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Old 07-06-2009, 10:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Redneckville, NC
Baking Bread

I've learned how to cook a good amount of food and I feel like I can cook just about anything if I have a good handle on what is in it. There is one area of my cooking that I have NO experience in. Making Baked Goods.

I've NEVER made bread. Never baked bread, never made dough, never made anything like that. Last two restaurants had snobby Pastry Chefs that made all that stuff. Only I know about baking is that if the pasty chef is there early in the AM I get fresh bread for breakfast.

I *LOVE* bread, I mean I can't express my love for bread with words. Flat bread, fluffy soft bread, Italian breads, unleven bread, Mexican bread products, wheat/white American bread. You name it I love it.

So I turn to you TFP chefs/cooks, help me out with this. I just read squeebs' post about his weird pizza bowl thingy and he had a recipe for bread at the bottom. I thought to myself, it can't be that damn easy! Am I wrong? Load me down with everything you guys know about making bread, recipes, tips, books, troubles, ideas, half-baked thought processes.

I want to bake something tonight before I clean my kitchen and would love to know something simple to start out with.
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Ontario for now....
Haven't tried this but from watching it seems decent:

There's always this one as well Better Times: Your Basic Bread Recipe
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Some nucking fut house.
I like to use my bread machine to make the dough, and then bake it in a regular bread pan.
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Old 07-06-2009, 06:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
part of the problem
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Location: hic et ubique
the bread i made is a flat bread, like a tortilla or roti. and yeah, it is that easy.

but in the flat bread, there is no yeast, so you don't get the fresh baked oven bread kinda wonderfulness that you get with "bread" bread.

baking a standard loaf of bread isn't hard, but it takes a long time, because it has to rise for about 2 hours, then you punch it down, shape it, and let it rise another hour and a half or so, then bake it for however long.

but it ain't difficult at all.

the most important thing when baking bread is to make sure you don't kill your yeast. the water HAS to be between 115 and 105 degrees. i shoot for 110. water too cold won't wake it up, water too hot kills it.

when i bake bread, i boil water (for tea) and measure it out and put a thermometer in it, and wait until the thermometer reads 110, then i put the yeast in it with a drop of honey or some sugar or whatever. yeast needs some sugar to eat, so it grows and farts, which is what makes fluffy bread.

to get a nice crust on the bread, put a pan of boiling water (make another cup of tea) in the oven for two minutes before you put your bread in, and leave it there until you take your bread out.

lotsa great bread recipes out there. my favorite is the french baguette recipe from the bon appetite cookbook. i'd post it but i don't have the book anymore.

if you have a huge stand mixer, the dough hook attachment is your best friend. if not, you just gotta knead knead knead, and it's cook and fun and a workout, you feel "closer" to the bread, but if you are lazy like i am, you let the mixer do the work.
onward to mayhem!

Last edited by squeeeb; 07-06-2009 at 06:22 PM..
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Old 07-06-2009, 10:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
Getting it.
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Location: Lion City
I'm like LordEden... I haven't really made bread before. Not the let-the-yeast-rise-and-knead-that-sucker kind of bread. And now that I live in a high humidity area, I am less inclined to try. A colleague has had luck with Mark Bittman's no-knead bread and I suppose I will get around to trying that soon enough.
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Old 07-07-2009, 08:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
part of the problem
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Location: hic et ubique
Originally Posted by Charlatan View Post
I'm like LordEden... I haven't really made bread before. Not the let-the-yeast-rise-and-knead-that-sucker kind of bread. And now that I live in a high humidity area, I am less inclined to try. A colleague has had luck with Mark Bittman's no-knead bread and I suppose I will get around to trying that soon enough.
i tried the no-knead bread, it came out ok for me, completely edible and fine, just not "oh my god!" awesome. i live at high altitude, so i have to take that into consideration, and i don't always, so i'm blaming the high altitude for why it didn't come out spectacular.

try it, its worth it i think.
onward to mayhem!
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
alicat's Avatar
Location: West Michigan
I'm by no means a master baker but I do love fresh bread and bake it as often as I have time. I'll recommend:
Amazon.com: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking: Jeff Hertzberg MD, Zoe Francois: Books Amazon.com: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking: Jeff Hertzberg MD, Zoe Francois: Books

Thier method is fairly simple. I only recently got this book and have only made The Master Recipe Boule (I'm pretty sure you can find the recipe and video of the authors making it on thier site and elsewhere to give it a try). I was impatient and made a boule the first day which was not impressive. The one I made on day 3 tasted much better and I think they would only improve into the 14 day period (I got busy and went out of town so I lost my dough).

Here is one of my favorite bread recipes. It looks complicated but it is really VERY easy, just a bit time consuming and oh so worth it! I've always used the dry minced onion, rehydrated, instead of fresh because I think it adds a better punch of flavor. I also always make more filling than called for and try to put as much in that will fit while still being able to seal the strips. Before I owned a stand mixer, I used a hand mixer and that worked just fine.

Onion Lover's Twist

•3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups All Purpose or Unbleached Flour
•1/4 cup sugar
•1 1/2 teaspoons salt
•1 pkg. active dry yeast
•3/4 cup water
•1/2 cup milk
•1/4 cup margarine or butter
•1 egg

•1/4 cup margarine or butter
•1 cup finely chopped onions or 1/4 cup instant minced onion
•1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
•1 tablespoon sesame or poppy seed (I prefer poppy seed)
•1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic salt
•1 teaspoon paprika

1.Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast; mix well. In small saucepan, heat water, milk and 1/4 cup margarine until very warm (120 to 130°F.). Add warm liquid and egg to flour mixture; blend at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

2.By hand, stir in remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour to form a soft dough. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80 to 85°F.) until light and doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

3.Grease large cookie sheet. Melt 1/4 cup margarine in small saucepan; stir in all remaining filling ingredients. Set aside.

4.Stir down dough to remove all air bubbles. On floured surface, toss dough until no longer sticky. Roll dough into 18x12-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise to make two 12x9-inch rectangles; cut each rectangle into three 9x4-inch strips.

5.Spread about 2 tablespoons onion mixture over each strip to within 1/2 inch of edges. Bring lengthwise edges of each strip together to enclose filling; pinch edges and ends to seal.

6.On greased cookie sheet, braid 3 rolls together; pinch ends to seal. Repeat with remaining 3 rolls for second loaf. Cover; let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, 25 to 30 minutes.

7.Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover dough. Bake 27 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped. Brush with melted butter if desired for a glossy surface. Immediately remove from cookie sheet; cool on wire racks for 1 hour or until completely cooled.
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
part of the problem
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Location: hic et ubique
i found the recipe i have for almost no knead bread. like i said, when i made it, it had a PERFECT crust, but the crumb came out just ok, not that great. i think i had bad yeast, or the altitude got me. but it was worth it.

you need:

3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs water (7 ounces) at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs (3 ounces) mild flavored lager ( i think i used coors or some other watery american crap beer)
1 tbs white vinegar

1) whisk flour, yeast salt in large bowl. add water, beer, and vinegar. fold mixture, scraping dry flour from bottom of bowl, until shaggy ball forms. cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temp for 8 - 18 hours. (i did this at night before bed, went to sleep, and made it the next day.

2) line a 10 inch skillet with parchemnt paper, spray with nonstick cooking spray, transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead 10-15 times. shape doough into huge ball, put dough seam side down in parchment lined skillet. rub a dab of oil on dough. cover loosley with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

3) about 30 minutes before baking, put oven rack on lowest rung, place a 6 - 8 quart dutch oven with lid on rack and heat oven to 500 degrees F. lightly flour top of dough and make a 6 inch long, 1/2 inch deep slit along top. remove the super hot dutch oven, take off the super hot lid, pick up dough using the sides of the parchment and lower into pot, letting any extra parchment hang over pot edge. cover pot and place in oven, reduce oven temp to 425 and bake covered for 30 minutes. remove lid and and bake until loaf is deep brown, about 20-30 minutes more. cool to room temp before cutting and eating.
onward to mayhem!
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
Young Crumudgeon
Martian's Avatar
Location: Canada
I'm inherently suspicious of no-knead bread. It's my opinion, formed by my experience, that a loaf of bread ought to take work to make.

Making flatbreads is an order of magnitude easier than making leavened white or whole wheat bread. The key to it all is the yeast, as squeeeb has helpfully pointed out.
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Old 07-10-2009, 04:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
Halanna's Avatar
Location: Over the rainbow . .
I bake bread all the time. Italian bread, couple different kinds, regular loaf white bread, wheat bread, rye bread, kaiser rolls, dinner rolls, lotsa bread.

Like squeeb said, the water temperature is crucial. But you can go a little higher, up to 120-125 without killing the yeast.

Look at your hot water heater and see what the highest setting is. If you have it set on a low setting, 120 degrees may be it's max, so you can just run tap water until it's as hot as it gets.

I have a stand mixer with the dough hook. If you want to bake bread on any consistent level, this will make your life much much easier. Get a good one, Kitchen Aide. Don't scrimp on a stand mixer, you'll use it for much more than bread.

I wait a few minutes to add the sugar/sweetener letting the yeast soften and grow before feeding it. Any recipe that calls for melted shortening, use olive oil. Unfortunately many new recipes have you adding the yeast to the flour then adding the liquid. You have to take the recipe apart, always add the yeast to the hot liquid, then sugar/sweetener, then oil, salt and anything else, flour is always last.

Always use unbleached flour because there is no reason to use a chemically bleached flour.

Depending on where you live, how you store your flour and other factors, you may need more or less flour than the recipe calls for. This is no big deal. (this is assuming you are using a stand mixer) Use up to but reserving 1 cup of flour the recipe calls for. If it is still batter like keep adding flour. The dough will "ball" up into a cohesive ball when it's close. Keep mixing or kneading until you can touch it without it sticking to your finger. It will be what is considered "tacky" meaning if you squeeze it, it will stick to your hand. But if you poke it, it won't stick. Add flour, a little at a time until you reach this stage. Depending on your area, up to 1 cup flour more than the recipe calls for is not unusual. I live in Florida, a very high humidity area and always have to use extra flour. Drier areas may need less flour than called for.

Now you have to remove the dough from the bowl. Take a little handful of flour into your hands to coat, remove the dough from the bowl, squeeze a little olive oil in the bottom of the bowl and toss the dough back in, turning it all around to coat with oil. It has to rise and you don't want it to dry out or form a skin of dried dough. I read alot about using a clean dish towel to cover the bowl, but I use wax paper, no sticking. Put the bowl in a corner of your kitchen that an a/c vent doesn't blow on or an outside door doesn't effect.

I've never used rapid rise yeast so I can't comment on that, but regular yeast you're good for several hours. Double in size or specific time limits like 2 hours aren't really that hard fast. As long as you don't go over say 3 hours you have some latitude.

After the initial rising, you just shape, roll, form do whatever to the dough depending on what you are making. Always lightly flour the surface you are kneading/shaping on. The second time around you DO have to carefully watch the timing of the rise. The bread will rise more once in the oven, if you allow it to over-rise before baking it will just spill over the loaf pan, etc.

Personally, I'm not a fan of metal or non-stick loaf pans or cookie sheets. The darker the pan the lower the oven temp needs to be and that doesn't work for bread products. I'm a huge fan of clear glass loaf pans and Air Bake shiny silver surface cookie sheets. Very lightly grease any pan you use.

While it's baking it will brown soon, but won't be done! Don't be afraid to let it continue to bake after it looks like it's done. Raw in the center bread is yucky. You can also use a spray bottle of water to mist the top or sides of the loaves depending on what kind of bread you are making.

Lastly, if you find a recipe you really like, don't be afraid to try and shape it into different things. Hamburger buns, smaller loaves, etc.

Last edited by Halanna; 07-10-2009 at 04:28 PM..
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:16 PM   #11 (permalink)
part of the problem
squeeeb's Avatar
Location: hic et ubique
just found this link, it seems pretty useful for all your bread needs.

Bread Making Videos ? Bread Baking Instructional Videos and Baking Supplies.
onward to mayhem!
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