for your morning customers.

                                1. re: RikkiMama


                                  Extended slow, overnight, retarding of dough does change the flavor.

                                  We find that levain bread work best like this.

                                  Also, we retard laminated dough and brioche over night.

                                  Remember, after mixing, let ferment at room temperature for one hour then refrigerate. De-gas several times in the next few hours.

                                  Have fun!

                                  Adagio Bakery & Cafe

                                  And...if you're looking for the definitive book on bread baking, try: BREAD by Jeffrey Hamelman...it is the best.


                                  1. re: Adagio

                                    I've been making the Lahey no-knead bread in a cast iron pot.
                                    Can I use this same recipe in a loaf pan? Been wanting to find a way to make a no-knead sandwich loaf.

                                    1. re: EllieLA

                                      Hi EllieLA

                                      I don't see why not!

                                      I would put a cast iron frying pan in the bottom of the oven. If it's electric...the bottom rack.

                                      Try baking at 440F.

                                      Load the panned bread, put a cup of hot water in the frying pan, and close the door.

                                      Do NOT open for at least 15 minutes, then change the position of the pan to get an even bake.

                                      Let me know how you do.

                                      Adagio Bakery & Cafe

                                      1. re: Adagio

                                        If the poster, EllieLA, is using Pyrex or other glass loaf pans, couldn't 440 be a pretty hot oven? Most of these brands advise against using temps above 375 degrees.

                                        1. re: Sherri

                                          HI Sherri:

                                          I guess 440 for glass might be too hot...one would have to check with the manufacturer.

                                          Also, and I'm not sure about this, the sudden introduction of steam could crack them?!

                                          Here's my take on glass:

                                          1. it insulates too much slowing the bake. Remember, the yeast will continue to feed until 140F. So too much gas production might...I say might be a problem.

                                          2. Because of the insulating properties of glass, the bake will take longer for two reasons, you suggestion of a lower temp and the thick glass.

                                          3. Why just make one loaf??? You can get ganged steel pans, three to a section that will fit nicely in a home oven. This makes turning the loaves much easier, and you can get 6 loaves to the bake.

                                          Think how family and friends will love you!!!!

                                          Adagio Bakery & Cafe, LLP

                                  2. re: RikkiMama


                                    This usually works best with sour dough breads. The extra fermentation...does help the flavor.

                                    However, you have to put up with the "bubbles" on the crust.

                                  3. re: housewolf

                                    Last week, I purchased "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" . I was a bit skeptical, but the loaves I've made thus far were a major hit with the family. Especially my Frenchman, who is thoroughly disgusted with the baguettes in American bakeries.
                                    That being said, the title of the book is just a tad off-putting. Yes. It truly does take five minutes to MAKE the bread dough. However, the day of baking, it takes 40 minutes to rise the dough, another 20 to preheat the oven and another 30 to 35 minutes to bake the bread. Also, if you like your bread salty, ya gotta add more salt!
                                    Other than that the book is great!

                                    1. re: jarona


                                      I recently bought the book, too, and my experience has been similar to yours. The claim of 5 minutes is true, for hand's on time. IIRC, I previewed the book on Amazon, and was ready for the additional time I'd need to be present.

                                      I initially decided to buy it after successfully baking a few loaves in my 4.5 quart saucepan. I now have a different take-away.

                                      It's great if you want the the same bread every day, or nearly. My problem is that we like too many different kinds of bread, and with a small household, it takes us a while to eat them. If you have a large family, with a lot of extra fridge space, it will be much more useful. I could make smaller loaves, but I'd still not have the variety we like.

                                      I am keeping the book for now and may find it more useful as time goes on.

                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                        When I make artisan bread (bread that requires time and attention), I let it cool completely, then slice it, plastic bag it, and freeze it. We remove slices as needed to nuke for sandwiches or to throw right into the toaster. If you are looking for a dinner party loaf, you can freeze it whole, let it thaw in the bag, then refresh it whole in the oven.

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          Thanks, sandy.

                                          We're already doing that. My problem with the ABin5 bread is that I'm baking 3 times every 2 weeks, not counting pizza. 1 time is rolls (which we use for various things), another is 2 loaves of multigrain, the 3rd is 1 loaf of white sandwich bread for Mom.

                                          It's possible I could make white sandwich bread and rolls from the same dough. Is there a nice fine crumb recipe in the book? I could also keep pizza dough on hand, then I'd only need to make the multigrain every 2 weeks. My issue now becomes storage space. We just don't have room in the fridge for 2 buckets of dough.

                                          I'm not a contrarian about this, honestly. I'd *like* to be able to make breads without having to start from step 1 every time. Even with the rise and bake times, it would save a lot of effort, what with all the weighing, measuring, mixing and kneading.

                                          Perhaps if I spend more time with the book I'll be inspired to find a way. :)

                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                            Your problems sound similar to mine - !

                                            We both actually want to be a production kitchen rather than a home kitchen.

                                            The challenges of life...

                                            1. re: sandylc

                                              <We both actually want to be a production kitchen rather than a home kitchen.>

                                              That made me smile, thanks! :)

                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                I dream of having a freezer full of every kind of top-notch homemade goodie imaginable. Bagels, English muffins, croissants, etc....

                                                EDIT: Maybe I need more people to eat these things, first...

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  You're singing my song. For my next trick, I wanted to tackle pita bread, which is kind of meh from the store, but I think would be great at home. Problem is, no one else wants it. Same thing happened with the English Muffin bread. So good, yet so lonely.

                                                  When I'm cooking, I want to be Ray Kinsella. If I bake or cook it, they will come. And stay to do the clean-up! :0

                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                    Pita is fun to make! The James Beard recipe is very good...

                                          2. re: sandylc

                                            I should add that we're already freezing rolls, everything else goes in the fridge, unsliced. Fresh bread spoils in 3 days here in summer.

                                            It's always a battle between fridge and freezer space, trying to strike the right balance. It comes from my frugality. We're retired military, living an hour away from the nearest commissary. We shop once every 2 weeks, filling in with produce in between. It makes for a crowded fridge/freezer unit, but saves a bundle versus shopping at the local supermarkets.

                                          3. re: DuffyH

                                            Duffy H. Did you try the brioche recipe at all? I haven't tried it, but it is definitely on my to-make list. I am also planning on adding some olives and rosemary and additional salt to the dough I will prepare for this weekend!
                                            I don't worry about the shelf-life of bread in our house--I live with a Frenchman and they will survive solely on bread, cheese and wine--LOL! However, when my oldest son came to visit last weekend, he just about ate an entire loaf:)

                                            1. re: jarona

                                              I haven't tried the brioche yet. Just the basic loaf.

                                              We could survive on bread, cheese and wine, happily. Alas, we have no self-control where those are concerned. You'd need to stencil "Boeing" on our butts. :0

                                  4. Anyone know where I can get liquid levain in DC?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: ams1


                                      Yes...it lives in your flour bag!
                                      Monday morning:
                                      Step one:

                                      Put 125 grams water in a mixing bowl

                                      Add 50 grams of rye flour

                                      Add 50 grams of all purpose flour.

                                      Mix well and cover lightly with plastic.

                                      Monday afternoon:

                                      Add 125 grams of water
                                      50 grams of rye
                                      50 grams of all purpose

                                      Tuesday Morning

                                      Take one half of your sour...toss out the rest.
                                      to it add 125 grams of water,
                                      50 grams of rye
                                      50 grams or all purpose.

                                      Tuesday afternoon:

                                      add 125 grams of water
                                      50 grams of rye
                                      50 grams of all purpose

                                      Wednesday morning

                                      remove half of the sour
                                      add 125 grams of water
                                      100 grams of all purpose...no more rye.

                                      Wednesday afternoon

                                      add 125 grams of water
                                      100 grams of all purpose

                                      Thursday morning

                                      remove half your sour
                                      add 125 grams water
                                      100 grams all purpose

                                      Thursday afternoon
                                      add 125 grams water
                                      100 grams AP flour

                                      Friday Morning...you may just see gas forming by now.

                                      Remove half your sour
                                      add 125 grams water
                                      100 grams all purpose

                                      Friday afternoon
                                      add 125 grams water
                                      100 grams all purpose

                                      You should have an active culture of liquid levain by now!

                                      You can continue to feed it once to twice a day for another weak. Remember to remove half the sour and toss it.

                                      Keep the formula 125% water to 100% flour.

                                      After you have a strong culture, you can refrigerate your levain and each week a couple of days before you bake, take it out of the fridge, remove half and feed. as you did when you started it.

                                      The rye is there to start the culture. The enzymes in the rye really accelerate the process, but it is not necessary! You can do it with all purpose flour alone. It may just take a day or three longer to get going.

                                      Let me know how you do!

                                      Adagio Bakery & Cafe

                                      1. re: Adagio

                                        Adagio, what is the science or purpose of removing half of the sour so often and throwing it out?

                                        And, at what point is it ready to use. At that point, wouldn't the 1/2 I remove from the mother culture be what I use to actually bake with, as in remove and make a loaf with 1/2 the starter, feed remaining starter and put it back in the fridge?

                                        Please advise.

                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                          Gingershelley, those are the questions I have had for years....it seems unclear and wasteful to me. I guess, tho, that the throwing away part is so that it can be fed frequently without becoming the size of a house - ?

                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                            Personally, when I start a new wild yeast starter (also known as sourdough starter, but mine isn't sour), I start with much, much smaller amounts of flour and water. I tend to do, say, 10 grams flour, 10 grams water - no rye.

                                            If you don't remove some of the starter each time you refresh, you'll have to add an increasingly larger amount of flour and water. For example, let's say you have 50 grams of starter that you want to refresh. I'd add 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water - so twice the amount of flour and water of what's already in the starter. If I had 500 grams of starter, I'd have to add 500 grams of flour and water to refresh it. That's really wasteful.

                                            I don't through out the starter I remove - I'll use it for making pancakes, waffles, cakes, and so on.

                                      2. Hi all-

                                        I'm fairly new to bread baking, and have recently began exploring the recipes in Bread Baker's Apprentice. I have made several of them, and I've noticed the same problem each time (which seems to mean it's my technique rather than his instructions/procedures): my bread always registers higher on an instant probe thermometer than Reinhart indicates it should be (often as high as 88-90 degrees, instead of at the required 79-81) and yet it doesn't pass the windowpane test. I start checking half way through the suggested kneading time, and it's nearly always above temperature, and yet just pulls apart when I try to stretch it. Today, out of curiosity, I probed it before I started kneading, and found it to be 86-87 degrees. Does that mean I'm adding water that's too hot, and thus leaving too much residual heat in my dough? Or is there another factor I'm not seeing?

                                        In case it matters, here's how I have been kneading my dough: entirely in a large Oxo bowl, rather than on a counter. This innovation (to me at least) was brought about due to a back injury that made standing uncomfortable, and the total lack of counterspace in my kitchen (and Reinhart mentions it as a technique in the tutorial at the start of BBA). It means that I'm not adding any extra flour - when I first started, I was often adding 1/2 cup in order to keep my dough from sticking. For the record, I have done the kneading the "traditional" way and in the bowl, and the result is always the same.

                                        My second problem is the amount of rise I'm able to get during the final proofing before baking. After the hour Reinhart indicates, the dough has either not doubled in size or has started deflating a bit, which is compounded when I score and transfer the dough to bake it. Is there some way I don't know about to measure when to stop the final proofing so that you still get some oven "spring"?

                                        Thanks, and please let me know if I'm not being clear enough. I really appreciate the help!

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: guster4lovers


                                          This will take a few emails. If we're talking white flour, pre-ferment doughs, 76F is MORE than enough!

                                          Also, you MUST correct for temperature during the mixing phase!!!

                                          So, if you have all the parts:

                                          Flour temperature, room temperature, preferment temperature and mixer friction...here's how it goes.

                                          Flour, room, pre-ferment, water are four parts. At 76F that's 4 X 76 = 304F


                                          Flour = 65F
                                          Room = 66F
                                          Pre=ferment = 68F
                                          Mixer Friction = 15F

                                          Total 304
                                          Flour -65
                                          Room -66
                                          Pre-ferment -68
                                          Mixer friction -15

                                          Water = 90F

                                          This will get you to the desired dough temperature and consistency.

                                          1. re: Adagio

                                            I just bought a KitchenAid 600 Pro stand mixer, and I do not know what is meant by mixer friction, and pre ferment. my house is at 72 degrees, so does that mean my water and flour need to be at 72 as well? Also how did you do the calculations to figure the mixer friction

                                            1. re: we3lsc

                                              Ok- I've baked bread for over 30 years & IMHO the only temp I pay attention to is that of liquids added to the yeast (ie. too hot). All this other stuff just confuses & complicates- how can anyone learn to bake bread by constantly sticking thermometers into the ingredients?

                                              1. re: bevwinchester

                                                Hi bev,

                                                I'm a seasoned cook and a novice baker, but just as I use an oven thermometer to check my oven temp before baking, I use a Thermapen to check ingredient temps and final loaf temp when baking. To me, it's just common sense.

                                                My range's oven always signals it's preheated at 220º, and my Breville oven shows 240º when it's signalling 350º, for example. So I stick my oven thermometer in as soon as I turn those on. I once removed a loaf from the oven when time was up. It thumped hollow and had a nice golden crust, but it was underbaked. Ever since that loaf I've been checking the temp of my loaves and have had zero problems.

                                                You say I can't learn to bake bread this way, and perhaps you're right, if by 'baking bread' you mean doing everything by feel and look, without bothering with measuring spoons, scales, recipes and thermometers. Me, I'm fine with all those things. To each baker her own, yes?

                                                1. re: bevwinchester

                                                  Bev, this is not directed at you, necessarily, just at the topic...

                                                  Many professional bakers use precision times and temperatures at all stages of the baking process in order to produce large quantities with consistent results and perhaps with several bakers contributing. They consider things like friction in the mixer, room temperature, etc. to obtain exact results every time.

                                                  For the most part, the home bread baker could/should pay attention to the following temperatures:

                                                  finished loaf

                                                  The liquids, so that you don't kill the yeast.

                                                  The oven, for obvious reasons. Home ovens don't necessarily heat to the temperature that you set them at; you can usually just take your chances, but I have sometimes found the need to use an oven thermometer. If you don't use one, be aware that your baking time might be different from the recipe.

                                                  Using a probe thermometer of good quality is an excellent way to be sure your loaf is baked perfectly. I have baked bread for about forty years, and I began using my thermopen to check for doneness a few years ago. I will never go back to guessing.

                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                    Even professional bakers don't get times and temps right. It is because of the following reasons:

                                                    1) each batch of flour can have slight variance in the gluten and the amount of water it absorbs. During each kneading, a final visual and tactile check is done to see and feel if the dough consistency is all right.

                                                    2)each batch of yeast may have slight variations in efficacy. it is difficult to keep this consistent.

                                                    The air pockets raising the bread before it goes into oven is carbon dioxide. the final rising that happens inside the oven heat is steam expanding. Why I mention it is because for a good baking, high temperatures, constant movement of air (like fan oven) and copious moisture like steam oven are all very important.

                                                    1)Low temperature results in poor rise. So preheat fully. For domestic oven I recommend the highest setting.

                                                    2)If you like bread, proper steam oven is a good investment.

                                                    (you can convert ordinary domestic oven to stem baking by splashing 100ml water EVERY 7 minutes.)

                                                    I uploaded a pic of the bread (baguette) that I do most often. Small amount of organic rye and spelt added to cheap ordinary flour with sea salt. The dough is extra matured for 2 to 3 days inside the fridge for flavour and good rise. Green tint is from added spirulina and wakame.

                                          2. Hi.
                                            I'm working on a baguette recipe, where there's a pate fermente that's about 70% the total weight of the flour. Can you tell me your thoughts on the best time and method to incorporate this is?

                                            I've been mixing it into the water & yeast, then adding the flour & salt. This results in a very ... STRONG dough, that rips itself apart at the seam. (no, it's not too much flour during shaping, I've tested that to death!). I've tried adding an additional amount of water to the dough, to soften it. This almost worked, but the dough is so soft, it's very difficult to work.

                                            Any help would be appreciated!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: MDCurrent918


                                              70% is a lot.

                                              Try throttling back to about 40% and see how that goes for you for taste.

                                              As far as gluten development, take your pate fermente and break it into pieces and throw it in during the incorporation phase.

                                              Mix the dough for about 2-3 minutes until it comes together, then about 4-6 minutes at medium speed...about 8 on a kitchen aid.

                                              That's enough!!!!!!

                                              Two stretch and folds will provide all the gluten you need after that!

                                              Adagio Bakery

                                            2. I have a question about baguettes. Is a cloth couche absolutely required? My crust comes out TOO thick and I understand a couche is supposed to help that to develop. I've been using my super parchment with towels rolled up under the parchment to create the u-shaped spaces for proofing the baguettes, so I don't have to handle the dough at all once the baguettes have been formed and proofed.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: ZenSojourner


                                                Of course you can get around the Egyption or artist linen...but it's less fun!

                                                If your crust is coming out thick, I suspect either you're not using steam, or not enough!


                                                1. re: Adagio


                                                  How do you propose the home baker deal with a starter? In other words, not baking every day or even every other day....maybe once a week or two weeks...it seems a bit silly to be a slave to the starter if you don't use it that often. (Seems wasteful, as well) I've heard it can be frozen; is this worth it?


                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                    I keep my starter in the fridge when I'm not using it. I refresh as needed. If it's been a long time since the last time I used it - say, a few weeks or longer - then I'll refresh it twice before I use it again. It's kept fine for months at a time.

                                              2. I'm glad you're here. I've just finished a one year Baking and Pastry Arts program at a local college and entered a baking competition where I won gold for my bread, bronze for cookies and bronze overall. All at age 57. I'm trying to recreate my success at home but I don't have access to fresh yeast like at the lab at school and we never did cover how to substitue dry yeast for fresh. Is there a formula?

                                                If anyone can help I'd really appreciate it.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: RuralDeb

                                                  Here's a chart you can use, it's more accurate than trying to use a formula.

                                                  Good luck to you! Baking bread at home has it's challenges over baking in the commercial ovens that schools and restaurants use, but you should be able to create some great breads in your own kitchen.

                                                  1. re: RuralDeb

                                                    You can often buy fresh yeast in cake form in the refrigerator case in most mega-marts.

                                                    This is the fresh to dry conversion rate.
                                                    "to convert fresh cake yeast to instant yeast, for 1 packed tablespoon/0.75 ounce cake yeast use 2 teaspoons instant yeast or 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry"

                                                    1. re: RuralDeb


                                                      You don't need fresh yeast. I do admit that it does perform better, but it only lasts about 3 weeks. So instead use INSTANT yeast at about 33% that of the fresh. It needs no pre-proofing...I don't know who started that rumor. Just throw it in with the rest of the ingredients and mix.

                                                      1. re: RuralDeb

                                                        I started baking with yeast 65 years ago when we were living in Argentina where yeast was sold in bulk (you bought it by the 100 grams) at bakeries. I used to use 1 level tablespoon, packed, for 1 cake of yeast as was called for in American recipes at that time. And 1 cake should correspond to 1 envelope of dry. Nowadays I do sometimes see cakes of fresh yeast but not at all stores.

                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                          Fresh yeast outperforms all others. However, it is tough to get in small quantities and three weeks later, it's toast...sorry about that.

                                                          Instant, (dry) is very good. In formulas that call for fresh, just use about .33 of the amount called for for fresh. Also, I like to make up the difference in water.

                                                          Remember, Fresh yeast is mostly moisture.

                                                          Remember to always check your hydration by "feel" and also...the all important dough temperature is a good way to keep consistency from loaf to loaf.

                                                      2. I bought a loaf of bread at my local farmer's market. It was super delicious! I went back the next week to find out what type of bread it was. The kid working the tent said it was applesauce bread. He also recommended oatmeal bread. Does anyone have any tried and true recipes for these breads? I'd never heard of them before.

                                                        For reference they were like half wheat/half white sandwich breads with a touch of sweetness. The crumb was full of tiny bubbles that gave a pleasant spongy or bouncy texture to the bread. And the crust was a thin pale brown.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: AmandaCA

                                                          Hi, Amanda, I don't know how this measures up to your farmers' market bread, but I love this recipe. I've made it many times, and always successfully.

                                                          Give it a try!


                                                        2. Ralph, are you still hanging around to answer questions?

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                            He was here two days ago--check upthread for his e-maill address......

                                                            1. re: sandylc


                                                              Absolutely. I admit not as much as I should!!! I'll try to fix that!


                                                            2. I love making bread at home and tried both fresh making on the same day and proofing overnight in the fridge. Both ended up with very good.
                                                              But this time, I've tried to do "2 days proofing in the fridge"for the first time. The texture was good, but the yeast flavor took over way too much and tasted awful. Is there maximum proofing time in the fridge?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: milkbd


                                                                The more you ferment the bread, the more acidiy it will create. Slow fermentation, or retarding, in the fridge works best with sour dough formulas and one night is about the limit.

                                                                It's a great way to "get up and bake", instead of "get up and make bread".

                                                                Happy Baking!

                                                              2. I have a question....I bake bread about every three weeks and about 8 to 10 loaves. I use Nancy Silverton's Breads from La Brea Bakery recipes and starter that I have had for years. I cool the bread for most of the day then cut the loaves in half, wrap them in plastic and freeze them for later use. Nine times out of ten the crust breaks off in chunks, like there are large air bubbles underneath. What causes this and can I prevent it? Thanks in advance for your wisdom.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: carluccio

                                                                  Is it a big bubble on this inside? Like this?


                                                                  Lots of answers to baking problems on that site.

                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                    No there are no bubbles, the crust just separates from the remainder of the loaf. I just baked a batch and after they have been frozen I will post a photo, thanks for your response.

                                                                    1. re: carluccio

                                                                      Also check, oiling your dough before rising. Google is helpful here with your problem.

                                                                  2. re: carluccio

                                                                    Not much help, just to say that this happens to me too. My bread is perfect, but once frozen, thawed and crisped up again: flying crust. Underbaking the bread a bit helps, but the taste will suffer.

                                                                    1. re: carluccio

                                                                      This happens to me, too. I freeze mini-baguettes in individual plastic bags that I put inside heavy freezer bags. When it's time to eat, I thaw the bread (usually in the MW), then pop it into the toaster oven to crisp. The amount of de-crusting is directly proportional to time spent in the freezer. The first week, good as new. Second week, maybe a little de-crusting . By the third or fourth week, much of the crust cracks off when I cut it.

                                                                        1. re: carluccio

                                                                          OK...for a real educated guess...I would have to see the formula and the method. However, I would question the shaping technique and ask if you're using steam in the intitial stages of the bake. Also, at what temp are you baking? Are these pan breads or free loaves?

                                                                          adagio bakery

                                                                          1. re: Adagio

                                                                            Seems to be related to the bread being frozen. See below in the thread.

                                                                        2. I have a post at the end of this feed asking why my crust separates from the bread. Not sure anyone has seen the post. Any comments?

                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                          1. re: carluccio

                                                                            I did see it, but I was waiting for someone smarter than me to answer it for you! I do wonder if you observe bubbles/air pockets on the surface of the risen loaves before baking. I have read that you can pop these with a toothpick. But I don't know what is causing it, and I am fairly sure that it should be prevented rather than fixed.

                                                                            I hope my comment helps to draw attention to your question....

                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                              Thanks Sandy, I don't think it is air bubble because the breaks are too irregular. My husband thinks it might come from the misting in the first 5 minutes of baking. Anyone else have a thought?

                                                                              1. re: carluccio

                                                                                Ah-h...just reading in my new Jeffrey Hamelman book that the misting should only be in the first several seconds of baking.....

                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                  In these recipes you mist the oven, not directly on the bread, 3 times within the first 5 minutes. Don't think that is what it is. I think the bread may expand during freezing and then shrink during defrosting and it causes the crust to come loose. I would love a solution but if it is the freezing is it we are living with it I don't want to bake every other day!

                                                                              2. re: sandylc

                                                                                Does it have to do with moisture migration to the outer edge of the crust from the middle of the dough? What about swapping out the plastic wrap?

                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                  THat's a thought I will give that a try, thank you!

                                                                                  1. re: carluccio

                                                                                    Whenever you can, it is best to freeze food naked on a baking sheet until it is hard, then bagging/wrapping it. It's also best to avoid nuking good bread if you can.

                                                                              3. re: carluccio

                                                                                By any chance, carluccio, are you cooling the bread in the pans? If so, the bread continues to bake, especially the outer edge -- the crust -- that is in contact with the heat of the pan. This can lead to uneven baking, wherein the crust is denser and dryer than the crumb, and so it doesn't stay on.

                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                  No I bake it on a stone in the oven and it cools on racks after it comes out. Thanks

                                                                                  1. re: carluccio

                                                                                    Still a mystery, then. Check the baking sites. Loads of really good ones that have troubleshooting sections. Good luck.

                                                                                2. re: carluccio

                                                                                  Carluccio, do you read French? Here's a pdf which deals with all kinds of bread problems and on page 15 has reasons for "croute qui s'ecaille" with fresh and frozen bread: http://www.cannelle.com/BILIOTHEQUE/r...

                                                                                  1. re: ZoeLouise

                                                                                    Interesting site, Zoe. Thanks. Please help with my translation:

                                                                                    Bread fault: Crust "coming off in scales"
                                                                                    Frozen bread:
                                                                                    Freezing bread is forbidden in [French] bakeries
                                                                                    Too much air flow in freezer {leading to excessive drying]
                                                                                    Freezing too long

                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                      That's what I make of it, together with overproofing, too much steam and too hot oven. As we probably don't add Vitamin C, that shouldn't be our problem.

                                                                                3. Just remember that your yeast is alive, like a little baby, so you treat it like a baby. Feed it (it likes flour and sugar and isn't crazy about salt) and keep it warm (but not too hot). I remember my aunt's only attempt at working with yeast when she put the dough to rise on a VERY hot sunny back porch and killed her yeast. Liquids added to your yeast should be body temperature, like baby formul, and you want to keep Baby out of drafts and heat waves.

                                                                                  1. What a great topic! Thank you. Will this be a separate board discussion eventually?

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: kara2006

                                                                                      This is a good thread, but there are many others similar to it, with an entire world of experience in the posts.

                                                                                    2. Tender, Fluffy Bread with a Roux

                                                                                      You can use a flour and water roux in bread baking to make a more tender, fluffy loaf. The starch in the roux also traps water and retains it in the finished bread causing it to stay fresh and moist longer. Some people say their bread lasts up to a week.

                                                                                      Just a flour and water roux, no oil is added.

                                                                                      It's a technique developed in China called "Tang Zhong" Method Bread.

                                                                                      The flour and water (5 to 1 ratio water to flour by weight) is heated to 65 C / 150 F to form the smooth roux. The roux can be heated in a saucepan or in the microwave.

                                                                                      2 1/2 Tbs of flour to about 1/2 cup of water is enough roux for a 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb loaf.

                                                                                      The cooled roux is just added to the dough mixture with the other wet ingredients, or to the bread machine basket.

                                                                                      You will probably have to adjust the other flour in the recipe up or the other wet ingredients down to compensate for the extra moisture from the roux.

                                                                                      This technique can be used on any type of yeast bread recipe. Kneading and bake times are unchanged for any recipe.

                                                                                      I've used this method with all-purpose flour and bread flour. I haven't tried whole-wheat flour, but there are whole-wheat recipes that can be found with a Google search.

                                                                                      Google "Tang Zhong Bread" for more info on the subject.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. I have been successful at making the long rising 18 hour bread but regular bread is not working out for me. My dough always rises but once baked the bread is heavy what am I doing wrong?

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                          @Ruthie789: if you're using the same dough recipe for long rise and regular rise, then the success of the long rise would mean that the bread's gluten has developed better in that approach. So you should try more thorough kneading of the dough when making regular bread. For most doughs, it makes sense to go for the windowpaning effect:


                                                                                          It is also possible that the longer rise would allow some time for a moderate amount of fermentation, but I would think that would only make for a flavor boost, not a texture boost.

                                                                                          1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                            I do not use the same recipe for the regular rise. I have been successful as mentioned with the long rise and as well with refridgerator rolls which require an overnight stay in the fridge. However each time I attempt a regular loaf everything goes fine, the dough rises but once cooked it is heavy. I will try to knead more and use the link above. My aim a light soft dough... ah if only. Thank you for your help.

                                                                                        2. what internal temperature should I be looking for on my homebaked bread?

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: rtms

                                                                                            Most homebaked breads are done at an internal temperature of 195-F. Some rustic breads are better when cooked to 200-F.

                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                              Yikes and thank you! I guess the 220 F was a little high but I was so tired of gummy bread and the crust was nice.

                                                                                            2. re: rtms

                                                                                              I do 190 on American and enriched breads, but take rustic ones to 200.

                                                                                              1. re: rtms

                                                                                                I tend to take rustic bread to 205+. I like the "bold" darker style of crust, and that's generally the internal temp by the time the crust gets where I like it.

                                                                                                In case you don't already know: resist the urge to cut the bread before it's cooled.

                                                                                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                  I agree: Dark Crust = GOOD STUFF.

                                                                                                  I hate the type of bakery where everything is pale. Gummy and tasteless.

                                                                                              2. I'm pretty new to baking bread at home.

                                                                                                What kind of thermometers do home bread bakers use to test the dough temperature in the kneading stages, as well as to test when it's done (aside from the Drum test).

                                                                                                Also, some recipes I've read recommend misting the loaves with water a couple of times in the first 5-6 minutes, in addition to placing a CI pan with water in the bottom of the oven.

                                                                                                It seems that opening the oven to mist is counterproductive. Any thoughts on that?

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                    The Thermapen is about $ 5.00 cheaper directly from Thermoworks.


                                                                                                    If you need a timer, they sell the best timer for $ 19

                                                                                                1. Hi All --

                                                                                                  It's me again. I have another question. I made a batch of the following over the weekend:


                                                                                                  I read somewhere (I thought here, but I guess not...) someone suggested "up to a third" of the flour could be substituted with semolina, and it would magically transform the flavor. For some strange reason, I happened to have semolina flour, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

                                                                                                  The trouble I had was that the dough didn't really rise as much as I'd thought it would. It never quite doubled. I let it rise for well over two hours. It got close, but eventually after 90 minutes it simply stopped moving. The resulting product was somewhat dense; not quite like a bagel, but not nearly as light as I'd have liked. It's not a total loss, just a little bit disappointing.

                                                                                                  My question: was this due to the semolina? Or is it more likely some of my yeast had given up the ghost? I had several partial packets of yeast and one fresh one in my fridge. Some of them may have been rather old (6-12 months old).

                                                                                                  Insight? Thank you!

                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: egit

                                                                                                    I see the recipe calls for 1 1/2 Tbsp of kosher salt for 6 1/2 cups of flour. This is okay if you used kosher salt. If you used this much sea salt or table salt, it might be too much and might inhibit yeast growth, making a dense loaf. If substituting sea salt for kosher salt, I would use only 1 Tbsp for the recipe, based on the weights below.

                                                                                                    I just weighted some table salt, sea salt and kosher salt I have on hand:

                                                                                                    Morton Table Salt 19.2 gm per Tbsp
                                                                                                    La Baleine Coarse Sea Salt 19.0 gm per Tbsp
                                                                                                    Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt 12.9 gm per Tbsp

                                                                                                    I had bulk 1-lb packs of instant yeast (stored airtight) in my freezer that were 5 years past the expiration date and worked fine. Store your yeast in the freezer. I used it right out of the freezer without warming to room temp and it worked fine.

                                                                                                    1. re: egit

                                                                                                      Dunno...but all the semolina I've used is far heavier than regular bread flour -- meaning, the same amount of yeast as before isn't going to provide enough ooomph to make that heavy dough rise. I encountered the same thing when first making rye breads with heavier rye meal flours -- the loaves were dense.

                                                                                                      Solutions? Increase the quantity of yeast, or accept that the loaf will dense, or reduce the quantity (or eliminate) the semolina or??

                                                                                                      Did you like the flavor of adding the semolina? If not, go back to the original recipe.

                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                        Curious about this...just checked the King Arthur Semolina Bread recipe and it uses 1 Tablespoon yeast PER LOAF (made with 3 cups semolina flour).

                                                                                                        Your linked recipe used 1.5 Tablespoons for three loaves, or half a tablespoon per loaf.

                                                                                                        So, increase your yeast quantity.

                                                                                                        Also, most semolina flour breads (Italian, usually) are slightly dense.

                                                                                                      2. re: egit

                                                                                                        Thanks guys.

                                                                                                        Antilope - I used diamond crystals, so it wasn't that it was over-salted. I will confess that I measured one T of yeast, and then it looked "about like a half T" for the rest. My eye is pretty good, but I can't swear to that quantity. Nice tip on the freezer though. I'll store yeast in the freezer in the future.

                                                                                                        maria - It tasted fine, but if that's a trade-off, I'll ditch the semolina next time. I'm waiting until the remainder of the dough ferments a bit to see if it makes any appreciable difference. I made the dough Saturday morning and baked a small loaf from it on Sunday.

                                                                                                        Thanks again! I really appreciate there being one thread I can throw out random bread questions with the hope that someone will share insight and experience.

                                                                                                        1. re: egit

                                                                                                          Personally, I do all my baking in weight, not volume. I find it easier to consistently get good results. One main problem with baking using volumes is that you don't know how the recipe writer measures her flour. Packed? Sifted? How sifted? Scooped? And how do you measure and how does that compare to the recipe writer?

                                                                                                          One informal study done over at The Fresh Loaf, I believe, showed that a cup of flour could range anywhere from 100 grams to 250 grams depending on if it was sifted, how it was sifted, if it was scooped, packed, and so on.

                                                                                                          Then if you're substituting one type of flour for another, they may have different densities. I checked my handy dandy online conversion tool at http://www.onlineconversion.com/weigh... and found that:

                                                                                                          1 cup flour, all purpose = 125 grams
                                                                                                          1 cup semolina = 167 grams

                                                                                                          That's for sifted flour. There was no semolina flour listed, so I don't know how much that weighs, but to give you some idea...

                                                                                                          1 cup barley flour = 148 grams
                                                                                                          1 cup rice flour = 158 grams

                                                                                                          There are also flours listed that weight less than all purpose wheat flour, but I'm guessing that semolina flour probably weighs more per cup that white flour, and if that's the case, one contributing factor could be that the dough was more dense than when you use white flour only.

                                                                                                          My suggestion is to get a scale and use that for baking. You'll be closer to getting consistent results and it'll be easier to rule out the weight of the flour as a source of the problem.

                                                                                                          If you go that route, keep in mind that salt is usually measured at 2% of the total weight of the flour.

                                                                                                          1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                            I agree that weights are much better. But finding recipes that go by weight involves moving up a notch or two sophistication of sources, which not everyone is game to do. I'm not saying weights are more challenging--quite the contrary--but only that recipes that go by weight aren't what you find in the popular press and newspapers and common cookbooks very often, alas.

                                                                                                            edit: p.s., the word "formula" is sometimes helpful in Googling baking recipes that go by weight (e.g., "semolina bread formula"). Also "baker's weight."

                                                                                                            1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                              It's really not that difficult, for any volume recipe, to reverse engineer the flour weight from the weight of the liquids that are called for. People may use different methods to volume measure flour, but liquid volume should be pretty accurate. If you want a 60% hydration and weigh the liquids, the flour weight is easy to determine.

                                                                                                              Example: If the recipe calls for 1 cup of water, it weighs 236 gm / .60 = 393 gm of flour.

                                                                                                              As an example for the recipe in question calling for 3 cups of water and 6 1/2 cups of flour: I have a bakers formula for wheat bread (bread flour and whole wheat flour) calling for 63% hydration. Probably similar to the bread flour and semolina flour recipe. Doing the math results in:

                                                                                                              3 cups water = 236 gm * 3 = 708 gm / .63 = 1123.8 gm of flour total. Just divide the flour weight up by 50 / 50 or 25 / 75 etc, depending on how much semolina and how much bread flour is used.

                                                                                                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                I use the conversion tool I linked to above to convert recipes from volume to weight. I've converted all the baking recipes I use to weights, including cakes, souffles, cookies, brownies. Works great and the conversion is not at all difficult.

                                                                                                                Using the above recipe, the 6.5 cups flour is 812 g with the called for 3 cups water, or 711 grams. That gives a really high hydration of 87%. Antilope's theoretical 63% is typical of a French bread loaf. I see 87% very rarely, like with a very slack ciabatta, but I can see it working for a no-knead bread.

                                                                                                                1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                  Actually, I've found that the linked recipe has quite a few errors, certainly factual errors.

                                                                                                                  Though it's convenient to work from an established recipe -- especially one with ingredients in weights -- not all recipes are honed, and that's the case here.

                                                                                                                  I feel like a better approach would be to take the No-Knead Bread Recipe or the 5-Minute recipe and adapt it yourself.

                                                                                                                  Or, to take a great bread baking book -- like any of Peter Reinhart's books, the Tartine bread baking book, Bouchon's -- and use those recipes, which are tightly honed. Some recipes from those books are online, and some, of course, are here on Chowhound.

                                                                                                                  Finally, the Debra Wink website is phenomenal for recipes and explanations.

                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                    I hadn't read the recipe in detail, so I'll take your word for it. Personally, I adapt all recipes anyway. I use only sourdough starter, not commercial yeast, so that's adapted after I convert the recipe to weight...

                                                                                                                    1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                      And we have to bear in mind that bakers come in a variety of skill levels and with varying amounts of curiosity and time.

                                                                                                                      While you may enjoy converting or adapting a bread recipe, that may be too much work or effort for another. While some of us may enjoy using and maintaining a starter, that isn't workable for others. Or the lack of an accurate digital scale means weighing ingredients is out. And so forth. So recipes must come in many forms.

                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                        What's funny about bread baking is how well it follows a pattern that I have noticed in life:

                                                                                                                        You have to learn the rules before you can break them.

                                                                                                                        In other words, after you've made the long journey through discovering how things work (including precise weights, etc.), only then can you throw some stuff randomly into a bowl, stir it up, and get a reasonable loaf as your result.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                            Which is why I advocate using a recipe with weights. It's a much, much, much shorter learning curve than baking with volume measurements.

                                                                                                            2. I'm addicted to Peter Reinhart's Multi Grain Bread Extraordinaire. I find that I bake up a loaf about once a week. Have two questions. Could I double the recipe and just bake in two pans? I would love to share a loaf but despite my good intentions I end up eating it. HaHa.
                                                                                                              Also wondering could I substitute a smmall portion of whole wheat flour for bread flour?
                                                                                                              thanks so much.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: chocchic

                                                                                                                I find that generally speaking a substitution of 25% or less of whole wheat flour is OK. Doubling the recipes should also work if you have the muscles/equipment to handle the mixing of so much heavy dough. With either/both changes you might have to adjust the flour/water a bit to acheive the right hydration; you are familiar with this dough, so you should be able to judge this by looks/feel.

                                                                                                                1. re: chocchic

                                                                                                                  I just made that bread yesterday, using millet - it came out really well. My main change was that used the bread maker instead of doing it by hand, but it was the best bread I've made so far in the machine!

                                                                                                                  I also substituted 1/3 of the bread flour with whole wheat flour.

                                                                                                                2. I don't bake, but have been yearning to save money on bread, so just this morning I baked my very first loaf of no-knead bread in my 4.5qt clad stainless saucepan. Ta Da! Check out this picture. Isn't it gorgeous?

                                                                                                                  It is very, very good bread. A classic rustic loaf. I'd read that it can be rather blah tasting, but it wasn't. Maybe it's because I live in Tampa and it's warmer here. Maybe it's because I don't have any instant yeast, so used a bit more active dry yeast. Maybe I'm a magician. Whatever the reason, it has a great crust, a chewy crumb and a nice yeasty tang.

                                                                                                                  But, I'd also like to find a recipe that produces a lighter, less chewy crumb, something a little better suited to sandwiches, along the lines of fresh supermarket French bread. I'm open to anything. Any ideas?

                                                                                                                  1. I remember watching an aunt's first (and only) attempt at yeast baking---she set her dough to rise on a REALLY hot back porch in the sun, thinking the more heat, the better, and of course she killed her yeast. Grown up now (and a yeast baker) I always tell beginning bakers to think of yeast as if it were a little baby that you must keep warm and feed but must protect from extremes. Like an infant, yeast likes body temperatures. It eats carbohydrate (sugar and flour), it does better if it's kept out of cold drafts, and it eliminates but in a more pleasant way than a baby does--- bubbles of air that make the dough rise and make the whole house smell like baking bread.

                                                                                                                    1. This is the bread I made twice a week for years. It makes extraordinary toast. Dissolve 1 cake yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and let set 45 minutes. Meanwhile melt and cool 1 stick (4 oz) butter. When cool, add to the yeast with 1 beaten egg, 2 cups lukewarm water, 2 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup sugar. Beat thoroughly then work in 8 cups flour and knead until elastic, about 10 minutes. Let rise. Punch down and form 2 loaves. Let rise again. Place in COLD oven and turn temperature to 400* then after 15 minutes to 375* and bake bread 25 minutes longer. Brush loaves with butter. VARIANT: Instead of 8 cups white flour use 2 cups white flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 cups yellow cornmeal, and 2 cups Kellogg's All Bran cereal.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                        <It makes extraordinary toast.>

                                                                                                                        Would you say it's like English muffin bread, then?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                          Querencia, I really like the sound of your bread. However, do you think it would work if leaving the eggs out? One family member cannot eat anything with eggs.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                            :) enjoyed reading your recipe. Butter and egg will add yumminess. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like this recipe may need modifying since we have some of the best yeasts human civilisation has ever seen.

                                                                                                                            After much experimentation I have gone back to my FOUR ingredient bread.
                                                                                                                            Flour (organic stone milled),
                                                                                                                            Yeast (professional instant dry),
                                                                                                                            Salt, (sea salt > softer bread >better yeast growth)
                                                                                                                            Water (chlorine free)

                                                                                                                            For eating as soon as you have baked (like in our house), then this four ingredient bread is the best. Egg helps if you want to *keep* the bread for a few days. Egg and butter will make the bread taste like cake as well as help shelf life. After the world war, baking bread from cold oven to give it hard crust was popular because hard crust forms an insulation and helps the bread 'keep' for longer.

                                                                                                                          2. I baked this for today's lunch. 60% flour, 15% Spelt 10% Barley 10% Rye + sea salt + 5% sourdough starter + spirulina. Thanks for looking.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                              Those look great. Like a work of art. You almost hate to cut into them.

                                                                                                                            2. I've joined the no-knead cult. Doesn't work for everything, but for the simple breads and pizzas I like to bake, it's excellent. Best of all, it's given me a reason to not replace the standing mixer with dough hook I gave away a couple moves ago. They never were cheap, but nowadays you pay even more and get plastic-geared crap unless you really spend a bundle.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: emu48

                                                                                                                                A bread machine with a separate dough cycle works better, and probably lasts longer kneading dough, than a mixer. You can buy a used one for a really good price. That's what I use, my Kitchenaid mixer seems too wimpy for the task.

                                                                                                                              2. I love homemade bread like Mom used to make and have recently made it frequently. My husband grew up on store-bought wonder bread and isn't fond of the texture of homemade bread.

                                                                                                                                Is there a way to achieve a happy medium in terms of texture? I've tried a few things to get a softer texture, but without success. Is there an ingredient the commercial bakeries use that I don't, a technique I've never heard about? Any help will be appreciated.

                                                                                                                                35 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                  You aren't going to achieve Wonder Bread texture because their kind of bad quality doesn't translate well to the home kitchen.

                                                                                                                                  Maybe try a potato bread recipe and tell him it's a copycat recipe for Wonder Bread.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                    I just found a thread that's all about Wonder Bread at The Fresh Loaf. If you ignore the preachy 'Wonder bread is evil' people, there's a lot of information, and several recipe links, there. :)


                                                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                      There's preachy, and then there's the plain truth.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                        Without accepting your premise, I'll point out that plain truth can be preachy, too.

                                                                                                                                        The OP on Gardenweb had asked for a homemade version of WB and got a lot of people telling her how awful WB is. Not really helpful, is all I'm saying.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                      HI, Getting smooth texture is easy.

                                                                                                                                      1) Using very finely ground strong flour and kneading well.
                                                                                                                                      2) Some moisture in the oven. (Or simply using a steam oven)

                                                                                                                                      Hope this helps

                                                                                                                                      1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                        1)Fine stong flour, 2)steam oven

                                                                                                                                        and the third trick 3) maybe try egg white from one egg added (kneaded into the dough) to compensate for lower quality flour.

                                                                                                                                        4th trick)
                                                                                                                                        protein from milk can work as long as you boil milk thoroughly for 3-minutes and then let it cool to room temperature and then add while kneading. Don't add too much!

                                                                                                                                        Steam oven is key. Commercial breads are baked in steam ovens.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: SomersetDee


                                                                                                                                          I'm not an experienced baker, so hesitate to suggest anything specific to our OP, but will vital wheat gluten help soften bread? IIRC, I read that somewhere.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                            Hi DuffyH, Yes it should :)

                                                                                                                                            Please let us know how it goes. regards

                                                                                                                                        2. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                          DuffyH - I followed your link and found some potential solutions there. And yes, I ignored the "evil Wonder bread" comments :) My husband's preference for soft-textured bread probably won't kill him - and while homemade white bread still isn't the "most healthy" bread, it's a step up from store bought!

                                                                                                                                          SummersetDee - You recommend "very finely ground strong flour." Is there a brand you would recommend? I'm a home cook so only have access to what I can find at the supermarkets.

                                                                                                                                          One of the suggestions I've found in my search is to use a Pullman Pan (Pan de Mie). I've not used one before, but it makes some sense that the cover would reduce evaporation and yield a softer texture. Does anyone have experience with thee pans?

                                                                                                                                          I'm going to try some of these ideas this weekend. I'll let you know my results. I really appreciate all of the responses I've gotten. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                            Pain de Mie is an excellent white bread. If you are using the covered Pain de Mie pan, the biggest challenge is finding the right amount of dough to use in your pan, so that the risen/baked loaf fills the pan without squishing out. You can just make Pain de Mie without the Pullman pan with similar results, just domed on top rather than square.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: pembree


                                                                                                                                              If you do decide to get a pullman pan, I strongly recommend USA Pans. They've got a silicone coating that makes them 100% non-stick, without using butter or oil to coat the pan.


                                                                                                                                            2. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                              This weekend's bread baking session was quite successful! I managed to get a very flavorful loaf with a soft texture and a very thin crust. I had previously added 1/4 cup of milk powder to my standard white bread recipe, which had given me a bit softer texture, so I kept that change. Yesterday, I added 1/4 cup of potato flakes and 4 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten to the mix. It took about 1/2 cup less flour than it usually does, but came together into a wonderful dough.

                                                                                                                                              I wanted to experiment to see if using a metal pan vs. my standard Pyrex pan would yield different results so I ran to the local discount store (didn't want to spend a fortune on an experiment) and found a steel loaf pan for 97 cents.

                                                                                                                                              I also changed technique a bit based on a something I read at The Fresh Loaf (I think). My usual method includes rising in a bowl, then shaping and rising in the pan. This suggested rising in the bowl twice. This made me a little nervous - afraid the yeast would run out of gas - but did it anyway. There was little to no rise after the bread was in the oven, but I'm not sure if it made a difference in texture. Any insight on this?

                                                                                                                                              The final analysis:

                                                                                                                                              1) I don't know if it was the potato flakes or the wheat gluten or the combination, but I'll be including both in future batches.

                                                                                                                                              2) While the crust on both loaves was thin, the steel pan yielded the thinner crust.

                                                                                                                                              3) I'm definitely getting the pullman pan - and DuffyH, that's is exactly the pan I was looking at! (Made in the good old USA is high on my list of qualifiers)

                                                                                                                                              4) I forgot to add steam so I'll put a pan of water in the oven next time and see if it improved the already soft texture.

                                                                                                                                              4) I can't wait to see if the same changes make an appreciable difference in my wheat or oatmeal breads.

                                                                                                                                              Thanks to all who commented.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                Hi Pembree

                                                                                                                                                All my senses tell me that you will get better results by *not* adding the potato flakes. Even though carbohydrates can give an initial boost to yeast it can also give you a more sour (alcohol) taste. Even if bread is being made quickly it will still spoil texture somewhat.

                                                                                                                                                Better bread usually comes from better protein content

                                                                                                                                                (usually in the form of gluten in wheat and 'improvers' as well as the protein in milk if milk has been added. Milk protein softens the bread.)

                                                                                                                                                Warning about adding too much milk. You may find that it reduces the efficacy of yeast.

                                                                                                                                                Your decision regarding a tin pan is spot on. Great intuition. Glass = poor conductor = bad for baking in.

                                                                                                                                                In my humble opinion steam makes the biggest difference. One of the reason why many get better results in a pullman's tin is because of the fact that the bread is baking in its own steam. So in effect it is a steam baked loaf!
                                                                                                                                                kind regards

                                                                                                                                                1. re: SomersetDee


                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the pointers. I did notice that my bread was a little less sweet than the flavor I usually get, but thought that might have something to do with the third rising. It still had a good flavor, so I'm willing to live with it if that keeps me from having to buy the stuff in the colorful plastic wrapper.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm making another batch tonight because it was such a big hit! There's not a bite left after breakfast this morning, so I'll try it without the potato flakes.

                                                                                                                                                  I assumed that some of the texture change was because of the added protein from the dry milk powder. Is there a difference in the yeast's efficiency when using dry milk vs. liquid? Does the amount of fat in the milk make an appreciable difference (skim, 1%, 2%, whole)?

                                                                                                                                                  I'll also put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven for this batch.

                                                                                                                                                  Do you have any insight as to the third rise? Did this contribute to the fine texture? If so, enough to make it worth the extra time involved?

                                                                                                                                                  I've ordered the pullman pan, but won't have it until some time next week :(

                                                                                                                                                  I really appreciate all the help. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                    Hi Pembree,

                                                                                                                                                    a) Yes you are intuitively spot on correct. It is the later rise that gives more flavour. Most artisan bakers do the final bake only at the 3rd to 4th rise. (5th might be pushing it!)

                                                                                                                                                    b) I can tell you that the nature of the flour itself is profoundly important. Please keep trying different brands.

                                                                                                                                                    c) Dry milk powder is less likely to affect the yeast yeild. However, milk powder is less effective in softening the bread than just liquid milk.

                                                                                                                                                    d) Also try different brand yeast. I can recommend "Mauripan" I manage to get 4th rise from it every time!!

                                                                                                                                                    e) If using a pan of water at the bottom. It is great but please ensure that the water is boiling fully and creating steam before putting the bread in.

                                                                                                                                                    f) I mature my dough in the fridge. Refrigerate BEFORE even the first rise. First rise happens slowly in fridge. Then next day, knead and then use part of it or pop it back in fridge to use next day. (I keep a bowl permanently in the fridge. I take out half the dough and add some freshly kneaded dough to keep it going. So essentially I am always using a mixture of very mature dough.)

                                                                                                                                                    g) live bio-yoghurt has a more profound impact on the consistency of the final bread. It initially retards the yeast but later forms a balance. Much of sourdough cultivation has to do with this. So feel free to experiment with that.

                                                                                                                                                    h) Yes you are right that the fat content in milk affects the bread. Fat retards yeast. Not good if you want to mature the bread for many days for taste.

                                                                                                                                                    g) Maturing the bread 'creates' nutrition within it.

                                                                                                                                                    I just love the smell of freshly baked bread. :) I think families not baking bread at home are missing out on the appetising aroma of freshly baked loaf. :)
                                                                                                                                                    kind regards

                                                                                                                                              2. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                The experimentation continues: I've made two more batches of bread trying to isolate the ingredient(s) and/or technique(s) that most contribute to soft texture and small grain. Neither turned out as good as the previous.

                                                                                                                                                Batch one - see my post on Aug 19th - it was great in texture and flavor - very slight sour taste.

                                                                                                                                                Batch two - last Wednesday evening: I took the advise on leaving out the potato flakes and inadvertently omitted the wheat gluten. (Realized about 1/2 into the kneading process and didn't think it would be incorporated well at that point in the process) So, this loaf had the added dry milk and I used the three-rise process and boiling water in the bottom of the oven which yielded a softer, finer grain than I had been getting, but it wasn't as soft as the loaf I made on the 18th. LESSONS - The third rise and the steam help and will be part of my process going forward. Potato flakes were the flavor culprit.

                                                                                                                                                Batch three - yesterday: I managed to remember to add the wheat gluten with the flour and repeated everything else. Got a slightly softer grain than batch two, but still not as soft as the loaf that included the potato flakes, but the very slightly sour taste in the potato flake loaf wasn't there.

                                                                                                                                                Next steps: I got the pullman pan this morning, so my next batch will be baked in the new pan which will, no doubt, complicate my little experiment with other factors - temp, time, volume of dough, etc. I'll try to repeat batch 3 which yields two small loaves (approx. 8x4x4 - weighing in at about 15 ounces each when the loaf is formed before the last rise.) I got the 13 inch pulman pan, hoping that my recipe would be about the right size. A recipe came on the side of the packaging that requires an additional 3/4 cup of flour, so I may end up needing to use a larger recipe or modify mine to make sure I fill the pan. Will attempt mid-week with the recipe, as is, and see what I get.

                                                                                                                                                This has become my new obsession. I'm having as much fun with this analysis as I have doing business analyses for work - but this one has potential to make me get pudgy! I need to recruit additional taste-testers. :-)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: pembree


                                                                                                                                                  I'm following your baking adventure closely, as I'm also on a quest. My goal is a 12-grain loaf to emulate the Oroweat/Arnold's loaf we used to buy at the supermarket. We've been addicted to this loaf since about 20-forever.

                                                                                                                                                  It's a very soft 12-grain, much lighter than similar breads from other bakeries. I've come close, and think adding the VWG may be the final ingredient. I'm encouraged that it's helped your loaves.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                    For soft bread, why not try using cake flour/pastry flour?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buhhh

                                                                                                                                                      because cake flour and pastry flour will make AWFUL bread. There is not enough gluten in them (not enough of the right kinds of proteins) to make a good bread structure, and the particle size is too small. Cake/pastry flours also have a higher proportion of starches (good for cake structure, bad for bread structure). Cake flour is nearly always bleached via a chlorination process, which breaks down the proteins that would normally form gluten structures (which breads need) and breaks down the larger starches to smaller (which is good for cakes as they rely on foam structures formed partly by gelatinization of starches and the damaged/broken down larger starches will gel more appropriately for the cake batter).

                                                                                                                                                      Bread flour is for bread and cake flour is for cake not because somebody thought it would be fun to name them differently, but because they are differently milled, differently treated, and use different varieties of wheat that make them best suited to the named purpose.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                    I grew up eating the breads my mom would buy at the asian bakery. They tended to be fluffy with a bit of chew and very thin almost non existant crust. While this might not be what you want to achieve, I wonder if some of the techniques used to make them can aid you. I've made it with various wheat/other grain flours in combination with standard white bread flour before pretty successfully. I'm not sure how well it would work at say 100% whole wheat. The secret you might want to google around is "tangzhong" which is basically just a 1 to 5 ratio of bread flour to water paste you cook up ahead of time then let cool. This paste lends moisture to the bread which helps it get lots of fluff. In addition, I add vital wheat gluten to aid the "other" flours.

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                    I'm well on my way to a loaf in the new Pullman pan. The dough is working on its first rise as I type (yes, a very early morning today).

                                                                                                                                                    Until the past two weeks I've never made bread on such a regular basis and therefore didn't make note of the small differences in the dough from one day to the next, but they are definitely there.

                                                                                                                                                    This morning's dough was much firmer and less sticky after machine kneading. Temperature in my home is the same today as it on Sunday. Same amount of each ingredient was used. I almost want to bake it in the old pans to see if it changes the final consistency, but that's not the purpose today, and I've been waiting since Monday to use the new pan! I'll post an update on the results.

                                                                                                                                                    DuffyH - I've had the Arnold 12 Grain. It is a wonderful bread. You say you've come close - what have you done to soften the whole grain bread thus far? My favorite is the Oat Nut Bread and have hopes of concurring that after I (and hubby) are happy with this one. Then, on to some multi-grains.

                                                                                                                                                    foxspirit - Thanks for your suggestion. I had heard about bread started with a roux, but didn't know what it was called. I've now read up on it and seen some pics on other sites that make me want to give it a try, so that too is on the list - if today's loaf isn't right, I may give this a try next.

                                                                                                                                                    So many breads, so little time...

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pembree


                                                                                                                                                      I went through several recipes before settling on CI's Multigrain Bread. I was using Bob's Red Mill 10-grain cereal and adding a little more water to the porridge in step 1.

                                                                                                                                                      When I omitted the whole seeds from the recipe, I found I could use less water (I went back to the stated amount) and still get good results. I also omit rolling the loaves in oatmeal. I could never get it to stay on through repeated handling of the finished loaf. By the time we'd consumed half the loaf, the oatmeal was gone.

                                                                                                                                                      So, following along, I'm making the 'as written' loaves minus whole seeds and oatmeal. The recipe makes 2 loaves, which last a couple of weeks for us in the fridge and freezer. I'll be making it again in 3-4 days and will add the VWG to that batch. Stay tuned, film at 11. ;)


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                        Hi Pembree

                                                                                                                                                        Great to hear you are trying out the pullman today. I had been busy a few days (but did manage to read your posts on my phone). It is great news! we are with you all the way! :)

                                                                                                                                                        May I add a warning that animal fats are better for greasing the pullman (Butter, pork lard or beef dripping). Never use olive oil as I found out the hard way :( Olive oil (most vegetable oils) develops a greasy deposit that ruins the pan. If you are vegan or vegetarian then only Groundnut oil (peanut oil) is what I know that does not develop grease or resin.

                                                                                                                                                        Everything else you say makes me think that you are not only on the right track but you may excel everyone else on this forum :) You appear to go about things quite logically.

                                                                                                                                                        One thing is certain: you will make far tastier breads at home than any shop bought breads.

                                                                                                                                                        I am quite eager to hear how your pullman loaf went. If possible please post a picture. Regards, Dee.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                          Results: The firmer dough today made it more difficult to handle between risings this morning. It was as if I had used way too much flour. I should have adjusted during the machine kneading when I noticed, but lesson learned.

                                                                                                                                                          The bread actually turned out quite well. Soft texture, small grain, good flavor.

                                                                                                                                                          The Pullman pan: When I shaped the dough and placed it in the bottom of the pan I thought I might have too little dough, but proceeded anyway. The dough rose to about 3/4 inch from the top of the pan, but rose higher in the middle. I put the lid on and hoped the rise in the oven would even things out.

                                                                                                                                                          Time and temp will need some adjustment. The instructions that came on the pan's packaging said to bake their recipe at 350 for 25minutes, remove the lid and return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                          My recipe bakes at 350, so I thought all would work out well. After 20 minutes, I removed the lid and noted that the ends of the loaf hadn't risen to the top of the pan, so decided to check for done after 15 minutes. When I did, the internal temp was at 200 degrees vs. the 190 degrees I usually call done. So a bit over baked.

                                                                                                                                                          As I said, texture is exactly what I've been trying to achieve, so I'm pretty happy. But, unfortunately, there were a couple of problems.

                                                                                                                                                          First the loaf was crustier than the same recipe in the other pans. Thin crust is one of the goals. Two possible reasons come to mind; the Pullman pan is a dark metal pan vs the cheap shiny steel pan I used earlier in the week. OR the over baking due to too little dough to fill the pan. I hope it's the latter.

                                                                                                                                                          Second, when I cut the third slice, there was a large hole which was visible in about 6 slices. Then more perfect texture until I got to the other end. A matching hole! We had a good laugh. If I'm going to mess up the bread, I'm at least going to be sure it's symmetrical.

                                                                                                                                                          I did take some pics. Suggestions on correcting the two problems are welcomed.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                            Hi Pembree,

                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for the pictures. Congratulations on such fantastic results!! I am not sure if you realise what a great achievement this is to get the pullman loaf right. I would say that the flaws you mention are minor.

                                                                                                                                                            Nice grain structure. The air gap is just because of a bubble of air that was trapped inside. No big deal. As long as you are happy with the grain structure and the taste then you should pat yourself on your back :)

                                                                                                                                                            Small grain soft texture is great for melting some hard or semi-hard cheese on... also goes better when serving with a stew.
                                                                                                                                                            Possible solutions for issue 1) Larger grain structure can be obtained by making a more soft dough consistency. So more water. Longer kneading helps too.

                                                                                                                                                            Possible solutions for issue 2) Even though I like such air holes it can be annoying for making sandwiches. So beat down the dough squeezing with your hands to release trapped air inside. Yeast releases bubbles of CO2 gas. These gases eventually kill the yeast. So by beating the dough down you are helping the yeast grow further!! Beat the dough very lightly (gently) if you want uneven grain. Beat it thoroughly if you want an even grain. I prefer an uneven grain. (small grain-structure littered with areas of larger grain structure.)

                                                                                                                                                            Possible solutions for issue number 3) The excessive rise in the middle and less rise towards the ends (tapering) This is easy to solve. It has to do with consistency again. Tiny bit more water while kneading will give a more pliable dough. Also when you put the dough into the pullmans, make sure it is slightly concave, more towards the ends and slightly dipping in centre. Gravity and the rise takes care of evening it out and you will get a perfect cuboid loaf.

                                                                                                                                                            To me the colour of the crust is just right.

                                                                                                                                                            I am not sure about a suggestion regarding the prominent crust. Please find out if it happens again. Over all all the issues are related... you had a dough which was "too firm".

                                                                                                                                                            (Let me remind you that it is just nit picking. Quite frankly I can't imagine anyone complaining about that beautiful loaf you have there)

                                                                                                                                                            even if pullmans tin does not require extra steam in oven I would still advice leaving a pan of watter bubbling at the bottom. It may possibly solve the crust issue.

                                                                                                                                                            kind regards.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                          This morning I decided to cube the remainder of the loaf from a couple of days ago and freeze for thanksgiving stuffing. I wanted to try it once again...

                                                                                                                                                          I debated whether to increase the recipe a bit or try again with the same quantity of ingredients and decided not to mess with near perfection just yet.

                                                                                                                                                          To avoid the stiff dough problem of last time, I saved out about a full cup of the flour and gradually added about 3/8 cup until it was still very slightly clinging to the bottom of the Kitchen Aid bowl but not the sides. Machine kneaded for about 6 minutes. I had to add about 2 teaspoons of flour during hand kneading.

                                                                                                                                                          Problems pretty much solved now. Got a perfect cube - no sloping at the ends - and a bit looser grain with a nice thin crust.

                                                                                                                                                          I'll try to post a pic later.

                                                                                                                                                          A huge amount of thanks to SummersetDee for all the great advise!

                                                                                                                                                          And DuffyH, I'm cheering you on! Post a pic and update us on your success!

                                                                                                                                                          I'm planning my next challenge now!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                              Holy cow, pembree, that is gorgeous bread. Bravo!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Pembree, Your kitchen is more of a proper lady's kitchen. I guess that is what my wife wants our kitchen to look like. Because I cook 75% of the time our kitchen is more like a food production facility than a "kitchen".

                                                                                                                                                                  My Pullman looks more rustic compared to yours because of the stuff I add to dough. Yours look graceful and elegant.

                                                                                                                                                                  I missed catching up on your breadmaking as we had our third baby last month and its been hectic. I have uploaded a picture of my Pullman's loaf. That appearance is very typical of my loaf because everyone in my house likes it with a bit of crust for added flavour. I do this by removing the lid for 10 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                  best wishes

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                    SomersetDee, Haha. That's funny. It's all about a slight OCD affliction. If the pic were closer in you would note that all of my spice jars are labeled and in alphabetical order so I can always find what I'm searching for (except when someone else invades my kitchen).

                                                                                                                                                                    My little family is very grateful to you. I hadn't purchased a loaf of store bought bread in the past month - until last week when I was putting in really crazy hours for work and thought I wouldn't have time to make a loaf mid-week. I bought a loaf at the store and nobody (not even hubby) ate bread for four days. Yesterday, I tossed it and we now have homemade bread again.

                                                                                                                                                                    Your loaf looks great! I may try to get the rounded top next time. I love the Pullman pan and the loaves fit perfectly in my bread saver.

                                                                                                                                                                    Congratulations on the baby!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                      Great looking Pullman Loaf/Pan de Mie.

                                                                                                                                                                      What was the cause of the hole earlier?

                                                                                                                                                                      Glad you got it fixed -- looks perfect now.

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the photos!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                        maria Lorraine - I'm still not certain why I got the matching holes in that loaf, but I either got too much flour or too little liquid in that loaf and it was pretty hard to handle. I suspect that was the reason, but still not sure.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                        Hi thanks for your kind words :)

                                                                                                                                                                        I am trying to get back into a routine this week. Hopefully, getting back into a baking routine this week.

                                                                                                                                                                        I definitely NEED a bit of OCD in my life haha!

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: pembree


                                                                                                                                                                    Those are perfect loaves. Conga Rats 2 Ewes!

                                                                                                                                                                    On using less flour - Recipes say that in moist climates we will likely need to use the full amount of flour specified, or even add a bit more. I live in Tampa, FL and have found that not to be true for the lighter, fluffier loaves I prefer. Wetter does seem to be better for this effect. And as you noted, the dough is a little sticky.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Hey, everyone

                                                                                                                                                                  I need some advice. I've tried two recipes for burger/hot dog buns and both were near misses. The first was a bit heavy, but would stand up well to a chili dog. The second has been much lighter, but with a large, more rustic crumb. I'm after buns that are like fresh-from-the-bakery. Super light, fluffy, soft, with a fine crumb.

                                                                                                                                                                  As I mentioned, the second recipe gave me light, soft and fluffy, but with a large crumb. I'm thinking of trying a classic dinner roll recipe, like this from Peter Reinhart. What do you think? Is it likely to do the job? If you've got one that you love, please send me a link! Thanks :)


                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                    I like this one (sorry about baking time - I keep forgetting to watch the clock and write it down):

                                                                                                                                                                    Amish Potato Rolls

                                                                                                                                                                    12 rolls

                                                                                                                                                                    2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup reserved warm potato water
                                                                                                                                                                    1 large egg
                                                                                                                                                                    1/4 (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
                                                                                                                                                                    2/3 cup whole milk
                                                                                                                                                                    1 1/4 t. salt
                                                                                                                                                                    2 T. granulated sugar
                                                                                                                                                                    1 T. yeast
                                                                                                                                                                    18 oz. or 510 grams unbleached flour (about 4 cups)

                                                                                                                                                                    1.Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until they are tender when pierced with a fork. drain them completely, reserving 1/2 cup of the potato water; cool the potato water to lukewarm. Rice the potatoes and measure out 1 cup for making the rolls. Cool the mashed potatoes to room temperature.
                                                                                                                                                                    2.Mix the dry ingredients in the stand mixer. Combine the wet ingredients (including the riced potatoes and their cooking liquid) in a bowl. Pour the wet over the dry and mix. Switch to the hook a knead a bit. Adjust the flour if necessary.
                                                                                                                                                                    3.Let rise. Shape into 12 portions (approximately 85 grams each) and round them (or tube them for hotdog buns), then flatten them on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Let rise again. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
                                                                                                                                                                    4.Glaze with egg wash and top with seeds, if desired. Bake for ??? minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc


                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for posting this. I went searching to find the recipe in a format that played well with Paprika. After much searching I hit pay dirt. I found one with the exact same ingredient amounts but I thank you for giving me the flour by weight.

                                                                                                                                                                      It also filled in this novice baker's recipe holes, namely:

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Knead time 4-5 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Approx. rise time, 1 hour (size doubled)
                                                                                                                                                                      3. Baking time 10-12 minutes at 400º (a bit of a difference in temp).

                                                                                                                                                                      I'll try this for my next attempt. As for the recipe I've been using, they'll be re-purposed for tonight's spaghetti feast. They make most excellent garlic bread! :)

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Good Morning!

                                                                                                                                                                    I mixed a loaf on Tuesday night and refrigerated it for baking on Wednesday. Time savings was my main objective but also wanted to see if there would be an appreciable difference in flavor. The bread rose to double in the fridge before I went to bed so I punched it down and placed it back in the fridge. In the morning, there was a significant amount of condensation on the plastic wrap covering the bowl. I understand why, but I didn't know what to do with the condensation. I carefully removed the plastic wrap careful not to drip on the dough and proceeded to allow it to come to room temp, then noted the dough seemed a little drier than it was the night before. Should I have left the condensation and incorporated it?

                                                                                                                                                                    This was an oatmeal bread recipe that I substituted a multigrain hot cereal.

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                      Finally my college courses help me out in life! The amount of water air can hold depends on the temperature of the air, among other factors. Cold air cannot hold as much water vapor or moisture as warm air. So when the air in your sealed container cooled down, some of the water had to go. That's the condensation you noticed.

                                                                                                                                                                      As for why the loaf itself feels dryer, is it possible the cereal absorbed some of the liquid in the dough? My multigrain recipe call for making a porridge of the hot cereal first, which adds an hour to the prep time.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. There is nothing more yummy than fresh, warm cinnamon rolls. I awoke at 4 am for some reason this morning and decided to make a rare treat. I really should do this more often! Icing is made with pure maple syrup. It just doesn't get much better than that.

                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                        The white icing is maple syrup??? Clue me in. Recipe, maybe??

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                          The maple icing you see in the bakeries is actually made with imitation maple flavoring which yields the appetizing tan color. Pure maple syrup, while close in color, when mixed with white powdered sugar yields a much lighter shade. But it is oh so much better.

                                                                                                                                                                          I just used about a cup of powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tbsp. of maple syrup, about 2 tsp. butter and enough milk to make it pourable but not too thin. Add the milk about 1/2 tsp at a time - it doesn't take much. Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                            < ... made with imitation maple flavoring... >

                                                                                                                                                                            Ah, Mapleine. The maple syrup of my childhood. When I hit adulthood I discovered Mrs. Butterworth and never looked back. Now in late adulthood I keep real maple syrup in the house.

                                                                                                                                                                            I serve the real stuff to guests. There's just something about that buttery Mrs. Butterworth's I can't give up. I'll go crawl into a corner now. I'm so ashamed. :(

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Hi Everyone (Pembree, DuffyH et al)
                                                                                                                                                                        How is everyone's bread adventures going? I just thought I will post today's Seaweed bread I made for tonight. Gonna serve it with pork (pimento pork). The bread does look like hedgehogs though!

                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                          Hey SomersetDee,

                                                                                                                                                                          Your photo didn't show up for me. I would love to see that prickly bread. :(

                                                                                                                                                                          I've mostly (and sadly) decided I need to shelve my quest for that really soft 12 grain loaf. I just cannot get anything at all that's near consistent enough to make it our go-to sandwich bread. So it's back to Oroweat for that.

                                                                                                                                                                          But on a better note, although my burger buns aren't quite perfect for burgers (still not super soft), my Dude has decided that they're the bomb for garlic bread. So I've decided to make some into dinner rolls next time, and make some mini-baguettes with the rest.

                                                                                                                                                                          I make killer overnight pizza dough, too. I get reliable results using either the CI cooking school's thin crust, or the similar Reinhart recipe. I'd love to find a quick NY crust recipe that will give nice big air pockets, but I don't think such an animal exists.

                                                                                                                                                                          So I do believe I'll concentrate on our rustic breads, leaving the sandwich loaves for Sweetbay.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                            Hi all;
                                                                                                                                                                            I'm finally sort of accepting that summer is winding down and I need to eat something other than BLT's and gazpacho. So this week I returned to my favorite Multigrain Extraordinare from P Reinhardt. It almost convinced me that fall isn't that bad. I will probably be making at least a loaf a week. It is so wonderful toasted. If you all haven't tried - it is worth the time.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chocchic

                                                                                                                                                                              Reinhart is a bread-baking genius. Incredible teacher, soulful man.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chocchic

                                                                                                                                                                                That is a great recipe - I make an older version of it. I just saw a recipe with rice in it in Bakewise where she adds parmesan cheese and cayenne to her version. I might try that with Reinhardt's recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sandylc, please let us know how it turns out. I use multigrain almost exclusively for toast and add jam. So would like to know how you serve.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                This bread looks really good! What's the source of the recipe? I've have a few crazy busy weeks between work and our quarterly trip to do "chores" at my mother-in-law's home in FL. Have somehow managed to maintain my "NO Store-bought Bread" quest, and planning to mix a loaf tonight for baking in the morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm getting a little bored with the 3 varieties I've been repeating for the past several weeks, so a seaweed bread could be a fun twist.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. I apologize in advance if this has been answered.

                                                                                                                                                                                I've been doing the no-knead bread, and love it. I take notes each time and tweak it slightly with rise time and so on.

                                                                                                                                                                                The very first batch I made stands out as one of the best and it's one my partner loved the most. It had a distinct "sour" taste to it, sort of like a sourdough.

                                                                                                                                                                                The only thing I did different (dramatically) was the amount of yeast I used. I didn't pay attention the first time and used an entire packet of yeast in the dough. All the other batches I used 1/4 tsp (since I read the directions the next time!).

                                                                                                                                                                                Would the increased yeast cause it to sour? The texture was also different on that batch too, much stringier.

                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: eperdu


                                                                                                                                                                                  I made a loaf of Kenji Lopez-Alt's "Almost No-Knead" bread today. It's a variation on Jim Lahey's recipe with pale ale and vinegar to boost the flavor. It used just 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, the same as in the original recipe. I started it last night, baked it this afternoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                  My impression - I didn't notice any extra flavor at all, compared to the original version. I'll see what adding more yeast does to my next loaf, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm wondering if the refrigerated doughs (ABin5) would give more flavor, especially near the end of their 2-week lifespan. Have you tried that?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                    <<I'm wondering if the refrigerated doughs (ABin5) would give more flavor>>

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, a long slow cool fermentation is the way to create flavor.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Read above for the reason why.

                                                                                                                                                                                    You don't get more flavor by adding commercial yeast -- just the opposite. Commercial yeast gallops the fermentation along -- it makes it go too fast.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: eperdu

                                                                                                                                                                                    The stringy bit makes sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The additional yeast can make the gluten development process speed up, if I recall correctly. Too much yeast, whether commercial or sourdough, leading to too much gluten development, leads to stringy dough instead of nice, smooth dough.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                                                      The texture was great with it too. It reminded me of a good sourdough with the air holes and tang. Maybe I'll try another batch and see if I can replicate it. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. A question for those familiar with the 'ABin5' series and methods:

                                                                                                                                                                                    One of my many cooking resolutions is to begin making flatbreads at home. A year or more ago, I picked up 'Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day' at a library sale, but have never roused myself to use it. Just recently I realized they did a whole book devoted to flatbreads and pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Is there enough new information in 'Artisan Flatbreads and Pizza in 5 Minutes a Day' that I should seek it out, or will I be fine using the book I have?

                                                                                                                                                                                    I checked out the Duguid/Alford 'Flatbreads and Flavors' from the library, but it's physically and in many other ways overwhelming. Will probably go back to it once I've actually got a few batches done.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. So this might be a dumb newbie question but I've gotten pretty good at making tangzhong based breads. I'd like to make one of those perfectly square looking loaves so I'm getting a pullman loaf pan. Since it has a lid its not like the extra can simply rise out and above the pan like I normally let it do and this bread rises a lot still in the oven. How do I know how much dough to put into the pullman pan? If I add too much will the pan burst open in the oven? Will the bread just not rise well and be hard as a a rock?

                                                                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foxspirit

                                                                                                                                                                                        Ugh, I went through this many years ago after purchasing a Pullman pan at a garage sale. My pan was a non-standard size, and I went through hoops trying to figure out how much dough to put in it. Too much, and it burst out at the seams while baking, creating a mess. Too little, and it was just a regular loaf, domed on the top.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I should mention that this was before the age of the internet, so information was scarce.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, I would just find a recipe scaled to my pan size and just make it. If you want to use tangzhong, just factor in the amount of flour and liquid from the tangzhong into whatever recipe you choose. I am sure that, if you are a baker, you are good at math!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                        Be sure to grease it thoroughly, including the inside of the lid.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                          Darn. Sounds like I might be going through some trial and error and soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foxspirit

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yup. Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe you should choose a good recipe (non-tangzhong) and then buy a pan that is the right size for that recipe. Make that recipe until you have it right, and then try to sub in some tangzhong for some of the flour and liquid.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                              I've only ever made that kind of bread and the 5 minute artisan kind but I grew up on the asian style breads and actually don't like the crusty loaves you get with the artisan style. Makes great pizza though :)

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: foxspirit

                                                                                                                                                                                          With about a dozen loaves in the pullman pan over the past 6 weeks, I can perhaps save you a bit of the headache where this is concerned. I've tried a basic white, a multi-grain and a white-wheat in the pan and have yielded short loaves and one that squished out. I've found that regardless of the type of bread I'm baking, I shape enough dough to fill just less than half way. I cover the pan with plastic wrap until it has risen to about 1 inch below the top of the pan. At that point, I remove the plastic wrap, place the lid on the pan, leaving about an inch open and preheat the oven. By then, the loaf has usually risen to within about 1/2 inch of the lid. It will be domed and the middle of the loaf is 1/2 from the lid. Close the lid and bake.

                                                                                                                                                                                          One of the recipes I use makes too much dough, so I just shape the remainder into a few rolls.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ohhh that's a good starting point for me. Thanks! I'm going to give that a try and adjust a little if necessary.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                                              Very valuable info. Maybe I'll dig out my pan!

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Pumpkin Yeast Bread - In preparation for Thanksgiving, I'm trying to find a recipe for a pumpkin yeast bread to serve at breakfast time. Great Harvest Bread Co. had one that was heavenly a few years back - assume they still make it. I hope not to have to travel the distance to get it and pay their quite pricey asking, so I'm seeking a recipe for one. I would love to find one that I can rise in the fridge to save precious early morning time, but I'm willing to get up extra early for a great loaf. Tested recipes only please. I get lots of results in google but want a recipe someone has actually made. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pembree

                                                                                                                                                                                              There was a recipe for pumpkin yeast rolls on The Kitchn using the Artisan Bread in 5 fridge rise.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, on closer inspection, I mis-remembered; it's for sweet potato rolls. But that seems like a pretty straightforward sub.


                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Made Stretch & Fold Bread with 65% Hydration Dough
                                                                                                                                                                                              This is a No-Knead bread using firm bread dough.
                                                                                                                                                                                              I used the stretch and fold technique on 65% hydration light wheat bread (half bread flour & half whole wheat flour).
                                                                                                                                                                                              Here's a link to a YouTube video showing the Stretch & Fold technique I used on the firm bread dough :
                                                                                                                                                                                              First stretch and fold
                                                                                                                                                                                              Second Stretch and Fold
                                                                                                                                                                                              Third Stretch and Fold
                                                                                                                                                                                              It came out as good as when I make the recipe from kneaded dough. I adapted the Panama bread stretch & fold recipe that is on Sourdoughhome.com. I also made a Tangzhong roux from the 1/2 cup of water and 3 Tbsp of bread flour, which I always do to this recipe when making the kneaded version.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Here's the recipe I used:
                                                                                                                                                                                              No-Knead Stretch-N-Fold Honey Wheat Bread
                                                                                                                                                                                              This makes a delicious loaf of bread with very little effort.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Makes a 1-1/2 lb sandwich loaf of Honey Wheat Bread without kneading.
                                                                                                                                                                                              No mixer, bread machine or hand kneading required.
                                                                                                                                                                                              You just need a wooden spoon and a couple of mixing bowls along with a loaf pan.
                                                                                                                                                                                              This recipe uses a series of stretch and fold techniques on regular firm dough to replace kneading. The bread is baked in a regular loaf pan.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Total time, about 4 hours, mostly rising and waiting. Actual hands on work, about 15 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                              1 3/4 cups (225 g) Whole Wheat Flour
                                                                                                                                                                                              1 2/3 cups (225 g) Bread Flour
                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Tbsp (30 g) Wheat Germ, raw or toasted
                                                                                                                                                                                              2/3 cup (160 g) Milk, lukewarm
                                                                                                                                                                                              1/2 cup (120 g) Water, lukewarm (used for Tangzhong roux with 3 Tbsp bread flour
                                                                                                                                                                                              )1 Egg (50 g), beaten (or 1/4 cup Eggbeaters egg substitute)
                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Tbsp (40 g) Honey or Brown Sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Tbsp (15 g) Ovaltine Classic Malt Powder (do not use chocolate flavor) - optional
                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Tbsp (15 g) Non-Fat Dry Milk or Dry Coffee Creamer
                                                                                                                                                                                              1 1/4 tsp (9 g) Table Salt
                                                                                                                                                                                              2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet (7 g) Instant or Active Dry Yeast
                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Tbsp (45 g) Butter, softened
                                                                                                                                                                                              In a large mixing bowl, stir together the Whole Wheat Flour, Bread Floor and Wheat Germ. Mix well.
                                                                                                                                                                                              In a smaller bowl, mix in the milk, water (or cooled Tangzhong roux), beaten egg, honey, Ovaltine, non-fat milk powder, table salt and yeast. Mix well. Let sit for 15 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Stir the mixed liquid into the flour mixture. Mix until the flour is completely moistened. Mix in the softened butter. Add enough additional water or flour as needed to form a slightly sticky, firm, ball of dough. Mix well until everything is evenly incorporated.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Form dough into a ball, place in covered bowl and let rest for 45 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Remove dough from bowl, do the first of three stretch and folds on the bread board.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Stretch and Fold Technique:
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Press and stretch the dough into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle. Dust lightly with flour, as needed.
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Take the top (12-inch) edge of the dough and fold it down to the middle. Press dough flat.
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Take the bottom (12-inch) edge of the dough and fold up to the top edge. Press dough flat.
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Take the right edge of the dough and fold it over to the middle. Press dough flat.
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Take the left edge of the dough and fold it over to the right edge. Press flat.
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Return dough square to the bowl and cover. Rest 45 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Remove dough from bowl, do the 2nd stretch and fold on the bread board and return the dough to the covered bowl for another 45 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Remove dough from bowl, do the 3rd stretch and fold on the bread board and return the dough to the covered bowl for another 45 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Remove dough from bowl, form loaf by rolling or pressing dough out into a 10 x 10 inch rectangle. Roll dough into a sausage shape. Pinch seam closed along length of dough. Rotate loaf to place seam on bottom. Flatten about 1 inch on each end of roll and fold under loaf.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Place formed dough in loaf pan, seam side down. Use an 8 x 4-inch or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in warm place until doubled and it has risen about 1-inch over the edge of the loaf pan, about 60 minutes. Remove plastic wrap.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350-F degrees for 45 minutes, until done, or until center of loaf reaches 200-F on a digital probe thermometer.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Remove from loaf pan and allow to cool before slicing.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Makes one 1-1/2 lb loaf of bread.
                                                                                                                                                                                              To add rolled oat topping, after loaf is formed and placed in loaf pan, before rising:
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Using a pastry brush, paint plain water over entire top of loaf to moisten dough.
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Sprinkle 1/4 cup of Quick Rolled Oats over top of moistened loaf and press on oats to make them stick to dough.
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Allow loaf to rise and then bake as stated in recipe above.


                                                                                                                                                                                              The stretch and fold technique should work with any conventional (kneaded) yeast dough bread recipe. I wanted to try it on whole wheat first, because I thought that would be the one that really tests it. This is just my standard whole wheat bread recipe, but using the stretch and fold technique instead of kneading.
                                                                                                                                                                                              I thought that stretch and fold was only for slack, high hydration dough. That's usually where you see it mentioned and used. But on Sourdoughhome.com they had a stretch and fold recipe using regular, firm bread dough (called Panama bread - a white bread). So I applied the technique to my whole wheat recipe and it really worked.

                                                                                                                                                                                              18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                I LOVE LOVE LOVE the stretch and fold (SAF) method. I've applied it to many recipes of late and feel like I've begun to come full circle on bread-making now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The one most important ingredient that I have discovered with bread-making is TIME. I've never been a patient person, but I've finally learned what a great thing lots of time is regarding the quality of the end product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you for your detailed chronicle - I am sure many of us will benefit from it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm another big fan of the SAF method. It even works great for pizza dough.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  From this link:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Peter Reinhart (among other things) says -
                                                                                                                                                                                                  "You can repeat this S&F at 5, 10, or even 45 minute intervals, depending on your baking schedule for the dough in question. For same day bakes, three or four S&F's at 30 to 40 minute intervals are common, which allows the dough to ferment in between the S&F's. For overnight dough, such as pizza or focaccia or certain rustic bread formulas, the S&F intervals can be as short as 5 minutes. Typically, four S&F's are sufficient to fully develop and firm up the dough, but some doughs require only one, while others might require five S&F's if they are very wet. "

                                                                                                                                                                                                  He too has a youtube demo:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you! Love Peter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I thought this video was extremely helpful
                                                                                                                                                                                                    for Stretch and Fold:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Love her Stretch and Fold technique.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Any leads on good buys on the banneton baskets? Anything better than Amazon?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, she says that when she bakes she uses a roasting lid. What does she mean? Photo?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not sure how the prices compare to Amazon, but here's a source for baskets -

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not an expert, but I think she actually meant she uses the lid of a standard roasting pan so she doesn't have to buy one of these -

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Apparently, according to the folks at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/ some people use "disposable" aluminum foil roasting pans as an alternative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I rise and bake round loaves in the same stainless steel mixing bowl. With this method, I don't disturb the risen dough and achieve a maximum risen loaf. This thinner bowl reacts quicker to the oven temperatures than cast iron and doesn't retain heat to over-bake the crust like cast iron will do.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I bake boule's (round loaves) directly in a stainless steel mixing bowl. It's a 5-quart NSF rated stainless steel mixing bowl from Walmart (part of a set of 3). I spray the mixing bowl interior with non-stick cooking spray (usually olive oil), form the dough and plop it in the bottom of the bowl. I place a pan lid that fits tightly on top of the bowl. Then I either place in the fridge for an overnight rise, or let the bowl of dough rise on the counter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I pre-heat the oven, water mist the risen dough in the bowl and place the uncovered bowl of risen dough in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes. I use a digital probe thermometer to check when the center of the loaf reaches 205F, then I know it's done. This technique creates a perfect boule with a brown crispy crust all over. The baked boule always tips right out of the stainless steel bowl with no sticking. This method eliminates the need for a bread proofing basket or dutch oven. Although I have several dutch ovens I prefer this method.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Clever! I've got a set of bowls that are on thin side, so I'm not sure about warping. I've used my 4.5 quart stainless saucepan in place of a dutch oven quite successfully. But it's heavy, so needs pre-heating. Hmm.... what else can I use instead?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm off to look for stuff! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm using a stainless steel Tramontina bowl set from Walmart to bake the round loaves. They don't warp, but they will discolor with some brown varnish like color and coating. So don't use a good bowl set you want to keep shiny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is pure genius! Thank you for sharing your tips. I'm going to get a cheap SS bowl and try your technique!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here's another tip.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I usually proof my dough in the off oven with the light bulb on. But when the oven is being used, I proof the dough above a crock pot of warm water.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fill your crock pot half full of warm water, turn it to LOW or HIGH depending on how much heating you need (A crock pot heats the food, internally, to about 80°C (175°F) on LOW, 93°C (200°F) on HIGH.). Put the lid in place, inverted (up-side-down). Place a folded kitchen towel on the inverted lid. Now place your covered bowl of dough or starter on the kitchen towel.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              If the dough gets too warm, turn the crockpot down or add another folded towel or two between the dough bowl and the inverted crock pot lid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, I loved reading about this... I only have one dutch oven and need two to fulfill our bread needs (and those of friends). So I followed your directions exactly in my stainless steel mixing bowl. As hoped, it rose and browned beautifully. But mine definitely did not "tip right out." Took serious work and still the bottom crust (which was delicious and crispy) separated from the loaf. I was just glad it finally separated from the PAN. Could it be because I used real oil instead of cooking spray? I smeared it all over, so I can't see why that would do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for your help!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: miss louella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Personally, I have problems with bread sticking to my pan when I use any kind of oil. When I use butter, it doesn't stick at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                FYI, I live in a tropical country, so the butter's definitely very soft at room temperature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: miss louella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've only used olive oil or canola cooking spray. Haven't tried only oil. Mine has not stuck since I started baking in the stainless steel bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting... I used olive oil, but not spray on. I would think the thicker coat would make is release even better but it totally stuck (still soaking the bowl).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How wet is your dough (typically)?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And what temp do you cook your bread at?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: miss louella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I use the Great Value spray-on Olive Oil from Walmart. Maybe they add something else to the mix in the can?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        miss louella,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My boules are a double rise. The first rise is in the mixing bowl, for the second rise I put the dough on oiled (Pam) parchment paper in a 9" skillet, let it rise, then lift the paper and transfer the final loaf, oiled paper and all, to my preheated 4.5 quart saucepan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I like using the saucepan for the same reason a mixing bowl is good, it gives a higher, rounder loaf.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Try it in your mixing bowl with oiled parchment?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hi Guys/Gals,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I NEVER use olive oil or ANY vegetable oil anymore! Soya Lecithin sprays, olive oils etc. :) I found that the vegetable based oils tend to degrade the tins and pans. They form a hard resin coating that makes bread stick to it more unless you flour it extensively. So it is not necessarily non-stick as some believe and definitely also ruins the pan. Among aluminium, Copper, steel and ss, ss is the worst metal. You can get away with very very thin gauge but still aluminium will out-perform it easily. For those scared of aluminium I suggest tinned copper. It is the bees-knees. I only ever use natural butter, lard or beef dripping (organic). All these animal fats do not leave a residue. The bread just FALLS OFF the tin!! Absolutely does not stick. My personal favourite is beef dripping because it simply is the best. Best for both for cakes and bread. Butter that has too many milk solids will not be as good as clarified butter. I recommend melting butter and taking the clarified fat from top and storing that for cakes and bread. Nevertheless beef dripping is superior. All my tins (and my wife's cake tins) look new like on the day we bought it, despite being used frequently!! Unless you have some religious reasons not to use animal fat I recommend it highly. Regards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I line a dome-shaped bowl with a flour-impregnated flour-sack-style towel, then put my boule seam-side up in it and cover that with plastic wrap. When it has proofed, I flip it over into my hand and place it on a piece of parchment on a peel. I slash it, then slide the paper and loaf onto my preheated stone. Then I throw about 1/4-1/3 cup of water into the bottom of the oven and hurry and close it. Five minutes later I throw a bit more water in, then let the loaf finish baking undisturbed. At about 460 degrees, it's usually done in 30-35 minutes, at 200 degrees+.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The no-knead dutch oven method of baking is good, and I have done it, but it limits the size and shape of the loaf. I get great crust with my method.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is just what works for me, my oven, and our tastes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That all said, I would love to have bannetons instead of a bowl - I love the flour pattern that they create. Someone send this post to my husband before Christmas ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. i am not sure if this is the place to post this question, but anyways here goes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                just came back from nyc where we bought a wonderful health bread at zabars. it was full of seeds, nuts? and was a deep brown in color. does anyone know where or have the recipe for this bread. i really would like to make it .....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I just noticed this thread, how I could have missed it, I don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anyway, I just took some ABin5 boules out of the oven. I had made their new dough and tried the stove top English Muffins which were wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm making baguettes tomorrow using a different recipe. I wanted them a little "sourer" than usual. Based on what I've read in this thread, I guess I should mix the dough and do the first kneading and then refrigerate the dough overnight? The let the dough warm up and proceed as usual tomorrow?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: travelerjjm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the timing works for you, a night of retarding in the fridge is always worthwhile, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Hi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I thought I will share the pictures I took of my 5 seed pullman's loaf with fennel made earlier today. The 'leaven' used for this is nearly a year old. Taste is sublime, it had beautifully complex flavour from the fennel with nutty overtones. There is some seaweed present (which is usual with all of my bread), as it helps give a lovely soft texture. Weight before baking might have exceeded a kilo, I did not weigh it in this instance. regards

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That loaf is a thing of beauty. I could not be trusted with such a loaf - I'd want to eat the whole thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've never heard of adding seaweed to bread. But I love seaweed in any form. What kind do you use, how much, and when do you add it? Thanks for sharing the photos of your gorgeous bread!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks MrsPatmore,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Haha in my family the wife and two of the older kids (third one is too tiny!) finished that loaf (1.2kg loaf) on the same day it was photographed. I made lamb stew that day to go with it and it proved to be a hit. Whatever was left got eaten later that evening as "slices with honey and butter".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My original intention in adding the seaweed was for its taste as well as the nutritional benefits. But what I have discovered since then are the benefits they add towards the texture and crumb structure of the loaf.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I add two things:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I add some Pacific/Hawaiian Spirulina (best taste of all spirulina brands that I have tried)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also add Kombu (Atlantic or Japanese Kelp seaweed). I found a Norwegian seller selling them in dried powdered form of Kelp harvested from Norwegian coastline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (I have not managed to find other varieties in a reasonable price range. I am on the lookout. e.g. Wakame is more expensive but if I find it in powdered bulk form it may be interesting to add. Another option is that I go and harvest it myself. I am somewhat suspicious of our coastlines here in the southwest of UK with regard to their cleanliness.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Initially I would recommend 3/4th of a teaspoon per 500 grams of flour and then add more if it is too mild for your palate. Spirulina can have a stronger colour. Some brands have stronger taste than others. The one I use is so very mild that I can use even two teaspoons per 500 grams and it will not get noticed by my kids! .In the 1.2 kg loaf above there is only 1 full teaspoon of spirulina, but there is more than one full tablespoon of seaweed powder! Seaweed has a fantastic taste and less colour. The longer the seaweed sits inside the dough the softer it makes the loaf. I add it ALL during kneading. 30% of the dough is "old" leaven (starter dough) that I maintain in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Trust me eating it in the end is the best fun of all...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for reading and best of luck with your experimentation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I recently tried combining the Tangzhong roux** technique with a 1 hour autolyse* on a light wheat loaf (50% bread flour & 50% whole wheat flour - the Tangzhong roux was made from the bread flour). The loaf was so light and moist it is almost too tender to slice. It did crumble in places. I will have to experiment more with combining these two techniques.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I use the regular Tangzhong roux technique on all of my white and light wheat sandwich bread. My family complains about dry, "rough" bread if I don't use it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I didn't see much difference when I baked 100% whole wheat sandwich bread using a Tangzhong roux (making the Tangzhong roux with the whole wheat flour).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I do see a big difference with light wheat sandwich bread, using the Tangzhong roux made with the white bread flour (the loaf was 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat flour also adding 1/4 cup wheat germ). Of course the Tangzhong roux technique also makes much lighter and fluffier white breads.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My Tangzhong roux is usually 1/2 cup of water and 3 Tbsp bread flour (125g water, 25g bread flour) for a 1-1/2 lb loaf. I make the roux in a cup in the microwave in 40 seconds. (Mix flour and water well. Microwave 25 seconds, stir, microwave 15 seconds, stir. Perfect ~150-F roux).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      *Autolyse - mixing only the flour and liquids (water, milk, eggs, etc) until all the flour is moistened and allowing them to combine for 20 minutes to 1 hour before adding salt, yeast, sugar, butter, oil, etc. This encourages a maximum gluten development without interference from salt and sugar which compete for the moisture and yeast which begins breaking down the flour into sugars. This technique contributes to a greater oven spring and a lighter loaf of bread with a better crumb.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      **Tangzhong roux - Heating 5% (by weight) of the flour with water in a 5 to 1 ratio (125g water, 25g bread flour) to 150-F. This gelatinizes the flour (makes a pudding-like mixture), causing it to retain moisture when the loaf is baked, making a more tender, fluffy loaf of bread that has a longer shelf life. The roux is mixed with the other liquid ingredients, otherwise your bread recipe is unchanged. The flour and water come from the original recipe ingredients. No extra amounts are added to the recipe. (Example: If the original recipe calls for 1 cup of milk, use 1/2 cup of milk instead and 1/2 cup of water for the roux.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, Antilope.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I had totally abandoned white and wheat sandwich loaves because I couldn't match the Oroweat/Arnold's softness with all their yummy whole wheat/whole grain goodness. My loaves were a bit heavier, but also a bit drier. My recipe was a light wheat with added 10-grain cereal, in a porridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I will assuredly go back and try a loaf with this method. I'd like to mix in some of the cereal, too. Normally, I add hot water to the grains and let them soak for an hour to form the porridge, with none of the water coming from the recipe, as it were.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Perhaps I'll bake one loaf with and one without to see how they differ. Tomorrow is going to be a baking day, yay! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Both excellent points for obtaining exceptional bread. I have found the "adding salt after 20 min" method very practical and useful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Personally I find that doing the Tangzhong roux causes the dough to be less stable when it needs to be stored in the fridge (especially as starter dough for the next batch). The tendency for alcohol formation increases.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Have you experienced this? Regards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I only use Tangzhong for straight dough, so I don't store the dough for any length of time. The Tangzhong dough is bread within a few hours and never goes into the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We always default to using the recipe flour for tangzhong roux. But would a different flour type or flour characteristic create a better tangzhong roux? That 5% tangzhong roux flour doesn't necessarily need to be the same as the main recipe flour. Would an instant flour like Wondra make a better tanzhong roux? Does gluten matter in the roux flour? Would cake flour, soft southern flour, all purpose flour, bread flour or a whole grain flour make a better roux? Or is unbleached flour better than bleached flour in a tangzhong roux? Would adding some cornstarch or arrowroot to the tangzhong roux flour make it work better? Some things to think about and experiment with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. How I finally made homemade sourdough starter:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have used Carl's Oregon Trail starter for over 5-years, and it worked great, but I wanted to make my own starter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I tried several times with either whole wheat or bread flour without much success, using water or pineapple juice. The starter attempt would go nowhere, only making a few feeble bubbles, or nothing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then, this summer, I decided to throw everything at the attempt, here's what finally worked for me: (all of these flours were just from the local supermarket) one of these flours had the "magic wild yeast" ;-)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I call it - Kitchen Sink Sourdough Starter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Tbsp Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Tbsp Unbleached Bread Flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Tbsp Unbleached All Purpose Flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Tbsp Hodgson Mill Organic Rye Flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 or 4 Tbsp Pineapple Juice (unsweetened juice from canned Pineapple packed in its own juice)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mix ingredients well. The mixture should look like a thick pancake batter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The pineapple juice encourages growth of the desired sourdough cultures - wild yeast spores and Lactobacillus (which are naturally in the wheat fields and are in the whole wheat, rye and unbleached flour) because it is slightly acidic, and sourdough cultures like a slightly acidic environment. The slightly acidic environment discourages unwanted bacteria cultures, that don't like an acidic environment. Once the sourdough cultures are established for a few days, the pineapple juice feedings can be replaced with tap water. The established sourdough cultures will discourage other bacterial growth in the sourdough starter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Day 1 -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mixed all the ingredients in a Gladware container. Put on the lid loosely. Left out on the kitchen counter (in summertime, with air conditioning) at about 78-F. Stirred twice a day.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Day 2 -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Day 3 -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A few bubbles appeared. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Day 4 -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            More bubbles appeared. Added an additional Tablespoon each Whole Wheat, Bread, All-Purpose, Rye Flours and some pineapple juice to moisten. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Day 5 -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Even more bubbles appearing. Added a Tablespoon each Whole Wheat, Bread, All-Purpose, Rye Flours and pineapple juice. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Day 6 -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Quite bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Day 7 -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Very bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Day 8 -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Very bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night. Used some of starter to make bread. It rose quite well and made good bread, but of course it wasn't sour, because the starter was so new. But I now had my own
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            homemade starter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I stored the bubbly starter in the fridge and baked bread once or twice a week. I take out the starter, feed it and get it bubbly before using for a recipe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After a few months it is now developing a nice, sour taste and smell. I usually feed it bread flour and water, but once every two or three weeks, I feed some whole wheat flour and a tablespoon or two of rye flour.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've kept my sourdough starters at different degrees of thickness, from pancake batter/pour-able, to spoon-able/taffy like all the way to knead-able dough.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thicker starters can go longer in the fridge between feedings. Thin pancake batter like starters will develop an alcohol scented liquid on the top called "hooch", if not fed for a week or so.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just stir the liquid back in and feed the starter as normal. A starter kept as a knead-able dough will not usually develop "hooch".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After keeping sourdough cultures for over 5 years, I prefer to keep my starter on the thicker side, either spoon-able/taffy like or even dough like. When mixing some thick starter in a recipe, just dissolve it in the recipe water or liquids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Great post Antilope. I hope everyone realises the value of excellent observations you have there. My sourdough starter is about a year old now! Like you have said, I found it better to keep it more towards the firmer side as well. Everyone should try different flours and yeast strains until one finds the "taste" they like in the starter. Another thing I can think of is to never throw away your starter because you feel it has some bitterness or some other unpleasant taste. They tend to "sort itself" out over time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Finding some good live yoghurt and adding a spoon of it for a few days usually sorts out problems like unpleasant taste etc . Oh, and it is good to resist the temptation to add sugar, starch or cooked dough (roux).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Maintaining a starter that is not just reached an equilibrium of taste but has also reached a consistent reliability in terms of providing a good texture to the finished bread is by far the slowest process. It takes longer to get it right because it is hard to guess and a lot of trial and error is involved. Lactobacillus and yeast compete against each other. But the unique proportion that they settle down in with one's starter determines part of the nature of texture. Of course there are many other factors but I don't know enough about all the chemical nuances to comment. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One of the miraculous things about a sourdough starter is that the specific lactobacilli and the specific yeast that populate a starter co-exist well together. They do not compete.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis populates most of the world's bread starters, or pre-doughs, in spite of having been discovered in the San Francisco Bay Area. (The idea that there is a San Francisco sourdough is a myth, since the lactobacilli and yeast you need for a starter come not from the environment or air, but from the grain or flour itself.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The lactobacilli eke out lots of acid, either lactic acid or acetic acid (they put the sour in sourdough), but what's unusual about the yeast -- candida milleri -- is that it is hardy enough to survive and thrive in the acidic environment the lactobacilli create. The yeast does far less of a job leavening the bread than the lactobacilli, but it too, pumps out carbon dioxide to leaven the bread and its own acid to provide flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rye flour, especially rye grain (rye berries) have the most of these bacteria and yeast already on them, so it's the best flour to use to begin a starter. Even if you change the starter to be whole wheat flour or white flour, or your goal is to bake whole wheat or white bread, begin the starter with rye flour or rye berries ground in your coffee grinder. A little sugar of some sort and non-chlorinated water and you're good to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So, as far as sourdoughs, or levain or biga or a pre-dough, the yeast and lactobacilli do not compete at all. They happily coexist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are hundreds, if not thousands, of lactobacilli. Each has adapted to work on one particular thing. Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis are adapted to work on grain, but the lactobacilli in yogurt are specifically adapted to work on milk and nothing else. They have no use in a bread starter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                However, yogurt and (even better) whey are useful in bread baking (just not in starters), so save and accumulate the whey you pour off of yogurt, and reserve it for your next batch of bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If the sourdough starter is too acidic, or especially pungent, or with a brownish pool of "liquor" on the top, don't add it to bread. It's best to begin a new starter and throw the old oe out. There's no merit in keeping an old starter, in spite of claims of twenty-year-old or hundred-year-old starter, when it's a pool of acrid pungency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you use the right flour (rye), it's easy to begin a new starter. Make a mixture of rye flour, non-chlorinated water (critical), and a touch of sugar in some form, and you're good to go. Feed it with more flour and more non-chlorinated water, and store it at a temperature that facilitates the lactobacilli multiplying and populating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I buy a big handful of rye berries from the bulk food bins at Whole Foods or at a health food store, for the express purpose of beginning a starter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Even if you don't have time to grow a starter, you can still make a pre-dough or levain or biga that will add a striking depth of flavor to your bread. I happen to love the Sullivan-Lahey-Bittman revised method from the New York Times that was published years ago, but there are many ways to make a great levain or pre-dough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm also increasing curious about the gelatinization of flours/doughs and the depeth of flavor that comes from taking that step.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks Maria Lorraine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Another beautiful post for the forum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes gelatinising dough does add to softness. I would not say it adds "depth of flavour". When you cook the flour, essentially you are breaking down the more complex sugars into simpler sugar molecules. This can help production of CO2 more aggressively adding to the springiness. The pre-cooked protein molecules give a "fresh taste" too. Personally I do not prefer the flavour of bread where too much roux is present because I and everyone else in our family prefer to finish the bread within hours (if not minutes) of it being baked. However, if you want to use it for packing lunch during the week days then it is another story as the roux can give a more commercial leaf texture, easily reheatable as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Absolutely loved reading your post Maria Lorraine. Thanks again. Dee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Here's something different: Dorito Bread at Bon Appetit (at the bottom of the page, the Dorito Compound Butter looks interesting, also.):
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If I made the Dorito bread, I don't see why it has to be sourdough. There is enough flavor there, with the Doritos, for a straight dough yeast bread. I might throw in some sourdough starter as an "old" dough, but I would add yeast for a faster rise and wouldn't expect it to be sour. If you wanted sour, you could always add some buttermilk, yogurt, vinegar and/or citric acid.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for a use for the bread, it would be good for dips. A Dorito bread dipping a spinach dip or onion dip would probably be really good. Maybe something to try for New Years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I received a covered ceramic baker as a gift recently. Here's a recipe I've used to make a great, crusty French bread.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                French Bread in Covered Baker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Makes one 2-lb loaf. (I used a Sassafras Superstone 14.5" Covered Baker).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The sourdough starter is used to add flavor, like an old dough (pate fermentee), not sour, with the short rise times in this recipe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 1/3 cups - 10.6 oz (300 g) Warm Water
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3/4 cup - 7 oz (200 g) Sourdough Starter - 100% hydration, cold from the fridge
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 teaspoons - 0.28 oz (8 g) White Granulated Sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 1/4 teaspoons - 0.25 oz (7 g) Instant Yeast, or 1 packet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 teaspoons - 0.43 oz (12 g) Table Salt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 cups - 17 oz (480 g) All Purpose Flour and Bread Flour (2 cups of each)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You may have to adjust the water or flour slightly, depending on the hydration of your starter. I bake by weights (grams), so the volume measurements are a close approximation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Attach bowl and whisk attachment to Kitchen-aid mixer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Add water to mixing bowl.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weigh out starter and add to water in mixer bowl.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dissolve yeast in water in mixer bowl. Add sugar.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mix on Speed 2 for 1 or 2 minutes until well mixed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Remove whisk attachment and add dough hook to mixer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mix table salt into dry flour.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Add flour to mixer bowl. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute, or until well blended.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Knead on Speed 2 about 4 minutes longer. Dough will be slightly sticky, but the dough should not stick to the bowl, to any great extent.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Remove dough from bowl, form dough into a ball and allow to rest on breadboard 10 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Perform stretch and fold on dough. Form a ball. Cover with a bowl and allow to rest 10 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Perform second stretch and fold on dough. Cover with a bowl and allow to rest 10 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Perform third stretch and fold on dough. Let dough rest 5 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Coat inside of covered baker (inside top and inside bottom) with cooking oil. Sprinkle bottom with cornmeal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Form dough into long loaf, place in covered baker.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cover. Let rise in warm place, like an off oven, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                With sharp knife, make 3 diagonal cuts on top of loaf, 1/4" deep. Replace lid. Place in oven.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Start in a cold oven. Set temperature at 425°F and bake, covered, for 40 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Remove covered baker lid. Bake, uncovered, 10 more minutes (for a total of 50 minutes) or until golden brown and center of loaf reaches 205°F.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Remove from oven, remove loaf from covered baker and allow to cool before slicing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. i have been wanting to use more whole wheat. i have been using up to 50% white whole wheat and 50% ap flour in bread with good but noticeably different results than straight ap or bread flour in texture, taste and fluffiness.. will whole wheat products always be different than from white flour? didn't chefs, even pastry chefs, once upon a time only have whole wheat? any tips on using?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Your issue might be with expectations. Whole wheat flour is a delicious food, as is bread made with it. It is not the same food as white flour and bread made with white flour - they are two different foods. It's an apples to oranges sort of thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Breads made with whole wheat and rye flours require more liquid than the same amount of white flour. They also require more yeast to achieve the same leavening because whole wheat flour and rye flour are heavier than white flour. Check recipes for specifics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        White Whole Wheat is basically an albino whole wheat. In every other way, it's just a whole wheat. It contains the ground whole grain. Even though it's white it's still whole wheat and different from an all purpose or bread flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The real difference can only be due to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1) fineness of grind and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2) Gluten percentage (protein content)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Out of those two the protein (or gluten) content is the only real difference we need to take into consideration. The more gluten there is the better it is for baking. Gluten content is less important for biscuits and cakes. Weight per weight the strong bread flour will have marginally LESS calories than all purpose flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nutritionally wholewheat flour is not better than strong breadflour for home baking because the nutritional quality of bread comes from the *fermentation process and the *additional ingredients that you add to the bread. At best the whole wheat has more indigestible husk increasing the indigestible bulk that may aid in bowel movement! Maybe of benefit for those who do not eat any vegetables!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Flour can vary in the gluten content from batch (year), variety, etc. Even wholewheat can have more gluten than some white flours. Unbleached flour always has a slight colour to it. Unless you specifically buy unbleached flour, most flour that you buy are wholewheat BLEACHED flour!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Refined flour or "strong" bread flour is more of the inside of the wheat grain and the outer bits are added to the wholewheat flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Personally, I use unbleached organic plain as well as unbleached strong flour. Good batches of wheat yield also give rise to extra strong flour :) I always avoid "wholewheat" flour. I enhance the nutritional value of flour by adding ingredients like extensively aged sourdough, seaweed, sometimes various seeds, spirulina, etc. etc. and most of all by lining my burger with many layes of lettuce, tomato and spinach like greens before I bite into it!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for reading,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Are you forgetting about the germ? Present in whole wheat, absent in white/unbleached...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't intend this thread to be diverted towards brownish whole wheat vs strong bread flour argument. But everyone here tends to be in search of culinary truth and that makes this the best place to share honest thoughts and info :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have tried to be logical about this. There are a lot of silly myths about fibre in the market today. Fibre is just an aid for healthy bowel movement. Absolutely nothing else. Don't take regular bowel movement as something trivial. People with regular bowel movement tend to be healthier because it reduces bodily stress and one tends to have better hormonal balance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are no vitamins or nutrition in fibre. None.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Poor nutrition and hi fibre diet will get you nowhere. An individual on such a diet will be under nourished as is the case in some poor countries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One more thing is that the Australian whole wheat is naturally a white variety of wheat that tends to be white even after grinding to a flour even without bleaching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              High content of husk (fibre) in wholewheat is offsetting the starch in refined flour. So when you eat a slice of whole wheat you are consuming less calories and feeling equally full. So the benefit to health is that less insulin is produced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As to the question about wheatgerm: I very much doubt that manufacturers add wheatgerm to wholewheat flour. The wheatgerm is a part of the grain that goes stale very quickly and reduces the shelf life. If you grind whole wheat yourself and try storing it you will notice that it goes rancid much quicker than shop bought "wholewheat". So these are the reasons I, personally, do not bother with wholewheat. I find it a pointless endeavour. If I am so particular about wheatgerm, I have to mill (using a mill attachment in a Kitchen Aid Artisan or a Kenwood Chef) and mill it myself. But then this would not guarantee a hi gluten flour for good bread making. Not to mention the demands on time that most of us may not be able to spare. I hope this addresses the question regarding the "wheat germ" sandylc above asked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your best bet is fermentation. All kinds of nutritional benefits are "created" through home leavening of bread. Better if you can mature it over months of sourdough maturation. Brown "Whole wheat" sold commercially lacks proteins (Gladinin and glutenin) to offer much to your sourdough culture in terms of nutrients that the micro organisms need. Rye flour is good additive to give your sourdough culture some robustness. I find too much husk gets in the way of good bread texture, but it can be filling. So if you have the inclination add some "brown wholewheat" flour for colour and its unique taste then go for it!! The assumption that wholewheat flour is the answer to nutrition is all that I object to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                OK, where to begin here?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, whole wheat flour contains the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. That's why it is WHOLE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                White flour has only the endosperm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe the laws are different where you live?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  By the way, no one here that I've seen has claimed that there are vitamins/nutrition in fiber.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i prefer white flour but i have never heard anybody claim it was better for you than whole wheat. and i think there is agreement that the american diet would benefit from more fiber. it is not a vitamin or nutrient but is an important factor in lowering blood sugar, cancer and heart disease. whole wheat may not be the answer to nutrition but it is much better than white flour.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i understand white whole wheat (as opposed to our red whole wheat) did originate in austrailia but is increasingly grown and available here in the states. much milder flavor.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i don't mean to be argumentative. i would love to learn more about improving my diet, specifically here using the staff of life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have said that commercial brown wholewheat flour (what is sold as whole wheat) is not nutritionally superior to a significant degree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have never claimed anywhere that white flour is superior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All I am saying is that many are fooled into thinking that brown "wholewheat" flour with a lot of husk is nutritionally superior and it is NOT. It is the fermentation process of bread making that yields nutrition. For that strong unbleached flour is superior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fibre is important in diet. Fibre does not cure cancer or reduce blood sugar or cure or prevent heart disease. THESE ARE MYTHS. Fibre gives you good bowel movement which in turn gives you health benefits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A white bread sandwich eaten with a lot of green leafy lettuce, fresh tomatoes etc + ham is superior to wholewheat bread eaten with just ham and no other vegetables. THAT IS MY POINT. You get better nutrition through vegetables and fruits than you can possibly get from eating ground up husk!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I give up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        maria lorraine or mcf, would you like to play?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<I don't intend this thread to be diverted towards brownish whole wheat vs strong bread flour argument.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Unfortunately, because of your inaccurate statements about whole wheat flour and exaggerated nutrition claims about white bread and white flour (either bread flour or refined white flour), this portion of the thread does seem to be diverted to asking you to clarify your statements, and correcting some of your inaccurate statements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There's quite a bit in your three posts here to unpack, so I apologize for the long post, but I really don't want anyone to be misled by your statements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<All I am saying is that many are fooled into thinking that brown "wholewheat" flour with a lot of husk is nutritionally superior and it is NOT. >>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sorry, that's not true.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Certainly whole-grain whole wheat flour and whole wheat flour have much more nutrition than bread flour or refined white flour. I've checked numerous scientific stats to make sure of this before I wrote, and copied them in another post near this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<It is the fermentation process of bread making that yields nutrition. For that strong unbleached flour is superior.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fermentation does create nutrition (phytin/phytates as one example), but this occurs with all wheat flours, and is in addition to the nutrition already in the flour. I've seen no scientific evidence, after searching and searching, that fermentation creates more nutrition in white flour than in whole wheat flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<High content of husk (fibre) in wholewheat is offsetting the starch in refined flour. So when you eat a slice of whole wheat you are consuming less calories and feeling equally full. So the benefit to health is that less insulin is produced.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Less insulin is only one benefit of many. The husk or hull is the outer covering of wheat, and is removed before the wheat is ground. Are you using the word "husk" to mean fiber? Because "husk" means something else -- a part of the wheat that is removed -- and so it's not in any bread. That's another thing I've found confusing in your statements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Like all wheat, whole wheat has the hull or husk removed. Whole wheat has all the grain: the bran, germ, and endosperm. Strong/bread flour or refined white flour contains only the endosperm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<I very much doubt that manufacturers add wheatgerm to wholewheat flour.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      They don't add it because they never remove it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<Fibre is important in diet. Fibre does not cure cancer or reduce blood sugar or cure or prevent heart disease. THESE ARE MYTHS. Fibre gives you good bowel movement which in turn gives you health benefits.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Eating fiber can reduce cardiovascular disease, something that's been proven many times over in rigorous medical studies. Fiber can moderate blood sugar spikes and insulin release, also proven. It certainly aids the health of the bowel, which can in turn reduce the incidence of disease in that part of the body.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<The wheatgerm is a part of the grain that goes stale very quickly and reduces the shelf life. If you grind whole wheat yourself and try storing it you will notice that it goes rancid much quicker than shop bought "wholewheat". So these are the reasons I, personally, do not bother with wholewheat. I find it a pointless endeavour. If I am so particular about wheatgerm, I have to mill (using a mill attachment in a Kitchen Aid Artisan or a Kenwood Chef) and mill it myself. But then this would not guarantee a hi gluten flour for good bread making. Not to mention the demands on time that most of us may not be able to spare. I hope this addresses the question regarding the "wheat germ" sandylc above asked.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some of your statements appear to be self-justification for using white flour. Your saying whole wheat flour is difficult to work with or slams on its nutrition appear to be part of the self-justification.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To dissect/debate what you've said:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~ The wheat germ is in whole wheat flour so there's no need to grind your grains (but still fun to do so).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~ You are supposed to refrigerate your whole wheat or whole grain flour anyway (standard operating procedure),


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~ adding a couple of tablespoons of wheat gluten to your flour is a snap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      These three "issues" are so easily solved that I'm surprised at your using them as reasons to not use whole wheat flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BTW, you don't need to justify using white bread flour or refined white flour. It's your choice. But don't say inaccurate things about whole wheat flour to feel better about your choice to use white bread flour or refined white flour, if that's what you're doing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<Your best bet is fermentation. All kinds of nutritional benefits are "created" through home leavening of bread. Better if you can mature it over months of sourdough maturation.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Any fermentation (either regular proofing or a sourdough or pre-dough) will create additional nutrition in bread, but more nutrition is not created with white bread flour than with whole wheat flour, as you say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bread made with sourdough has been tentatively shown to slow the body's glucose/glycemic response, but the scientific tests were so far were so poorly designed that you couldn't tell what was from the sourdough and what was from additives added to the bread (no control). I read and read scientific article after article to corroborate your claim. I also read another author's work who tried to substantiate the same claim, and in his research he could not find a single cereal/food scientist who said so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<Brown "Whole wheat" sold commercially lacks proteins (Gladinin and glutenin) to offer much to your sourdough culture in terms of nutrients that the micro organisms need.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The microorganisms in a starter have nothing to do with either form of gluten, gliadin or glutenin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<Rye flour is good additive to give your sourdough culture some robustness. >>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's because rye flour has a great many of the specific lactobacilli and yeast that the sourdough culture needs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If rye flour or whole wheat gluten needs some extra gluten to create good bread structure, it takes ten seconds to add. I haven't found any need to add gluten to Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour, but I do add gluten to rye flour since it cannot form gluten like whole wheat or bread flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not sure about a lot of this, especially the nutrition claims. Would love to see hard data.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<The real difference [in bread flours] can only be due to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1) fineness of grind and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2) Gluten percentage (protein content)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Out of those two the protein (or gluten) content is the only real difference we need to take into consideration. The more gluten there is the better it is for baking. >>


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I sense you have used some terms imprecisely or have an inaccurate understanding of fermentation and nutrition, and because of that, I'm having trouble understanding what you mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I'd like to know what you really mean, and I certainly don't want others to be misled, so would you mind clarifying a few things?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For example, you say "the protein (or gluten) content is the only real difference," but that's not correct.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are 30 types of protein in bread.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Only two of those 30 are gluten-related -- gliaden and glutenin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      None of these 30 proteins can be used by the body directly. Those proteins aren't usable by the body, though, until they can be assembled by the human liver into a complete protein the body can use. There is a lot of misinformation propagated about protein to mislead the public into thinking something is more nutritious than it really is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<Nutritionally wholewheat flour is not better than strong breadflour for home baking because the nutritional quality of bread comes from the *fermentation process.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Are you saying there is no difference in the nutrition content of whole wheat flour vs. bread flour?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When I checked several different data sources, I found that, compared to a cup of whole grain whole wheat flour, each cup of bread flour, has one-fourth the Vitamin A, one-half the Vitamin E, one-sixth the Vitamin K, one-fifth the thiamin, one-third the riboflavin, one-fifth the niacin, one-fourth the B6, and so on. It has one-fourth the fiber, and 100 more calories per cup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The fermentation process does create nutrition (phytin/phytates as one example), but fermentation does not create more nutrition in bread/strong flour than it does in whole wheat flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There is a still a big nutrition difference between bread made with whole wheat flour and bread flour. There's even a greater difference if the flour is whole grain whole wheat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are six basic types of wheat: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, hard white, soft white and durum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      White wheat is what is mostly grown/sold in Australia and red wheat (also called conventional wheat) is what is mostly grown and sold in the US and Canada. The nutrition, protein content, and performance of each wheat type differs, so it's important to specify which type you mean for comparison's sake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<Good batches of wheat yield also give rise to extra strong flour>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Within each type, there are variations in nutrition, protein and gluten potential by season. For example, in hard red wheat, spring wheat has about 3% more protein than winter wheat. There are also some geographic differences between the same species of wheat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<Refined flour or "strong" bread flour is more of the inside of the wheat grain and the outer bits are added to the wholewheat flour.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      By "strong" bread flour, do you mean high-protein refined white bread flour with lots of gluten potential?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Refined white flour contains only the endosperm but outer bits are not "added" to whole wheat flour; they're simply never removed (except for the husk/hull).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<The more gluten there is the better it is for baking. >>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Better for bread baking, that is, not for all baking. Cakes and pastries are terrible with flour that easily forms gluten, so for those items, you use a flour that has the least potential for forming gluten, usually a soft wheat flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Maria Lorraine,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Firstly thanks for bringing the focus back to bread baking and a great post. I think a lot of confusion has risen out of me using the term "brown whole wheat" loosely. I am pointing my finger at what is sold in shops as "healthy flour".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was trying to point out that when it comes to breadmaking it is a good idea to add value to your bread by the fermentation process and adding OTHER ingredients (other than different types of wheat! :) )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also when I say strong flour I do not automatically mean highly refined flour. Refined flour is NOT necessarily strong flour. You can however have strong flour that is actually whole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But Maria Lorraine, there are a lot of wonderful points you have picked up on that I would like to respond to but my younger two are not letting me type and the older one is about to reach from school.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        thanks, will speak soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dear Maria Lorraine,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for your patience.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The younger two are now asleep and the older one is gone for music lessons and I have some time to type now!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Clarification: I have used quotes “” for “Whole wheat” because most whole wheat bought from supermarkets and health food shops have some of the oils from the wheatgerm removed. If that is not done it will simply go rancid within days. Hence the quotes because in my personal opinion it is not really whole. My mom used a miller to mill every week when I was a kid (about 30+ years ago). Then it became fashionable to buy flour in the shops and the small miller went out of business. My mom still managed to get occasional batches done, as that miller retained a small machine in his house to cater to personal friends!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Another reason for quotes is that they often have EXTRA bran added!! Health food shop customers often like that!! If something is a little good then more of it must be better!! Eating excess bran and bits of ground up husk that comes through is a minor health hazard. Fibre obtained from vegetables are superior in many ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          THERE ARE NO VITAMINS, MINERALS, OR FIBRE THAT ONE CAN GET FROM WHOLE WHEAT THAT AREN’T PRESENT IN HIGHER PROPORTIONS IN OTHER INGREDIENTS AND FOOD.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately, even freshly milled whole (no quotes here) wheat will trigger insulin production. Calorifically it is no less calorific than most other grains. Refining increases the carbohydrate saturation and obviously speeds up insulin production. How much ever I love bread (my whole family does), I do not eat it more than once a day. In our family we skip cereals and bread for breakfast. Usually breakfast is fried eggs or a cheese omelette with a sausage or an apple preferably both. This is what even my two year old eats for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nothing wrong with insulin production except that if it is done more than twice a day then you run the risks of fat deposits and insulin resistance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Therefore a smart way to enhance the nutritional quality of bread is to incorporate more complex FERMENTATION PROCESS and add OTHER INGREDIENTS (and NOT more or different monocot grains, or whole wheat or bran)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In fact, in many previous threads we have discussed enhancing nutrition through very many complex fermentation processes. Adding dicot seeds, spirulina, sun dried tomatoes, anchovies, the list is endless.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So when someone said that they added 50% “wholewheat” flour to plain flour hoping to enhance nutrition I quickly replied that if the objective is to enhance nutritional value then one needs to think differently and not keep going in the direction of bran and wholewheat. Most bread flour is 80 to 90% whole anyway. It is not a big deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For example, there is more folic acid in Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts (or chicken/lamb liver) than in wheat. There is more fibre without triggering insulin production in a spoon of string beans, broccoli or green garden peas than several slices of whole meal bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In the link and the photo that is attached I made the bread using this flour:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sometimes I also buy this brand
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Other times I just buy the cheapest organic white flour that I can find.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The bread has a lot of added ingredients and has a very complex fermentation process that I cultured over many months mostly in the pursuit of taste, and also to fulfil the demands of my wife and three hungry kids in a healthy manner. Many others in the forum make even more complex bread than I do. Someone here even has a 6 year old leaven going strong!! Such a leaven could contain 100s if not more different species of microorganisms living in it. That could be providing untold benefits to the upkeep of overall health. It is a big subject. Let’s get back to bread!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So if out of my excitement to share information, if I offended anyone, I am sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kind regards

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Random thoughts:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -It is wonderful that you have found ways to pump up the nutrition in your homemade breads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -In the US, "whole wheat flour" by law must contain the ENTIRE wheat berry, including the bran, endosperm, and germ, and thusly has more nutrition (from the inclusion of the entire germ) than white flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi somerset dee, you certainly haven't offended me, I enjoy your posts. I just wish you were my neighbor, so I could come over for some of your fabulous bread (and a cup of tea and interesting conversation)!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                haha! Thank you Mrs Patmore, you never know, me and my noisy family just might move in next door to you! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For Sandylc: Thanks. Yes I understand that in the US the wholewheat flour is stored in the fridge because it really is entire. Apparently, it is not so in Canada and the UK. Apparently a significant portion of the oils evaporate in the heat from grinding. Anyway that is the excuse Canadians and the UK make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Has anyone tried malted grain? I have a bag of malted wheat flour which I have not used yet. Mostly because I did not know where to start with it. It smells very sweet. (well, even tastes sweet) I can perhaps write a review on how it performs for bread?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                kind regards

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. On another thread, someone asked the difference between Diastatic Malt and Non-Diastatic Malt in breadmaking and the suggested uses. I thought I would post my response here, also, as a reference:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Malt powder is made from sprouted grain, usually barley, that is dried and ground to a powder (flour). The sprouting grain contains enzymes that improve texture, rise and browning when making bread. The resulting product is called diastatic malt.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The diastatic malt powder contains enzymes, that will break down some of the flour in a recipe, into simple sugars, such as dextrose, glucose and maltose. These simple sugars provide extra food for yeast. Adding diastatic malt powder to a bread recipe feeds the yeast and results in a higher rising, better texture and better browning of the crust from the freed up sugars. It is usually added at a rate of 0.5% to 2% of the total weight of flour used. Adding 1 teaspoon of diastatic malt powder to 3 cups of flour is a rate of about 1%. A level teaspoon of diastatic malt powder weighs about 3.5 grams. Adding diastatic malt powder at a rate of more than 2% can result in a gummy crumb in the finished bread. Most flours come from the mill with some diastatic malt already added.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If the malt powder is heated or toasted during manufacture, this destroys the enzymes and results in non-diastatic malt powder. This type of malt powder is used as a sweetener and flavoring. One such use is adding non-diastatic malt powder to water bagels are boiled in. This results in a brown, shiny coating on the bagels. It is also added to bread recipes as a sweetener and flavoring.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Diastatic Malt Powder is a dough improver and yeast food. It improves bread texture and crust color.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Non-Diastatic Malt Powder is a sweetener that is added to bread recipes. It is a flavoring.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These products can come as a powder or a syrup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you, antilope! I have often wondered about "malt" in recipes. I've had the ingredient in my online shopping cart several times, but deleted it as I really didn't understand why it could be essential (and I'm tired of buying ingredients to use just once! )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now that you've explained, I'm ordering some tonight (both kinds) and then I'm going to re - try the bagel recipe in The Breadbaker's Apprentice. Thanks so much for the info!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I always add malt powder (whatever kind) to the recipe liquids to make sure of a more even distribution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you buy good flour, malt powder is unnecessary. Malt is used in flour for corrections and balance. It is already done in flours like King Arthur, Ceresota, and the like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I would say those that are interested should experiment with both types of malt and see if it improves their loaves. Many artisan bread books recommend adding these ingredients. I have noticed improvements in my bread when using malt. Don't just dismiss it out of hand saying the flour has enough. The flour has a bare minimum, the mills aren't going to waste money adding any more malt than their bean counters allow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Experimenting is great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I always learned that when someone says don't do something...you do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But the malt thing is like pre-proofing instant yeast...in normal bread baking...it's not necessary to balance the already balanced

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Chef...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          enough...what we need is the basics!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Can you bring us through bread baking at a level we can handle?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ...soup to nuts!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          22 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: veggiechef1965

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hi veggie chef!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK...I realize there are a lot of details flying around and that's great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The best I can do is bring my 40 years of baking experience and try to help formulate some basic skills we all need in baking bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What you ask will take a bit. But if you bear with me...we can get through this!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So we will start with flour to dough temperature to pre-ferments to steam or no steam, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I promise you...if you hang in there with me, you can make world class bread right there in your home oven be it gas or electric, convection or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We'll get started in our next session.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ugh, I don't envy you. I have thought about teaching a very basic bread class, but then I start thinking in tangents about everything from types of flours to....well, you get the idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A beginner needs to put things in a bowl, following directions. It takes time to learn breadbaking - that's why it's so fascinating on a long-term basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Adagio, I am willing to bet that you (a clearly accomplished baker) are still learning things about it - have you used the stretch-and-fold much, for example?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi sandylc:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                when you stop learning...you stop getting better!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The best part about baking is if you have a bad bake day today...there is always tomorrow!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I love teaching. It's all I do now, besides baking for my wife who is a personal chef. I bake specialty breads for her gigs and do decorative breads as she requests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Accomplished...I hope...still learning...you bet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Time to learn bread baking...again...you bet. In pastry schools all over the country, you get 5 weeks of bread because bread isn't "sexy". Two of those weeks is devoted to machinery and safety...the rest is a whirlwind tour of flour in your face.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I must admit, I studied bread from the seed to the table and when I thought I knew it all, I studied with Cyril Hitz, then when I absolutely thought I knew it all, I studied with Jeffrey Hamelman. I think both of those masters will tell you they still learn something new every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Acutally, I learn the most from teaching. My background is in pastry with my family. At any one time my family had three bakeries going and I worked in every one and hated every minute of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then I found bread. I baked for years from "seat of your pants" training, read books, then came videos, then one on one training.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bread is simple. And in that simplicity comes failure. When we forget the basics; dough temperature, the right flour, when to turn the mixer OFF, bulk fermentation, stretch and folds, we fail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The truth is that no matter how complicated the formula, if we hang on to the basics, we can make it work every time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So when veggiechef said let's go back to the basics, I was pleased to go there and that's what we'll do. And you will look over my shoulder to make sure I don't lead them astray!...LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And to answer the last part of your question, just about all of my bread formulae call for stretch and folds except for some rye breads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My idea here is to get people some basic skills that can make them create world class breads right there in their own kitchens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe you should write a book. Another thing that's much easier said than done....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are so many bread books out there it's silly. In my opinion, there is but one book: BREAD by Jeffery Hamelman.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What I like about this book is that it goes into great detail if you are the type that has to know everything about everything, or you can go right to the formulae and start baking, and everyplace in between.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have read this book from cover to cover and still use it as reference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You know, every book has reviewers who say "nice" things about it on the back cover so it sells. But how many bread books has accolades from the famous master Raymond Calvel?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Me write a book...I have to copy Jeffrey's and go to jail...LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a bunch of bread books as does everyone else. I use them for ideas, and then apply the basics. If you master the basics you can look at a formula and know if it will work properly or not and make the necessary corrections.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stick to "BREAD" and you can't go wrong!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also have that one and many others. I forget about one of them occasionally and then rediscover it, and it's a whole new book because I'm in a different place in breadbaking than I was before....!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Adagio, I want to purchase the book BREAD you mentioned above, There are two publication dates. Do you recommend the 2004 or 2012 publication, please.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Although I have the older one and have yet to find a problem...I would always choose the latest edition. You may find a new formula at the very least!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hi chef and you are entirely welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Stay in touch.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi Adagio, I'm reading every word that you write and I love you for sharing your experience and techniques!!! Thank you for your generosity. I'm excited to from you. Sincerely, MrsP

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MrsPatmore


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm happy to help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hang in there and feel free to stop me at any time if you don't understand something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Once you get the process...you will own it and I promise, you will be baking world class bread at home!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: veggiechef1965

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I will add this to the request for the "basics":

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chow would like us to keep everything here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have included my email address so that I could send a file. I have about 80 formulae on Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets for which I get requests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My promise to Chow is that I send only the file, and ALL discussion remains here so that all can benefit from our successes and failures. That how we learn!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I will ask that we honor Chow's rule. After all, they kindly let us use this site to learn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So with their kind permission, I will send the file requested, but we come right back here to discuss it...agreed?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Perhaps you could start with one basic recipe and copy and explain it here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Perhaps Whole Wheat Bread?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Might be easier than sending 80 recipes (quite possibly too much info) at the beginning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When I said 80 formulae...I meant they are available...not that I would go through them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Whole Wheat soon...first simple French dough...and we're not taking the fire hose approach!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would love to have the spreadsheets. Please send to me at fairwayser@yahoo.com. TIA. I am hoping I read your post correctly; if not, please let me know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hi chef:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For which bread are you referring?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Shall we start with French dough for baguettes with poolish?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: veggiechef1965


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is the stuff below what you're looking for, or are you looking for something even more basic?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Something more basic would be a recipe with easy ingredients, basic techniques, all in one single post. Like a recipe just to get baking?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm asking because I know a geeky math explanation might be off-putting and not at all fun to some, though very fun to more advanced bakers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wondering what would be helpful to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is exactly what I was looking for and what I'm sure others need to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I talked to a master bread baker and he told me the same thing...it's usually the basics that we overlook when we fail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm hanging on every post.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you Maria Lorraine and thank you Chef "Adagio"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Hi I thought I would share this. Apologies in advance for the vegetarians about the roast being in the frame. The bread disappeared within minutes after it reached the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ingredients = flour+leaven+water+salt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Flour = oak-smoked malted organic white flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Leaven = 1+ year old (33% by volume)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kneading = 2 times,(15min and 4 min) rested in fridge for 3 hours between kneads
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Crust = sprinkled with broken wheat while shaping.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Final rise time = 2 hours or so.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Life span of bread after baking = 9 minutes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        thanks for reading.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. OK...I hope I'm in the right place!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          First..."stuff" we need for artisan loaves at home:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Thermometer for water and dough temperature. Just a good kitchen thermometer will do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Stone for the oven for free standing loaves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Loaf pan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Mixer, such as a Kitchen Aid or equivalent. You can knead by hand if you like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5. Parchment

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6. bun pan...1/2 size

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7. 9-10 inch cast iron frying pan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8. Kitchen scale...nothing fancy, just so it goes from ounces to grams...I work exclusively in grams.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          9. Lame or equivalent (razor) for scoring bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          10. Couche material (linen) or equivalent. This, by the way we can purchase at an art store and I'll give you number and size as we go along.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          11. a place to work...at home...I use a bread board that was Grandma's...it's portable and historic!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          OK kids...what did I forget...?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            .....a peel?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            .....a cooling rack?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            .....I like a shaker can for flour so I don't use too much; I haven't learned that sideways flour toss yet.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A peel...well...I send in the bread on the back of a half pan with parchment...but a peel is great except you need to use a lubricant like semolina or rice flour...messes up the oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cooling rack...you bet...thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LOL on the shaker can...keep practicing that toss and thanks for the help!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I use parchment on my peel. A bit into the baking period, I reach in and snatch the parchment back out from under the bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A spray bottle to mist the French bread, or something to create steam in the oven? I use the mist bottle, and also a 1/2 sheet pan, preheated on the shelf below the bread. Pour water into the pre-heated sheet pan and it makes a lot of steam for a couple of minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That is what the cast iron frying pan is for. 1 cup of hot water and you're good to go...explanation to follow!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Let's talk basic ingredients...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              No...we not going into ash content and falling number, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For our purposes...All Purpose flour is perfect. We shall look for a protein content of about 11.5 to 12%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Examples: King Arthur All Purpose tips in at around 11.7 or so and Cerasota and Hector's around 12. We don't want any more than this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi Protein flour at around 14% isn't much good to us just now. We'll find out later that in Brioche or heavy rye breads a percentage of High Protein flour will help give those "heavy" doughs a bit of lift. But for general bread baking...all purpose, non-bleached, non-bromated flours will work perfectly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If the flour is white, it's bleached!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wheat is yellow...you know, "amber waves of grain".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And remember, fresh flour doesn't work. Most commercial flours are "aged" before sold so you don't need to worry here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Water...potable! If your tap water is drinkable, it's bread makeable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Salt: granulated. You can use Kosher, Sea Salt, Morton, whatever as long as it's fine granulated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeast: for our home purposes, we will use instant yeast. Not rapid rise or whatever else they sell out there. I work with Baker's Fresh yeast which by definition is mostly water. An ounce of Instant yeast is about three time more potent than fresh baker's yeast. So if I say 10 grams of yeast...you use 10 X .33 or 3.3 grams. If you feel you have cold kitchen...no be afraid to go to .4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ok...that's about as technical as we're going to get with these ingredients. As we move along, we'll get as technical as we need to, to make a point and no more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              35 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ok...Baker's Percentages or Baker's Math as I like to call it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you asked me for a formula for banquettes let's say, my reply would be this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour 100%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Water 66%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeast 1.75%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Salt 1.5%

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and that's all you would need to make simple dough with no starter. Starters will come in a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour is always 100% and this is the number against which you apply all of your other ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let's go for a ride and use that simple formula.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Here is a simple formula to remember:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour = total product divided by total percentage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You don't have to understand the algebra behind this even though it's basic...you just have to remember it...write it down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour 100% 1.00
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Water 66% .66
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeast 1.75% .0175
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Salt 1.5% .015

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Total 1.6925

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That is our total percentage!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ok...the rule again:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour weight = total product divided by total percentage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour weight = total product divided by 1.6925

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So how much is our product weight?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well...if we're making baguettes in France, it has to be 250 grams/loaf.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let's make three baguettes...that will fit in our home oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Remember, we will loose about 10% of the weight in the baking process. If we want to end up with 250 grams, we start with 275.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Product weight = unit weight times quantity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Product weight = 275 times 3 baguettes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Product weight = 275 X3 = 825 grams

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                OK...back to our rule for flour...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour = Product weight divided by total percentage

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour = 825 grams / 1.6925 = 487.4...oh...487!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                we will pay for dropping that .4 at the end but this isn't rocket science!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour for our three baguettes is 487 grams. That's our number!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The water was 66% or .66

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Water = 487 X .66 = 321 grams

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeast was 1.75

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeast = .0175 X 487 = 8.5 grams

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Salt was 1.5%

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Salt = .015 X 487 = 7.3 grams,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let's see if that worked:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flour 1.00 is 487
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Water .66 is 321
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeast .0175 is 8.5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sale .015 is 7.3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let's add them up: 823.8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Our original target was 825...we didn't round up the numbers...so close enough!!!!!!! It worked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now you are baking with the big dudes...you know baker's math!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's a big step.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The next big step is the weight. You notice we don't work in volume. Volume will lie to you. What one person's cup is another person's cup and them some. Weight doesn't lie! A pound of feathers weights just as much as a pound of steel!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We do this to be consistent!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ok...digest this for a while because the next part of consistency will come in terms of dough temperature...very, very, important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Next session...how we regulate dough temperature and why that is important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ciao and happy baking!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wow! Very useful post. But I suspect that it is all this baker's style of calculation that puts many off of baking bread casually on a day-to-day basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Calculating the hydration level and yield and rise is useful for a businessman. A professional baker who needs to make money needs to worry about consistent results, yield and repeatability. A home baker essentially needs a more qualitative approach as opposed to a commercial quantitative one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I never weigh my flour. I never measure the yeast. I never use "granulated" salt or pre-dissolve my salt. I use large sea-salt crystals.. I don't care too much about my leaven or what brand or type of yeast I use. All I care about is ease, and taste. :) It's good to have knowledge, hence I love your post(s). But on a practical home-baking level; enjoyment is the key.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My advice to first time bakers. Just try it. There is nothing to it. Mix flour and yeast. just bake in any old cranky oven you will still have home baked bread that YOU baked! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I will respectfully disagree. Once you get used to the simple way of being consistent and you see how your breads come out time and time again...you'll wonder why you didn't do these simple steps before!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My advice is why risk certain failure when following a few simple rules of bread baking will get you to certain success.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am a fan of yours. I greatly enjoy your posts. But I do have a point Adagio. I used to be a scientist too and it is impossible (at least difficult) for me not to think quantitatively.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I cook for my family. Initially I used quantitative methods to get near perfect breads from the very first time I tried some years ago. But it was so unnecessarily complicated that I did not bake often simply for lack of time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Slowly I realised that there are only 4 ingredients. Flour, yeast, water and salt. salt and water can vary but not much. Yeast can vary more, and flour can vary the most.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I believe that there is no such thing as a perfect bread. There are only variations in taste arising out of different strains of yeast, kind of salt, local water, and most of all the flour used.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Even more so because of family preferences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You and I both know that blindly sticking to quantitative recipes can make you oblivious to local variations in water and flour... resulting in mistakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Going by qualitative "feel" is a nicer way to make bread in my humble opinion. For example. Whatever flour one uses, how much ever water one adds, add enough to make a loose enough dough where you can poke your finger through the dough without too much resistance. Knead till the dough is smooth and buttery on the outside. Get your evidence (or proof) that the yeast is working. If not at this stage add more yeast. :) simples. After resting when kneading for the second time, knead only till the dough is easy to stretch and translucent. No more than that.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        love to everyone for sharing. Thanks Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hi SomersetDee, I have admired so many of your beautiful breads on this thread. I'm chiming in here to say that I'm appreciative of your input as well as that of Adagio. In my life, there is room for both of you and I learn from both of you. Earlier in my life, I was discouraged from bread baking because of uneven results. For too many years, I gave up on bread baking. Then I learned about weighing ingredients. After some years of weighing ingredients and getting good results, I've gained confidence with my dough so now I can *tell* if it's going to develop into a satisfactory result. I'm no longer married to weighing ingredients, especially if it's a familiar recipe. With new, vastly different recipes, however, I will weigh my ingredients (a recent example is pumpernickel bagels - I totally used a recipe for those!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I really wish that I could make a beautiful Pullman loaf like you've made. That's on my bucket list! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and perspective. Sincerely, MrsP

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SomersetDee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ok chef I certainly agree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            However, please consider this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This thread was started for troubleshooting puposes, not to find the perfect bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In order to troubleshoot via a thread discussion on here, I have to know certain things. If I were looking over shoulders it would be different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think you misunderstand my reasons for getting the basics down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Let's say you said: "My french bread is too bready" as a writer did on another post. I would ask for the formula. In baker's percentages, I might see Flour: 100%, Water 58%...and I would stop there. I would know at a glance that the hydration was way to low.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm not trying to make scientists here. I am trying to troubleshoot problems from here and that can be tough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, let's say you see a formula for whole wheat. It says Whole Wheat flour 100%, Water, 72% Yeast 1.5%, Salt 1.25% Suger 15%, honey 10 %. And you tell me your bread is burning on the bottom before it's done baking inside. I say...the sugars in the loaf may be the problem...double pan, lower the temp and try again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If I just get, "I tried to bake a whole wheat loaf and it burns on the bottome before it's done baking", then I have to play 20 questions and by the time we get to the problem, we forgot what the original problem was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We could go on all day, and I consult bread and bakery problems all over the world. I'm just trying to eliminate the greater percentage of the work with simple basics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Example: A young lade in NY told be she and her mom have a bagel shop. She goes on to say, "my bagels are different every day". I ask, "what is your dough temperature coming off the mixer?". She says, "dough temperature?" OK...we have a place to start to troubleshoot consistency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for sharing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tonight...dough temperature and why that simple step that takes a minute to correct is so important!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Adagio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi Ralph,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              :) True! I agree Chef. Me and my wife are often at odds because she is always talking in abstract qualitative terms where I tend to be more logical and quantitative in my approach. For example; when she declares that the first pancake ALWAYS sticks, I respond, no, not always! If the pan temperature has stabilised before you pour the first pancake in, then the first one will also not stick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I like what Mrs Patmore pointed out to me as well. If it was not for the fact that I started off my breadmaking with a quantitative approach, I could not have had sustained good results leading me to enjoy breadmaking more and more by just "feel".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I guess being able to look at ratios and proportions will come at a later stage. I rely a lot on feel, taste, visual cues and lastly smell when I make things in the kitchen. At home we can adopt sensory feedback mechanisms when cooking or baking. I often taste/eat a pinch of my dough in various stages to keep track and make reasonable adjustments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Similar to what Ralph has suggested elsewhere, I also would like to strongly suggest to home bakers to keep a diary/logbook where you make observations such as 'with 60% hydration my flour still has reasonable resistance to my finger pushing through it'. I personally also kept logs of various kneading times and corresponding end results. Eventually, you can make a mental recording of what you feel is the right "consistency" of the dough given the end result that you personally enjoy. Similar log for various crust texture, baking temperature, etc etc are all useful (even necessary) initially.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reading a book called "Bread" all alone in a room is a bit dry (not enough hydration lol :) ) whereas discussing this live, with real people from both sides of the Atlantic is a real privilege and great joy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am really glad about this thread. I hope this stays as an entertaining as well as a comprehensive resource to bread making (at home); and it is thanks to you Ralph! :) regards,