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Old 02-14-2012, 12:31 PM   #1
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No Fuss Food Processor Bread

First, I want to say that I bake a lot of bread. I can count on one hand the number of times I've purchased a loaf in the store in the last five years. I started making my own bread for a couple of reasons. First, I hate paying a lot of money for something I can do cheaply myself. Why pay $3-4 a loaf in the store when you can make it for less than a buck? Also, I'm very leery of chemicals in food and wanted more control over what my family was eating. Lastly, there's just something wholesome and satisfying about the whole process of bread baking. I think I'm a lot like my grandmother in this respect. She made her own bread until well into her seventies, when arthritis finally put an end to it.

For a long time I only made bread by hand. Once a week, I'd make a couple of loaves of artisan style bread. Baguettes, Jewish Rye, Pumpernickel, Sourdough, Focaccia - I've tried it all at one time or another. By the time I finished, the kitchen was trashed and everything covered in flour, myself included.

About two months ago, I finally broke down and bought a nice food processor. It's a 14-cup Cuisinart. One of the reasons I bought it is because it had settings and attachments for making dough. I was doubtful at first, but after spending some time playing with it, I have to say that it makes a decent loaf of bread with minimal fuss and mess. I would say it's not quite as good as a completely hand made loaf, but it's certainly good enough for everyday fare and sandwiches.

Below is a very simple recipe that I devised for my FP that makes a single loaf of bread. It literally takes 5 minutes or so of prep time, and is so easy you could make bread everyday. The best part is that it's driven by proportions and is flexible enough to act as a base recipe for many different types of bread. You can make Rye, White, Whole Wheat, or a healthy Oat Bran loaf just by varying the dry ingredients a bit. The ratio of dry ingredients to wet is about 2-to-1. Note that if you use all white flour, you will use less water. I go entirely by visual cues when making bread. Just follow the instructions below.

My recipe calls for three cups of flour. You can use all white flour, if you like, but at least one cup of the flour used should be all purpose white. White flour has a good amount of gluten, which I think is especially important for food processor dough, since it helps the dough stick together and form a ball. The remaining two cups can be pretty much anything else. The important thing is that it adds up to three cups. Here are some examples:

  • Healthy oat bran loaf: 1 cup white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup oat bran, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 1/4 cup ground flax seed.
  • Whole wheat loaf: 1 cup white flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • Caraway rye: 2 cups white flour, 1 cup rye flour. Add two teaspoons caraway seed.
  • Herb bread: same as whole wheat, but add a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, basil, and marjoram. You can also add 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic.

The oil can also be of any type. I like olive oil, but it could just as easily be butter, canola, or even nut oil. Same with sugar. I normally use evaporated cane juice, but honey, molasses, brown, or white sugar works as well. Feel free to experiment.

The water should be warm. I don't really measure the temp, but use warmer than lukewarm - maybe 120-130. If you use quick rising yeast, it can handle more heat than standard active dry yeast. If you use standard yeast, then lukewarm us fine. It will just take a little longer to rise.

Lastly, I encourage you to be as creative as you wish. I've added cheese, chopped jalapenos, olives, and herbs to this base recipe, and it mostly comes out great. I'd love to hear about variations that people come up with.

Recipe for Basic Food Processor Bread Dough
Makes 1 loaf

  • 3 cups flour, at least 1 cup should be white (see notes above)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast, or one packet
  • 1 tbsp sugar, honey, or other sweetener (see notes above)
  • 1 tbsp oil or melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups very warm water

1. If your food processor has a dough attachment, use that. Otherwise a chopping blade is fine. The bowl should have at least a 9-cup capacity to allow for movement of the dough.

2. Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, sugar) to the food processor bowl and pulse several times to mix.

3. Combine the warm water with the remaining liquid ingredients (oil and honey, if using) in a large measuring cup with a spigot.

4. Turn on the food processor and slowly add the liquid ingredients through the food chute. Occasionally pause to allow the FP to catch up. You may not need to use all of the liquid! Once the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, do not add any more liquid. Allow the food processor to run for another minute to "knead" the dough.

5. Turn the dough out onto a cutting board that has been lightly dusted with flour. It should be sticky and pliable. Quickly knead the dough for about a minute and form it into a log shape. Lightly coat the surface with oil and set it in a loaf pan coated with non-stick spray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about an hour, or until the surface has risen about an inch above the top of the pan.

6. Bake in a 350F oven for 25-30 minutes. Once pan has cooled enough to handle, turn it upside down and give it a quick shake it to release the loaf. It should come out easily.

Enjoy!

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Old 02-14-2012, 01:29 PM   #2
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Thanks Steve, I need to get back to making Italian bread for my daughter. I used to make it all the time for my kids.

When my kids were small, there was an Italian bread bakery just a block from the house. In the summer, the kids were outside playing at night. Too hot to sleep. Come 11 o'clock, I would give them a clean dish towel, and they would go to the bakery and get the bread right out of the oven. The bread was still hot. I would give them a stick of butter and they would sit on the front steps each eating their own loafs with a tall glass of milk. There were about twenty kids in the neighborhood who were pigging out on Italian bread. Those kids went to bed with a full tummy. And it was one way of getting the kids to quiet down for bedtime. That was one quarter all mothers were glad to spend.
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Old 02-14-2012, 01:51 PM   #3
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You're welcome Addie. I love Italian bread. My favorite, Ciabatta, is one of the easiest breads to make and one of the most delicious. It doesn't really lend itself to the recipe above... well, actually, I suppose it could. You could just skip putting the dough in a pan, and instead stretch it out onto a sheet. I don't think it would have the same texture, though. Ciabatta has large air bubbles and this recipe produces a loaf with a fine crumb.
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Old 02-14-2012, 05:08 PM   #4
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I've never tried using my FP for bread dough, but will now. I like the idea of making all of our own bread but so far have been too lazy...

I'm gonna try this!
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Old 02-14-2012, 05:31 PM   #5
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This is intriguing, Steve. I'm no baker, but I'll have to give this a try. Thanks!
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Old 02-14-2012, 05:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bakechef View Post
I've never tried using my FP for bread dough, but will now. I like the idea of making all of our own bread but so far have been too lazy...
I'm gonna try this!
I have used my KA and FP. I prefer the FP. It gets all the product, whereas you have to stop and scrap the the bowl often with the KA. Happy Baking!
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Old 02-14-2012, 06:45 PM   #7
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Great OP Steve!!! If you threw in a few pictures you'd be right up there with the top food bloggers. Your article is interesting, detailed and complete. I hope I'll try your method but I'll have to get an appropriate processor first.

I'm far less experienced than you, my main experience mostly in the miscellaneous category, and my recent experience is cooking lots of focaccia, which has become my favorite bread because it's the one I make best. (Savory focaccia.) It's fun to make bread and I too like the idea that I know exactly what went into it. I never calculated the costs. And the biggest benefit IMO is that fresh out of the oven taste that you can only get by either baking your own or getting it hot at the bakery and rushing home.

One thing I've done different, and was reminded today by a different topic here in the forum, proofing the yeast. I know it isn't absolutely necessary. Maybe I just like watching the yeast bubble. What would you think of proofing the yeast plus the sugar in half of the water, then adding that to the dry ingredients as the first liquid, and then continue on with remaining water per your method?

Or do you think that would just be a needless step and wasted labor?
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:00 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
One thing I've done different, and was reminded today by a different topic here in the forum, proofing the yeast. I know it isn't absolutely necessary. Maybe I just like watching the yeast bubble. What would you think of proofing the yeast plus the sugar in half of the water, then adding that to the dry ingredients as the first liquid, and then continue on with remaining water per your method?

Or do you think that would just be a needless step and wasted labor?
First of all, thanks for the compliment, Greg. One of these days I will get the camera out and snap some photos. My problem is that I never think of that when I'm in the middle of cooking.

Regarding proofing the yeast. I do that with my hand made breads. There are two advantages to proofing. First, you know right away whether or not the yeast is viable. Second, proofing allows you to build an active yeast culture, so that when you add it to the recipe, you've eliminated the lag phase and it's already strongly fermenting. I truly believe it also has a positive impact on the flavor of bread.

For this particular recipe, however, I was looking more for a fast and fuss free way to make bread. Basically, I wanted to eliminate any excuses for not baking in the middle of the work week. As long as your yeast is fresh, you shouldn't have any problems. But, of course, if you have the time, proofing is probably the time-tested and preferred method.

You might also notice that there is no punch down and second rise of the dough. Again, I was initially just looking for ways to save some time. But I found out something rather surprising. The argument I've always heard for the second rise is that it helps ensure a finer textured loaf. I actually tried it both ways with my food processor recipe, but found that the second rise didn't make a whole lot of difference in the texture, and often times, it made for a denser loaf because the yeast just weren't very vigorous on the second round. So, more time saved.
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:24 AM   #9
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Thanks for the reply Steve. Yes you accurately described all my concerns in more detail than I thought of. I too like the positive feedback of seeing the yeast bubble, and maybe as I said I just like seeing the bubbles, knowing that the little yeast beasts are actively metabolizing! I don't know about the flavor enhancement but it seems reasonable to me, and it also seems reasonable that the yeast would get a better start by "incubating" them in a yeast heaven of warm, sugary water. I think when I try your method I'll add the small additional step of proofing my yeast, as I described above. IMO that would add only 1-2 minutes additional labor to the whole job.

I've wondered about the punch down and second rise myself, and I'm encouraged to try a single rise and straight to oven. If that's nearly as good then it might save some waiting time.

I buy into your concept, that if you cut the labor you might be encouraged to have home made bread more often, and that's a good thing! I can't make every bread as good as the bakery but the few types of bread I make are better than the bakery because I made them myself and it's fresh out of the oven. There's a lot to be said for the feeling of accomplishment and eating it too!
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post

Recipe for Basic Food Processor Bread Dough
Makes 1 loaf

  • 3 cups flour, at least 1 cup should be white (see notes above)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast, or one packet
  • 1 tbsp sugar, honey, or other sweetener (see notes above)
  • 1 tbsp oil or melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups very warm water

1. If your food processor has a dough attachment, use that. Otherwise a chopping blade is fine. The bowl should have at least a 9-cup capacity to allow for movement of the dough.

2. Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, sugar) to the food processor bowl and pulse several times to mix.

3. Combine the warm water with the remaining liquid ingredients (oil and honey, if using) in a large measuring cup with a spigot.

4. Turn on the food processor and slowly add the liquid ingredients through the food chute. Occasionally pause to allow the FP to catch up. You may not need to use all of the liquid! Once the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, do not add any more liquid. Allow the food processor to run for another minute to "knead" the dough.

5. Turn the dough out onto a cutting board that has been lightly dusted with flour. It should be sticky and pliable. Quickly knead the dough for about a minute and form it into a log shape. Lightly coat the surface with oil and set it in a loaf pan coated with non-stick spray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about an hour, or until the surface has risen about an inch above the top of the pan.

6. Bake in a 350F oven for 25-30 minutes. Once pan has cooled enough to handle, turn it upside down and give it a quick shake it to release the loaf. It should come out easily.

Enjoy!
How much should the baked loaf weigh?
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