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Help with bread!

I have just recently started trying to learn bread making. I have tried many recipes and fiddled around, and now I am looking to get a specific result. With no knowledge I have to resort to doing a bit of research, but I feel clueless.

The bread I am trying to make has a very strong yeasty flavour. The crumb is kind of tough and the holes are big. I have had this bread before in Montreal, but at the time I wasn't really cooking so I never bothered to "remember" what it was. Some kind of hardish wide baguette? Sourdough-y? I don't even know what I'm looking for.

So far I have tried using a sourdough starter and something called a "poolish", but the taste is still not strong enough. My bread crumbs are really small and fluffy, and I have read that if I make my dough much wetter the crumbs will be larger. As for less fluffy more chewy, I have no idea yet how that works.

I was wondering if someone who knew a bit about bread making could point me towards a strong flavoured, hardish bread recipe, or give me some pointers and explanations on how to get closer to such a result.

Thank you in advance:)

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  1. It sounds like you are on the right track with a sourdough starter, but if you're using a brand new starter it hasn't had enough time to develop the stronger flavor you're looking for. The longer you keep it, the stronger it will keep (generally). Until then, you can try increasing fermenting times, and be sure to give your starter plenty of kitchen counter time rather than putting it in the fridge right after feeding. It should have several hours at room temp before you use it as well.

    You're also right that you'll want a very wet dough to get the chewy, denser consistency you're after.

    I would recommend you looking at either the King Arthur Flour cookbook (very basic and easy to follow recipes and instructions) or the Bread Bible (more complicated as the science of bread making is explained, but still very user-friendly). You might also try a search for sourdough on the Fresh Loaf website--they have some really nice recipes.

    1. One of the most frequently cited (on Chowhound) as a great resource is Peter Reinhart. He's got several great books, and has a blog, though I've not read it here's the link:

      http://peterreinhart.typepad.com/

      Definitely check out the Fresh Loaf website that Transplant_DK mentioned. You might also want to take a look at Nancy Silverton's "Breads from La Brea Bakery", which I've found is a great resource too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: janniecooks

        I second the motion suggesting information from Peter Reinhart. I have his book "The Bread Baker's Apprentice." if you continue (cactusette) to bake bread, I suggest you get a copy of his book.

      2. Amy from Amy's bread has a great cookbook out with all her recipes. I use to make them all the time and they would come out perfectly. Try looking on line for her. hope that helps and keep trying.

        1. The bread you've described sounds uncannily like what I've been making recently. It's an adaptation of the infamous "no-knead" bread described here:
          http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/din...

          But the adaptation has the following ingredients:
          210g Strong white bread flour
          45g wholemeal flour (I use wholemeal bread flour)
          45g German rye flour (I assume a dark variety)
          50ml red wine
          210ml water
          1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
          1 teaspoon salt
          (you could try just under 1/4 teaspoon yeast & 1.5 teaspoon of salt for a stronger flavour)
          Then follow Mr Lahey's instructions. It is a ridiculously simple process.

          The recipe I've used is here:
          http://blog.xuite.net/jane7443/bake/1...
          I used translation tools as I don't read or speak Chinese

          1. The keys to getting the characteristics you want are high hydration, proper shaping, slow proofing, and steam. You should also forget about adding whole wheat of rye flour. They'll keep you from getting an chewy and open crumb. Start with 100% white flour and, once you've achieved the results you want, move on from there.

            The easiest way I've found to steam my bread is to cook it in a pre-heated dutch oven. Removing the lid after 20 minutes. You also need to completely cook the bread. That means cooking it longer than you think.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SnackHappy

              I've also advocated the pre-heated dutch oven (or casserole pot) method which is what Mr Lahey suggests but using rye and wholewheat doesn't keep me from getting an open and chewy crumb.
              I've substituted a malted flour for the rye (in the UK there's an exceelent stone ground malted flour with an oak smoked flavour) but the texture wasn't much different.
              One thing I do know is that the flavour is much fuller - more like that described by cactusette - than with just the white flour.
              Anyway, the first photo of the rye/wholewheat/wine slow risen bread in the Chinese language link is very accurate - and that is not a bread with a close crumb... especially if you're patient and let the bread rise for the recommended amount of time and don't manhandle it.