The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question about bread flavor/texture

madzilla's picture

Question about bread flavor/texture

Greetings my fellow loafers ;-)

I have been struggling with my white sandwich bread recipes lately.  I have tried SO many different combinations in my recipes (bread flour, regular flour, vegetable oil, butter, crisco butter flavored, crisco regular, wheat gluten, dough enhancer, organic brown sugar, and the list goes on).

I also have made bread with Hodgson Mill White Bread machine mix.  I will take two boxes of that, add half milk, half water, and butter flavored crisco instead of butter.  The bread comes out fantastic! However, I want to recreate that with my own ingredients, because I feel like a "bread fraud" using a mix! lol  Maybe it isn't as cost effective. Let me do the rundown:

Hodgson Mill method:

two boxes of mix = $3.20

1/2 cup milk = $.20

1/2 cup water -= free

3 tbs butter flavored crisco = $.30

total = $3.70 for two loaves


Home made method:

5 cups bread flour  = $2.50

1 1/2 tbs yeast = $1.00

1/2 cup milk = $.20

1/2 cup water = free

3 tbs butter flavored crisco = $.30

3 tbs organic sugar = $.15

1 tsp kosher salt = < $. 10

total = $approx. $4.15 for two loaves


So, if the bread mix is cheaper, and tastes better, then I would like to go that route.  But to make "real" homemade bread, I feel like I need to use all separate ingredients.  What is it in that mix that makes the bread so good??? It is elastic, smooth, dense, rich, creamy...just all-around perfect bread.

Anyway, thanks for listening to my ramble.  Any advice or ideas are greatly appreciated!






flournwater's picture

First thing that comes to mind is the amount of flour you're using.  Two boxes of your mix total 32 ounces (according to their label) and you have five cups of bread flour.  There's no telling how much total weight in flour you end up with using bulk measurements.  I'd suggest the first thing to try would be to weigh your flour.  Also, read the ingredients label on the packaging to see what other ingredients (however small) is in their mix.  You'll probably find a small amount of another type of flour, other than wheat flour, in the box.  Try about 5% soy flour (be weight) and see if it doesn't improve the texture.  You'll have to replicate the ingredients in the box pretty closely if you want to get something close to the same results that you get with the box mix.


If you added eggs and vanilla extract to your list of ingredients you'd have a pretty good start (except perhaps for specific quantities) on a simple white cake mix.   Commercial white bread, some of us hold, is not really bread at all  -  but a cake preparation leavened with yeast instead of baking powder.  Perhaps if you replaced the yeast with baking powder (just to experiment) you might find the difference in flavor you're seeking.  Might not work, but wouldn't it be fun?

SourFlour's picture

The biggest issue I see with your math is your price of bread flour. 1 cup of flour will weigh different amounts depending on how you do it, but last time I measured I had around 125g per cup.  That would mean you are spending $1.80/lb of flour. I buy bulk 50lb sacks of flour for around $.36/lb, but even at retail you should be able to get it for much closer to $1/lb.

The next cost issue I have is with your instant yeast.  Again, if you are buying instant yeast, I believe it should cost quite a bit less than that.  But if you decide to have a starter, your yeast costs nothing (other than the flour and water you are using). The crisco, milk, and sugar are legitimate costs, but there are many breads you can make without these ingredients.  In the end, home made bread should be MUCH cheaper than the mix.

Not sure what is in the mix, but they have their formula down, and so keep a consistant proportion of the ingredients they want.  When making bread from your own ingredients, you will have to experiment around to find the perfect mix you like (or copy from all the public formula's available).

Hope this helps.

Danny - Sour Flour

bstan's picture

Lynn, the Buttermilk Sandwich Bread formula from BBA usually turns out pretty well for me, though I generally substitute milk for the buttermilk since I don't have much occasion to use buttermilk otherwise.

When you're trying to improve the texture of your bread, it's important to keep in mind how you mix the dough, especially for sandwich breads. I've heard that in enriched breads like sandwich bread, mixing the fat into the dough before the gluten is properly developed can coat the protein in the flour with fat, making it much harder to develop the dough correctly. In my opinion, when trying to perfect a certain formula, it's always better to start with as basic a recipe as you need and vary the technique before changing up the recipe by adding new ingredients, different proportions, etc.