Recommendations for which recipe to start with???
Posted: 13 January 2012 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I received The Bread Bible for Christmas and I’m eager to bake yeast breads from it. When it comes to bread, I’m not a complete newbie, but it isn’t something I’ve done a lot, especially in recent years. I occasionally bake Ukranian Babka and basic sandwich loaves.  I’ll admit to being a little intimidated (while excited and ready to try) baking with starters and learning Rose’s bread techniques. I look forward to learning to turn out beautiful artisan breads like I’ve seen here on the forum.

So, do you wonderful bread bakers have suggestions for which recipe to start with? I’ve found “Better for Bread” flour in Hong Kong so I think I’m ready LOL 

Thanks in advance!

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Posted: 13 January 2012 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The pizza is wonderful for when you want something simple and foolproof.  And you can experiment with room temp vs. refrigerated rising to see which flavor profile you prefer.  Even though I am trying to expand my bread skills right now, I love “coasting” now and then and going back to this recipe.

Better for Bread flour is lovely, so extensible.  How about using it in the raisin-pecan loaf or the hearth bread?  Hearth bread is nice for teaching all the methods talked about in the first part of the book, and raisin pecan loaf is full-flavored and a crowd pleaser. 

I also love the loaf pictured on the cover, pugliese, but it does call for finely ground durum flour so that may be a good one for when you come across specialty ingredients. 

The sticky buns are truly wonderful!  smile

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Posted: 14 January 2012 12:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks Julie! You can tell you really have a passion for bread smile

I was looking through the forum the other night and came across a posting with pics of you and your daughter’s beautiful pizzas from a few years ago. We’ll have to have our own pizza night here SOON.

I think your suggestions are great. I’ll start with either the basic hearth bread or the heart of wheat bread. I’ll be posting back!!

By the way, congratulations on your new job! I hope you’re loving it!! I think it’s wonderful you get to work in a field you have such a love and affinity for. Best wishes!!!

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Posted: 16 January 2012 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I made the basic hearth bread on Saturday. Overall I’m very happy with how it turned out and am looking forward to making it again.

The first rule of shopping in Hong Kong is “When you see something, buy it. It probably won’t be there when you go back.” I, of course, never heed this rule. So, the Gold Medal Better for Bread flour I was so excited to see in my neighborhood grocery was sold out when I went back to buy it. As were most bread flours.. I’m not sure why. It’s Chinese New Year, but I wouldn’t think these types of flours would lend themselves to local traditional foods I understand are prepared for the holiday. In any case, I ended up buying Dove’s Farm Organic Strong Bread Four. It’s a UK brand. They did not have any bread flour in stock that wasn’t labeled “strong”. I had some Arrowhead Mills Whole Wheat Flour on hand already. I used Francine brand instant yeast. They’re a French brand. I use their cake flour regularly and have had good success with their products.

The pre-ferment that seemed intimidating is the easiest thing. I don’t know why I found the prospect of it so daunting. I let the pre-ferment work for about an hour and a half. Next time, I think I’ll try one of Rose’s suggestions I saw in the book to let the pre-ferment sit at room temperature for one hour, then transfer to the refrigerator for 8 to 24. That way I can make it on a weekday and also get to see how the flavor developes given more time.

Slashing and steaming bread where both new to me. I didn’t do so well with the slashing- probably because what I did is more accurately described as timid cutting. I was afraid of deflating it! The knife made drag marks in the dough, just like Rose warned would happen if you weren’t fearless. Of course that just made me more timid with it LOL I also think some of it actually tore when I was slashing it. I read a post from Charles today saying this is a sign of overproofing? I’ll get better with practice. The steaming was easy and satisfying! I can see the difference in this bread’s crust versus the typical bread I have baked without utilizing steam of any kind.

The crust was nice and crisp and the crumb chewy. Definately the kind of bread I like and a recipe I want to make again and get better with.

I do have a question.. or two. When it was time to shape the dough, I dimpled it as directed before drawing up and pinching in the edges to form the ball. Once I turned it over and started drawing the dough taunt, I found there were several large bubbles at the surface. I didn’t want to overwork the dough so I didn’t mess with them too much. I pricked one or two of the larger ones and left a few. I didn’t see anything in the book about how much dimpling you should do. Any suggestions for this step? You can see in the picture there were one or two large wholes near the surface, but not many and I don’t know if they’re a sign of large bubbles that should have been dimpled away or not? Also, can you tell by looking at the “scarring” where I slashed the bread if it’s indicative of overproofing?

There’s something immensely satisfying about baking bread in a totally different way than cake..

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Posted: 16 January 2012 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The crust was nice and crisp and the crumb chewy. Definately the kind of bread I like and a recipe I want to make again and get better with.

Congratulations!  It looks wonderful, and sounds like you enjoyed it smile

Georgie - 16 January 2012 09:41 AM

The pre-ferment that seemed intimidating is the easiest thing.

Pre-ferments are wonderful, and so easy, just mix and let it do its thing smile  There’s a whole world of variables for you to try and see what you like best: cold vs. room temp, time and hydration, and even the proportion of the total dough that is pre-fermented.

I also think some of it actually tore when I was slashing it.

Your slashes opened up some, but not a lot.  This looks like it could have been a less than perfectly sharp knife, or a too-shallow slash, or maybe you waited a little too long in the proof before slashing.  Slashing is an art, and I have yet to perfect it, but you can always go over a slash again if it isn’t deep enough.  You really do need a very, very sharp razor blade or knife.

As Charles points out, it is better to slash a little early in the proof (when a gentle poke of the finger still fills in slowly) than too late.  Charles also points out that doughs with lower gluten development don’t slash as nicely, and from the shape of your boule and the large bubbles, I do wonder if maybe your flour was a tad less strong than some American flours (this can be a good thing, tastewise, but it does affect the slash).  If your flour was less strong, or your water measurement on the high side, that might account for a flatter shape to the boule, the large bubbles, and the difficulty slashing- really wet doughs don’t get slashed, too problematic. 

I didn’t see anything in the book about how much dimpling you should do. Any suggestions for this step?

  I really think this is a personal choice, if you don’t want the large bubbles press them out or pop them.  They can be a normal sign of a higher hydration bread.  Sometimes, if you don’t want a large bubble and you see one at the surface after final proof, you can design your slashes to cut through them. 

Also, can you tell by looking at the “scarring” where I slashed the bread if it’s indicative of overproofing?

Hard to say.  The degree to which a slash opens up is a function of how deep the slash was, how much “proof” was left in the dough, proper (hot) oven temp, and steam.

Nice job, and good luck working your way through the book!

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