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Old 09-15-2006, 06:32 AM   #1
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Wink French bread

Had my first attempt at making bread (), tasted good but looked like Biscotti when done. Guess Iam not sure what it is suspose to feel like. Mine was alittle dry I think, question -- Can you do all the kneading with just the dough hook ? Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 09-15-2006, 07:00 AM   #2
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Congratulations! In my opinion it doesn't get any better than fresh bread, still warm from the oven.
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Can you do all the kneading with just the dough hook?
Usually but I like to knead at least a little to get a feel for the dough.
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Any help would be appreciated.
The best advice I would offer is to weigh the ingredients, especially the flour and water.
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Old 09-15-2006, 07:37 AM   #3
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barb l - can you be a bit more specific about what was wrong with the results?

just going by what you've said, i'd guess that it may have been overbaked, so came out hard like biscotti. it happens to many when they start out baking bread. you're not sure how to tell if it's done and you don't want raw dough in the center, so it's better to be safe than sorry and leave it in for a while longer. if this was the problem, all you need is more experience.

another possibility is that your oven runs hot. if so, you've possibly noticed your cookies being crunchier than expected or cakes being a bit dry. you can get an oven thermometer to check if you have doubts.

another image that comes to my mind when you mention biscotti, is a texture somewhat like pumice. this could be a result of the dough being: way too soft and/or way too over-risen, in conjunction with being overbaked.
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Old 09-15-2006, 11:26 AM   #4
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Wink

ok I will try--the heigth of the bread - not taste wise, looked like an biscotti (flavor was good). The first rize looked pretty good to me (50) mins.the second rize didn't look that great. (50) also -looked dry. Guess Iam just not sure what the feel of the dough should be. It was very edible, but not very big in size, length seemed to be ok. ?? I'll keep trying-- I make Giada's (FN) Holiday Biscotti- turns out awesome. New to yeast bread recipes. Thanks for help of any kind-- oh and I do use a oven thermometer. Not over baked - I don't think !
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Old 09-15-2006, 02:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barb L
ok I will try--the heigth of the bread - not taste wise, looked like an biscotti (flavor was good). The first rize looked pretty good to me (50) mins.the second rize didn't look that great. (50) also -looked dry. Guess Iam just not sure what the feel of the dough should be. It was very edible, but not very big in size, length seemed to be ok. ?? I'll keep trying-- I make Giada's (FN) Holiday Biscotti- turns out awesome. New to yeast bread recipes. Thanks for help of any kind-- oh and I do use a oven thermometer. Not over baked - I don't think !
I repeat my congratulations. Your first loaf of yeast bread tasted good and there's room for improvement in the texture and crumb. Sounds like a promising start to me. French bread recipes sound easy because there are so few ingredients but there is definitely an art to it. I don't claim to be an artist; I'm a student like you.
If I was going to guess I'd think there might have been a little too much flour, probably added to help the dough come together without sticking.
It also sounds like you didn't get an oven spring. The bread should rise a final time in the first few minutes of baking.
As far as the "feel of the dough." There is a Yeast Bread Primer on the King Arthur Flour site that might be helpful for you. There is also a video stream in two parts from Julia Childs Lessons With Masters PBS series. This one has Danielle Forestier making french bread with Julia. The method won't be exactly the same as yours because she uses fresh yeast and you will probably prefer Active Dry or instant, but her description and explanation of process coupled with the video is first rate instruction.
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Old 09-15-2006, 03:04 PM   #6
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Wink Skilletlicker

Thank you so very much for all the info. Greatly appreciated ! I will try again !
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Old 09-17-2006, 01:35 AM   #7
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Personally I don't use a (I don't know what its called) dough hook when I make bread, so I don't know how much the dough hook will knead the dough.

Once its finished, the dough should be smooth, stretchy, and when you try to form it into a bowl, it won't tear.

But if its a sticky dough, crushing it with a palm and pulling it away will make a defined peak.

You can also use the window pane test to make sure its ready.
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Old 09-17-2006, 08:33 AM   #8
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skilletlicker's right on that one; french bread is a tough one to start on, taking lots of experience to get even mildly acceptable results. i'd suggest starting off with dinner rolls the first few times, then either a regular white loaf or whole wheat loaf.
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Old 09-17-2006, 08:45 AM   #9
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Hi Barb

It's very difficult to get authentic french bread on the first try. It actually is a 2 day process. First you make a 'sponge' with a bit of flour, water and yeast and let it rise. It should have lots of airy holes. The next day, you make the dough and add the sponge to it. As it's rising, the sponge generates lots of gasses, giving your bread that light, holey interior that normal french bread has. When you bake it, it oven has to be slightly humid, either with a pan of water at the bottom of the oven or the walls have to be misted during the baking process.

Your tough bread is a result of not letting the glutens form properly. The purpose of the hook is so that you don't have to do any kneading by hand.I think you didn't let the hook work long enough. It's possible it didn't rise long enough, or it's also possible the yeast was dead.

If you'd like, I can reprint the french bread recipe I use. It has quite a few steps but they are clear and easily understandable. It's a perfect weekend project, especially now that the weather will be turning cooler.
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Old 09-17-2006, 03:12 PM   #10
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Wink

Thanks so much for the encouragement, but maybe I should try dinner rolls or white bread first, till I get the feel (lol - like I know what that is). Just love french or crusty Italian bread.
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