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Old 03-15-2007, 11:08 PM   #11
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Kat, if you are unsure about the temperature of the room in which you are allowing your bread to rise in, you can do what I do. I use my microwave oven as a proofing box.

I must preface this by saying I usually use my bread machine to so the mixing, kneading and first rising of my dough. This is because I've learned that the machine does a better far job of kneading than I could ever do and, also, because my hands can't handle the pressure of kneading any more.

Once the dough has been kneaded and risen the first time, I shape the loaves and place them in the microwave for the second rise.

Before I put it in the microwave for that period, I heat about 2 cups of water on HIGH power for 2 minutes. I leave the container of water in the oven and then place the dough in for its last rise.

You say you live in Minnesota. I have lived there, too, and know how cold it can be there...even in the house. Having said that, I will tell you that my house, even though I live in Kentucky, is quite cool in the winter months because of the age and contruction of the house. Most of the time the temperature of my kitchen rarely reaches 60 degrees F in the winter.

Just keep on working on making your bread. Don't give up. You'll be just fine.

"As a girl I had zero interest in the stove." - Julia Child
This is real inspiration. Look what Julia became!
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Old 03-16-2007, 06:21 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kat
thanks for the replies everyone and the troublshooting advice, it's a great help. the loaf that subfuscpersona made looks like i want it to. i was originally putting it in a warm oven becasue i wasn't sure if the room temperature was enough, it was really cold here in minnesota last month. i have been wanting to try making another batch, but some family issues came up and haven't had time yet. i'm going to make some more this weekend and use the suggestions everyone has given. i'll post up results sometime this weekend. i think i'll pick up a kitchen scale this weekend too and try doing it by weight. i appreciate the help.
Making baked goods by weight is a good technique, but not entirely "required". Many of us have been baking for decades following recipes with volume measurements with good results. I would just refer you back to my other post. Let your bread rise as much as it needs to, regardless of time. If your kitchen is cool, it will take longer. You can make a bit of a "rising oven" as you are doing.
If you really want a scale, you can get a very good one on Amazon for $20. Be sure to check the Friday Sale today.

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Old 03-16-2007, 08:02 AM   #13
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Wink Buttermilk White Bread - part 3 - Instructions (mixing & kneading)

My post #9 gave the ingredients and discussed measuring. We now proceed to...

Instructions (mixing & kneading)

The buttermilk and shortening were weighed and they, along with the beaten egg, were allowed to hang out at room temperature, since flour has trouble absorbing cold ingredients.

The dry ingredients were added to the KA mixer bowl (the flour was weighed, I just used my measuring spoons for the other dry ingredients).

Using the flat beater on speed 2, the dry ingredients were mixed for about 1 min, and then the wet ingredients were added (still beating on speed 2) in this order
  1. buttermilk
  2. beaten egg
  3. shortening
and everything was mixed for 1-2 min until it all balled up in the paddle. I then scraped the dough off the paddle, and switched to the dough hook. At this point the dough was rough but soft enough that it certainly didn't strain the motor to mix it with the paddle. It looked like this
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This dough was kneaded with the dough hook for 5-6 minutes on speed 2. It did ball on the hook and at the end of the mixing period looked like this
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The dough was removed from the bowl to a *lightly floured* board for final hand kneading.

We now come to an interesting point. Remember, I made this recipe 2 times, one day apart. The ingredients (including brands), the temperature (low 70s F) and procedure were identical on both days, however, dough #1 was actually stickier than dough #2 (of course, didn't know that on day one when I was making it for the first time ).

I did notice that dough #1 was a little sticky (it really gripped the board) but instead of adding more flour while kneading (this was the first time I'd made the recipe and I didn't know how the dough should actually feel) I covered it with plastic wrap and let it rest on the board for about 30 minutes. Sometimes flour just needs time to absorb wet ingredients.
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After this resting period, the dough was firmer and I could hand knead it without having to add flour beyond a tiny amount (?maybe 2 tsp) on the board. I hand kneaded for about 3 minutes.

It turns out that dough #1, even with this resting period, was still slightly wetter than dough #2 after both had been kneaded by machine and then a few minutes more by hand. Look at the photo below (in both cases I'm just lifting the rounded ball of dough up off the board)
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The blue arrow in #1 shows the dough gripping the board while in #2 the dough remains rounded. The red arrow in #1 shows the dough starting to tear away from my fingers while in #2 its still holding. I could lift dough #2 off the board without it leaving a residue.

The most likely cause of the difference in the doughs is that the wet ingredients were still somewhat cold the first time and even the resting period didn't fully correct this. A 2nd possible cause is that I *may* have machine kneaded dough #2 slightly longer.

At any rate, it made little difference in the final bread. Both baked up fine. Just wanted to point up how small differences in procedure and technique can affect the dough.

The kneaded dough is soft, light, and slightly tacky, just the way the recipe says it should feel. Both doughs passed the windowpane test.

We've reached the end of the discussion of kneading. Stay tuned for part 4 which covers rising times, shaping and baking.
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Old 03-16-2007, 09:47 AM   #14
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Buttermilk White Bread - part 4 - Instructions (rising and baking)

My post #13 discussed mixing and kneading. We now proceed to...

Instructions (rising and baking)

The mixer bowl was lightly oiled and the dough was set to rise in it, covered with plastic wrap. BTW, rising dough gives off heat, so I always put a big rubber band around the plastic wrap in order to trap that heat. That way the dough itself creates the perfect temperature for it's own rise.

Rising temperatures were at all times in the low 70s F (probable range 70 - 73 F).

After about 1 hour, the dough had risen about 1-1/2 times the original bulk. At this point I scooped the dough on the board and gave it a few strech and folds. This is a well-known technique for assisting the rise of bread dough. It gently redistributes the yeast (so they have a new food source), strengthens the gluten and deflates any large air bubbles. Most bread doughs react very well to it and here's how it works...
The Stretch and Fold Technique

When the dough has risen to about 1-1/2 times it's original size, gently scoop it out onto an unfloured board. You are going to gently stretch and fold it 2 to 4 times.
Fold One > Stretch the dough horizontally to the left, pick it up and fold it over like this
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Fold Two > Stretch the dough vertically from the top and fold it over like this
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You may stop at this point or do two more folds. Fold Three would be horizontally to the right and Fold Four would be vertically from the bottom.
I gave the dough four folds and then returned it to the oiled bowl, recovered it (with that rubber band in place!) and let rise again to about 2 times the original bulk.

In the meantime I greased my pans. I also decided to give the dough an egg wash and sprinke it with poppy seeds so I cracked another egg into a small bowl and beat it a bit so it would be ready.

It took about an additional 30 minutes for the dough to double. It was now ready to be shaped for the second (and last) rise in the pans.

The dough weighed 2 pounds. I divided it in half using my scale. I shaped each half into a rough ball, covered them loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest on the board for about 15 minutes to relax the gluten so the dough would be easy to shape. (I used this time to wash the bowl and tidy up.) After the dough had rested, on an unfloured board, I gently patted and pulled the dough ball into a rough rectangle about the width of my pan and about 3 times as long as the pan's bottom width.
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It was then shaped and placed, seam side down, in the pan. The dough at this stage filled the pan's capacity by about one half.
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Both pans were lightly covered with plastic wrap and left to rise at room temperature. In about 1-1/2 hours the dough was cresting about 1 inch over the top. The oven had already been preheated to 350 F.

The top of the dough was lightly brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with poppy seeds.
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The bread baked for 45 minutes at 350 F and was then turned out onto a rack to cool. There was very little oven spring ("oven spring" is when the dough continues to rise somewhat in the oven during baking).

The DC forum seems to limit the number of photos per post, so pictures of the finished loaf plus my evaluation of the recipe will have to wait for one more post.

Stay tuned...
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Old 03-16-2007, 12:53 PM   #15
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Buttermilk White Bread - part 5 - Recap and Evaluation


Kat, the original poster, was having trouble with an inadequate rise for her buttermilk white loaf bread. She had already successfully made cinnamon rolls from the same book (The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart). She wished to use buttermilk as the liquid and she had already reduced the amount of sugar called for, since she felt the bread turned out too sweet. She was aiming for an all-purpose white loaf for toast, sandwiches and snacking.

Even an experienced baker can have problems with an unfamiliar recipe, so in post #4 I promised to "make this recipe and post my results to this thread" (I have the book but had never made this particular recipe). As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, so I wanted to duplicate the recipe and technique as closely as possible, erring on the side of too much information rather than too little and including photos where possible. This would (hopefully) assist Kat to pinpoint what went wrong.
Post #5 covered equipment
Post #9 covered ingredients and measuring
Post #13 covered mixing and kneading
Post #14 covered rising and baking

...so now it is time for the...


The recipe produced two well formed light loaves, with a thin, crisp golden crust and a very soft, airy, close crumbed, slightly moist interior. While there was little oven spring, the loaves from batch #1 were about 5" high and the loaves from batch #2 were about 4-3/4" high. I threw in an optional step of brushing the top of the loaf with beaten egg and sprinkling with poppy seeds prior to baking. The egg wash contributed to the slightly darker color on the top of the loaf.
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This is a perfectly serviceable white bread with a mild, pleasant taste. Since both buttermilk and shortening tend to produce a very soft interior, it might not hold up to refrigerated peanut butter without tearing the bread but otherwise, if you and yours like white bread, it would be fine for toast and sandwiches. Other bakers might not want to reduce the sugar as much as I did. Using butter (rather than shortening) would probably add to the taste.

Reinhart also recommends variation #1 of this recipe (there are 3 variations) for hot dog or burger buns or rolls. The buttermilk variation I made might be a little soft for buns but I think it would make lovely dinner rolls.

The only real objection I have with the recipe is the straight dough method. It's rather inconvenient to hang out for about 2 hours (or more, if your rising temperature is lower than mine was) for the dough to rise in the bowl. With this recipe, the flavor might not be improved by a refrigerator rise, but flexibility in timing certainly would be. It is almost always possible to slap a rising dough (during the "rise in the bowl" phase, *not* the "rise in the pan" phase) in the 'frig if you have other things to do and want to extend the rising time. ( Reinhart is a great advocate of a refrigerator rise; it is discussed extensively in his books and I'm sure readers could find pointers for using this technique with this recipe).

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