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Basic Bread Questions
October 18, 2009
12:21 pm
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Pete
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Ooooh.  Somethng else just occurred – covering the dough when it rises.  It's one of those things that sometimes doesn't make it into the instructions, and sometimes makes no difference at all.  Mine is one of those kitchens in which it makes a huge difference!

Covering the dough is something that was taught back in the dark ages, presumably to keep the dough protected from light and to cut down on drafts having a negative impact on the rise of the dough.  There is enough ambient light in my kitchen that it does make a difference in rise time, but it may also keep the dough warmer, or at least more evenly warm.

Nothing fancy, just a tea towel covering the dough, usually on top of the oiled/greased plastic wrap covering whatever container the bread is in.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

October 18, 2009
2:09 pm
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Leahld22
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I'd forgotten about that step Pete. I remember my Nana doing that,thanks!

Life is too important to be taken too seriously.

October 18, 2009
3:48 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
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I can't imagine having to wait overnight for the yeast to proof.  One thing, as mentioned, is to be sure your yeast isn't expired, so check the date on the package.  (Even if it's a good brand, if it's expired, that's bad, and it's even possible to buy new expired yeast if they have left it on the shelf too long and on one noticed.)  Second, is your water hot enough?  It should be hot enough to still touch, but not too hot.  If you get it too hot, it will kill the yeast.  Too cool, and it won't activate your yeast properly.

Clover made me do it.

October 18, 2009
3:52 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
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By the way, if you’re brand new to bread-making and don’t trust yourself to the fingertip test for achieving the proper temperature with your water, hold an instant-read thermometer under the faucet as you’re running water. You want the water to be about 110 to 115 degrees.

Clover made me do it.

November 5, 2009
8:49 am
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WV_Hills
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A comment about using a dough enhancer –

Helen said:

If I'm using molasses as the sugar souce in my bread recipe, I like to add some Ascorbic Acid as a dough enhancer.  Just a small amount of Ascorbic Acid Powder…say 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 cup of molasses, really helps the bread to rise.  I use lots of chunkey stuff in my bread…rolled wheat, rolled oats, cracked wheat, sunflower seeds (all in the same recipe), as well as honey and molasses, so Suzanne's dough enhancer really helps give my dough some lift so that it isn't leaden and brick-like.

November 5, 2009
12:20 pm
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Helen
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This might sound odd, but in the winter, I knead my bread on a wooden board instead of on the stainless steel top of my kitchen island.  We don't have central heating, so our kitchen is cold in the winter, and that cold, stainless steel countertop just sucks the warmth right out of my bread dough and makes it take forever to rise.  When I knead on the wooden board, the dough retains much more warmth (both from the warm water from proofing the yeast and from the heat the yeast gives off as it is multiplying and growing during rising time).  I also put the bread pans on the wooden board during the second rise, for the same reason…and cover the dough, too.  What I wouldn't give for a wood-burning cook stove like my Grammy used to have!  On the plus side, a long rise gives bread more flavor, and some bakers deliberately retard the rise of their dough by using a minimal amount of yeast or by putting the dough in the 'fridge overnight.  But what ever you do, keep at it, because you will develope your skills and your relationship with the dough over time.  I am also convinced that a kind of morphogenic field developes and that each time you make bread, the dough “knows” what to do better and better.  It's not just a matter of you gaining skill (although that is very important)…it also seems to be a matter of creating a “field” of information that informs the yeast.  I know that sounds weird, and is probably way off topic…sorry.

George Orwell - 1984
- Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

November 5, 2009
1:09 pm
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Jayne
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okay, on the wierd bread question/statement side.  I put my bread on top of my water heater to rise.  It works like a charm every time!

November 6, 2009
9:47 am
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WV_Hills
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Jayne said:

okay, on the wierd bread question/statement side.  I put my bread on top of my water heater to rise.  It works like a charm every time!


I can top that one — I lived in an old farmhouse in Wisconsin and we were lucky to get the inside temperature up to 55 sometimes, when the outside temps were below zero.  On a sunny day I would put my dough bowl on the dashboard of my parked car.  Even with two feet of snow on the ground, with the Windows closed and the sun shining the car parked in front of the farmhouse was the warmest place on the farm.  Worked like a charm.  Come to think of it, I should have gone out to sit in the car and warm up myself while the dough rose.

November 6, 2009
10:33 am
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Chic
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Geeeeez made me cold just reading that!

November 6, 2009
12:18 pm
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Helen
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Jayne said:

okay, on the wierd bread question/statement side.  I put my bread on top of my water heater to rise.  It works like a charm every time!


I wish I could do that, but we have a blower on top of our water heater that takes up most of the room, and I bake three loaves at a time…its a good idea, though, for sure.  I tried turning my oven into a proofing box with a light bulb on a cord going into the oven to create the heat, but one time I forgot it was there and started pre-heating the oven with the bulb and cord still in the oven.  I got it out just as the cord started to melt…whew…that was too close for my comfort, so I don't do that any more.  I've been trying to think of ways to rig a proofing box in my kitchen, but everything I come up with is too impractical for the amount of space I have, which is very limited.  I'm thinking that perhaps just a cardboard box to cover the loaves might help because it would keep them away from drafts.  Any ideas, anyone?

George Orwell - 1984
- Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

November 6, 2009
12:20 pm
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CindyP
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Helen said:

Jayne said:

okay, on the wierd bread question/statement side.  I put my bread on top of my water heater to rise.  It works like a charm every time!


I wish I could do that, but we have a blower on top of our water heater that takes up most of the room, and I bake three loaves at a time…its a good idea, though, for sure.  I tried turning my oven into a proofing box with a light bulb on a cord going into the oven to create the heat, but one time I forgot it was there and started pre-heating the oven with the bulb and cord still in the oven.  I got it out just as the cord started to melt…whew…that was too close for my comfort, so I don't do that any more.  I've been trying to think of ways to rig a proofing box in my kitchen, but everything I come up with is too impractical for the amount of space I have, which is very limited.  I'm thinking that perhaps just a cardboard box to cover the loaves might help because it would keep them away from drafts.  Any ideas, anyone?


A pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven when rising….gives heat and moisture……..this is basically what our proofing box was at the bakery I used to work at.

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

November 6, 2009
12:33 pm
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Helen
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CindyP said:

Helen said:

Jayne said:

okay, on the wierd bread question/statement side.  I put my bread on top of my water heater to rise.  It works like a charm every time!


I wish I could do that, but we have a blower on top of our water heater that takes up most of the room, and I bake three loaves at a time…its a good idea, though, for sure.  I tried turning my oven into a proofing box with a light bulb on a cord going into the oven to create the heat, but one time I forgot it was there and started pre-heating the oven with the bulb and cord still in the oven.  I got it out just as the cord started to melt…whew…that was too close for my comfort, so I don't do that any more.  I've been trying to think of ways to rig a proofing box in my kitchen, but everything I come up with is too impractical for the amount of space I have, which is very limited.  I'm thinking that perhaps just a cardboard box to cover the loaves might help because it would keep them away from drafts.  Any ideas, anyone?


A pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven when rising….gives heat and moisture……..this is basically what our proofing box was at the bakery I used to work at.


I'll give that a try.  If I goose the oven a little before I put the pan of water and loaves in, it ought to stay a warm for a little longer, too.  Our kitchen is so cold, the heat is just sucked right out of everything.  I can totally relate to WV Hills' 55 degree farmhouse, because we heat with a wood burner and keep the temp in the downstairs around 60 degrees…colder on very cold and windy days…a drafty old house, for sure! The upstairs is not heated at all.  I'm not saying all this in the way of a complaint…I love heating with wood and actually like it this way…it just presents some difficulties that I have to work around, that's all.

George Orwell - 1984
- Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

November 7, 2009
7:38 pm
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countrydreams64
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I have a question about baking bread.  I just started making G'ma bread last weekend and made my second batch today.  I am greasing the pans as directed but my bread is sticking.  It won't come out unless I run a knife around it and sometimes it really makes it gnarly along the sides trying to get it out!

Today, I noticed that the bread seemed not done enough….could it be that I just need to let it bake longer for it to come out of the pan?  (I'm using glass)  Any ideas?  I would love for it to slide out, would that be “normal”?  (I'm new to baking bread.)Wave

November 7, 2009
7:50 pm
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wvhomecanner
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Helen said:

 I've been trying to think of ways to rig a proofing box in my kitchen, but everything I come up with is too impractical for the amount of space I have, which is very limited.  I'm thinking that perhaps just a cardboard box to cover the loaves might help because it would keep them away from drafts.  Any ideas, anyone?


This idea is certainly more expensive than a cardboard box, but if you are in the market some time for a good dehydrator, consider checking out an Excalibur – the shelves remove, making it perfect for proofing bread or making yogurt. It's not small, but not much bigger than a good sized box Yes

Dede

If common sense were truly common, wouldn't there be more evidence of it?

November 7, 2009
8:00 pm
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beeyourself
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kmcc325 said:

I am disabled and cannot knead bread properly.  Does anyone have instructions for making Grandmother bread using a Kitchen Aide??  Any help would be very much appreciated.  Thanks, Kathleen

November 7, 2009
10:17 pm
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Helen
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countrydreams64 said:

I have a question about baking bread.  I just started making G'ma bread last weekend and made my second batch today.  I am greasing the pans as directed but my bread is sticking.  It won't come out unless I run a knife around it and sometimes it really makes it gnarly along the sides trying to get it out!

Today, I noticed that the bread seemed not done enough….could it be that I just need to let it bake longer for it to come out of the pan?  (I'm using glass)  Any ideas?  I would love for it to slide out, would that be “normal”?  (I'm new to baking bread.)Wave


Your observation about the bread stickiing because it isnt quite done is correct.  Let it bake another 5 minutes and try again.  It is done when it sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles.  If it doesn't sound hollow, put it back in the pan and bake for another 5 mins.  And welcome to the wonderful world of baking bread French!

George Orwell - 1984
- Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

November 7, 2009
10:25 pm
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Helen
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wvhomecanner said:

Helen said:

 I've been trying to think of ways to rig a proofing box in my kitchen, but everything I come up with is too impractical for the amount of space I have, which is very limited.  I'm thinking that perhaps just a cardboard box to cover the loaves might help because it would keep them away from drafts.  Any ideas, anyone?


This idea is certainly more expensive than a cardboard box, but if you are in the market some time for a good dehydrator, consider checking out an Excalibur – the shelves remove, making it perfect for proofing bread or making yogurt. It's not small, but not much bigger than a good sized box Yes

Dede


I have an Excalibur (which I totally love, btw)!  I've never used it for proofing bread because I've always been afraid of the fan drying the dough out before it goes in the oven.  But if I put a low wattage light bulb on a cord inside the Excalibur, it would probably make a dandy proofing box, and there would be no danger of accidentally pre-heating the oven with the bulb and cord still in it.  Now that you've got me thinking, it occurs to me that if I'm not using the dehydrator for, well, dehydrating, I could line it with aluminum foil, which would increase the effectiveness of a low-watt bulb.  Thanks tons for a really great idea Sun2!

George Orwell - 1984
- Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

November 7, 2009
10:45 pm
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wvhomecanner
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Helen said:

I have an Excalibur (which I totally love, btw)!  I've never used it for proofing bread because I've always been afraid of the fan drying the dough out before it goes in the oven.  But if I put a low wattage light bulb on a cord inside the Excalibur, it would probably make a dandy proofing box, and there would be no danger of accidentally pre-heating the oven with the bulb and cord still in it.  Now that you've got me thinking, it occurs to me that if I'm not using the dehydrator for, well, dehydrating, I could line it with aluminum foil, which would increase the effectiveness of a low-watt bulb.  Thanks tons for a really great idea Sun2!


Helen, I am baking-impaired and have not used mine to proof bread (it does gets a workout dehydrating). But I have not heard anyone that uses it to proof bread ever say anything negative about it – including anything about drying it out. Before you go turning that baby into an expensive cardboard box <grin> please promise me that you'll try it once 'as is' first?? LOL

Dede

If common sense were truly common, wouldn't there be more evidence of it?

November 7, 2009
10:50 pm
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Pete
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beeyourself said:

kmcc325 said:

I am disabled and cannot knead bread properly.  Does anyone have instructions for making Grandmother bread using a Kitchen Aide??  Any help would be very much appreciated.  Thanks, Kathleen


Kathleen, I use the dough hook on my Kitchen Aide for all my kneading because my hands don't work as well as they used to.  I've never quite figured out an absolute formula for how long to let the machine knead – just let it go for a while, then feel the dough.  It should feel just like it would were you kneading by hand, it just won't take nearly as long.

We also need to find out the internal temp for most breads.  Loaves which are nearly done really can be stuck with a thermometer to check for doneness, but I don't remember what that temp is, and it probably varies somewhat among the different types of breads. 

Saw Alton Brown talking about this not long ago – who woulda thunk about checking internal temp of a loaf of bread?  But it makes sense, particularly for those just starting out and trying to figure out just what “hollow sound” means in their kitchen!

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

November 7, 2009
10:55 pm
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countrydreams64
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Helen said:


Your observation about the bread stickiing because it isnt quite done is correct.  Let it bake another 5 minutes and try again.  It is done when it sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles.  If it doesn't sound hollow, put it back in the pan and bake for another 5 mins.  And welcome to the wonderful world of baking bread French!


Thank you.  That's exactly what I did, stuck it back in the pan and baked for a bit longer.  Hopefully they got more “done” the second time around and they are edible.

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