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Calling all makers of bread! As opposed to bread makers, which might be a bit difficult...

(59 Posts)
thestylethatdecadesforgot Fri 04-Jan-13 13:20:48

Hi all!

I really want to get good at bread making and wondered if all you great bakers out there would like to add your tips and recipes on this thread?

I have gone in fits and starts with bread, so I never get good and I give up, it's a vicious circle! We eat a lot of bread as a family and its so expensive. I want to make brown, or half rye, or half wholemeal and half white bread. Anything that's not plain white. But the result is always a very dense loaf which doesn't seem to ever cook through! Although when I knock the bottom it sounds good and hollow. So confusing! I've tried quick baking, longer baking, lots of kneading, no knead (with overnight rising) and nothing is coming out right.

I'd love to have a sourdough starter but I don't think there's any point until I can make a reliable normal loaf. What's so sad is that everyone I ask says, oh, bread is so easy, anyone can do it! Well I can't! I bake other things ok!

Would love any help and tips or good recipes you've found to be reliable and hopefully it'll help anyone else trying to get better too.

Also, I wonder if you find it easier to buy bulk flour etc. and if you do, can you buy organic in bulk or not? I have been buying (and wasting!) Doves Farm but obviously only in supermarket amounts.

Willdoitinaminute Fri 04-Jan-13 22:47:29

Sainsbury s bakery does fresh yeast. Just ask at the counter. Allinsons very strong flour makes excellent white loaf. Probably if you ask at any large supermarket bakery they will have live yeast. Personally find I get better rise and texture than with dried yeast.
Kneed for a minimum of 5mins. You can tell when it's ok if you push dough with finger and it springs back leaving no indent.
Add a tablespoon of veg oil to liquid before mixing makes it easier to kneed. Do not use extra flour when kneeding.
Once you've mastered a simple white loaf then start with more exotic stuff.

trashcansinatra Fri 04-Jan-13 22:47:48

The River Cottage Bread Book link here is brilliant. The basic bread recipe is about 10 pages long because he explains every step and what's going on. His method for shaping the bread is brilliant.

fwiw, I also use the Kitchenaid for all the messy bits of kneading, and chose a granite island when designing our kitchen because it would be good for bread and easy to clean.

MothershipG Fri 04-Jan-13 22:52:17

I have had the most success with the Dan Lepard bread method, minimal kneading, excellent flavour. Basic recipe reproduced here I have his Short & Sweet book which is fab.

Moominsarehippos Fri 04-Jan-13 23:05:53

I tend to mix flours - no more than 50% white about 500g to 1tsp yeast and 10-13fl oz warm water (depending on the flour).

I dont knead it (check out Dan Lepard's technique) but push the dough across a lightly oiled surface (so you dont end up adding flour to the dough, just a tiny bit of oil).

First prove is 1hr, the second 30 mins. Use a timer as the first one is fine if too long, but the second one is more time critical.

I bake the first 10 mins at 240. When I put the bread in (red hot oven) I pour boiling water into a tray on the bottom to get steam (you need to be fast and well-oven gloved as it is hot hot hot). After 10 mins, it goes down to 220 for another 30 mons, then 200 for the last 10 mins.

My dough these days is sloppier than before - it doesnt need to be like a scone dough, as 'wetter' bread dough works nicely.

I usually make 700-800g loaves (ie that much original weight flour) and dont add sugar, honey, oil or salt. It really doesnt need salt to preserve as a loaf can keep for a week (a rare occurance). I use Dove's Farm or Shipton Mill for flour, and Sainsbos own strong white for the 'white' bit. I did a baking course and they said that they uses the Sainsbos one in all the bakeries and restaurants they bake for (and its half the price!).

Bagels are easy, bloomers are too (but the proving time is so long, you really need to plan - write out your timings as its easy to lose track). I've done sourdough but making the starter is a faff!

Moominsarehippos Fri 04-Jan-13 23:07:06

I've kissed Dan L, you know!

MothershipG Sat 05-Jan-13 08:46:23

Moomin You lucky floozy, you! (He's gay, isn't he?) How did you get to meet him?

Moominsarehippos Sat 05-Jan-13 08:50:40

I was congratulating him on his upcoming wedding (to a bloke he is also lovely).

MothershipG Sat 05-Jan-13 09:04:29

So do you know him? Or are you a crazed stalker? wink How did the Australian version of GBBO go?

Himalaya Sat 05-Jan-13 09:07:41

Bread dough should be wetter than you think. One common mistake is to add lots of extra flour when kneading to stop it sticking to the surface/ dry it out.

It should start off as a really squishy mess. The kneading untangles the flour gluten and makes it absorb the water to turn it into dough.

I don't have scrapers but start off by air kneading (like a Chinese noodle maker pulling the dough between two hands). Then when it has become pliable and not so sticky knead it by flinging it on the work top (like a whip) and stretchinging it over for a bit. That way gravity is doing the kneading work.

This recipe based on Dan Lepard's recipe has always made a very nice, light loaf of wholemeal bread when I've made it.

Moominsarehippos Sat 05-Jan-13 10:19:58

Not stalking but on a day long course he taught (with his fiancee helping out). I use a knife to mix (a big flat one) and a scraper to handle to dough.

Pop a little oil on your board and rub your hands in it so that the dounh wont stick to your hands either.

I have made a basic dough and flattened it. I bakes some baby toms in the oven with salt, tiny bit of olive oil and herbs. I then cool it and dollop it onto the bread and roll it up. Prove it for the second time and bake. Yummmmm! Great with soup. Or pop some cooked sausages on flattened dough to make 'sausage rolls'. Great for picnics and sandwich boxes.

thestylethatdecadesforgot Sat 05-Jan-13 16:42:59

Thank you all for the input, I think I'll try my no knead one tonight for starters and post some pics for advice. I love both of those links to the Dan Lepard recipe and the RC bread book! I see two new book or bases on the horizon. Thank you both for those.

Will be back with pics tonight and tomorrow am.

Moominsarehippos Sat 05-Jan-13 21:36:50

I also use a basic white dough to make 'non-accia' : squidge to about 1/4 inch, jab in olives and rosemary, sea salt and olive oil and bake. Great for starters and not as oily/greasy of proper focaccia.

thestylethatdecadesforgot Sun 06-Jan-13 07:43:37

Morning all. This is my dough last night for the no knead recipe. Quite wet and just barely brought together. Just feeding Dd2 and go take a pic of it this morning after a 12hr prove. The recipe says up to 18hrs proving is good but 12hr minimum.

thestylethatdecadesforgot Sun 06-Jan-13 07:59:40

Here it is 12hrs later. Just done the next step to bring it together a couple of times and rest for 15mins. Then it gets shaped and put on a tea towel to rise for 2hrs before baking.

I do love that no knead bread. Hopefully you will have a gorgeous loaf soon. Might have to make one myself this week, just for variety from the usual bread maker loaves!

fromwesttoeast Sun 06-Jan-13 08:16:39

I make bread 3 or4 times a week using a quick, easy method I got from a kids learning to read book. I have no time for frills or fuss but want bread without a shovel full of salt in it. I use wholemeal flour.
500g flour per loaf, 1 sachet fast action yeast, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 baby bottle of water 50/50 cold and just boiled. Mix in a big bowl. Kneaded in the bowl, about 5 mins by hand. Turn into greased lofaf tin. Leave for an hour to rise then straight in the oven, no second kneading. 40 mins at between gas 6 and 7. Turn oven off but leave the bread in for 15 mins.
Sometimes the bread sticks to the tin when I try to take it out. Then I just leave it in the tin for a little longer.
This probably breaks all chef rules but works for me every time. Even my teenage son can make bread successfully this way. I usually make 2 loaves at a time.

thestylethatdecadesforgot Sun 06-Jan-13 11:23:41

Thank you Westtoeast, I am going to start at the beginning of the thread and try to work through all the recipes to see what works for me. Thank you everyone for your input. Loaf just out of the oven. Will upload a photo. It looks lovely even if I do say so myself! But of course I will need to see what it's like inside. I used the cups measures on the NY recipe and it says the result should be a 1.5lb loaf. Having converted that it should be approx 680g but mine was only 530g. Any ideas or am I over thinking it?

MothershipG Sun 06-Jan-13 17:19:37

All this talk of bread prompted my to try an overnight loaf loosely based on this recipe. I added about 60g of rye flour because I like the extra flavour and it turned out quite well. It has an almost sourdough flavour but a very soft and spongy crumb, I'm really rather pleased with it. smile

Moominsarehippos Sun 06-Jan-13 19:05:31

Today I made banana and cardamum bread (2 bananas, 400g strong white flour, 7g flour, 10 cardamum pods crushed, 150g warm water, 2 tbsp malt extract). Rather nice but all gone, so no pic!

thestylethatdecadesforgot Sun 06-Jan-13 19:10:41

My pic of the finished loaf wouldn't upload this morning and I had to go out. Will try again. I added about a half cup of the flour and I think it was my undoing - what has been a really good loaf on previous occasions was cooked through I think as it was all the same texture internally with lots of small air pockets but it was so sticky. It had quite a thick crust all the way round and I wonder if it was so steamy inside the loaf it couldn't dry out?

Anyway we ate it all! Will try a fully white one tonight and compare.

Looks great Mothership!

thestylethatdecadesforgot Sun 06-Jan-13 19:19:30

Trying again

thestylethatdecadesforgot Sun 06-Jan-13 19:22:14

Sorry my post before the pic was supposed to say half a cup of RYE flour not the flour, which makes no sense!

Moomins, do you think you could do the same but leave out the cardamoms? I think DD1 would like banana bread, actually so would DD2 probably, (she's just started weaning) but I can't cope with cardamom! And where do you get malt extract?

MothershipG Sun 06-Jan-13 20:43:26

Yours looks pretty tasty too thestyle! I love a bit of rye in my bread, I think it really adds to the flavour.

I get my Malt extract in Holland & Barratt.

Moominsarehippos Sun 06-Jan-13 21:27:52

Yup H+B for the malt extract (any healthfood shop or baking dept). You can probably use ready ground cardamum - about a quarter teaspoon.

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