The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question about "Your first loaf" lessons

Davin's picture

Question about "Your first loaf" lessons


I've been reading these and on lesson two, it talks about things to add to your bread. It gives suggestions regarding the flours/grains, sugars, and fats. There wasn't anything regarding the liquid portion. I'm extremely new to baking. I'm a cook more than anything, but dough has always terrified me. In cooking, when you flavor with liquids, you can use all kinds of different items.

What about bread? Instead of water, can I use beer? Chicken Broth? I saw a post on here about a Raisin bread and someone suggested using EggNog. Milk? Apple juice? What happens if I use something besides water?

Also, what about using these different liquids as a glaze? Flavored glaze? Egg yolk/Roasted Garlic?  Beer glaze/Kosher Salt?


Thanks for any help!



Floydm's picture

Certainly you can change the flavor and texture of a bread by adding different liquids.  I tend to break it down though in terms of the fat and sugar content of the fluid I add: apple juice is going to add a lot of sugar and thus make the bread brown quicker, egg nog would add both fat and sugar, etc.

I experimented with different glazes a bit here

In the lessons and in most of my baking, I focus on the fundamentals of bread baking: how fats soften a dough, how increasing hydration leads to better crumb, how slowing down the fermentation gets the best flavor out of your core ingredients.  A lot of us here are focused on that, since the "simplest" breads (like a great baguette) can take a lifetime to master.  It is a fascinating pursuit.  But there are plenty of successful bakers and bakeries that aren't interested in that aspect of baking and instead focus on add interesting ingredient (fruit, nuts, olives, garlic, spices) to simple doughs to make something delicious.

To me the best of both worlds is when I find  great bakers who know how to pair interesting ingredients with the proper doughs to make something amazing.  The Pearl Bakery in Portland does that, in my mind, as do a lot Dan Lepard's recipes.  Reading his books, it is clear this guy really understands baking and isn't just showing off.

Good luck!