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Old 12-14-2006, 11:18 AM   #11
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I think the skillet man has given a good synopsis. And his first kind of bread is what I am suggesting that the original poster try, if that isn't what it already is. I think it's pretty hard not to get a good result, if the yeast is fresh.
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Old 12-14-2006, 11:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candocook
I think it's pretty hard not to get a good result, if the yeast is fresh.
Sadly, it's remarkably easy ... even with fresh yeast!
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Old 12-14-2006, 02:13 PM   #13
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Oh, Candocook, I do not even envision myself taking on an artisanal bread! I am shooting for basics here. And yes, the breads I am talking about are your basic "proofing yeast with some sugar and warm water, adding salt, flour and more water" type - no butter, no oli, no eggs... The most recent one was a recipe for a french baguette, which didn't move once punched, shaped, put on a baking sheet and scored. Yes, it was dense and heavy, not what I wanted. I let it rise for 1 hour the second time, several hours for the first time.

Kadesma, I studied languages and liberal arts in college, and believe me, I am not looking for higher math here! Though I am aware that baking is in fact chemistry (thanks, Uncle Bob!) I think that I have to go the route of experience, trial and error kind of thing. I am talking about different kinds of flour because I hear that from some bakers that the best flour is Canadian "Five Roses" and if that's not available then "Montana Sapphire". Everything else is poo-pooed. So, my pantry has a bag of "Gold" unbleached, "King Arthur" and "Montana Sapphire" (I just got it - I am gathering the courage to attempt this soon).

I actually managed to make a nice round bread once with a very wet dough - but that didn't ask for any kneeding, just vigorous stirring with a wooden spoon. Physically demanding, but saved me money from going to the gym! Maybe I do add a lot of flour - but it always says in a recipe to add enough so that the dough separtes from the bowl. And how do I handle a sticky dough with my hands?

Ayerton, I come from Serbia, so I understand the Greek culture around bread making. And yes, I also got horirble results from a very basic recipe. I have friends here who don't give bread making a second thought - they just whip it and it comes out great! My mother does that when she visits and I observe dutifully (I have been an apprentice since my teenage years), but to no availa - our loafs cannot compare!

I am grateful for all your advice and I will check those books out from the library (I usually do that prior to buying any cookbooks). Thanks!
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Old 12-14-2006, 03:11 PM   #14
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Biberche,
When I make foccacia, the dough is quite sticky, so i either oil my hands or I keep a bowl of very warm water right next to me and as I pat the dough into the pan I keep wetting my hands...
Having to add flour to the dough I just do a Tablespoon at a time..After I've done the loaf several times and get to know the "feel" of it you can just grab a handful and sprinkle on..
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Old 12-14-2006, 04:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candocook
What recipe are you using? There seems to be a problem. Try a regular white bread recipe. One thing that is important in bread making is understanding what the dough looks like in various stages--smoothness ("like a baby's bottom"), proper rising, proofing yeast. Artisanal breads are much more demanding in making the biga or poolish. Have success in a loaf of plain white or partially whole wheat bread and then move on to other types.
Biberche, I began this post with a quote of Candocook's first post in order to expose this question. The "plain white or partially whole wheat bread" that I assumed he was referring to are going to include fats, usually butter. Recipes that include only flour, yeast, water, and salt (maybe a little sugar) look easier in writing but are less forgiving in execution and have much shorter shelf lives.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biberche
Oh, Candocook, I do not even envision myself taking on an artisanal bread! I am shooting for basics here. And yes, the breads I am talking about are your basic "proofing yeast with some sugar and warm water, adding salt, flour and more water" type - no butter, no oli, no eggs...
Is the intent stated above to keep the recipe easy to follow and maximize the chance of success or, is it to create a very lean loaf ala french baguette?

On the subject of books, I would recommend The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:10 PM   #16
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Skilletlicker, the bread I described is a basic recipe done by every babushka-wearing grandma in my part of woods - good, old, peasant bread. That's why I started with those, and not with sourdough and other breads which require a sponge, a starter, a mother, whatever. The basic bread is what I want to replicate, because I grew up surrounded by its wonderful aroma. Of course, I would love to learn more, get advanced, etc., but for now I'd love nothing more than to have the house filled with that unsurpased smell of freshly baked bread (not necessarilly in the morning - I am not that motivated!)

Working with the yeast dough is a true basic for many of my compatriots, who, on the other hand, cannot make more than 5 different meals altogether. I don't wan't to be competitive, but I'd like to add that baking skill to my unofficial resume of a decent home cook.

I have gathered a lot of information from all of you and I will try to make a decent loaf pretty soon. Thanks!
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Old 12-14-2006, 09:49 PM   #17
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Biberche, Sorry to read you are having problems with Bread Baking. I am new to the DC but I did submit an article on Great Homemade Bread Using Your Food Processor. I don't know where it is on the DC Forum. Perhaps you could locate that article?
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Old 12-15-2006, 03:27 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biberche
Skilletlicker, the bread I described is a basic recipe done by every babushka-wearing grandma in my part of woods - good, old, peasant bread. That's why I started with those, and not with sourdough and other breads which require a sponge, a starter, a mother, whatever. The basic bread is what I want to replicate, because I grew up surrounded by its wonderful aroma. Of course, I would love to learn more, get advanced, etc., but for now I'd love nothing more than to have the house filled with that unsurpased smell of freshly baked bread (not necessarilly in the morning - I am not that motivated!)

Working with the yeast dough is a true basic for many of my compatriots, who, on the other hand, cannot make more than 5 different meals altogether. I don't wan't to be competitive, but I'd like to add that baking skill to my unofficial resume of a decent home cook.

I have gathered a lot of information from all of you and I will try to make a decent loaf pretty soon. Thanks!
Biberche, I was only trying to help focus in on, as closely as possible, to the exact type of bread you wanted to make, so the forum could collectively offer the best answer to your original question, "What am I doing wrong?"
Please forgive any offense. It was not intended.
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Old 12-16-2006, 01:04 AM   #19
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I agree that it is a good idea to start with a very a simple white bread and go through the process by hand in order to get to know what the dough should feel like at any given stage. A very good book is the Laurels Kitchen bread Book, i dont think anyone mentioned it yet. The bread that requires mixing and no kneading is called a batter bread, I converted a type of bread called Sally Lun, which is a batter bread requiring no kneading, and it came out pretty good. I assume that is what the NY times recipe is. French bread baguettes are very difficult for beginners. The sometimes require a sourdorgh starter, and sometimes start with a preferment. The dough is very wet, and so hard to handle and get right. I really recommend starting with a standard white bread loaf.

I havnt in my experience found that bread can be over kneaded by hand, although I understand that it is possible using a machine.

1. The more you knead, the more even and finer holed the crumb will be.

2. Be careful of kneading in too much flour, even after kneading for ten minutes, it is better if the dough feel slightly tacky than bone dry.

3. When adding the flour to liquid ingredients, add only enough so that the dough can be lifted out onto the board enmass. If you want to you can knead the dough in the bowl a few times before dumping it onto a lightly floured board.

4. I bake at 350 for forty five minutes, but bakers yeast bread may take less time than sourdough, check after 30 minutes. If dough sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom it is done. Overbaked bread may have a very hard thick crust, but unless it baked for hours over the time, it should be soft somewhere inside. If it turns hard after baking, it sounds like it had too much flour mixed or kneaded in. Add only enough flour during kneading to keep it from sticking to your hands and no more. If you knead all the flour on the board away, it should still be tacky.

5. Fresh ingredients give the best results. Fresh yeast, Fresh flour. Flour can go rancid by the way, and could affect the baking.

Biberche, if you could post the recipe and exactly what you are doing, it may help to know what suggestions to make.
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Old 12-16-2006, 01:02 PM   #20
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No, no, no, Skilletlicker, I WAS not offended at all! I am sorry if I came off as arrogant, that was not my intention at all. Otherwise, I would not have come here asking for help! And help is what I need. I just wanted everybody to undestand that I was not attempting to produce a "La Brea Bakery" type of bread, just your most basic white bread that everybody seems to produce without thinking twice.

As for recipe, I go by my mother's guidelines: 1-2tsp of yeast proofed with 1tsp of sugar and some warm water, 250gr flour added when bubbly, together with 1tsp of salt and enough water to allow the dough to pull away from the ball. Kneed on a flour surfice to get a smooth, elastic dough, let rise till doubled, punch down, kneed gently, shape and let rise again on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F till done (the toothpick check).

I made buiscuits this morning and my southern husband approved:) I make pretty decent pizza dough. But bread seems to trump me every time!
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