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Old 08-30-2004, 07:50 AM   #1
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Bread Success

Some months ago we were discussing holes in bread and how to get a better texture. (Can't find that thread now!) I was saying that my bread is very dense, almost like a heavy cake in texture.

Finally, success! I just wanted to share what I did to fix the problem.

1) Changed to the instant yeast, instead of the dried yeast you mix with sugar and warm water and let it prove.

2) Preheat the oven to 100 degrees centigrade, and put in my china bowl, with the flour and let it warm for 10 minutes.

3) Use hand hot water instead of luke warm.

The dough now kneads very easily (I knead by hand) and let it rise for the same amount of time I did before, knock it down, and rise a second time.

The loaf I made yesterday was light, had a good open texture, and most importantly, was delicious. Thanks to Oldcoot, Maws and everyone else that offered advice.

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Old 08-31-2004, 07:44 AM   #2
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Do you have an explanation for why these things work?
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Old 08-31-2004, 09:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonr
Do you have an explanation for why these things work?
Here's what I think...
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Changed to the instant yeast
Instant yeast multiplies faster - I don't know why (more randy strain of yeast? finer texture so it disperses more evenly the dough?)
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Preheat the oven to 100 degrees centigrade, and put in my china bowl, with the flour and let it warm for 10 minutes. Use hand hot water instead of luke warm
Warming the flour and using somewhat hotter water is going to allow the liquid to incorporate with the solid a little quicker and easier as the dough is kneaded. (Note the flour was heated in a china container so the flour warms but doesn't risk being partially toasted as it might in a metal container)

In sum, these steps created a dough that was more easily kneaded so more gluten developed in the usual amount of kneading time and the yeast cells were more evenly distributed thoughout the dough.

Make sense to you?
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Old 09-01-2004, 09:20 AM   #4
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Well, the first thing is possible, although truthfully, I never noticed much difference between active dry and instant yeast, so I can't really confirm what you're saying. As for the second suggestion, it sounds like an interesting way to improve the quality of hand kneaded bread. However, I think it would be MUCH better to just switch to a hand mixer, or better yet, a stand mixer. You are aware that doing it by machine will give you a MUCH smoother and finer loaf, right? I have switched from hand kneading to stand mixer, and never looked back. All the cookbooks I have read say the same thing: mixers are superior in every way, so you should use one.

If you're one of us, you'll use a stand mixer :twisted:
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Old 09-01-2004, 01:36 PM   #5
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hi jasonr
Thanks for your reply. I'm new to discusscooking and its fun to "meet" so many experienced cooks here.
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If you're one of us, you'll use a stand mixer
I must be one of you then. I use my Kitchen Aid K5A (purchased over 25 yrs ago and still going strong) to make bread though I always finish the kneading by hand to get the right "feel" and consistency in the dough.
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You are aware that doing it by machine will give you a MUCH smoother and finer loaf, right?
Have to disagree here since I've also made bread completely by hand (not even a hand electric mixer available in the kitchen!). If you knead long enough and don't add too much flour in the kneading process the dough (and bread) turns out just fine. Machinery just shortens the labor.
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I never noticed much difference between active dry and instant yeast
I'll 'fess up here. I've never used instant yeast. I use active dry yeast. I have used fresh (cake) yeast and never noticed any flavor difference between the two in the final product.
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Old 09-01-2004, 04:20 PM   #6
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Ok, I have to confess, when I said it gives you a smoother and finer loaf, I was speaking of the dough stage, as opposed to the final product. Machine kneaded dough is soft and silky, whereas hand-kneaded dough is inevitably rough and coarse. But honestly, I haven't done a direct one to one comparison of the finished product, so I can't say for sure if it makes a huge difference in the final analysis. It's just so much nicer to have a silky smooth dough than the rough coarse dough that you get from hand kneading.

As for the instant versus active dry, I have used both, and I haven't noticed much difference. In THEORY, instant contains less dead cells, requires less quantity to accomplish the same amount of leavening, and is supposed to develop better flavor. Instant also has the advantage of not requiring that it be activated with warm water prior to use. However, I haven't noticed any significant difference taste-wise, and one of my cookbooks, which is a textbook for professional pastry chefs (The professional pasty chef, a book with recipes that are incredibly difficult, but are VASTLY superior to anything else out there, when they work) doesn't even mention its existence. This suggests to me that instant only provides nominal improvement. These days, I use either fresh compressed or active dry.
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Old 09-01-2004, 06:22 PM   #7
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I hand knead as I can't afford a mixer (they are half a month's salary here, so not an option for me at the moment) But I used to use one when I lived in Australia. I find if you have the right technique, and persistence, hand kneading gives the same if not better quality. I don't find that my dough is rough at all, it is smooth and elastic, although heating the flour certainly helps achieve that quicker. The "change" happens in 6-8 minutes, depending on the temperature of my kitchen, as opposed to 15 minutes without warming the flour.
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Old 09-01-2004, 09:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyles
I find if you have the right technique, and persistence, hand kneading gives the same if not better quality. I don't find that my dough is rough at all, it is smooth and elastic.
I agree. In fact (as I noted) I always do the final kneading by hand since I think gives me better control over the dough (what I always think of as its "hand" - how it feels and small adjustments in the "stickiness" of the dough as I add small amounts of addtional flour). In fact my (totally unproven) theory is that some hand kneading gives the dough a more complex gluten web. Hand kneading is, by it's nature, irregular whereas machine kneading is, by it's nature, regular. I image hand kneading giving a more complex gluten web with strands going at irregular angles thus trapping the gas given off by the yeast in a more complex fashion. (Wow - that sounds almost metaphysical - maybe I just like hand kneading).
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Originally Posted by kyles
heating the flour certainly helps achieve [a smooth and elastic dough] quicker. The "change" happens in 6-8 minutes, depending on the temperature of my kitchen, as opposed to 15 minutes without warming the flour.
Great observation! - additional proof that heating the flour really does make a difference since the original poster (who kneaded entirely by hand) found the same thing.

Thanks to both of you - I love getting feedback from other home bakers. (My family and friends like eating my bread but I've never been able to meet anyone "in person" who actually made bread in a home kitchen.)

PS - Do either of you ever mill your own flour? I do. If yes - what's your experience with home-milled vs. store bought bread flours?
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Old 09-10-2004, 10:01 PM   #9
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:D Theres a book that is called Bread Alone.
It talks about the protein content of your flour to get that chewy texture and big bubbles.
You need a flour made of hard winter red wheat to get at least a 14% protein content then make a poolish a fermented starter or grow a sour dough starter and then bake on a stone.I can bake regular bread but this book will take you to making the good breads you get in Germany ,France etc.Although Im not a master, I like to learn different techniques.Also the flour is different in europe and the have really hot brick ovens and they also use steam alot in ovens to get that chewy crust.
King Arthurs Flours carry all the specialty flours to make any kind of bread you want.
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Old 09-26-2004, 08:00 PM   #10
 
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hey also use steam alot in ovens
Keep a small spray bottle of water handy and every 5 minutes or so give 3 or 4 sprays in the oven and over the bread. It works.

I also prove my bread that has been put in the tins inside large plastic storage containers with clip on lids. I put a couple of inches of hot water inside and achieve a similar effect to the proving cabinets in modern bakeries. You can do the same in a kitchen sink. I place a piece of thick clear polythene sheet or similar over the sink to keep the steam in.

Why is everybody after large bubbles. I have been trying for years to achieve the very fine even bubbles that I have to give me an extremely soft crumb. Take a look at a loaf of sliced bread from the supermarket. Large bubbles?
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Old 09-27-2004, 04:11 PM   #11
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I like the large bubbles/open texture of bread such a the vienna loaves you can buy at bakeries in Australia.....I miss Aussie bread, here the texture is horrible, really spongy and yucky. I aim for somwhere in between, which I think I am achieving now. What I am really pleased about is that my bread is still nice on day two, when I used to make bread, it was inedible on day two, really tough and the flavour was not nice.
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Old 09-27-2004, 07:56 PM   #12
 
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I have not fiddled with my recipe for at least 6 months purely because like your bread it is still good on day 2. It used to be good on day 3 but since my son and his wife are holidaying here from Cambodia it no longer gets to day 3.

Do you remember the bread rolls in all the Asian bakeries here. You know, with the super large holes, they are beautiful and crispy and when you break them open there is practically nothin but a shell. They go great for Vietnamese pork rolls, a real delicacy, have you tried them, only about $2 here. My Vietnamese mate Hoang who owned a restaurant reckoned he could open a bakery and make a motza. He said his people new the secret to getting more air into the bread. Sometimes I prefer more bread in the air.
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Old 09-28-2004, 03:45 AM   #13
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I love that syle of bread, we had a lone Vietnamese bakery in one of the suburbs of Hobart. We didn't have your cosmopolitan culture that you have in the big smoke!!!

In Manchester we don't have any Vietnamese people to speak of, however, there is a huge Pakistani/Indian community, West Indian, African and Chinese, with all their different breads. i love Indian naan bread, as long as it isn't too sweet!
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Old 09-28-2004, 10:23 AM   #14
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Hi :)

Kyles I love instant yeast too. It rises much better and gives all these bubbles you're talking about. The only drawback to instant yeast is it's yeasty flavor sometimes but I don't mind that at all. I also warm up my oven a little for the dough to rise but remember a fast rise isn't favorable for bread. So when I notice it's rising too quick, I take it out & place it in a cooler area to slow down the rise a little bit. One last thing I noticed is not to let the second rise be longer than 40 minutes.

Goodluck & congrats on your bread!
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Old 09-28-2004, 10:42 AM   #15
 
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Moonlight, I rise all my bread fast. I use instant yeast. I rise In sealed containers with hot steamy water. or in the sink covered with a sheet thick polythene. This simulates bakery proving ovens. No yeasty flavours, just perfect bread. I also quite often put the bread into a cold oven or a half heated oven when ready to bake. Try it, and report back here and let others know I was not spinning a tale. You will be pleasently surprised. This gives you time to get your next batch ready. I was sceptical at first. Got it from a bread book.
I think the main prob people have with homemade bread is that they get too technical. I also throw a cupful of water every so often into the oven or spray water in to simulate the humid bakery ovens.
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Old 09-28-2004, 12:06 PM   #16
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I like Waynet's mehod of speeding p rising time with a warm, humid condition. Makes sense - I must try it.

This thing about large air bubbles in bread escapes me. While I prefer a light, airy texture, those large bubbles have little flavor or nourishment, and stuff like jam drops through the holes, so what's the attraction? :D
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Old 09-28-2004, 12:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldcoot
This thing about large air bubbles in bread escapes me. While I prefer a light, airy texture, those large bubbles have little flavor or nourishment, and stuff like jam drops through the holes, so what's the attraction? :D
right! yes! absolutely! couldn't agree more!

however, wish someone would weigh in on the "pro" side and tell us why s/he wants bread with holes in it. I'm clueless about the attraction.
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Old 09-28-2004, 01:23 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WayneT
Moonlight, I rise all my bread fast. I use instant yeast. I rise In sealed containers with hot steamy water. or in the sink covered with a sheet thick polythene. This simulates bakery proving ovens. No yeasty flavours, just perfect bread. I also quite often put the bread into a cold oven or a half heated oven when ready to bake. Try it, and report back here and let others know I was not spinning a tale. You will be pleasently surprised. This gives you time to get your next batch ready. I was sceptical at first. Got it from a bread book.
I think the main prob people have with homemade bread is that they get too technical. I also throw a cupful of water every so often into the oven or spray water in to simulate the humid bakery ovens.
I will definately try it Wayne !! I always felt that slow rise gives me better texture and flavor & I heard alot of chefs on Foodnetwork who agreed so I figured out it was better :? . So what is the average rising time you generally go for? For example, If i'm having a 3cup flour dough I would let it rise 2 hours, shape them and let it rise again 30-40 minutes max and bake.
I add some water or place a pan with ice water in the bottom of the oven sometimes to create a heavy crust, but I generally prefer soft moist bread :)
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Old 09-29-2004, 02:18 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonlight
Quote:
Originally Posted by WayneT
Moonlight, I rise all my bread fast. I use instant yeast. I rise In sealed containers with hot steamy water. or in the sink covered with a sheet thick polythene. This simulates bakery proving ovens.
I will definately try it Wayne !! I always felt that slow rise gives me better texture and flavor & I heard alot of chefs on Foodnetwork who agreed so I figured out it was better :? . So what is the average rising time you generally go for? For example, If i'm having a 3cup flour dough I would let it rise 2 hours, shape them and let it rise again 30-40 minutes max and bake.
I used to try all sorts of ways to "help" my bread rise - you should have seen the contraptions I used to rig up! I gave up when the cat knocked over a sponge rising in a bowl on top of some books on top of the radiator. Quelle mess! But I can see if you always did it the same way, like Wayne's method, you'd have more predictability about how much time the rise takes.

Anyway, I've read that it's not so much time a rise takes but the amount - first rise in bowl dough should double, 2nd rise in bowl (if you do a 2nd rise) dough should be 1-1/2 times larger - the time it takes is the time it takes. I usually use less yeast than many recipes call for - for example, 2 tsp active dry yeast for a standard 2-loaf white bread recipe works fine for me.

...and we all know about putting the dough in the 'frig overnight, right? First time I read that one I thought "wow! neat trick! gotta try!" but the author neglected to mention that the dough will continue to rise in the 'frig. My bowl was too small so when when I opened the door the next morning the interior scene resembled an old horror movie - something like The Blob Returns (the 'fridge had wire racks too )
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Old 09-29-2004, 10:46 AM   #20
 
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subfuscpersona wrote: Anyway, I've read that it's not so much time a rise takes but the amount - first rise in bowl dough should double, 2nd rise in bowl (if you do a 2nd rise) dough should be 1-1/2 times larger - the time it takes is the time it takes. I usually use less yeast than many recipes call for - for example, 2 tsp active dry yeast for a standard 2-loaf white bread recipe works fine for me.
Spot on, but I think the 1 1/2 times might mislead (I may be wrong also) But by the time my bread rises in the tins it would be 1 1/2 times higher than when it went in. So with the original dough height it would be double and a half. Well I don't measure it with a ruler. With my mix I know that once it gets to the top of my tins, that's it. Throw away your clocks, forget about timing, If you were running a small home commercial bakery there may be some benefit.
Either develop your own recipe, modify someone elses or follow a tried and proven one and just let the bloody dough do what it has to do, DOUBLE in bulk. I have had dough go double and a half when I have been carried away posting stuff here, I am yet to work out what difference it made. I have had the dough rise in the tins so high it has flopped over the sides, I just rekneaded it and shot it in again. Rolling up the dough — yeah I used to do all that stuff. Now I just devide in to 4 bits and give a quick knead in my hands and chuck 2 bits in each large bread tin. still no adverse affects on rising. I like fast rising only because it saves me time, I have made my recipe Slow, Fast, Two, Three, and even four risings if I had to do other tasks. Bread still the same. I think sometimes people use these things to explain why they are successful and you are not. I use very cheap unbleached All Purpose flour that I get from Aldi's. Aldi stores are in most countries. Admittedly I add Gluten but even the commercial guys do, even with their stron flour, this% or that% protein etc etc.

I think too many people making bread at home blame everything on their disasters except the fact that their recipe is still in Beta testing format. I use instant yeast most of the time only because that is what is most commonly available. I have used both with equal results.

I find making bread is the best therapy around, I can really forget about my arthritic aches while baking or cooking. It's a real buzz when friends compliment you on the quality and taste of your bread. Bread making should be fun not full of technicalities and mumbo jumbo.

As I have said before try putting your bread in a cold oven and then setting the temperature. This is handy if baking several loaves as the first lot is cooked and the oven heated up ready for the second batch.
Or if your oven is only half warmed up and the bread is ready to bake, pop it in. For those who want to try my recipe but want white bread just leave out the bran and rye flour and add extra white.


HOW ABOUT THIS: Last night I decided to bake some bread but I forget I had broken the bowl on my mixer. Luckily it is a combi mixer/processor.. So I through everything (almost 2 kilos of mix, that's water included) into the processor. Instead of kneading as normal I just processed until it was all mixed in and hit it for about 30 seconds more. The motor got a little hot. End result: I can't tell the difference between my fully dough hooked bread and this super quick processor way. If anyone wants to try this I would suggest using half the mix that I did. Unless you have a large, powerful processor.


Motto from my previous life as a newspaper compositor: Bread is the staff of life, and the life of the staff is one big loaf!
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