The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello...

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Wartface's picture
Wartface

Hello...

I'm a beginning sourdough bread hobbiest... I baked my first loaf of bread in March of this year. I recently retired from working for a living and was looking for interest projects to keep me busy. I got a Big Green Egg as a retirement gift from my son. The BGE is an outdoor cooking device that can be used as a grill, a smoker or an oven. ANYTHING you can cook in your kitchen... You can cook on a BGE. By chance I notice in the owner's Manuel of the BGE that you could bake bread in it. I had never ever considered baking bread in my life... But, that intrigued me. I went online and found KAF website and baked me a loaf of bread on my BGE. It wasn't very good but it was edible. Then I bought a sourdough starter from KAF and startered trying to learn how to make sourdough bread, through the KAF's website. I baked doorstops, brick's and oversized hockey pucks for about a month. Then... Some other beginning baker on that site suggested I check out NWSD's website. I did and I learned to bake real sourdough bread. Shasta, Ken, Ice and Teresa helped me trough the learning curve nicely. They all know their stuff when it come's to all parts of making it work.

So... I thought I would come over here and see what other people have to say. There is always a lot to learn. 

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

You've come to the right place.   This is a wonderful website and everyone here  is always ready with their helpful advice. I'm also starting to bake with a starter but temperature and timing are just two of the elements that I find most difficult to control, not to mention the amount of flour and water that I'm discarding every week. 

Judy

Ford's picture
Ford

We are all eager to help a fellow amateur baker, and to hear about your baking experiences.  I have not tried to make bread on a grill.  Tell us about the BGE.

Ford

Wartface's picture
Wartface

The Big Green Egg is constructed of a ceramic compound and retains heat generate by Lump coal, not briquettes. For long low and slow cooks like smoking a pork shoulder for pulled pork you can maintain a 220 degree cooking temp for 16 to 24 hours, without adding addition lump coal. Then for pizza and wok cooking you can cook at 800 degrees like they do in pizza parlour's and Chinese Resturant's. When I bake bread on it I bake at 500 degrees for the first 20 minutes, on my sourdoug boule's. Then I reduce the heat to 465 degrees and cook to color. The BGE is a great cooking device and I love using it to make tasty food for my friends and family. The first loaf of bread I ever cooked I did on the BGE in March of this year. It wasn't very good but... It was a start. 

 

Wartface's picture
Wartface

There is a learning curve to get the hang of it I do know that. I've baked more over sized hockey pucks in the last three months than most beginneer's probably. Once I learned to understand and control my starter, Brutus, then things got a little better. Then my next big step was to put my Kitchen Aid mixer aside. You develop a feel for what your dough feels like and looks like during the mixing process and the stretch and fold process. I really think that if you learn to bake sourdough bread by hand... You will shorten your learning curve some... Just my opinion and experience so far. 

Discarding flour, water and starter... The way I look at it is my bread making hobby is the least expensive hobby I have. So if I throw away some flour, water and even a loaf or 2 now and then it's still much cheaper than playing a round of golf. A five pound bag of King Arthur's bread flour for $5.39 is about a weeks supply for me. That's not much money for the fun I have trying to make a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread. 

Temperature control of the dough? That's a fairly easy one really. I had no clue how one would even begin to do that or that it was even something that you needed to worry about. Then one day I stumbled onto General Mills website and was just checking around some. I ended up in the section of their website that is aimed at retail Pizza outlets. Those people buy lots and lots of flour from GM. In order to teach and train their huge customer base how to make the pizza crust's properly, consistently they published a chart of how to control the temperature of your dough through out the mixing process, whether you are in Anchorage, Alaska or Phoenix, Arizona. There are 4 elements to that formula. 

1) Room temperature

2) the temperature of the flour in the storage container

3) mixer friction...

Those three elements determine what the temperature of the water should be when you mix it into the other ingredient's. If you follow their chart properly your dough will come out at very, very close to 80 degrees when you are done mixing. They claim that is the perfect temp for your dough. Who am I to argue with the biggest flour wholesaler in the Country? I tried it out of curiosity and it worked like magic. It'll try to post a link for you. I'm not sure it is important but learning to control your dough is fun anyway. 

 

http://www.professionalbakingsolutions.com/water-temperature-chart