Originally Posted by swinchen
The bin I got the flour out of said "high gluten flour" I have to say, with the gluten flour I was at least able to form the windows baker pane easily. With King Arthurs bread flour I could never really get a pane to form.
From the performance it was labeled correctly. If you're buying from an open bin and aren't confident about the store, you can always ask the manager to show you the sack the flour came in so you can read the label. If you don't mind risking ticking him/her off, you can also ask about storage conditions, date of purchase, turnover, etc.
Originally Posted by swinchen
Maybe the book I have isn't great? It got really good reviews. I think it is more likely that I am still really new to this and I don't have the right tools for the job.
So what bread books does everyone recommend? I want one that goes by mass or weight (like the one I have now) and bakers percentages so I can size the batch to my needs (easily).
Also any scale recommendations? Here are two I am looking at... I know they are a little overkill for cooking, but I also want to make rocket fuel someday. Not a lot unlike baking really :)
re scales >
I did look at the scales you mentioned. The cooking/baking scale is fine for bread baking - as for ?!rocket fuel?!?!
- sheesh! - who am I to say? Maybe the scale you already have is perfectly suitable - conversion between oz and gm , tare function and accurate to 1gm should be fine. Of course you need a scale for a recipe that gives ingredient amounts by weight but more importantly (for me, at least) is the ability to convert a recipe that gives measurements by volume back to weight, especially the flour, oil and sweetener ingredients (the Reinhart book is fine for different kinds of salt and/or yeast).
re cookbooks/recipes >
Experience is the best teacher (making bread with someone whose baking you respect is also great) - so just make bread! If you're a beginner (I'm not sure you are) pick one or two recipes you like and keep making them until you've mastered them. Then take that recipe you've mastered and vary it.
I prefer cookbooks that explain things instead of just giving formulas. The 'net is also your friend if you learn to look at information with a critical eye. Newsgroups like alt.bread.recipes
(you can get to them via google groups) have endless chatter about bread-making.
a few other "tips" that have worked for me...
> Do the final kneading by hand to hone that irreplaceable knowledge of how the dough should feel for the type of bread you're making.
> Let time work for you. Don't (at least while you're learning) try to speed up or control the timing of the rise - in general, good bread should not be rushed during the fermenting period (one reason I like Reinhart's book).
> Jot down notes each time on your ingredients, equipment, process and results so you build up a knowledge base of what worked (and, equally important, what didn't) for you.
> Don't be afraid of failures - the basic ingredients for bread are so cheap you can afford to experiment.
> Use the computer to preserve notes, for measurement conversion and calculating bakers percentage.
re equipment > You don't need a lot of expensive equipment to make good bread. You probably already have everything you need. You have a scale - thermometers and misters are cheap. Equipment that kneads the dough for you is nice but not required. You have an oven - learn it's quirks! If you want to spend money, your oven is the first place I'd start - a good stone or (if those coins are burning a hole in your pocket) possibly an oven insert (see http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...&s=kitchen
I'd never heard of an oven insert until someone mentioned it here at discusscooking. I am positively green
with envy and wish I could afford it - would love to hear from members who've used it.
swinchen - I know I've babbled on. Please do keep us posted on your bread-making.