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Basic Bread Questions
October 13, 2009
8:10 pm
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Just B
Alameda County, CA
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Hello, Friends.

I've been trying to teach myself how to make bread, and I almost have it down.  My question is this — My bread recipe book was written by a professional breadmaker, but I have a lot of trouble getting my bread to rise properly.  I've done some Internet research (thank goodness for Granny Internet), and most of the sites I have read said that the bread should rise, then be punched down and allowed to rise again before being put on the stone or in the pans.

My cookbook doesn't say anything about this.  It says to let the bread rise and then form it for the stone or the pans.  Is the author assuming I already know how to make bread and that punching it down is a given?

What other issues could be causing my bread to take all darn day to look like bread?  I've had better luck if I start my yeast (I use Instant yeast, which I keep in my freezer) the night before, but none of my recipes tell me to do this.

Any tips are genuinely appreciated.  I'm the only person I know who actually tries to make bread so I need the support.

Thanks,

-B

Semper Adsum

October 13, 2009
8:30 pm
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CindyP
Hart, MI
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At least you're sticking with it!!!!  And you're in the right spot for support!!  Suzanne has a great tutorial for bread making  http://suzannemcminn.com/blog/2007/12/19/how-to-make-bread/

I keep my instant yeast in the fridge.  I take out the amount I need and let it come to room temp before I use it.

I only let my dough raise to double in size, punch down, shape into loaf, let rise to double in loaf pan, then bake.  If you're doing a freestyle loaf on a stone, you don't need to let it do the rise after shaped.  Put into a cold oven, turn the oven on, then bake.

Good Luck, B……….YOU CAN DO IT!

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.”  ― Alfred Sheinwold

October 13, 2009
9:24 pm
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GeorgiaZ
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I use to make great bread…long ago. Now I cant seem to get it light and fluffy. Its thick and heavy. Still tastes good, but would really like it to be more “bread like”.

October 13, 2009
9:28 pm
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Pete
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What Cindy said…  That's just about as good as it gets!  All I would add is to keep it kinda simple to start with.  Whether it is two or twenty loaves later, you will know when you are ready to try something more exotic.  Suzanne's recipe and method is a great way to start.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

October 14, 2009
7:21 am
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Suzanne McMinn
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Yes, what Cindy said!  The only time I don't give a second rise is when it's a free-form loaf.  But you still need to punch it down before transferring it from the bowl to the pan.

Clover made me do it.

October 14, 2009
6:04 pm
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Just B
Alameda County, CA
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GeorgiaZ said:

I use to make great bread…long ago. Now I cant seem to get it light and fluffy. Its thick and heavy. Still tastes good, but would really like it to be more “bread like”.


I have worked through this problem.  I fixed it by starting my yeast the night before.  I put some yeast in a glass with a little warm water, a bit of sugar and some potato flakes.  I read somewhere that you have to feed the yeast, so I tried that, and although my bread is not rising properly (due to the punching down and double-rising thing, I think), it is no longer coming out like a lead brick.  I also read that you can use the water from boiled potatoes instead of potato flakes, and that's how those most honored women of the past who did it for real used to do.

Semper Adsum

October 14, 2009
8:08 pm
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GeorgiaZ
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Which reminds me that I have been looking for the starter recipe for the potato bread that you feed every few days. Anyone have it?

October 14, 2009
11:03 pm
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CindyP
Hart, MI
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I don't understand why your yeast is taking so long……….when I mean room temp, it only takes like 5 minutes for the few tablespoons.  With instant yeast, you don't really even have to put it in water to activate it……that just confirms that you have active yeast.  I just mix it in with my dry and then add water.

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.”  ― Alfred Sheinwold

October 15, 2009
12:36 am
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GeorgiaZ
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I dont even know if mine is instant or not. I didnt realize there different kinds. Guess I better check that out.

October 15, 2009
1:34 pm
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Just B
Alameda County, CA
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I don't get it, either, but our weather is quite cool, we seldom turn on the heat, and we usually have high humidity.  Could that have anything to do with it?

Semper Adsum

October 15, 2009
2:36 pm
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CindyP
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My house temps are around 65 – 70……….. did you check the expiration dates on the yeast? perhaps? maybe?  my thought is humidity would make it raise faster but maybe stickier……….

Suzanne!!  help!!

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.”  ― Alfred Sheinwold

October 15, 2009
2:40 pm
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Pete
WV
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Still trying to figure out the purpose of leaving the yeast out over night.  Seems like that could be long enough for it to proof and die…

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

October 15, 2009
2:46 pm
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CindyP
Hart, MI
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or maybe the water isn't warm enough???  My water is around 100 deg.

a batch of bread from the very beginning to coming out of the oven usually takes me about 3 hours, unless it's in the middle of the winter and it doesn't raise as fast………..

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.”  ― Alfred Sheinwold

October 15, 2009
5:21 pm
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Just B
Alameda County, CA
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Hmm.  I'm definitely doing something wrong.  Unless I grow the yeast overnight, it takes just about all day to get the bread to rise, and it doesn't rise much.

My yeast is pretty new, and I bought it from King Arthur, so it should be the good stuff.  Right?

Maybe I'm just cursed.  Or measuring wrong?  The recipe book requires a very small amount of yeast, like a teaspoon or something.  I raised that to a whole gob more.

Semper Adsum

October 15, 2009
7:32 pm
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WV_Hills
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Water (warm to the touch), a little sugar, stir — and you should have a foamy mass withing five minutes.  I can't imagine yeast sitting all night and still being good enough to raise the bread.

October 15, 2009
9:17 pm
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Pete
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Don't know of a bread recipe out there that calls for less than a package of dry yeast, which is either 2-1/4 or 2-1/2 tsp, depending upon who is telling the tale.  If you are using less than that, or not using warm water, or not finding a warm spot for the bread to rise, then your dough certainly will not rise well.

Now, back to square one.  Have you tried Suzanne's recipe for Grandmother's Bread yet?  If you do it exactly as she instructs it to be done, then you will end up with a great loaf of bread.  If you add or omit steps, then it probably will not turn out so well.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

October 15, 2009
9:21 pm
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CindyP
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What kind of yeast exactly did you get?  I checked out the KA site and they have sooooo many to choose from!  (and btw, if you have access to Sam's Club, their instant yeast costs less than KA site and you get twice as much!)

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.”  ― Alfred Sheinwold

October 16, 2009
3:16 pm
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Just B
Alameda County, CA
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Um … the red one.  SAF Red Instant Yeast, I think it is.

I have dog shows this weekend and next four weekends and then I have a business trip the weekend after that, so I will bake Grandmother Bread the weekend before Thanksgiving.  And I promise to do it step-by-step.  How's that??

Semper Adsum

October 16, 2009
4:02 pm
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CindyP
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Ok, that's just a normal yeast, a very good one in fact!!  That's an awful long time to wait for homemade bread, I don't know if I could go that long!  Laugh

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.”  ― Alfred Sheinwold

October 16, 2009
6:53 pm
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Pete
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Good luck with the shows, and with the bread making!  Well, with the business trip, too…  Cool

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

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