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Old 10-14-2004, 11:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audeo
Swinchen, I feel your infatuation. And I've hiked all over Mt. Katadin and have enjoyed your coastal town. Ah, the land of Winslow Homer. Welcome!
audeo, what haven't you done!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-14-2004, 11:57 PM   #12
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hi swinchen

hi swinchen

Welcome to this forum. You will find many experienced and helpful bakers here.

I can only say "I second that!" to the comments already posted. Adjectives are always hard to decipher, but it does sound as tho your dough was too wet and/or insufficiently kneaded.

When you said that
Quote:
I should have mentioned that I used high gluten flour from a health food store (not sure of the brand). I had a really really hard time kneading the bread by hand because it was SO sticky that I couldn't really do anything with it
I just want to make sure that this was really a "high gluten" flour (13.5-16% gluten) and not what's marketed as "gluten" or "vital wheat gluten" flour which is 40-80% gluten. Vital wheat gluten is really an additive (since the "flour" is produced by removing the starch from the endosperm of the wheat grain) and would certainly make for a wet or sticky dough since it does not absorb water/liquid readily.

Other sites you may find helpful are www.baking911.com and ww2.kingarthurflour.com - especially the "guides" part of the "flour for professional bakers" section http://ww2.kingarthurflour.com/cgibi...92993621472787

I would urge you to get an accurate scale for your bread making. Using a machine to knead dough is (IMHO) more a matter of personal preference. I am a fan of doing the final kneading (and small flour adjustments) by hand, as this educates you to the "feel" of the final dough for the type of bread you want to make.
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Old 10-15-2004, 12:30 AM   #13
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Swinchen, your recipe sounds extremely diffficult and weird. Here's the Williams Sonoma pizza dough recipe I always use. One of the things I like about WS is that although they are not necessarily the best recipes you can find, their recipes are always at least of decent quality, and are totally reliable. (They're like the Sony of baking) The nice thing about this pizza dough is that there's tons of leeway in terms of adding extra flour, and it's almost impossible to screw up.

1 package active dry yeast *(2.5 TSP)
1 1/8 Cups/280 ML warm water (105F-115F / 40C - 46C)
1 Tsp. malt syrup or sugar
1/8 Cup (30 ML / 2 TBSP) Olive oil
2.5 Cups (12.5 oz. /380 g) bread flour, plus up to 1/2 extra cup for kneading
1.5 Tsp. Sea Salt

*I notice you use instant yeast; to substitute instant for AD, use 2/3 the amount of AD specified above, which is about 1 2/3 Tsp.*

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the malt syrup, oil, salt, and then flour.
2. Knead until soft, smooth, and elastic. (about 8-10 minutes) If the dough is sticky, use some of the 1/2 cup reserve flour to keep from sticking. Lightly oil a large bowl, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm draft-free spot until doubled in volume, approximately 80-120 minutes. Us poor amateurs don't have fancy proof-boxes like the professionals, so the next best thing is a cold oven with the pilot light turned on, or the inside of a microwave oven, with the light on.
3. Punch down the dough. For a more flavorful crust, make the dough up until this point, and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Be sure to bring the dough to room temperature before shaping

Anyway, that's the gist of it. I didn't have the patience to copy the instructions verbatim, so I left out the baking and shaping instructions, plus the actual toppings. Shaping pizza dough can be a bitch, especially if you need to transfer it from your work surface to a baking stone in the oven without mangling your dough and its toppings. If you need any pointers, let me know.
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Old 10-15-2004, 09:35 AM   #14
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Re: hi swinchen

Quote:
Originally Posted by subfuscpersona
I just want to make sure that this was really a "high gluten" flour (13.5-16% gluten) and not what's marketed as "gluten" or "vital wheat gluten" flour which is 40-80% gluten. Vital wheat gluten is really an additive (since the "flour" is produced by removing the starch from the endosperm of the wheat grain) and would certainly make for a wet or sticky dough since it does not absorb water/liquid readily.

Other sites you may find helpful are www.baking911.com and ww2.kingarthurflour.com - especially the "guides" part of the "flour for professional bakers" section http://ww2.kingarthurflour.com/cgibi...92993621472787

I would urge you to get an accurate scale for your bread making. Using a machine to knead dough is (IMHO) more a matter of personal preference. I am a fan of doing the final kneading (and small flour adjustments) by hand, as this educates you to the "feel" of the final dough for the type of bread you want to make.
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.

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 :)

http://scales.net/mn_prods/x5000/exp5000x_summ.php
http://www.rightonscales.com/web/i2600.htm

I guess if I am going just for a cooking/baking scale I could get:
http://www.rightonscales.com/web/kd-600.htm
and save a ton of money.
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Old 10-15-2004, 09:50 AM   #15
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Old 10-16-2004, 03:55 PM   #16
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hi swinchen

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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 and rec.food.sourdough (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.
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Old 10-16-2004, 04:45 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audeo
Swinchen, I feel your infatuation. And I've hiked all over Mt. Katadin and have enjoyed your coastal town. Ah, the land of Winslow Homer. Welcome!
audeo, what haven't you done!!!!!!!!
Ahem. Learned to keep my mouth shut....!
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Old 10-16-2004, 05:35 PM   #18
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I agree with jasonr the recipe you are using sounds really complicated. I use either Nigella Lawson's basic white bread recipe or Delia Smith's - they are both very similar, basically flour, yeast, water and oil or butter, that's it.

I have scales but very cheap ones, not digital, due to budgetary constraints, and knead by hand, as I haven't had the funds to get myself a proper mixer like a kitchenaid.

Basically, patience, practice and patience will get you there in the end, don't give up, and keep trying different techniques. I have learnt a lot about breadmaking in the past year, mostly thanks to this site, and folks like Old Coot and Wayne T. Bread making is a really individual thing, a bit like finding religion! You take bits, put em together, and eventually find what works for you. Most of all, enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
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Old 10-16-2004, 08:57 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the help!

I too like Reinhart's book because it exaplains all the steps. I really think I must have messed it up by not weighing my ingredients. Perhaps the local bed bath and beyond has a cheapo scale. I dont really feel like spending a ton on one. As for a mixing machine... I don't know. I really want one, but everyone ehre seems to think hand kneading is the way to go. All I know is I hate it when the dough sticks to your hand and you have to scrape it off... that really drives me crazy. That is also why I didnt knead my pizza dough too long.

Winslow Homer you say? Wyeth is much more popular around these parts.
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