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Old 07-31-2006, 05:10 PM   #1
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Making light bread like any number of commercial bread shops?

Hi,
I'd love any tips on making bread just like any number of the commercial bread shops such as Atlanta Bread, Panera, etc. I cannot determine if I lack the ingredients, equipment, or both. It seems everything I produce at home has nearly the same texture and density.
I'd like to get something that rises nicely to a light, airy loaf, with a slight chew to it, sort of a good sandwich bread really, like a multigrain loaf or wheat bread. Definitely not just a plain old white bread.
I know I have reasonably good quality flour, use instant yeast and filtered water....
Do I need a proof box or steam oven? Is that what is missing? Nothing ever seems to rise enough to get past a very dense loaf by comparison.

thanks for any ideas!!!

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Old 07-31-2006, 05:14 PM   #2
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What are you using to mix it? I mix mine in a Kitchenaid using the recipe out of my Betty Crocker book. It's great plain, toasted, or for sandwiches.
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Old 07-31-2006, 05:19 PM   #3
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thanks for the reply...

same thing. Kitchenaid Artisan.

It has occured to me that maybe the dough is not getting enough air incorporated due to the mixer, but clearly the large commerical places use mixers. the only other thing I can think of is some type of dough enhancers...??
thanks!
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Old 07-31-2006, 07:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by you only live twice
thanks for the reply...

same thing. Kitchenaid Artisan.

It has occured to me that maybe the dough is not getting enough air incorporated due to the mixer, but clearly the large commerical places use mixers. the only other thing I can think of is some type of dough enhancers...??
thanks!
I don't claim to be an expert baker but here's a thought. The air in the bread doesn't come from the mixer but might be related to it. A few years ago Kitchenaid changed their recipes to reduce the kneading times. Some say they did it to reduce the returns and complaints caused by a stripped nylon or plastic gear. It seems to me, the knead times KA recommends aren't long enough to properly develop the gluten, which means more flour has to be added to the dough to form a workable ball in the reduced time, the dough is dryer than it would be otherwise, and gas isn't being trapped in the finished loaves the way it should be.

This post isn't intended to be a definitive answer, just a nudge to the conversation for the more experienced bakers to elaborate on.
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Old 07-31-2006, 09:45 PM   #5
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Are you using bread flour?
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Old 08-01-2006, 03:19 AM   #6
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The rise in bread depends not on how much air is incorporated into the dough but on how well the gluten is formed, other than that there are many factors which can affect how well bread rises. I hand knead for ten minutes which usually gives a good even crumb with no large holes. Think of gluten as if it were glue that holds the crumb together. The yeast forms air pockets in this glue as a byproduct of its digestion of sugars. The longer you knead the dough, the more you are stretching the gluten so that it forms smaller holes for the yeast to fill with air. If the flour you use is course grain, it will take longer to rise because the yeast have to work harder. Yeast also need the right kind of food that they like in order to grow well. They like sugar, so thats a good thing to add to the dough. In the absense of added sugar as in the case on longer rise breads, the yeast feed on the natural sugars in the wheat, which is why you need to add fresh flour to the sponge to feed them. Bread can also be over proofed making the air holes slack so they collapse when baked, or under proofed, not allowing the air pockets to get large enough and leaving a more compact crumb. I read that you cant overknead by hand, but it is possible to overknead with a machine. I dont know what overkneaded bread does, because I never used a machine. If your bread isnt rising, you could check the yeast you are using. Sometimes it is old, and you could find out by proofing the yeast with a little water and sugar first to see if it bubbles. The flour can also be a factor, if it is old or not a high gluten flour. The kind of flour is also important. you have to make sure you are using high gluten flour. The kind that says bread flour usually is, or it should be ground from hard winter wheat. Soft wheat, like in cake or pastry flour is low in gluten and should not be used for bread. All purpose flour is usually a combination of the two, and works for bread, but wont work as well as the other kind.

I hope this helps, and good luck.

I also expect that making bread at home is different than that produced on high tech machinery in which all the variables have been standardized, and much money and manpower has gone into producing a consistent product. Personally, I think that there is no comparison to the taste and smell of fresh home baked bread, and its worth it even if the loaves are not quite as light and airy as you may get in any outlet.
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:09 AM   #7
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It is also important to manage the rising process in general. You want the initial kneaded ball to rise to about double the volume of the original, but it is also important to "punch" this down and let it rise again for some time. This insures that the yeast has enough to eat (sugars). If this isnt done, then the bread will not rise when baked as all of the yeast will be starved of food and wont produce that nice CO2 you need for proper rising.

Also, make sure you preheat your oven for at least a half an hour before you put the bread in. You want the initial blast of heat to be intense enough to give the bread a good rise. After the first 5-10 minutes, it will not rise anymore so you want a good amount of heat initially. You can always turn down the temperature afterwards.
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Old 08-01-2006, 12:02 PM   #8
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yolt,

What recipe are you using? Why don't you post it? I don't use the KA recipe, just a basic one out of a Betty Crocker cookbook. How long do you let it rise?
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Old 08-01-2006, 01:48 PM   #9
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If you want the li8ght airy texture of commerical bread, you cannot get it with homemade bread. I prefer the denser texture that I make. Allowing the bread to rise twice before forming the loaves will help with a lighter bread. Having the dough on the damp side will give a better texture too. Just do not add so much flour that the dough is dry...... dampness gives steam which helps with lightness.
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Old 08-01-2006, 02:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swann
I prefer the denser texture that I make.
Me too. Bread is pretty cheap. If I wanted light texture like Wonder bread I would just buy it, and I do. I make homemade because I like the texture better, plus the smell is great!
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