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Basic Bread Questions
November 9, 2009
8:38 pm
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TXLady
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I use my microwave to proof my bread…I put a measuring cup with water in the microwave and let it boil, take it out and the bread goes in and I leave the door ajar just enough to keep the light on.  It works really well.

One other thing I thought I'd ask about.  The Grandmother bread calls for all purpose flour…does anyone know the reason behind that…(instead of bread flour)  I buy my yeast and flours at Sam's club…the yeast is in 2  one pound bags and is just a little bit more than one little jar at the grocery store and the flour I buy in 25 pound bags…I'll just say that I entertain myself baking bread (and other goodies).

Ruthie

November 9, 2009
8:56 pm
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Shells
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Ugh …. I had a 1 pound sack of yeast and it tore open somehhow.  Yeast all over the lazy susan in the pantry …. so now I need to get yeast and flour in order to make bread this week.

November 9, 2009
9:04 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


Just had another thought about this.  Almost always when I knead using the dough hook, when the dough becomes more or less a mass which crawls up and over the dough hook, it's done.  I usually scrape the bowl down really well to make sure there are no little bits of flour left anywhere, scrape off the dough hook, then give it just one more spin around.  That pretty much works for every kind of dough I've made in the KitchenAide.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

November 9, 2009
9:47 pm
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CindyP
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TXLady said:

One other thing I thought I'd ask about.  The Grandmother bread calls for all purpose flour…does anyone know the reason behind that…(instead of bread flour)  I buy my yeast and flours at Sam's club…the yeast is in 2  one pound bags and is just a little bit more than one little jar at the grocery store and the flour I buy in 25 pound bags…I'll just say that I entertain myself baking bread (and other goodies).

Ruthie


It's just an all purpose flour, nothing special needed.  But you know, the last time I was at Sam's, the bread flour was cheaper (by $1, but a dollar's a dollar!) than all-purpose, so I got both!  The bread flour works just as well……but usually all-purpose is cheaper.

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

November 10, 2009
8:45 pm
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alidpayne said:

It was last week. It was good, but I think I did something wrong. I had never made bread before at all. My husband ate it all, but it was too dense and chewy, not light and fluffy like it was discribed. I'm sure i messed it up some how. Any ideas as to what I could have done wrong? I'm ready to try again, but I hate wasting ingredients.

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

November 10, 2009
8:47 pm
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CindyP
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TXLady said:

It's hard to say what went wrong without having been there and seen or felt the dough but if that was your first attempt at making bread, then you did good if your husband liked it.  When I was learning the art of breakmaking…I made a lot of brick bats.

Jayne said:

Mine does that too.  It comes out like an english muffin, twice now.  I think I'm a cook, not a baker.

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

November 10, 2009
8:49 pm
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CindyP
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Pete said:

Common reasons for a result like that are things like, old yeast, the dough being in too cool a spot for rising and/or not letting it rise long enough.  It's really not as difficult as many would have you believe.  The bread will rise eventualy even in rather chilly conditions, but it does better when warmish.  Sometimes if the dough is not covered, a very thin crust can develop which keeps the dough from rising properly, which is why many of us like to cover the dough with a buttered or greased piece of plastic wrap loosely covering it so that the plastic wrap doesn't keep it from rising.  Every kitchen is different, so none of us has the perfect solution to what is going on in your kitchen.

Keep trying!  You WILL find the right way to do it with the conditions in your kitchen.  Also, I'd suggest reading through the instructions very carefully from top to bottom and make sure you have everything ready to go.  After a few more times through the process, you will know what to do.

Just think what fun you will have when you get comfortable with how the dough feels when it does well, then you can make the right adjustments when your kitchen is more or less humid, warmer or cooler than usual, without worry.

And please, please, please do not get overly concerned with the amount of flour a recipe calls for.  On any given day, you may need much more or much less than is called for.  During this very damp spring and summer, I was consistently using at least one more cup of flour to make a decent couple of loaves than Suzanne listed.  There was that much extra moisture in the air here!  Now, it takes almost exactly what she lists, so the conditions of my kitchen must be closer to what they are in hers now.  Of course, my loaves are a bit smaller now, but that's just the way it goes.

This is probably as good a place as any to admit that although I've been making bread off and on for more than fifty years, I STILL don't quite know what all those recipes mean when they say “Knead until smooth and elastic.”   So never fear – we are all still learning, and enjoying every one of those loaves, buns, or rolls most especially because they are NOT all identical and look nothing at all like the stuff available commercially.

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

November 10, 2009
8:50 pm
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TXLady said:

Good information Pete.  I know that you will agree that the one thing that makes a good loaf of bread is experience.  From experience you get the “feel of the dough”  and you just know when it is ready.  When I started bread baking, no one told me that I didn't have to incorporate every ounce of flour called for and it took me forever to learn that lesson……The term smooth as a baby's butt is a good descriptive term…most of us know what that means.  I am also one of those people that improvise with my bread baking so not every loaf is an absolute success. 

I live in the country on 5 acres and we have lots and lots of deer so any leftover bread is always welcomed by those critters.  I even saw one of my neighbors cats eating some of the bread I tossed for the deer.

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

November 10, 2009
8:51 pm
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CindyP
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alidpayne said:

I do appreciate the advice, and I will not give up. The bread had a great taste, but it was more rip a hunk off an eat it type than slice and make a sandwich. I did use quite a lot more flour than the recipe called for. It was a gooey mess still so I added a cup & a half or maybe even two cups more flour. I got something closer to what I expected then. Honestly the only dough I have ever worked with is Martha White pizza mix. lol But It was smooth & not leaving goo behind on the bowl or my hands. I assume this is what I am going for.

It seemed to rise as expected, then punced it down, put in pans, allowed to rise again, and baked. It doubled both times I let it rise, and both times took about an hour. Everything seemed to go alright except the extra flour. As I said, the bread was good, it was just too dense and heavy. Kinda cakey. I really don't know how to describe it. I just really want to end up with sandwich bread since we are sandwich people. lol

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

November 10, 2009
8:54 pm
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CindyP
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CindyP said:

Maybe that was just too much flour.  I grease my hands when I start kneading the dough, so it doesn't stick, and everything works on getting incorporated together.  I have a formica counter top where I knead also.  Stuff doesn't stick to it, so I don't need all the extra flour on the cupboard.  I wish I had one of those large well seasoned wood boards, though………..

alidpayne said:

I have no idea. I know that before I added the extra flour it was more like biscuit dough, all sticky & gooey. I was under the impression that it was not supposed to be sticky. I have no idea though, as it was my first time and no one i know makes bread!

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

November 10, 2009
10:38 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
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Re bread flour, if you want to use it, go for it!  Like Cindy said, it's usually more expensive and it's not necessary.  But if you have it, it's fine.  I don't like to have “special” flours for cake or bread.  I do so much baking, I need an all-purpose flour and don't want to mess around with changing flour bins.

Clover made me do it.

November 11, 2009
1:45 am
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Shells
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So whats the actual difference between bread flour, all purpose flour, cake flour and pastry flour ????

November 11, 2009
7:57 am
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CindyP
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I found this information here

The difference is the protein.  The higher the protein, the higher the gluten (binding agent).

Cake flour:7-8%

Southern all purpose flour:7.5-9.5%

Northern all purpose flour:11-12%

Bread flour:12-13%

There is a difference between all purpose flour from the southern climates, and that from more northern climates, and the more northerly grown the wheat, the higher the gluten content. This can explain why an all purpose flour bought in Wisconsin makes a great bread, and an all purpose flour bought in Alabama doesn't.

How do we know where the allpurpose flour we buy in the store got their wheat from — north or south?

But I wonder if this could be a reason of some not having good luck with the allpurpose flour making a good loaf of bread — the flour from the north is almost equal to bread flour.  Confused  Adding some dough enhancer would bring the gluten level up.  So now there's another variable to add to our list of what can make a good loaf!

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

November 11, 2009
2:33 pm
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Pete
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Kathie asked:

I made the recipe for Grandmother bread for the first time. All went well until I took it out of the oven. The top was hard as a rock, and it did not get very brown.  I could not cut the bread because the top was so hard, the whole loaf just collasped.  The pieces were delicious, but useless. 

What can I do to keep the top from getting so hard?  I appreciate any suggestions.

Kathie

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

November 11, 2009
2:49 pm
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CindyP
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When it was rising in the pan was the top greased?  I don't use a greased plastic wrap on top, but I do roll the loaf in the pan so the top is greased then cover with a dishtowel.  I also butter the top when it comes out of the oven…….just something my mom always did, so I do.  That softens the top up.

HTH!

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

November 11, 2009
3:02 pm
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IowaDeb
Quad City Area
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CindyP said:

Southern all purpose flour:7.5-9.5%

Northern all purpose flour:11-12%

Bread flour:12-13%

There is a difference between all purpose flour from the southern climates, and that from more northern climates, and the more northerly grown the wheat, the higher the gluten content. This can explain why an all purpose flour bought in Wisconsin makes a great bread, and an all purpose flour bought in Alabama doesn't.

That explains why the southerns make better biscuits! The higher gluten in flour makes biscuits chewy!

Sometimes,I live in my own little world, but it's okay because they know me here.

November 11, 2009
3:10 pm
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CindyP
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Exactly!!!!!  But I still wonder where the flour comes from that you buy in walmart?  arkansas, the south?

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

November 13, 2009
6:08 am
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Kathie
Asheville, NC
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Ok, probably a really basic question, but one I have.  The reason I do not bake bread very often is I find there is so much waste. My slices are either too thin or too thick, or I completely smash the loaf while cutting it. I would love to make my bread each week and never buy it store bread again.

My question: What is the best way to cut the loaf? On its side? From the top? Buy one of those plastic guides for cutting? 

Thanks ahead.

Kathie

Who would have thought a city girl would live halfway up a mountain…and have chickens?

November 13, 2009
7:18 am
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Here's what I do:

The hardest part?  I have to wait until the bread is completely cooled or it will squish when you cut it.  Suzanne's Grandmother Bread should turn out a dense loaf that will slice cleanly when it cools.  (I still cheat and cut the ends off while it's warm.  The end pieces are more stable than the middle of the loaf.  Warm bread?  Got butter? Yes  I'm there!

I use a long, serrated bread knife.  Mine is a cheapy from Walmart – you don't need anything fancy.

Thin or thick?  I struggled with that problem when I first made bread (back in the 70's) and all I can say is that it gets better with practice.  I guess now I look down on the bread from the top (and when it's cool I cut from the top), put my finger at the width I want for the slice, then try to cut straight down, use a sawing motion while keeping the knife as straight as possible.  One of the great things about slicing your own bread is that you can vary the width of the slices based on how you will use them.

Bread is never a wasted when you are creative.  The slices that are too thin to toast or make a sandwich — pulse them in the processor and make bread crumbs.  Too thick?  Cut a pocket and make stuffed french toast.  It's all good.  And if you find you don't use a whole loaf before it gets old – do what I do and freeze half, sliced so you can take out a couple of slices at a time, or the half loaf and slice it when you thaw it.

I didn't know I was going to write a book on the subject of slicing bread.  Just give me a question and stand back — I never seem to be able to write one word when a paragraph will do.

Kathy (with a 'y' to Kathie with an 'ie')

November 13, 2009
7:24 am
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CindyP
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I cut from the top.  I use a good serrated knife for cutting, otherwise, yes, I've had the smushed loaf.

I received one of those rechargeable battery operated filet knives (my family is a fishing family) and it has a bread knife attachment.  That was awesome, but the battery has went caput and I'm too frugal to buy another.

Something else I've also used is a meat slicer (which has also went caput and I haven't found another one yet).  That way you can get each slice the exact same size.

My girlfriend, who I've gotten baking bread, found at goodwill one of those bread keeper with a guide.  Says it works wonderful!  I had her send me a pic, b/c I just couldn't picture it.

If you're finding it's a waste, but it wouldn't be if you got an even cut, investing in something that will make it even will surely pay for itself fast!  My loaf of bread costs about 30 cents to make…….quite a savings and it's sooooooo much better!

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

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