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 Post subject: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:54 pm 
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At Amy's request, I'm starting this thread to answer bread-baking questions to the best of my ability. To start us off, here is my everyday bread recipe. It is a combination of two recipes I really like, the one in Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest and Nancy Silverton's whole wheat sandwich bread in Breads from the La Brea Bakery. The best tip I have learned about bread baking is that the famous No-Knead Bread fold technique can really be applied to any recipe with great success. I no longer knead bread. I mix it, then fold it 2-3 times during the first rising period (not counting any pre-ferment). I have excellent success in general with this technique. You might call it Lazy Man's Bread. I've incorporated two suggestions from this board since the last time I posted this here. I have put all of the water into the sponge, making the mixing process easier, and suggested multigrain for the cereal addition.

Tim’s WW bread:
makes 4 ample loaves

Sponge:
6 cups (26 oz) WW flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast*
5.5 cups (44 oz.) water

Mix:
4 tsp. instant yeast
2 eggs
½ cup sugar or honey
2/3 cup oil
4 tsp. salt
2 cups cooked multigrain cereal or other cooked grain (optional)****
4.5 cups (19 oz.) white WW flour**
4.5 cups (19 oz.) bread flour***



The Sponge: I learned to bake bread from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest. If you are familiar with her recipe, you may recognize some of it in this recipe. She suggests using a sponge, mixing part of the flour with a little yeast and water and letting it rise before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. This is a technique called a pre-ferment, used by professional bakers to improve the flavor and rise of bread. Traditional hearth breads use a pre-ferment (called, variously, a poolish, mother, chef, or biga), often allowed to rise overnight. I included the sponge in this recipe because I have tried cutting this step out (I love cutting out unnecessary steps, as we will see in a minute when we get to the kneading bit) and found that my loaves rose significantly less. So, mix up the sponge ingredients (should make a wet dough), and allow to rise in a warm place, covered with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Be sure to leave plenty of room between the covering and the sponge, as it will rise and can make a mess of your towel if there is contact. A minimum of an hour is a good idea. Longer periods (up to 10 hours or so) are fine, depending on your baking schedule. If you are going to go longer than about 3-4 hours, I suggest letting it rise in the refrigerator where the cool temperature will slow things down.

The Mix: Take all of your sponge and put it in a bigger bowl (unless you used a nice big bowl in the first place). Add all of the ingredients of the mix except the flour first, mixing well. Some people caution about not letting the salt touch the yeast before it has been mixed with the other ingredients (they believe the concentrated salt can kill the yeast cells). I have not found this to be a problem, but it is pretty easy to add them to opposite sides of the bowl. Add the flours and stir until thoroughly mixed. If you have made bread before, you may find that this dough is wetter than you expect. Don’t worry it is designed that way. A wetter dough (within limits) makes a lighter loaf.

Kneading: This is one of the places where I firmly disagree with most home bread recipes. The famous “No Knead Bread” recipe from the New York Times a few years ago popularized a method called folding used by professional bakers, especially for wetter doughs, for years. I believe this method can be used for any bread recipe and will save a lot of time and effort (or electricity if you choose to knead in an electric mixer). If you don’t believe me, or really like the stress release and forearm workout of kneading, just knead this dough for about 10 minutes, adding a little flour to keep it from sticking. Use as little flour as possible, as too much will get you back to that denser consistency, and a denser loaf.

For those who are willing to step off the cliff with me, here is what you do: Plan to let this bread rise for about two hours (this will vary a bit depending on the freshness of your yeast and the temperature in your house) For the first hour, every twenty minutes, sprinkle the counter lightly with flour, pour the dough out, and fold it into thirds (as you would fold a letter). Rotate it 180 degrees and fold it again. Return it to the bowl to continue rising. After the third fold, just let it rise unmolested for the next hour. It should about double in bulk by the end of the rise. If it is done sooner, skip to the next step. If it is rising slowly, put it in a warmer place (on top of the dryer, while a load is drying, is a good place, or on top of the refrigerator).

Divide the dough into 4 approximately equal pieces (you can, of course, cut this recipe in half for 2 loaves). Oil 4 loaf pans lightly with spray oil or butter. Shape the pieces into loaves and place them in the pans. Oil the top of the loaves, cover with a clean towel or saran wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise. When the loaves have risen such that the part of the loaf contacting the pan is about even with the top, slash the tops with a sharp knife (serrated works well), and place in a preheated 350F oven. If you are pressed for time, about when the top of the dough is level with the edge of the pan, slash the loaves and place them in an unheated oven. Allow it to preheat to 350 with the loaves in there. They will continue to rise as the oven heats, cutting part of the time off of your baking day. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when thumped (the best way to test this is to use an instant read thermometer and bake them to between 180 and 190 degrees). Remove them from the pans, and place on a wire rack to cool. The bread cognoscenti say that you shouldn’t cut it until it has cooled to room temperature (it lets some steam escape, resulting in drier bread). I, on the other hand, am a firm believer in cutting one loaf right away, while it is too hot to touch, spreading some butter and honey on a piece, and enjoying it immediately with a cold glass of milk. This moment is about 50% of why I make my own bread.

* I call for instant yeast (also called bread machine yeast sometimes). The only difference between this and you traditional Active Dry yeast is that the instant is pelletized in smaller pellets at the factory, allowing it to be mixed directly with the dry ingredients. If you can’t find it (big box stores or places that cater to caterers often sell yeast in 1 pound bags for far less than your regular supermarket) Active Dry yeast is fine. Use about 1/3 more yeast (there are fewer living cells in Active Dry than instant) and mix it with a small part of the water (about ½ cup) to dissolve before adding the other ingredients.

** White whole wheat flour is whole wheat flour milled from white wheat berries, rather than red wheat, which is what most whole wheat flour is made from. Because it has a thinner seed coat, it does not have the strong flavor most people associate with whole wheat flour, and produces a lighter loaf without losing the nutritional value.

*** I use bread flour in this recipe because it has more gluten than all purpose flour, which helps make up for the high proportion of whole grain flour. If you can’t find bread flour, all purpose will work (though your loaves may be a bit denser) or you can add a little bit (up to ¼ cup) vital wheat gluten to compensate. Alternatively, you can substitute more white whole wheat for the bread flour (up to the whole amount for a 100% whole grain loaf). A little added gluten, again, will help with the fluffiness of your bread.

**** I used to try to use uncooked grain here, and some might work (cornmeal for instance, adds crunch without absorbing a lot of water). I ran into trouble with uncooked oats and bulgar, in particular, absorbing water out of the dough and changing the consistency of the bread. Feel free to experiment here if you have more patience than I did. You can also add things like a cinnamon sugar swirl, dried fruit, nuts, etc. I like my bread pretty plain so I have written the recipe this way.

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" Food that`s too safe, too pasteurized, too healthy - it`s bad! There should be some risk, like unpasteurized cheese. Food is about rot, and decay, and fermentation.as much as it is also about freshness."

-Anthony Bourdain


Last edited by TLC Tim on Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:56 pm 
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Location: Syracuse, NY
If you have specific questions, post them here and I'll do my best to answer them. Others are free to chime in of course, as I am pretty sure there are people here with more experience than me. If I think of other things, I will post them as they occur to me.

_________________
" Food that`s too safe, too pasteurized, too healthy - it`s bad! There should be some risk, like unpasteurized cheese. Food is about rot, and decay, and fermentation.as much as it is also about freshness."

-Anthony Bourdain


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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:04 pm 
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Location: Telluride, CO
Tim,

Next time you make this can you take pictures of your efforts? I think visual queues are important.

Amy


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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:28 pm 
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I am in the middle of it right now. I missed the sponge, but I'll get the rest on this one. I can get the sponge next time.

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" Food that`s too safe, too pasteurized, too healthy - it`s bad! There should be some risk, like unpasteurized cheese. Food is about rot, and decay, and fermentation.as much as it is also about freshness."

-Anthony Bourdain


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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:54 am 
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Yipee! Thanks. I will try this over the next few days. I really appreciate your efforts.


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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:29 am 
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I have a ton of pictures from baking this recipe last night. I'll put them up when I get a chance to organize them.

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" Food that`s too safe, too pasteurized, too healthy - it`s bad! There should be some risk, like unpasteurized cheese. Food is about rot, and decay, and fermentation.as much as it is also about freshness."

-Anthony Bourdain


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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:44 am 
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Location: Denver
Thanks Tim....I'm going to try it this weekend, I think

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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:13 am 
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Location: Ottawa, ON
Here is my latest bread making adventure a couple of nights ago: I made up a batch to try out the new mixer. It was getting late after the second rise, I was tired, so I just punched it down, covered and stuck it in the fridge. Next morning, re-punch. Last evening, I popped it out, let it warm and used it to make focaccia. The best texture and flavour I've got out of that recipe by far. I've read that really long rises really help and this really reinforced that.


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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:49 pm 
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Location: Northern California
Thank you Tim!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Bread making tutorial
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:42 pm 
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Tim
Any hints for cutting this recipe in half....I wouldn't use 4 loaves of bread in a week (even though I love bread) and I could give three away, but I would just love a recipe that didn't require two days and just made one wonderful loaf.
ilene

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