The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

21 M College Student seeks decent, reasonably-priced loaf of bread

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Koyae's picture
Koyae

21 M College Student seeks decent, reasonably-priced loaf of bread

Hey folks.


I'm a Purdue-student who's studying computer-related stuff in Indy, and just generally trying to stay on top of things. My health-nuttyness is the main reason I'm here; "Tradition-Shmadition" I'll say most days, but the Oldschool definately has something to teach when it comes to food-preparation; only in the past 60 years have we been eating all these brand-new substances which are hot out of the factory spigots to such ill avail.


Anyway, real bread, as I've come to recognize it, from the farmers' market or frozen at the natural foods -stores runs a good $6-per loaf. For me this is pricey, so I'm diving right into it.


If you want to help, please take a glance at my post here. ( http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15079/poolish-first-quotflightquot-questions-allpoolish-loaf-adjusting-hydration-after-soak-and )

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

As the other TFLers suggested to you in your other post, read the lessons on baking bread that are available on the home page. Every Boilermaker should be able to read those as easily as Drew Brees and Lenny Dawson read the opposing teams defenses.


When you get the skill set to bake basic loaves, then the utilization of whole wheat, rye, and other grains will be easier to understand. If you get to that point, you'll begin to grasp some of the economics of making bread as well. Buying a 25 pound bag of flour may sound far fetched right now but as soon as you learn how much that 25# bag costs in comparison to the 5# bag at the supermarket, you'll figure out how to store and use it. Put that expensive education to use, make your family proud, and your stomach happy.

sicilianbaker's picture
sicilianbaker

$6 for a artisan bread is not alot to ask for if you know what you're getting..Real bread.. its not mass produced factory wonder bread where you don't know what they put in it.


it takes time,labor, ingredients and fixed costs like electricity,rent, etc. this costs money.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I was somewhat amuzed at  your comment "only in the past 60 years have we been eating all these brand-new substances which are hot out of the factory spigots to such ill avail."  I've been consuming commercial packaged and prepared food products for that long, even longer, without regard to ingredients and I'm healthy, fit, and in better overall health than the twenty year old kid next door.  But, regardless of those realities, you are wise to avoid anything that is clearly unhealthy and baking your own bread, in addition to ensuring a healthier diet, is also good for the soul.  I agree with sicilianbaker that artisan breads may be worth the price that the artisans ask for them at farmers markets, but if you can make your own you'll save a significant amount of money over time and enjoy a sense of accomplishment in the process.


Start with simple breads and stick with one or two formulas until you've mastered them, then venture out into new types of bread one or two at a time.  If you take on too much too soon you'll simply confuse and frustrate yourself.


Good luck with your education.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I make what I consider the best bread in the World from orgainc hard-winter wheat, sea salt, water and sourdough starter.  I suggest doing a basic recipe and learning the jist of the bread making experience before experimenting with other recipes.  I've pretty much given up on making commercial yeast breads as Poilane style sourdough is so much better tasting that there is no comparison. 


Simplify the list variables to that which is necessary. Observe the recipe as a plan of actions in time and imagine the transformation that the ingredients will make in the process of becoming bread.  Perform this task in your mind until it beomces familiar. Once comfortable with this mental practicum you will find that execution of the recipe will flow easily as you have prepared properly before acting.


+Wild-Yeast

clazar123's picture
clazar123

 


There is always a good news-bad news-esp in this avocation.


The bad news is we are students our whole life.


The good news is we are students our whole life.


Delicious! Even the bricks-what an aroma!


The best way to learn to bake bread is to bake bread-over and over.


First-off, get a notebook.Simple but very effective tracking tool. Start with one recipe that you like (for whatever reason-cost,taste,availability,etc) and simply make it every chance you get. Keep track of every bake in the notebook- what you did or didn't do or any technique or variation you tried.It sounds boring but it teaches you how to be observant and learn how different things affect an outcome.And read sites like this constantly.


Please note that white flour,whole wheat flour and rye flour all have very different characteristics and handling techniques. My advice would be to start in one category only and once you have mastered it, then move to the next.


When I started, I thought I knew a fair amount about making bread. Turns out I had a LOT to UNLEARN.Then I started learning.


Bread is very complicated.....and very simple.And delicious.


HAve fun and enjoy being a student.It's great fun.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

1.  You are WAY over-thinking this.  I agree with what others have already said.  Start with a simple, basic loaf.  Don't obsess about things like "phytates(?)"--that's for later when you know what you are doing and you want to tweak your breads to fit your personal philospophy.  Right now you just want to learn how to make bread.  Don't despair, the learning curve is steep but fast.  You can go from making simple, basic breads to tweaking in a short period of time. 


2.  Do you have an instant read thermometer?  You described your loaf as "doughy", and the first thing that pops into my head is that it may be underdone.  The only real way to tell is with a thermometer.  It should read about 205 F in the center for a lean dough, around 180 or so for an enriched dough, when the bread is done.


3.  If you don't already have a mentor, try to find someone who can bake with you once or twice at least just so you can learn what dough is supposed to feel like when it's properly kneaded and when it's properly proofed.  THAT makes a huge difference.  If worse comes to worse, buy some frozen bread dough at the grocery store, thaw it, and FEEL it.  Learn how it feels in the hand, how it shapes, how it stretches, etc.  Or go to a real bread bakery and ask them to pull off a piece of dough for you.  Knowing what dough was supposed to feel like made all the difference for me in learning how to make bread--before that I was only great at making doorstops. 


Enjoy--with your analytical skils I'm sure that will get to that place where you can make $6 breads for only pennies, and it will feel and taste wonderful.  Welcome to the world of bread (and don't forget to study for your finals!).

sicilianbaker's picture
sicilianbaker

I agree with jankitz, find a baker and apprentice under him, you will learn alot faster than trying to teach yourself. you will have ALOT of "no wonder I was doing it wrong" moments. you say you're a college student and this is a great way for extra $$ and learning something you want to learn.


if you bread is undercooked, the easiest way to test bread is tapping the bread on the bottom, if it sounds hollow then its done. thats the professional way of doing it. I never had to use a thermoeter.


Americans tend to underbake things while french fully bake them. different styles.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

is that they can give all outward appearances of being done, including the hollow sound when thumped and a crisp, nicely browned crust, but may still be underbaked inside.  A thermometer eliminates the guesswork and much frustration because if that dial hits 205, you KNOW for sure your bread is done. 


It does make a hole in your bread, so try to find an inconspicous spot!

sicilianbaker's picture
sicilianbaker

never had a under baked bread, but perhaps I'm sicilian and have thousands of years of bread making in my genes.. :)


I would think higher hydration doughs would cook faster because of the evaporation of the water but thats my opinion.