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Old 11-10-2008, 12:08 AM   #1
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Pie Susan's Bread Primer

I wrote this after being asked a lot of question on bread baking on another forum. It was synthesized from years of reading about bread making and my own kitchen experience. I hope you find it helpful as well.

Pie Susan's Bread Primer (for those new to the chat or to breadbaking)

For best results, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.

Mixing flours: The secret is balance and knowing what is high and what is low gluten flour

Flour and Grains:
All-purpose flour (blend of hard and soft wheat)--may replace bread flour with a slightly denser, more cakelike result.
Bran flour--provides rich flavor, texture and fiber
Brown rice flour--gluten-free, dry texture, sweet nutty taste
Buckwheat flour--gluten-free, distinctly bitter flavor
Chestnut flour--sweet, starchy flour
Chickpea flour----gluten-free, adds a rich flavor
Coarse semolina flour (mix with bread flour to make a loaf)
Cornmeal flour, gritty coarse texture, sweet corn flavor
Fine semolina or durum flour (high gluten flour)
Gluten flour--made from hard wheat, generally used in conjunction with low gluten flour.
Granary flour (combination of whole wheat, white and rye)--makes a sweet nutty loaf
Millet flour--low in gluten, distinctly sweet
Polentas--white or yellow cornmeal with a coarse grind--If recipe calls for it, look for an Italian brand.
Potato flour--gluten-free, used as a thickener, produces a moist crumb
Quinoa flour----gluten-free, contains more protein than any other flour as well as 8 essential amino acids.
Rolled oats--rich, nutty flakes
Rye flour--provides rich, sour flavor and a dense texture.
Spelt flour--low in gluten, slightly nutty flavor (ancient form of wheat)
Unbleached flour (bread flour) makes an elastic dough and lighter loaf
Whole-wheat flour (makes for denser bread --bran hinders rising)

Other Ingredients and what they do:
Yeast--avoid quick rising yeast--it is the long, slow rising process that develops flavor in Pie bread.
Fat--imparts flavor, richness and tenderness.
Milk and buttermilk: create a velvety grain, browner crust and a creamy-white crumb.
Salt--keeps the yeast in check, strengthens the gluten, and accents flavor of other ingredients (just as it does in cooking)
Sugar or other sweeteners: creates rich brown color to the crust through carmelization.

Finishing Touches:
Slashing the top--allows bread to expand during the rise without a bread "blowout."
Washing: each kind does something different
--Water wash: Helps steaming, creates a crunchier crust
--Whole egg wash: imparts a shiny-bronzed surface
--Egg white wash: shiny like whole egg wash but is transparent
--Egg yolk wash: Very golden crust
--Milk wash: Bronzed crust, soft and less shiny
--Melted butter wash: (before or after or both) softer, rich flavored crust

Sprinklings:
Kosher or coarse sea salt
Herbal salt substitutes
Chopped herbs
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds
Sunflower seeds
Minced garlic or onion
Grated hard cheese
Chopped nuts
Or mishmash

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Old 11-10-2008, 06:02 AM   #2
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Pie Susan,

Thanks for the primer, I'm sure a lot of folks will find it helpful, and like me, print it out for quick reference in my recipe binder.

I know there is no end to what you can add to bread and what you can top it with, but I'd like to add one of my favorites, and that is 7-grain and 10-grain cereal mixes. I use it on almost every loaf of no-knead bread (aka NYT Bread here on DC), and it imparts a nutty flavor while delivering fiber as well. I simply spray the top of the dough with water before it goes in the oven, and sprinkle it on. Surprisingly, it sticks just fine with water.



Lastly, I would challenge your comment on quick rising yeasts. I hope your statement was not meant as an absolute to always avoid quick rising yeasts, because that's not practical, nor does it detract from the flavor of homemade breads. I agree that the slow development of gluten adds to the flavor of bread, but conversely, quick (normal) development of gluten does not detract from the flavor nor impart a negative flavor in breads. I only use Instant yeast (aka Rapid Rise and Quick Rise) because it goes directly into my dry ingredients and is quickly activated by the added liquid, thus avoiding the addition proofing step required with Active Dry yeast and cake yeasts. I also use 1/4t of Instant Yeast in my no-knead recipes which develop the gluten over a 12-20 hour rest period. Yes, the longer they develop, the more unique the flavor...to a point. I bake a fair amount, and am just finishing my second POUND of SAF Instant Yeast since February. I have used Active Dry (expensive) and Cake Yeast (very short life), and see no reason to use anything other than Instant Yeast.

Thanks, again, and I look forward to more of your contributions.

JoeV
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Old 11-10-2008, 06:49 AM   #3
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Hi Susan, good morning Joe,

Susan, thank you for the primer, there is a collection of a lot of good information there. If you have a follow on with relative gluten contents of the various types of flour, it would be wonderful. As I experament more with my bread baking, I like to try lots of different varieties of flour to get different tastes. I have often wanted a guide of some sort as to the impact of different types of flour on riseing, crust and crumb of the finished loaf.

Joe - You certainly bake more bread than I do, but, I am close. As to yeast, I use active dry yeast and amhappy with the results. I don't mind the profing step. I banged around the internet once and came up with the only difference being the amount of dead yeast cells protecting the live yeast cells in the center. T have a formula to convert back and forth depending on what is called for in the recipie and it works well for me.

I would like to start working more with sponges. I think that may be a way to get more flavor out of a loaf. There are a few posts on this site by wart on the subject. When I get some time, I will research further. Work schedule has been such that I have not baked in a few weeks and since I "Brown Bag" I am missing my good bread.

Thank You both

AC
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Old 11-10-2008, 10:46 AM   #4
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Joe, I have noticed a slight difference in taste and am coming from a slow food prospective. I believe that some things should not be rushed and bread baking is one of them. However, that being said, if quick rise yeast would encourage more folks to bake, I am all for it!

I have not tried the NY no knead bread recipe, yet but I am thrilled that it has gotten novice friends to try to make bread. Joe, I must say, your breads look beautiful! I believe some have even made a whole wheat version.

The point of a sponge is to develop flavor, same as long, low slow raises. That is why when you do a first rise in the refrigerator overnight, you get such a wonderful result the next day.

Further, if you substitute water that potatoes have been boiled in for the water in your bread dough, the yeast will go crazy! And if you make a potato dough, you will find that your bread has a longer shelf life.
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Old 11-10-2008, 01:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PieSusan View Post
Joe, I have noticed a slight difference in taste and am coming from a slow food prospective. I believe that some things should not be rushed and bread baking is one of them. However, that being said, if quick rise yeast would encourage more folks to bake, I am all for it!

I have not tried the NY no knead bread recipe, yet but I am thrilled that it has gotten novice friends to try to make bread. Joe, I must say, your breads look beautiful! I believe some have even made a whole wheat version.

The point of a sponge is to develop flavor, same as long, low slow raises. That is why when you do a first rise in the refrigerator overnight, you get such a wonderful result the next day.

Further, if you substitute water that potatoes have been boiled in for the water in your bread dough, the yeast will go crazy! And if you make a potato dough, you will find that your bread has a longer shelf life.
Yes, slow development of gluten has its place, but with owning a growing business, time is not always my friend. That is primarily why I use Instant yeast exclusively, but cost is another consideration as well. I buy one pound of Instant Yeast at the local restaurant supply for $2.48, and can make approximately 100 loaves of bread with it, whereas the local grocers all charge an average of $1.50 for a 3-packet strip of Active Dry Yeast. The math tells the tale easily. The restaurant supply does not even carry bulk packs of Active Dry Yeast because the local bakers stopped buying it, and nowhere can we find cake yeast any longer. I think the cake is still available to the home brewers at their supply sources. Be that as it may, a sponge or poolish can be made overnight (or longer) with a small amount of Instant Yeast and accomplish the same result.

If you have the time you might consider trying your hand at no-knead breads. There so many different ways to make them, that you'll not soon be bored with them. I primarily make white, wheat and rye for our consumption, but I also utilize fruit, seeds, nuts and herbs to get unique flavors. Plus, I now have 5 clay bakers JUST for making no-knead breads, with the largest capable of making a 2 pound loaf.

I have read some about using potato water for bread baking, so last night I saved the water used to boil redskins in for mashed potatoes. As I look at the water today, I'm leary about using it because of its color. Here's what it looks like:



I know it's from boiling with the skins on, but the water will also discolor the finished crumb, which will be a definite putoff with DW.

Have to get back to work.

JoeV
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:03 PM   #6
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Joe, I have never used water from potatoes boiled with the skins on. I usually make the mashed potatoes specifically for the bread. I am a lawyer/caregiver who has been baking since I was a baby at my Hungarian mom's and grandma's knees. I have always had a special gift for it. There have been locally famous chefs and pastry chefs in my family on that side. My mom thinks it is in my blood. lol I have never made huge quantities save for one master class at a Mustard Seed Market and my loaf happened to come out the best. (I am good at making boules). I have taken some master baking classes for fun at the Western Reserve School of Cooking over the years and I am considering getting a Grand Diploma in Pastry--just for fun. I love to learn and I have an enormous baking cookbook collection. I read cookbooks like others read novels.
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:11 PM   #7
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Curiously, no mention of bread flour?
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Old 11-12-2008, 09:50 AM   #8
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Curiously, no mention of bread flour?
At the time, I figured it was a given. Originally, I was posting to a foodie site but yes, there is bread flour.
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:31 AM   #9
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The 3-packet strips at my grocers are IDY (Instant Dry Yeast). The ADY, that I buy, comes in a glass jar and requires a proof, prior to use, where the IDY packets can be mixed directly in the flour (and other dry ingredients). I find no discernable difference between the 2, as far as, my bread goes, but I do a 16-24 hour bulk rise in the fridge followed by 2 hours on the bench, punch down, 2 more hours, shape, then 1-2 more hours, then into the oven. There is a good deal of fermenting time. I am contemplating getting a sour dough starter and using it. I believe you can feed and use these, once started, indefinitely. Talk about a cost saver!

Why does the potato water make the bread keep longer? I will have to try that in the near future.

I'm relatively new to bread baking, but have been having very good results, according to those that are eating all my bread. I bake my bread in a wood fired oven (barrel vault) that I built on my patio this summer. My recipe comes from a lot of reading on different websites, and I've concentrated on a few different styles. Hearth breads, ciabatta, and focacchia along with pizza dough(s). After much experimentation, I have solid recipes for each, and it's enjoyable. I can bake 10 loaves or 2 dozen buns at a time, and I can get approximately 4-5 batches out of a single charge of the oven. One baking day can produce 40-50 loaves. Lot's of great info here and other places on the net, hope to learn and join in.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeV View Post
Yes, slow development of gluten has its place, but with owning a growing business, time is not always my friend. That is primarily why I use Instant yeast exclusively, but cost is another consideration as well. I buy one pound of Instant Yeast at the local restaurant supply for $2.48, and can make approximately 100 loaves of bread with it, whereas the local grocers all charge an average of $1.50 for a 3-packet strip of Active Dry Yeast. The math tells the tale easily. The restaurant supply does not even carry bulk packs of Active Dry Yeast because the local bakers stopped buying it, and nowhere can we find cake yeast any longer. I think the cake is still available to the home brewers at their supply sources. Be that as it may, a sponge or poolish can be made overnight (or longer) with a small amount of Instant Yeast and accomplish the same result.

If you have the time you might consider trying your hand at no-knead breads. There so many different ways to make them, that you'll not soon be bored with them. I primarily make white, wheat and rye for our consumption, but I also utilize fruit, seeds, nuts and herbs to get unique flavors. Plus, I now have 5 clay bakers JUST for making no-knead breads, with the largest capable of making a 2 pound loaf.

I have read some about using potato water for bread baking, so last night I saved the water used to boil redskins in for mashed potatoes. As I look at the water today, I'm leary about using it because of its color. Here's what it looks like:



I know it's from boiling with the skins on, but the water will also discolor the finished crumb, which will be a definite putoff with DW.

Have to get back to work.

JoeV
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:49 AM   #10
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Have you ever compared spud doughnuts to regular yeasted doughnuts? They are lighter, fluffier and have a longer shelf life. I believe besides the extra food for the yeast (starch) they add moisture which aides in shelf-life.
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