The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Timer

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PattiB's picture
PattiB

First Timer

I made a loaf of bread yesterday for the first time. I did not have Instant Yeast so I used Active Dry. I did disolve it first in warm water, ( I did not use any sugar, as I was certain that it was fresh, as I had just purchased it). I used a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a dough hook, I let it knead for the required 10 minutes. Also my kitchen was a little cool, so I turned on a my Gas oven and warmed it to 170*.

I put the bowl in the oven, maybe a bit too soon. It did rise a bit, but the top was a littled crusty. I punched it down and put it in the now turned off, but still warm oven and let it rise again. It did rise a bit more this time. I then shaped it and put it in my loaf pan and let in rise another hour. It did rise but did not double. I baked it until golden, it rose to about a four/five inch loaf. I let it rest for a while and then tasted it. It was OK, edible at least. :) 

The crumb was quite dense, which I like, the crust was a little crunchy, though I would have liked it to be more so. What I am aiming for is more European Style Bread. I know I need to practice a lot, and that is OK, as I am a very patient lady............plus I get to eat the test results. :)

My question is, do you think it was the yeast or the cool kitchen? Or maybe I did not need to knead it for the full 10 minutes using the Kitchen Aid?

sphealey's picture
sphealey

That sounds like a good start - congratulations!

One thing is that 170 deg.F (or even an oven that has been heated at 170 deg.F and allowed to cool a bit) is probably too hot for rising - the dough is going to start cooking at those temperatures. The usual process for making artisan breads involves long cool rises (fermentations) rather than faster warmer ones. I usually let the dough rise at whatever temperature my house is (60 - 80 deg.F depending on the weather) or even in the refrigerator.

If your goal is to make European-type bread (open crumb, big holes, crunchy crust) I would suggest seeing if your library has or can get King Arthur's _Artisan Bread_ DVD. Watching that video probably did more than anything to help me understand the basic techniques. Those techniques aren't difficult but IMHO they do require some amount of teaching whether from a friend or a video.

Good luck and good bread!

sPh

PattiB's picture
PattiB

Patti B

Thank you for your comments. They are a help indeed. I am making another loaf today. It has done its first rise, better than yesterdays. :)  I am doing a second rise now. I left it in the warm oven, but it is much cooler. I will leave it for a longer rise. I want to leave it round and bake it on a pizza stone, at a slightly higher temp........maybe 4oo* - 425*. (Yesterday's was at 375*) I am looking forward to the results. I will let you know how this one turns out. Again, thank you for your helpful advise.

edh's picture
edh

Welcome PattiB,

I can promise you've come to the right place! I agree with sphealey's suggestion about a video, just to see how it's done.

On the other hand, for a little instant gratification to keep your spirits up while you learn, do a search on this site for the New York Times No-Knead Bread (also know as NYT NKB). I think it's what really got me started on the idea of artisan bread as something that one can make at home. That led me to this wonderful site, which in turn has led me down all sorts of wonderful paths.

Welcome!

edh

JERSK's picture
JERSK

    Welcome, I'm new here also, but a fairly experienced baker. Don't worry about the cool kitchen. Putting your dough to rise in a gas oven can do more harm than good. A slower rise will do you your dough good and help to develop flavor. Unless your kitchen is reeally cool, say below 50 deg. F. On top of your refrigerator may be a slightly warmer spot, you get some heat from the refrigeration unit,  or any higher spot in the kitchen will be a few degrees warmer. Most artisan style European breads use progressive rising techniques with starters called poolish or biga. It's too much to explain here and I'm not sure if it's on this website, though it probably is. Go to theartisan.net, they have in depth explanations on starter methods, grain milling, flour types etc. Also lots of recipes with an emphasis on Italian. Actually, about all Italian, though it's an American website I believe. Just keep practicing, it's not all about recipes. You just have to get a feel for things and that only comes with practice.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Well, there is always Floyd's Five Easy Lessons (although there are actually six now with one added for sourdough) ;-)

sPh

PattiB's picture
PattiB

Patti B

I did many versions of NYT-NKB last year when I saw Mark Bittman do it. I did enjoy making and eating this bread. But........I always felt I was missing out on something by not kneading the bread at all. The NY-NKB is the style of bread we enjoy eating though. I am taking sphealey's advice and letting it sit/rise longer to develop more flavour. My second rise will end up being about 4-ish hours. I will punch it down again and then do another rise. Then I am going to leave it round and bake it on a pizza stone. I will let all know of this second need-to-knead bread. :) Thanks for all comments.

PattiB's picture
PattiB

Patti B

Hi, sphealey,  I found Floyd's lessons on the internet yesterday. I started with lesson one yesterday, today I am re-trying the same recipe. I found the information very helpful and a little less intimadating than the other yeast bread recipes. The instructions are very easy to follow. I want to continue with his lessons until I feel comfortable with baking bread. I have printed off all 5 of his lessons, I will look for numer six now. :) Thanks again.

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

If there is one thing I learned in making artisan bread it's that it takes A LOT of patience. Most of the breads I've baked come from a poolish (sp) that's started on Friday evening, left overnight and then mixed the next day with the rest of the ingredients. That's the hardest part...mix...wait....fold...wait...in the end it nets a wonderful loaf a bread.

Trish

ivrib's picture
ivrib

Hi PattiB. As was stated before me patience is quite important and you'll definitely feel the reward.

Here are a few tips: many problems with how your bread comes out have to do with hydration and kneading.

Artisan breads usually have more water content than is commonly used - at least 60% hydration reaching higher usually, even up to 75-80% or more. Hydration means percent of water weight from total flower weight. If you use a pound of flower, using half a pound of water will give you 50% hydration (which is low). That's why weighing your ingredients rather than measuring by volume (cups, spoons etc...) is preferable. Doughs of 'european style' breads are quite moist if not sticky. The novice (which I'm not far from) would be tempted to add flower until the dough stops sticking. This should be avoided. Use flower in small amounts after mixing, only so you can work with the dough with ease.

under-kneading is also common for beginners. You really have to build to gluten strands in the dough to give it the strength required to rise and remain that way. test for knowing when you've kneaded enough:

windowpane test: take a small amount of dough and work it by streching and pressing lightly so it gradually thins out. if you can create a thin rather transparent sheet of dough that holds your dough is thoroughly kneaded.

poking test: after kneading work your dough into a ball by folding the sides of the dought under the dough from all directions. poke the dough. If it readily spring back it's kneaded enough.

collapsing test: after shaping into a ball as described above, press the dough from both sides, with both palms towards the center of the ball then let go. If the dough readily collapses from its flattened state it's ready.

baking bread is a complex art but there are several basic methods that will give you great results.

 

PattiB's picture
PattiB

Patti B

Ivrib..............thank you so much, all of your "helpful hints" are perfect for me. I printed them off. :)

I went out and bought two bread books yesterday. 'Artisan Baking' by Maggie Glezer, and also 'The Book of Bread' by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter. I chose these books because thay give a lot step-by-step instuctions with visual aids. They actually explain the science of bread making, which will be quite useful. :)

I have not had time yet to really sit down and study them.............in the very near future,.......hopefully :)

I am really enjoying the learning process in baking bread. I have baked since I was a very little girl. As I mentioned before I love to entertain and do a lot of baking and cooking. So this whole process, of mastering the art of baking bread, for me anyway, is very fullfilling......maybe even theraputic!!!

I am sooooo happy that I stumbled onto this site. Everyone has been so helpful. I am having guest's in tomorrow evening for dinner and I plan on making a loaf of bread. With a claus "It may not be perfect, but it should be edible" :) I am going to start the 'poolish' (sp) tonignt.

I am having a lot of fun doing this, and I think that is the most important part of doing anything. Have fun doing it!!!!!!!! :)

Again, THANKS to all.

Patti