baking bread

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Not all messages are displayed: show all messages (153 of them)
So I tried something new in the effort to get my bread to rise nicely and evenly:

I filled the bathtub about 1/3 full with HOT HOT HOT water, put the (covered) dough in the bathroom and closed the door. When I went in there to check on it, the room was indeed warmer than the rest of the apartment, the heat was nice and moist and the bread looked great.

Since I have the world's cheapest stove (no light) and we keep our apartment pretty chilly due to astronomical gas prices, this was a decent alternative. Also, everyone's bathroom has/should have a door, so the heat is confined to that room.

The Milkmaid (of human kindness) (The Milkmaid), Monday, 16 January 2006 15:24 (thirteen years ago) link

three years pass...

is there a way to save yeast from week to week in a way that makes it usable in the next loaf or ball of pizza dough?
i know yeast is cheap enough but it seems dumb to keep buying if it's a living thing that will keep reproducing itself

harbl, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 21:58 (ten years ago) link

no? just an idea.

i want to try baking bread again. i did it a few years ago and didn't like it. it always came out too dense. does anyone recommend any books about bread?

harbl, Thursday, 18 June 2009 13:41 (ten years ago) link

Yeah, you can make up a biga (basically yeast, water, flour) and keep feeding it with flour/water every few days - this is the same idea as a sourdough starter. Or, you can try making pan levain by leaving a flour/water/sugar mixture out in the open for a few days to catch wild yeasts. (Read the essay about this in The Man Who Ate Everything first though.)

Beard on Bread by James Beard and The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum are my 2 go-to bread books.

Jaq, Friday, 19 June 2009 14:03 (ten years ago) link

thanks! i have heard of catching wild yeast but i always think...yeast, in the air, does it come off people's/animals' bodies and stuff? weird. i'm doing no-knead bread today. i'll probably go to the library tomorrow to find some books.

harbl, Friday, 19 June 2009 14:31 (ten years ago) link

Yeasts are everywhere. You can just get some grapes (untreated, probably from a backyard vine or a vineyard is best) because they are natural yeast harbors and use them to make a starter.

Jaq, Friday, 19 June 2009 14:36 (ten years ago) link

you can just leave some flour and water out for awhile - it will catch teh yeastes no probs

Tracer Hand, Monday, 22 June 2009 17:11 (ten years ago) link

k, i am planning on doing this. doesn't it catch pollution and stuff? cat hair? fuzz?

harbl, Monday, 22 June 2009 17:17 (ten years ago) link

yes, put it someplace draft-free and relatively cat-hair-free if possible. Also, some wild yeasts taste bad, so be prepared for that possibility.

Jaq, Monday, 22 June 2009 17:20 (ten years ago) link

two weeks pass...

i've been looking at the bread bible and now i remember why i gave up on bread the first time. it's impossible? there are way too many things to worry about! i think my oven is really miscalibrated too. i don't think i can control any of the things that need to be controlled to do a good job at it.

but i am making an injera/sourdough starter so i can make fake injera. it's amazing, i just put about equal amounts flour and water in a plastic container and sealed the lid. it smells like stinky feet.

harbl, Thursday, 9 July 2009 03:20 (ten years ago) link

It does sound impossible, but I keep at it by reminding myself that people have been baking bread for ages and ages without any fancy business and even if it doesn't turn out perfect, it still generally tastes really really good. I hope your starter works well!

Jaq, Thursday, 9 July 2009 03:34 (ten years ago) link

I've had reasonable success with bread lately. What I'm doing is buying those premixes that are for bread machines, but making the bread by hand and baking it in the oven. It seems the mix has some added things in the flour that help - salt and preservatives I suppose (citric acid or something?). I used to be able to buy bread preserver powder but I cant find it anymore.

I'm moving house next week and hoping I'll now have a functional oven ie one with a thermostat not set to KILL. Then more baked goods will arise!

lolsbury hill (Trayce), Thursday, 9 July 2009 05:11 (ten years ago) link

Bread improver! Thats what its called.

lolsbury hill (Trayce), Thursday, 9 July 2009 06:53 (ten years ago) link

there was an article in the nytimes a couple of years ago abt some (apparently) amazingly easy to bake bread, i never tried it, but if yr having trouble maybe you could give that a go???

just sayin, Thursday, 9 July 2009 08:01 (ten years ago) link

oh yeah my dad is a huge fan of the nytimes no knead bread recipe i think. i will see if i can find it - he emailed it a while ago.

harbl, i am super impressed by your adventurousness! injera at home! wow!

tehresa, Thursday, 9 July 2009 08:12 (ten years ago) link

i already did the no knead! it came out too moist and dense :(

harbl, Thursday, 9 July 2009 11:12 (ten years ago) link

i am interested in high-protein grains so i would like to find some teff (too expensive to ship or i'd just buy it on the internet) but i think i'd have to go to dc to find an ethiopian grocery store. might look for buckwheat somewhere instead.

harbl, Thursday, 9 July 2009 11:15 (ten years ago) link

If there's a grocery or health food store near you that carries the Bob's Red Mill brand, have them order the teff for you. I've had really good luck with all the BRM grains. Are you going to grind it yourself or are you looking for flour?

Jaq, Thursday, 9 July 2009 13:40 (ten years ago) link

i wish i could grind it myself! someday, when i have more money and more storage space i will. so i would like flour. i keep meaning to go to the tiny store down the street to ask about ordering too. for now i have some whole wheat flour i want to use up though.

harbl, Thursday, 9 July 2009 13:57 (ten years ago) link

Teeny told me ages ago (some other thread in here) about making chapatis when I was looking for things to do with whole-wheat flour. The proportions are 1 of water to 2 of flour (to start, might need more flour if the dough is too sticky), salt (like 1/2 - 1 tsp per cup of flour), a splash of oil to make the dough easier to work. Stir it all together (just use your hands if you're okay with that), knead and work the dough until it is elastic, divide into small balls and pat into thin flat rounds. Heat up a skillet over a medium flame for 10-15 minutes. Leave each round in the hot skillet until nicely browned on one side, then flip to brown the other.

Jaq, Thursday, 9 July 2009 15:43 (ten years ago) link

i did make chapatis, with milk instead of water. they were good.

but my starter seems to have died already? i might try feeding it one more time. not sure what i did, i don't think the water was too hot or anything.

harbl, Sunday, 12 July 2009 13:51 (ten years ago) link

does this require a cast iron skillet? i would imagine so.

tehresa, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:12 (ten years ago) link

xpost to jaq

tehresa, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:12 (ten years ago) link

i found my dad's email. in it, he attaches the sullivan st. bakery no-knead recipe, but also this follow-up with some recipe tweaks/tips.

maybe useful?

looks good!

tehresa, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:27 (ten years ago) link

i'll probably try it again sometime, it just annoyed me. like the entire internet says it's so great but i couldn't make it work.

harbl, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:41 (ten years ago) link

dad says he altered timing - 18 hours for first rise and 2.5 hours for second, per bittman's advice. maybe that would help?

tehresa, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:45 (ten years ago) link

i will try this recipe. i haven't made bread in ages.

tehresa, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:45 (ten years ago) link

that's exactly what i did! i think the oven temp is messed up. i turned it lower than it recommended because when i made pizza it was too crispy. the moistness suggested the temp was too low, but the bottom was pretty burnt. the crust was extremely thick, too. i know it's supposed to be but this was not fun to eat.

harbl, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:49 (ten years ago) link

nevermind i don't have a pot like that that is big enough

tehresa, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:52 (ten years ago) link

i could make mini boules but then i'm sure the baking time would be all messed up and i'm not skilled enough to adapt that.

tehresa, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:52 (ten years ago) link

I'm strange I guess, b/c I love kneading the dough by hand. I do mix it initially with a dough hook in my Kitchenaid, but turn it out and knead on a floured board set on the dining table to finish it.

Also - chapatis, tortillas, naan, other flat breads - I think cast iron is always best. It heats up well over a medium flame (just leave it for 10-15 minutes to heat up and even out) and it retains heat really well.

Jaq, Sunday, 12 July 2009 23:35 (ten years ago) link

i love when you get to punch it.
(the dough, not the cast iron ow!)

tehresa, Sunday, 12 July 2009 23:50 (ten years ago) link

i'm with jaq on the kneading: meditative and gets yr blood pumping. plus if ya do it every week like me then when you shake hands you can crush 'em with yr kneading power!

freakin pecan (jdchurchill), Friday, 24 July 2009 21:48 (ten years ago) link

three weeks pass...

I've barely started exploring this site, but it looks like a fantastic resource. I made the Italian Bread recipe today (starting with the preferment last night) and it turned out great! The loaves lost a bit of volume as I transferred them from the work table to their cooking surface (the back of a sheet pan w/parchment), but I think that was for the best, because the degree of airiness and fluffiness inside was exactly what I'd hoped for. Brushed them with water just before putting them in the oven, and had a pan of hot water in the oven as well, and they produced a nice crust.

Hugh Manatee (WmC), Friday, 14 August 2009 22:05 (ten years ago) link

freshloaf looks boss, thanks wmc

clouds taste metallica (jdchurchill), Friday, 14 August 2009 22:52 (ten years ago) link

Italian bread round 2 today. First loaf is out and cooling, 2nd loaf is halfway through baking. Variation: 2/3 unbleached bread flour, 1/3 whole wheat. (Last batch was all bread flour.)

My oven isn't big enough to bake both loaves at once, so the 2nd loaf gets an extra 40 minutes to rise under a damp towel.

Hugh Manatee (WmC), Monday, 17 August 2009 19:28 (ten years ago) link


I forgot the salt when I was mixing. ;_;

Texture A+++, flavor D-

Hugh Manatee (WmC), Monday, 17 August 2009 19:48 (ten years ago) link

maybe just put some salted butter on it?

tehresa, Monday, 17 August 2009 19:49 (ten years ago) link

It's barely edible that way, and completely inedible without. ugh ugh ugh this is disgusting. Amazing what a bit of salt brings.

Hugh Manatee (WmC), Monday, 17 August 2009 19:58 (ten years ago) link

two weeks pass...

yea that italian bread recipe is mad boss. i did it yesterday and it makes wicked sammy bread, nice crust and totally soft and chewy underneath. also will soak up tomato juices (r whateva) in yr sandwich without breaking/tearing. totally had to use more than 5c flour to make the dough tho. at the end 2 nice perky loaves, and even worked well in the regular loaf pan.

blind melon baller (jdchurchill), Monday, 31 August 2009 20:10 (ten years ago) link

i give up on baking bread. i'll try again in 5 years :(

permanent response lopp (harbl), Monday, 31 August 2009 20:30 (ten years ago) link

I love that Italian bread. I may start another batch tonight. Soft enough for sandwiches but firm enough to make great garlic toast -- it's gotta be firm/raspy enough when it comes out from under the broiler for the garlic-clove rubdown.

Hugh Manatee (WmC), Monday, 31 August 2009 20:42 (ten years ago) link

so what recipe should i try next from the ol' freshloaf then?

blind melon baller (jdchurchill), Monday, 31 August 2009 23:28 (ten years ago) link

No idea! I haven't gotten past the goodness of the Italian loaf. I was going to make flatbreads for gyro-style wraps, but I stocked up on my favorite brand when I was in Atlanta last week.

Maybe that buttermilk cluster -- if not this week or next, then def. when the weather cools down and I'm making a lot of soups and stews.

Hugh Manatee (WmC), Tuesday, 1 September 2009 00:27 (ten years ago) link

ooh nice link!

the Lovely Emma B made some chestnut bread last week that was VERY VERY GOOD INDEED. it didn't rise so well at the end, but it had risen three times already so it still had a very nice and light interior.

she got the crust nice and brown and crunchy by using a spray bottle of water to mist some water into the oven as it was cooking. worked very well.

Tracer Hand, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 11:47 (ten years ago) link

Another nice pair of Italian loaves last night. I'm starting to figure out the technique for shaping the dough into nice tight little boules that blow up beautifully on their final rise. I'm going to do the next batch in loaf pans just for the hell of it.

Hugh Manatee (WmC), Friday, 4 September 2009 00:49 (ten years ago) link

yea i did the loaf pan the last 2 times, it works pretty good. gives you that friendly sandwich shape too. also just rolled out as long as i could get them and that made a nice baguette shape (with less dough, skinny) and a hearty italian loaf style shape (with more dough, fat).

i do have a question tho: why the dry milk?

over the weekend i substituted some of the water with milk and reduced the volume a little and that turned out basicly indistinguishable from the one with the dry milk. so why not just use milk? why dry milk and water? i don't understand, but this is normal when it comes to baking bread. there seems to be no standard(s) and a stupefying multitude of variations in just about every aspect of the process.

Don't hag me with your false green. (jdchurchill), Wednesday, 9 September 2009 20:13 (ten years ago) link

i don't understand, but this is normal when it comes to baking bread. there seems to be no standard(s) and a stupefying multitude of variations in just about every aspect of the process.

this is exactly what i hate about it. i could never figure out how to just make bread.

harbl, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 20:18 (ten years ago) link

i want to make something like trader joe's 6 grain w/ pumpkin seeds but can't find a recipe. i'd probably screw it up anyway!

harbl, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 20:18 (ten years ago) link

why the dry milk?

In that italian bread recipe, it calls for 1/2 c dry milk and 2 c of water - that is basically double-strength milk, so adds considerable protein (and the changes it brings to texture) not diluted to the same strength as regular liquid milk (1/2 c dry milk to 4 c water). Dry milk powder is also a humectant, so would help delay the bread getting stale.

btw, I only use dry milk any more. I get the Bob's Red Mill low-temp version that has to be whizzed up in the blender. We mix it up a quart at a time for daily drinking (w/ a spoonful of added cream to make it whole milk), but for baking I generally mix the powder in with the other dry ingredients, then add water when it says to add milk.

Jaq, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 20:28 (ten years ago) link

this bread is not so sour, but i am not sure i made it correctly as i didn't have a scale until today but

Anton Levain (jdchurchill), Tuesday, 2 February 2010 03:34 (nine years ago) link

That is some handsome bread. How did it taste?

vacation to outer darkness (Abbott), Tuesday, 2 February 2010 05:13 (nine years ago) link

Those are really beautiful loaves!

Jaq, Tuesday, 2 February 2010 05:37 (nine years ago) link

Nice pair.

krakow, Tuesday, 2 February 2010 10:30 (nine years ago) link

i was not able to correctly identify how much of the levain i put in there and b/c of this the loaves are at best subtly sour. i had a sandwich yesterday with salami and mustard and thought the bread tasted like normal bread. then last night i had a slice by itself and still could barely taste any acidity. however my proof times were right in the range which makes me happy about my mother culture. the crumb on the batard is a bit tighter than i would like, but it's soft and not too chewy. i guess i will update again once i cut into the boule.

Anton Levain (jdchurchill), Tuesday, 2 February 2010 19:38 (nine years ago) link

yeah i tried that starter thing and got the fizz and bad smell but it just died after that, even though i followed the instructions

harbl, Tuesday, 2 February 2010 23:27 (nine years ago) link

what starter you tried?

Anton Levain (jdchurchill), Tuesday, 2 February 2010 23:31 (nine years ago) link

flour and water in a jar

harbl, Wednesday, 3 February 2010 00:16 (nine years ago) link

i guess you might be able do it with regular flour, but most of the stuff i have read calls for 'whole' forms of ground grains; either wheat or preferably rye (organic even). them yeasts be on the outsides of them grainz, yo.

Anton Levain (jdchurchill), Wednesday, 3 February 2010 00:25 (nine years ago) link

i dunno i got yeast from the air, it was obvious from the smell and bubbliness but it died after the second feeding. i think i just have bad luck with bread in general.

harbl, Wednesday, 3 February 2010 00:54 (nine years ago) link

"During milling, however, up to 95% of the microbial population may be
removed with the feed fractions (6). When counts are compared (Table I) in flour
and in wheat from which the flour was milled, the bacterial population in most
flours was about one-tenth that in wheat. This indicates that modern flour
milling operations are efficient in reducing the number of bacteria."
from here

Anton Levain (jdchurchill), Wednesday, 3 February 2010 20:31 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

had a dismal failure this week. forgot to feed my sourdough culture the day before baking and fed it like 3hours before use. this did not work at all. also was trying to maintain it at less than 100% hydration which i think compounded the effect of not letting time go by after the feeding. the loaf i didn't throw away looks sad and limp and tastes like a bagel for some reason. gah! lesson learned damnit

Anton Levain (jdchurchill), Monday, 15 March 2010 22:05 (nine years ago) link

shoulda made soda bread

Walter Pate On (jdchurchill), Friday, 19 March 2010 00:26 (nine years ago) link

DAMN those are beautiful loaves! Your house must smell amazing.

One day I will bake challah. One day. Probably not soon.

quincie, Friday, 19 March 2010 16:56 (nine years ago) link

thanks quincie

Walter Pate On 'sweetness' (jdchurchill), Saturday, 20 March 2010 00:02 (nine years ago) link

two months pass...

is there any way to measure the hydration of my sourdough starter? i've been feeding it (and using amounts of it) for a couple of months now, but my flour-to-water ratio has been roughly 1:1 (but ROUGHLY), and i'm wondering what hydration it is, as a number of the bread websites i've been checking lately have been varying the hydration percentages for different loaves...

Worth waiting for the fannypunch at 4.02 (stevie), Saturday, 12 June 2010 08:14 (nine years ago) link

Weigh an amount of it, then dry it out in the oven and weigh it again. The missing weight once it's dry is the water.

Jaq, Saturday, 12 June 2010 15:19 (nine years ago) link

jaq as usual otm. also i reckon if you mean 1:1 you talkin volume, and in this situation i would guestimate 125-150% hydration which is to say for every gram of flour theys a gram and a quarter to a gram and a half water. ime it matters very little what hydration one maintains they starter at, just keep the bakers math on point

legalize gay pot (jdchurchill), Saturday, 12 June 2010 17:09 (nine years ago) link

thanks both!

Worth waiting for the fannypunch at 4.02 (stevie), Monday, 21 June 2010 09:27 (nine years ago) link

two weeks pass...

big lols

Grisly Addams (WmC), Sunday, 11 July 2010 17:30 (nine years ago) link

four weeks pass...

I don't belong here but I got a jones to make bread. After research decided chapatis would be easiest to start with. Disaster ensues. My kitchen is covered with flour and so am I. The "breads" looked great stuck to the rolling pin I bought for this occasion but I could not get them off it looking so great. Followed a recipe, WTF. F*ck a bread, so frustrating. I will go back to my NN roots which doesn't include it. Want A+ tasty food homemade. Mad respect for all you eminent bakers, jdc A+. I will continue to admire your skillz. Thanks for showing your pro results and getting the cooking proletariat inspired to try even a little. Baking ambassador.

soviet, Sunday, 8 August 2010 00:45 (nine years ago) link

Odd that this thread gets bumped just minutes after I finished making a loaf of bread for the first time. It actually turned out really well.

I followed this recipe FWIW:

Janet Privacy Control (corey), Sunday, 8 August 2010 00:48 (nine years ago) link

if we're sharing recipes... this is wonderful, idiot-proof white bread ( and a recipe i wish i'd started with when i started making bread, as it is a great, easy loaf, with great results. and these rolls ( are a little trickier, but so delicious...

are you some kinda rap version of marc loi (stevie), Sunday, 8 August 2010 09:00 (nine years ago) link

Followed the same recipe as before, with better results this time (and cut a fancy X in the center :D)

I let it proof for an hour, then kneaded it again and let it come back to size on the pan, and later brushed on some olive oil for the last five minutes — the crust turned a lovely brown and is deliciously crispy. :)

Joanie Loves Shakuhachi (corey), Friday, 13 August 2010 04:21 (nine years ago) link


Want A+ tasty food homemade (jdchurchill), Friday, 13 August 2010 13:23 (nine years ago) link

for the easiest bread in the world, do soda bread

progressive cuts (Tracer Hand), Friday, 13 August 2010 14:18 (nine years ago) link

agree soda bread is mad easy and good to do

Want A+ tasty food homemade (jdchurchill), Monday, 16 August 2010 01:41 (nine years ago) link

eight months pass...

I made this buttermilk cluster as two loaves instead of a pan of rolls -- very nice, fine-textured crumb, better for sandwiches than the italian loaves I'd been making. And like all homemade bread, it makes great toast.

the wages of sin is about tree fiddy (WmC), Sunday, 17 April 2011 17:16 (eight years ago) link

nine months pass...

for my chi-town peeps i am involved in teaching bread classes as part of

Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (jdchurchill), Thursday, 2 February 2012 02:24 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

How important is putting bread dough into a preheated oven? I use the oven as a proofing chamber because the kitchen stays pretty cold and the pilot light keeps the oven warm but not too hot. When it's time to bake, could I just turn on the oven without taking the dough out? I'm proofing it in the dutch oven that it bakes in.

oldbowie (WilliamC), Monday, 30 December 2013 17:05 (five years ago) link

there's a discussion her

i think it ultimately depends on if the dutch oven is ceramic or cast iron --- it seems that a cold oven is suggested for ceramic receptacles/baking stones etc so that they don't crack, but if yr using cast-iron or enamelled cast-iron, you wouldn't need to do that & it may change how the bread turns out?

it's been years since I made bread from scratch, so idk

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 30 December 2013 19:40 (five years ago) link

It's enameled cast iron. It's rising very well in the oven, and I don't want to accidentally de-gas the dough with the impact of moving it around a couple of times, especially into a colder environment, so I'm going to try just turning the oven on. Thanks for that link!

oldbowie (WilliamC), Monday, 30 December 2013 20:29 (five years ago) link

It depends a lot on the dough - for most, you want a hot oven so the steam/gas in the dough can puff it up before the crust forms too much. A slower oven dries out the dough more during the rising/crust forming stages, again for most.

Jaq, Monday, 30 December 2013 20:31 (five years ago) link

three months pass...

My last couple of bakes have been absolutely beautiful. Letting the preferment sit overnight was not working -- cutting back to four hours tops meant it was still very active and raring to go when I mixed the dough. Finally getting the hang of the Kitchenaid mixer. For this last batch, I had new silicone loaf pans. Got a huge oven bounce.

WilliamC, Sunday, 6 April 2014 15:12 (five years ago) link


Jaq, Sunday, 6 April 2014 15:17 (five years ago) link

Thanks! I'm learning that little things can mean so much -- barely warming the oiled bowl that the dough rises in, and making a slightly wetter dough. But not exhausting the preferment has been the most important lesson.

WilliamC, Sunday, 6 April 2014 15:30 (five years ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.