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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...
Quote:
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.
Quote:
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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