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Old 11-04-2009, 11:16 AM   #21
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Did you make both breads in the same kitchen? We've given up making bread from scratch, having had problems with flat bread from varying kinds of water.

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Old 11-04-2009, 02:24 PM   #22
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OK, but understand that I use a KA stand mixer to do my kneading. If done by hand, it may add a little more time.

The starter: 3/4 cup of warm (approx. 100 degree filtered or bottled water) and add 2 tbls. of honey - mix until disolved. 1 pkg. of instant rise yeast and mix thoroughly. Let set until 1/2" of foam develops on top - about 10 minutes.

While yeast is developing, into a mixing bowl (or mixer bowl) measure 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of unbleached regular flour (or regular bread flour depending on what you have on hand), add 1/3 cup of wheat gluten, 1 tsp. of salt.

Side Trip: Turn on the oven for 1 minute and then turn it off. If you have an oven light, turn it on.

When yeast is ready, add to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Also add about two tbls. of olive oil, and then begin adding additional water as the texture requires. What you're looking for is an elastic, slightly tacky ball. If using a stand mixer, mix on medium until the ball pulls away cleanly from the bowl as it spins, and that includes the little bottom glob. (You know what I'm talking about - the chewing gum wad sized glob under the ball of spinning dough.) When it comes free the mixing is done. Sometimes it requires only a teaspoon of water (if too dry), or teaspoon of flour (if too wet) to get it just right.

For those hand kneading, on a clean then floured surface, stretch lengthwise, fold in half, quarter turn and fold in half again. Repeat about a dozen times. When you dimple the surface and it lightly springs back, you're done.

Turn the ball out into a lightly oiled (olive oil) bowl, cover with a small kitchen towel and place into the pre-warmed oven for 40-45 minutes, or until double in size.

Turn out the ball onto a floured surface and knead a second time by hand - no mixer. Fold, turn, fold, press down and stretch another dozen times.

At this point, it's up to you what kind of loaf you want to end up with. If you want to use a regular loaf pan, now is the time to shape your dough and press it into the pan. I like free-style, so I shape my dough into either a ball or a baguette shape and place it onto a pizza peel (for sliding onto a hot pizza stone). Or, if you don't use a baking stone, you can use a non-stick baking sheet and shape you dough onto that. In either case, place it in the oven a second time for a second rise for about 40 minutes (or until doubled,) then remove and heat the oven to 375*.

While the oven is heating up, slash to top of your loaf a couple of times with a sharp knife, and then brush with milk. (I use a 49 cent, 2" painter's brush from Home Depot.) Don't worry if the loaf falls slightly when you slash it. It will re-inflate as it bakes.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, spray (spritz) water against the inside of the oven walls. If you don't have a spray bottle of water, place an oven-safe dish half filled with water in the bottom of the oven when you first turn the oven on. (This added moisture, spraying or steaming, magically makes a wonderful crust.) The milk is used for browning.

After the 35-40 minutes (don't let the crust get too dark), remove and let the loaf cool on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes. Please, resist the tempation to cut into it too early! After 15 minutes it can be slightly warm, but not hot to the touch.

If any is left after the initial slicing and gourging, store in a paper bag. Plastic will soften the crust and develop mold rapidly.


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Old 11-04-2009, 03:51 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Claire View Post
Did you make both breads in the same kitchen? We've given up making bread from scratch, having had problems with flat bread from varying kinds of water.
The science of bread is so fascinating. It's hard to believe the water can make such a difference, but it can. I've been fortunate to live in places where the water at least is not a deterrent to making excellent bread, however, Jersey City water may be the best I've ever worked with. Yes, I filter it, but even the places that I am sure don't have great rising bread (and pizza dough).
Wine is the food that completes the meal.
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Old 11-05-2009, 02:22 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Claire View Post
Did you make both breads in the same kitchen? We've given up making bread from scratch, having had problems with flat bread from varying kinds of water.
Have you considered using bottled water or even distilled water. That, at least, would remove the water variable so you could look at other possibilities for your bread problems.

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