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Quill

Does anyone here make (bake) their own bread regularly?

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I have dabbled in the past, then I mostly went gf because of IBS. But I am reading 52 Loaves, a bread-baking funny memoir, and it makes me want to get back to baking some really nice bread. I am intrigued in the book where he talks about weighing ingredients by grams, rather than measuring with measuring cups. That makes infinitely more sense to me than always wondering if my measuring technique is producing accurate results. 

Any books or other resources for a beginner that is yet not toooooo beginner-ish? Anyone with experience teaching themselves to rock the home-baked bread? 

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I have been making sourdough for years. Results are mostly good but I recently had a few glitches. I posted here and another bread baker pointed out that slight variations in the recipe sometimes lead to glitches with sourdough and she was right. I went back to my original recipe and all is well again.

I think my original recipe came from Donna Schwenk's book, but her book is not exclusively on bread baking but rather on fermenting and using a lot of varieties of fermented foods.

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52 minutes ago, Quill said:

I have dabbled in the past, then I mostly went gf because of IBS. But I am reading 52 Loaves, a bread-baking funny memoir, and it makes me want to get back to baking some really nice bread. I am intrigued in the book where he talks about weighing ingredients by grams, rather than measuring with measuring cups. That makes infinitely more sense to me than always wondering if my measuring technique is producing accurate results. 

Any books or other resources for a beginner that is yet not toooooo beginner-ish? Anyone with experience teaching themselves to rock the home-baked bread? 

King Arthur Flour -- they have a fantastic website full of recipes and in-depth guides on baking. They also have baking experts who will answer your questions by email. Their recipes are great, and you can choose to measure by volume OR weight for every recipe. I measure by weight whenever possible -- it's more accurate and easier once you're used to it.

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I bake bread every two days. I don't even bother measuring any more tbh. I just have a feel for the consistency. 

My vote is to bake every day, giving the leavings to the neighborhood chickens or compost until it's just right. 

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I have never baked a loaf of bread from the book The Bread Bible that did not turn out perfectly.  I always measure my ingredients by weight when baking and have even begun to convert my older recipes to weight.

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I bake all of our loaf bread except when I am traveling or moving. In fact, I’m getting ready to ship 750 pounds of wheat to our next home.  I don’t weigh anything and I measure not very exactly because I have baked in very different climates with wheat of varying quality (which is why I buy it in the US and ship it now) so I go by the way the dough feels.  Personally, I think bread is very forgiving and it’s best to just practice.  

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I say just make it. Bread is forgiving, so exact recipes don’t matter. Besides, you can measure perfectly and your bread can be different because it’s especially humid or whatever the bread gods throw at you. I think almost any fresh bread tastes better than the shelf-stable breads from the store. 

I tend to rotate between sourdough, no knead bread, and French or Italian loaves. The think that got me making bread more regularly was buying a kitchen aid mixer. I’m not a baker, but I do like to make bread. (I like my cooking efforts to be a meal, not a sweet snack.)

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Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book is the best whole grain baking book I have ever seen.  "A Loaf For Learning" is like an apprenticeship in making good 100% whole wheat bread.

The Starving Students' Guide... from the Reed College book store, has a fantastic white bread recipe in it that is my go to for flavorful country white.

Soup and Bread has the most industrial white bread tasting recipe I have ever tried.  It features three rises, and you basically end up with the classic 'balloon' bread of my youth.  I don't see much reason to work hard for that result when balloon bread is so cheap, but maybe for tea sandwiches it might be worth it.

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Those of you that are weighing your ingredients, what are you using for that? I would like to do it, but I'm unsure what to buy.

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I do measure, but honestly, I rely more on how the bread feels. I just know when it's right.  Like other said, bread is very forgiving.  The texture will change depending on the flour/liquid ratio, but too dense homemade bread it still delicious!  One thing I do is temp the bread.  I take it out of the oven at 200 degrees.

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Try the Julia Child’s sandwich bread recipe. It has about a stick of butter in it. ?

Also, the King Arthur bread site has EVERYTHING!

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15 minutes ago, Calm37 said:

Those of you that are weighing your ingredients, what are you using for that? I would like to do it, but I'm unsure what to buy.

A kitchen scale. Not this one, but it looks similar.

https://www.amazon.com/Ozeri-ZK14-S-Digital-Multifunction-Kitchen/dp/B004164SRA/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_79_bs_lp_t_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=9VN2N83Q2GB51ZS15XNG

You want something with a tare function and (probably) the ability to change units.

Here's how to use it -- Put your mixing bowl on the scale and hit the tare button, so it reads zero. Then if you are supposed to add 400 g of water, pour water in until it says 400 g. Then hit tare again. Now do the same for your next ingredient. Easy. No need for measuring cups. I do use volume for small quantities like 1 tsp salt, etc. For white sugar I go either way since it's very easy to measure sugar by volume. But brown sugar is much easier by weight. No more wondering it's "packed" or "lightly packed".

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18 minutes ago, Calm37 said:

Those of you that are weighing your ingredients, what are you using for that? I would like to do it, but I'm unsure what to buy.

I use an inexpensive OXO kitchen scale.  OXO kitchen scale

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28 minutes ago, peacelovehomeschooling said:

I make bread at least once a week.  We never buy bread anymore.  I get most of my recipes from the book https://www.amazon.com/Bread-Toast-Crumbs-Recipes-No-Knead/dp/055345983X

 

This looks like a fun book...I don't need another recipe book... I don't need another recipe book...I don't need another recipe book...

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I got in the habit during Ramadan of baking again, but not loaves.

This is super yummy, good with soups/stews or to dip in hummus or baba ganoush or lebni or........ you get the idea: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/329677635220055114/

It is really easy and forgiving.

I also started making my own tortillas (just wanted fish tacos one night and didn't feel like running to the store, now my kids want only homemade LOL oops!) : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/329677635220069772/

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I can only make decent bread because I have a Bosch mixer. When I knead bread by hand, it makes really tasty...pizza crust, lol. Anyway, the Bosch is most excellent for making bread; every kind I've tried has turned out well, as long as the Bosch can be used.

I make two loaves of English Muffin bread (an America's Test Kitchen) recipe, for Mr. Ellie (I rarely eat bread) (which is really sad, but carbs...) I used to make 100% wheat bread, using flour I milled myself, but I haven't done that in years. Mr. Ellie doesn't love bread that much, and as I said, I rarely eat bread.

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I don’t make bread because I so rarely eat it.  Now, I’m not some sort of healthy eater and acting all high and mighty because I don’t eat bread.  I eat a huge plate of spaghetti every Monday night and gobble down my pizza (homemade) every Thursday.  (I do homemake the pizza dough in a bread machine...so maybe I sorta do make bread.)

But otherwise, I don’t eat bread.  I keep a loaf on hand for the occasional time someone wants toast or a grilled cheese sandwich, but that happens only once or twice a month among the four of us.  I get the cheap-o loaf of bread from Aldi, keep it in the fridge for a month, toss it when it gets moldy, and buy a new loaf.

When I make bread, I end up eating it smeared with butter and garlic salt and it is Not A Good Thing To Do.  

But if we ate it a lot and it wouldn’t go bad before we’d finished a couple of slices, then I’d make it.  I’d use a bread machine to make it.  I had started to make us bread quite often, but we quickly realized that we were eating gobs of butter and salt on the bread and we had to stop.  We don’t do that with store bought loaves.

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I learned to bake bread by by using the King Arthur cookbook.  Their basic hearth bread recipe is a great start. I use that regularly to make great whole wheat bread and have had a lot of fun with various additions/substitutions for flour (seeds, nuts, cereals).  

I use measuring cups, but have always read that weighing is better - and quicker.  You have to trust your scale though.  I need a new one...  :-)

 

 

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10 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

Try the Julia Child’s sandwich bread recipe. It has about a stick of butter in it. ?

Also, the King Arthur bread site has EVERYTHING!

Yes, it does. Like, now I am convinced I need the French Bread Baker, which is a stoneware, lidded baker to perfectly steam the crust. Tempting...

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6 hours ago, Garga said:

I don’t make bread because I so rarely eat it.  Now, I’m not some sort of healthy eater and acting all high and mighty because I don’t eat bread.  I eat a huge plate of spaghetti every Monday night and gobble down my pizza (homemade) every Thursday.  (I do homemake the pizza dough in a bread machine...so maybe I sorta do make bread.)

But otherwise, I don’t eat bread.  I keep a loaf on hand for the occasional time someone wants toast or a grilled cheese sandwich, but that happens only once or twice a month among the four of us.  I get the cheap-o loaf of bread from Aldi, keep it in the fridge for a month, toss it when it gets moldy, and buy a new loaf.

When I make bread, I end up eating it smeared with butter and garlic salt and it is Not A Good Thing To Do.  

But if we ate it a lot and it wouldn’t go bad before we’d finished a couple of slices, then I’d make it.  I’d use a bread machine to make it.  I had started to make us bread quite often, but we quickly realized that we were eating gobs of butter and salt on the bread and we had to stop.  We don’t do that with store bought loaves.

About a year ago, I discovered a flake finishing salt at Harris Teeter and oh my goodness...good, crusty bread dipped in Olive Oil with that flake salt in it? Heaven! 

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I used to make all of our bread. After being on crutches for the third time, I never got back into it. I don't eat a lot of bread, and we only keep a loaf in the pantry when our middle child is home from school. I do miss the aroma of baking bread. I also loved the process of baking bread. 

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6 hours ago, Garga said:

I don’t make bread because I so rarely eat it.  Now, I’m not some sort of healthy eater and acting all high and mighty because I don’t eat bread.  I eat a huge plate of spaghetti every Monday night and gobble down my pizza (homemade) every Thursday.  (I do homemake the pizza dough in a bread machine...so maybe I sorta do make bread.)

But otherwise, I don’t eat bread.  I keep a loaf on hand for the occasional time someone wants toast or a grilled cheese sandwich, but that happens only once or twice a month among the four of us.  I get the cheap-o loaf of bread from Aldi, keep it in the fridge for a month, toss it when it gets moldy, and buy a new loaf.

When I make bread, I end up eating it smeared with butter and garlic salt and it is Not A Good Thing To Do.  

But if we ate it a lot and it wouldn’t go bad before we’d finished a couple of slices, then I’d make it.  I’d use a bread machine to make it.  I had started to make us bread quite often, but we quickly realized that we were eating gobs of butter and salt on the bread and we had to stop.  We don’t do that with store bought loaves.

I started baking bread because we don’t eat a ton of it. I was tossing half-green loaves. I figured if I made it, I’d be tossing a 25 cent loaf and not a $4 one. They’re better about finishing the homemade loaf and I’m better about using it up if they don’t, so it worked out. Also, sourdough lasts a lot longer than regular bread before it molds  

 

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

Yes, it does. Like, now I am convinced I need the French Bread Baker, which is a stoneware, lidded baker to perfectly steam the crust. Tempting...

Have you tried just doing a round loaf in a Dutch oven? That might take the edge off the temptation  

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 Before I went LowCarb I was baking bread for the family several times a week.  For the last 12yrs I've been baking bread for our communion about once per month.  Sometimes a friend from church and I do a big batch together.  She's Bulgarian and has strong opinions about measuring by weight.   We've even compared the two while baking and there is a sizable difference in amounts.   However, I'm used to baking with cups and tsp... I've been baking bread for 25yrs and always done it that way.  Now I don't even really measure out the flour, I do it by sight. 

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5 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

Have you tried just doing a round loaf in a Dutch oven? That might take the edge off the temptation  

I have not but that does sound like a marvelous idea! 

I was all psyched up to make bread first thing this morning when I realized late last night that dd’s bridesmaid dress still needed hemming - for a wedding tomorrow. So that is what I have done with my morning and now I am crippled. 

Maybe tomorrow morning. 

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I loved 52 Loaves!

King Arthur flour has a lot of good stuff online, and also a cookbook.  I have an older edition of the cookbook, and i can't remember if it has recipes by weight, but it definitely has a lot of good stuff about how to do variations.

the bread book I use the most is Bernard Clayton's The Complete Book of Breads, which is all by volume.  I like it a lot, though.  I also have The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart.  It gets rave reviews from many people, but I found most of the recipes too time-consuming to mess with. There was a lot of great information about the science bread baking at the beginning, though - why yeast needs certain conditions, what the differences between different types of yeast, baker's percentages, etc.

I don't really buy into weight vs. volume being better.  Both work, though weight recipes are sometimes easier to scale up or down.  Flour will absorb more or less water depending on the humidity of a particular place/day and so I don't think one is more accurate than the other in the scheme of things.  To each her own.

 

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Just 'cause a few people mentioned bread going bad... Most bread freezes well if it's wrapped properly.  Well, it won't be as glorious dipped in olive oil and sea salt, but for everyday eating, toast, sandwiches etc it's fine.  If I have an unsliced loaf (homemade or purchased) that's in danger of getting stale, I slice it and freeze in a ziplock.  Then people can take out what they want.  It defrosts quickly.  

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4 minutes ago, marbel said:

Just 'cause a few people mentioned bread going bad... Most bread freezes well if it's wrapped properly.  Well, it won't be as glorious dipped in olive oil and sea salt, but for everyday eating, toast, sandwiches etc it's fine.  If I have an unsliced loaf (homemade or purchased) that's in danger of getting stale, I slice it and freeze in a ziplock.  Then people can take out what they want.  It defrosts quickly.  

One thing I have always been uncertain about is how to store/wrap fresh, homemade bread. It appears that one cannot wrap it in plastic while it is still warm because it gets wet from condensation. Is there a certain number of hours that should elapse before one wraps it in plastic? Maybe this also varies with the type of bread. 

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36 minutes ago, Quill said:

One thing I have always been uncertain about is how to store/wrap fresh, homemade bread. It appears that one cannot wrap it in plastic while it is still warm because it gets wet from condensation. Is there a certain number of hours that should elapse before one wraps it in plastic? Maybe this also varies with the type of bread. 

 

As long as it is cold, it doesn't matter. 

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King Arthur Flour cookbooks work well for me. we rarely eat sandwiches so I don’t make that kind of bread but focaccia or a nice French loaf for dinner is a big treat in our house. I’ve only weighed ingredients, never used measuring cups for breads.  Tare feature and one that does both ounces and grams are usually pretty standard on kitchen scales. 

Challah makes fabulous French toast and it’s a once or twice a year treat but oh so good!!

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I bake bread a few times a month. The smell and taste of homemade bread is such a powerful part of my childhood memories, and I want my kids to have the same. I don't necessarily make all the bread we use, though. Sometimes it's smarter to just buy the sandwich loaf!

The way to get really good, really fast, is to bake daily or near-daily for a while. Freeze or give away the excess. You'll learn a lot about tiny variations in your kitchen, the weather, and the feel of the dough. And the quality of your starter, if you're doing sourdough.

To weigh in on...weighing: weighing, measuring, and going by feel are all totally valid ways to do bread. Things can vary a lot with humidity, so it's good to have a feel for the dough. I love the little variations in homemade bread! So I don't tend to sweat things that much, just live and learn. However, if you're doing something outside your normal realm of experience, it's a good idea to either weigh or be able to measure accurately. If you're working with a dough with a really high hydration you need to have good measurements or you'll keep adding flour until it feels like what you think dough should be like, but then it won't be your intended dough anymore. Same with a high-fat dough like brioche or (maybe depending on the recipe) an eggy bread like challah.

Challah is one of our favorites, BTW. I use the recipe in JOY of Cooking. Such a beautiful eggy crust, and the crumb just pulls apart like angel's wings...

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This thread is really making me want to attempt a sourdough starter.

I don't know whether I should thank you or curse you, Quill. ?  ?

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1 hour ago, Pawz4me said:

This thread is really making me want to attempt a sourdough starter.

I don't know whether I should thank you or curse you, Quill. ?  ?

Well, here’s the thing: yesterday, I took the advice to just start now, start immediately and see what happens. So I made two lovely loaves of basic country white bread. They smelled heavenly and tasted wonderful. That’s what I had for lunch: three slices of that bread with butter on it. So good. So good, in fact, that I ignored the carb angel screaming in my ear and had two more slices. Then, DS had a couple friends over and I bought two giant pizzas and an Italian Salad. (The salad was supposed to make up for the carb transgressions, but I ate a slice of pizza, too.) 

This morning, my very accurate Eat Smart scale I bought from Hive advice tells me I pay in a one-pound gain for my delicious bread. ? So I need to watch how happy I am in trying my breads! 

I don’t think I can practice every day because I will gain ten pounds in a week! 

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On 6/22/2018 at 6:46 PM, Cosmos said:

King Arthur Flour -- they have a fantastic website full of recipes and in-depth guides on baking. They also have baking experts who will answer your questions by email. Their recipes are great, and you can choose to measure by volume OR weight for every recipe. I measure by weight whenever possible -- it's more accurate and easier once you're used to it.

 

Yes to all of the above. And I am a King Arthur flour fan as well. 

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I bake challah every week and other bread quite often as well.  One thing I have learned is that the slow-rise method can be used for all sorts of breads.  For example, for challah I start on Thursday --  I mix it (I use an adapted version of the recipe in the King Arthur whole grains book), let it rise, shape, and put in the fridge.  Then I take it out very early Friday morning and let it warm up and rise again while I am at the gym.  By the time I get back, shower, make breakfast, and we start school, it is ready to go in the oven.  

And I always measure by weight.  I have an OXO scale.

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

Well, here’s the thing: yesterday, I took the advice to just start now, start immediately and see what happens. So I made two lovely loaves of basic country white bread. They smelled heavenly and tasted wonderful. That’s what I had for lunch: three slices of that bread with butter on it. So good. So good, in fact, that I ignored the carb angel screaming in my ear and had two more slices. Then, DS had a couple friends over and I bought two giant pizzas and an Italian Salad. (The salad was supposed to make up for the carb transgressions, but I ate a slice of pizza, too.) 

This morning, my very accurate Eat Smart scale I bought from Hive advice tells me I pay in a one-pound gain for my delicious bread. ? So I need to watch how happy I am in trying my breads! 

I don’t think I can practice every day because I will gain ten pounds in a week! 

I'm glad your bread turned out so well! The "gain" is no doubt water weight, so don't despair.

I bought the stuff this morning to do a sourdough starter, including some shiny new quart jars. And since the KA site sometimes refers to a starter as a "pet" . . . maybe I"ll name it after you. ?

See, I figure I can have my little science experiment pet and feed it and nurture it and I'll feel like I'm doing something creative even if I never bake a loaf. And there will be no calories involved. ?

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On 6/22/2018 at 6:23 PM, Liz CA said:

 

This looks like a fun book...I don't need another recipe book... I don't need another recipe book...I don't need another recipe book...

Check out her blog.  You can try the basic recipe/ method there.  My kids love this bread. https://alexandracooks.com/2012/11/07/my-mothers-peasant-bread-the-best-easiest-bread-you-will-ever-make/

Amber in SJ

 

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I am glad that I am not the only one who treats their sourdough like a pet :)  My original sourdough was named Horace after the sentient cheese in Wee Free Men.  When Horace was divided & 1/2 given to dd in another state for some reason his name changed to Roscoe.  Because it is Summer & I am not baking as much Roscoe is sleeping in the freezer.

Amber in SJ

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6 hours ago, Quill said:

I don’t think I can practice every day because I will gain ten pounds in a week! 

 

It's just the scarcity mechanism. If you get to baking routinely, that'll stop.

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8 hours ago, Pawz4me said:

This thread is really making me want to attempt a sourdough starter.

I don't know whether I should thank you or curse you, Quill. ?  ?

I just made my first sourdough starter and made a loaf with it....it turned out fantastic!!  I highly recommend going for it.

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6 hours ago, Pawz4me said:

I'm glad your bread turned out so well! The "gain" is no doubt water weight, so don't despair.

I bought the stuff this morning to do a sourdough starter, including some shiny new quart jars. And since the KA site sometimes refers to a starter as a "pet" . . . maybe I"ll name it after you. ?

See, I figure I can have my little science experiment pet and feed it and nurture it and I'll feel like I'm doing something creative even if I never bake a loaf. And there will be no calories involved. ?

I just got one of the bread books I had ordered on Amazon - Peter Reinhardt’s Artisan Breads Every Day, and I can immediately see I want to make a sourdough starter. Maybe Wednesday, as tomorrow is a busy day. I really like the look of this book. It jumps in to making a starter almost immediately, which is nice. I’m excited! I thrive on learning something new, and this is delicious as well! 

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I don't bake bread regularly but we have a few women in our parish who bake a LOT of bread, and one thing they have all said is that letting it rise and be knocked down pretty much for the whole day makes it SO much better.  One woman makes one loaf of whole wheat bread and it lasts her family (3 kids, two of them teenage boys) all week because the bread is so rich that it *satisfies*.  

The other women are making it for our parish's eucharistic offerings, and for the other bread we consume in the church; the recipe is allowed to be only water, salt, yeast and wheat, and you can really tell the difference in the bread that the makers let rise and knock down a few times over the course of a day.  It has a natural sweetness that surpasses the other less attended breads.

So I pop out that in to the conversation in hopes that it is helpful.

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3 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

I don't bake bread regularly but we have a few women in our parish who bake a LOT of bread, and one thing they have all said is that letting it rise and be knocked down pretty much for the whole day makes it SO much better.  One woman makes one loaf of whole wheat bread and it lasts her family (3 kids, two of them teenage boys) all week because the bread is so rich that it *satisfies*.  

The other women are making it for our parish's eucharistic offerings, and for the other bread we consume in the church; the recipe is allowed to be only water, salt, yeast and wheat, and you can really tell the difference in the bread that the makers let rise and knock down a few times over the course of a day.  It has a natural sweetness that surpasses the other less attended breads.

So I pop out that in to the conversation in hopes that it is helpful.

I was just reading that the bacteria that co-habitate with the yeast make a difference in the flavor. So bread prepared with the same recipe in different parts of the world tastes different. I found that quite interesting. 

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5 minutes ago, Quill said:

I was just reading that the bacteria that co-habitate with the yeast make a difference in the flavor. So bread prepared with the same recipe in different parts of the world tastes different. I found that quite interesting. 

Cookery/bakery is so interesting in these ways. 

I laugh when I remember how one of my friends found out how to make better bread.  She had kneaded, let it rise, knocked it down, done so again, and went to turn on her oven and ZAP--it frizzled out.  So it took her a couple of hours to find someone else whose oven she could use, (rise/knock down again) and then to drive there, and so on...and it turned out to be the best bread anyone had ever made in the parish.  :0)

But they have all said that the bread rises/turns out differently on high- vs. low-humidity days, and so on.  There are a couple of people in the parish who have made enough bread over the years to have figured out how to accommodate these changes, so their breads turn out consistent--but it all tastes good to me.  :0)

 

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2 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

But they have all said that the bread rises/turns out differently on high- vs. low-humidity days, and so on.  There are a couple of people in the parish who have made enough bread over the years to have figured out how to accommodate these changes, so their breads turn out consistent--but it all tastes good to me.  :0)

 

 

Not only humidity is a factor but also elevation for some things.

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