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Bread

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by modelmaker, May 1, 2011.

  1. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Among the many things I've failed to cook with any particular degree of success is that staple of our diet, bread.
    I've followed recipes to the letter, tried and tried again over the years, and although there have been occasions I've been able to create good texture in the basic loaf, the taste has always been spoilt from the smell of yeast. The only occasions I've had success has been in the manufacture of pizza dough where it occurs to me that by rolling the dough out thinly, it allows the unpleasant odour of yeast to evaporate.
    A colleague I worked with a long time ago had worked in a bakery and said one Friday afternoon he wanted to revisit the therapeutic nature of breadmaking over the weekend and on Monday brought in one of the loaves he'd made that was excellent. When I asked him about the yeast he'd used, he said he's obtained it from his baker's shop.
    In my larder at the moment is a bag of strong bread flour, and a number of sachets of what Hovis describe as bread yeast. I bought these a couple of weeks ago when I felt it might be possible to revisit breadmaking for a final time and maybe suss it once and for all.
    So my questions are, is this dried yeast we are sold by notable breadmakers truely representative of the kind of yeast a baker would use? If it is, where do you think I might be going wrong? And if it isn't, how on Earth is it allowed to be sold without the Trades Description people giving them grief?
    And the last question of course, is who has a really good recipe for bread?
     
  2. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Among the many things I've failed to cook with any particular degree of success is that staple of our diet, bread.
    I've followed recipes to the letter, tried and tried again over the years, and although there have been occasions I've been able to create good texture in the basic loaf, the taste has always been spoilt from the smell of yeast. The only occasions I've had success has been in the manufacture of pizza dough where it occurs to me that by rolling the dough out thinly, it allows the unpleasant odour of yeast to evaporate.
    A colleague I worked with a long time ago had worked in a bakery and said one Friday afternoon he wanted to revisit the therapeutic nature of breadmaking over the weekend and on Monday brought in one of the loaves he'd made that was excellent. When I asked him about the yeast he'd used, he said he's obtained it from his baker's shop.
    In my larder at the moment is a bag of strong bread flour, and a number of sachets of what Hovis describe as bread yeast. I bought these a couple of weeks ago when I felt it might be possible to revisit breadmaking for a final time and maybe suss it once and for all.
    So my questions are, is this dried yeast we are sold by notable breadmakers truely representative of the kind of yeast a baker would use? If it is, where do you think I might be going wrong? And if it isn't, how on Earth is it allowed to be sold without the Trades Description people giving them grief?
    And the last question of course, is who has a really good recipe for bread?
     
  3. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    Dried yeast works well for me. Not as well as fresh, but it does the job.
    If it helps, Tesco will always give you free fresh yeast. Just ask where there is an inhouse bakery.
    We bake more bread than we buy. With a little practice, wonderful bread is achievable every time. I experiment a lot, but here's our standard white loaf - in fact what I made last night, for today's bread.
    550g strong bread flour plus a little extra
    350g cold water
    2 tsps fresh yeast (if using dried, then half the amount)
    1.5 tsps fine sea salt.

    Mix flour and sea salt in a large bowl. Whisk yeast into water and mix into flour. Mix (with hands) until well incorporated and in a fairly solid but sticky ball. Empty onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes - important that you stick to this time. Don't be too rough - treat it with firm love. This is where judgement comes in, but you want something neither too sticky nor to dry. The tiniest amount of water or flour will correct this. It will change consistency when ready - becoming very stretchy and feeling bouncy and alive. Rest at room temp, or approx 20 degrees C with a loose covering of cling film or a tea towel for an hour until doubled in size.
    Then, flatten dough out, knead briefly again and shape to preference - either in a floured loaf tin, shaped into a torpedo or ball or whatever. Leave to prove again for an hour and a half.
    Meanwhile, heat oven to highest temp, place an oven tin on the middle shelf, one on the bottom and boil a kettle full of water.
    When ready to bake, use a Stanley knife to slash the loaf down the midde, not too deeply. Then place on the middle baking tray, and pour the kettle of boiling water onto the lowest baking tray (the steam will aid rising, as the crust will not harden too quickly, and later on will make a great crust). Shut oven door and lower temp to 210 degrees C
    Bake for 25 minutes. Then remove from container and bake directly on shelf for further 5 minutes. Then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.
    Always works for me!

     
  4. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the tips, nick. I'll have a go again tomorrow.
     
  5. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    I wonder if you've been using too much yeast in the past. Maybe confusing quanities for fresh and dried yeast. You only need half the weight of dried as you do fresh. The above recipe should need no more than one of the sachets (usually 7g). A longer proving time, using slightly less yeast, is better than a quick one using lots of yeast - the flavour is much better.
    I should add here that if you don't use a loaf tin, then place it directly onto the baking sheet/tin you want to bake it on, flouring the tin lightly first. Manhandling the bread at this stage will knock some of the air out. Place this tin on top of the sheet/tin you've placed on the middle shelf (this tin can be placed upside down if need be, if the tin the loaf is on won't fit in it. The purpose of this pre-heated tin is to ensure that the bottom of the loaf heats quickly and evenly.
    Again, I should add, this is where judgement comes in. Tap the bottom of the loaf. If it feels and sounds hollow, it should be ready. If not, it may need a little extra. Personal preference comes into all this as well; whether you like a chewier, crisper crust or a softer one.
    When to eat the bread is all a matter of discipline! There's nothing like warm bread, spread thickly with butter, as everyone knows - but do allow it to cool a little - the texture improves as it cools. But, if you allow it to cool completely, the texture and crust will be better. Wrap freshly baked bread in a clean tea towel rather than in plastic, as the bread will be able to breathe and the crust will stay crisp.
    It's worth practicing with bread. Get a basic white right though and you can experiment wildly with different flour types, different liquids (milk makes for a good loaf, or half milk/half water) added flavourings (fennel seeds are wonderful!), and different seeds and grains to add texture, flavour and crunch.
    We tend to bake a few loaves at a time at the weekend and then slice two of them and store them in large freezer bags, in the freezer, ready sliced, so that slices can be taken out for toast during the week,
    All highly rewarding stuff.
    Ask if you've any questions, MM!
     
  6. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    I use roughlt the same quantities as Nick, but never add the salt at the beginning as salt kills yeast. I also add a good slug of olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of oats. I use dried yeast as Tesco are too far away and it's difficult to just nip to the shops if I want any fresh!

    I start off by putting the water and yeast in a mixing bowl and sprinkling about 2 tablespoons flour on top. Then leave covered with a dry tea towel for a couple of hours. Mix with a fork then add the rest of the flour, oats and oil. Mix roughly and sprinkle the salt on top. Leave for another couple of hours. Knead together, shape and rise. then bake.

    I usually make rolls for o/h's work meals, but often make it into a loaf.
    Wholemeal flour is nice and I add chopped walnuts and honey.
    White flour with pumpkin seeds.
    Half and half wholemeal and white with sunflower seeds.
    White flour with chopped sundried tomatoes.
    White flour with more olive oil and halved black olives.
     
  7. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    This is true but I find if I mix the salt into the flour and whisk the yeast into the water, the yeast doesn't come into contact with large quantities of salt, and so it's fine.
    I also to make the starter you do with the flour, yeast and water, but have found over the years that it's not really necessary, and certainly it saves a bit of time not to do it.
    I do sometimes add fat to it - olive oil is great and also lard, rubbed into the flour as if making pastry or crumble.
    Liking the sounds of your recipes as well. Linseed is a great addition to bread as well, as are millet flakes.
    I've tried Dan Lepard's no-knead method, which works, but I'm not convinced that the results are as good as with kneading. I don't understand how the gluten chains can be formed as succesfully.
     
  8. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    Needless (kneadless??) to say lapin, I'm not criticising your method - it's a wonderful one - just commenting on some differences. Plenty here for MM to go on.
     
  9. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    No problem Nick,the way I do it has just evolved through trying to fit in breadmaking along with a thousand other things. It doesn't seem to rquire as much kneading also. When I bake the rolls, I use a tray with holes in, flour the tray never grease it (learnt by teaching cookery and ending up with burnt on grease on the trays) and put a dish of boiling water in the bottom of the oven.

    Other ideas, make up 2 doughs, one white, one wholemeal, add chopped apricots to the white and chopped walnuts to the wholemeal. If you do the 500g for each you'll have enough for 2 loaves. Take half the dough from each and roll into a long roll. Stick the ends together and twist. Stick the other ends together and place on baking tray to rise.
    With the other halves, stick the ends together and coil into a circle, again stick the ends together, rise and bake.
    I love the hedgehog loaf, shape dough into a an oval mound, snip the top with scissors all the same way so you end up with lots of prickles. If you want you can push in two halves of black olive at one end to make eyes.
     
  10. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Grateful as I am for all the advice, I have to confess I was side-tracked today and never got round to it. I could address this later this evening now things have settled down.
    I remember a long time ago, working with a colleague who's life went to pieces. He left his wife and family and moved into a squat not far from where we worked. It was an old disused bakery. On the ground floor in the back room, was a wooden box-type structure, about twice the length of my desk and on top was removable lid. Rumour had it this was where the dough was kept overnight to rise. The baker slept on top of the lid and when the dough had risen far enough to throw him off It was time to begin the baking.
    However I digress. If I make the dough this evening, and let it do it's stuff overnight, would this be a hindrance? More beneficial? It would be lovely to be able to enjoy some real bread for breakfast for a change, but I've no intention of setting the clock for really early. The dog hated it it when I had to get up at the crack of dawn, and since I've stopped working she's been far more settled.
     
  11. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    Unfortunately, it wouldn't work. It would overrise and flop in that time. You could start it now and have a loaf baked by midnight. Or wait until tomorrow.
     
  12. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    Sorry Nick I disagree, temperature control is the thing here.
    If you make the bread in the evening you can slow rise it in the fridge overnight. Then bake it first thing. Temperatures below 5C, which is what a fridge should be, will *** the reproduction of the yeast and so make a for a slow rising.
     
  13. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    I have no idea why that happened, surely re_tard is a term used in food and science!!
     
  14. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    Ah yes, of course, Lapin. I hadn't thought of rising it in the fridge. A great idea.

    Incidentally, whilst we're on the subject of fridges, fresh yeast keeps for a couple of weeks quite happily in the fridge, so if visits to a baker or Tesco are infrequent, you can still use fresh stuff quite easily. Just make sure it's in a sealed food bag so it doesn't dry out, and inspect for any mould spots when you use it. You'll know if it's gone as mouldy yeast smells horrific.
     
  15. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    My nana never bought a loaf in her life, but at 4' 10" used to carry home a stone of flour at one go. Her bread and scones were divine, and baked in a range! She is no longer alive to ask for recipes, alas. One thing I do recall her saying is that baking bread takes years of practice to get right, but it's worth it. Both you and the birds can eat the evidence when it goes wrong!
     
  16. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Excellent bread and not the least whiff of yeast. Didn't need anything to accompany it other than butter. The dog can enjoy the ham with her breakfast tomorrow.
    Thank you all for your help.
     
  17. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    Well done, you. Doesn't it smell wonderful straight from the oven?
     

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