The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help needed for "puffy" newbie to bread baking, who wants to be able to enjoy eating my bread

Peggy Bjarno's picture
Peggy Bjarno

Help needed for "puffy" newbie to bread baking, who wants to be able to enjoy eating my bread

I think the one thing that has driven me to trying to bake my own bread is calories. Look at it this way: bread is on the "caution" list at the very least, or maybe even the "forbidden" list, calorie-wise. (OH-MY-GOD it's CARBS! It's CALORIES!) But I do love bread, have enjoyed my buttered toast in the morning (a long lost dream) and my mayonnaise-filled tuna or chicken salad sandwiches, or BLTs. . . . it's been a while.

So here's the thing. If you decide that you're going to eat bread it's got to be PERFECT, right? It's got to be WORTH IT, worth all those calories and carbs. So my absolute favorite bread is a thin-chewy-crusted sourdough -- really sour, you understand? -- with an intense sour taste and magnificent open "crumb. . . ." (I know I should know what that means, but "crumb" was never in my vocabulary until I hit this site. It seems like it's the body of the bread, maybe.)

And I made my own sourdough starter, then appealed to folks on various lists and got starter recipes to try, and even got a chunk of San Francisco starter to add to my own growing community of fermenting combinations. . . By golly the thing is alive, it bubbles and perks and smells heavenly. . .

Okay. Loaf number 1 was square and tasted square. (Bread machine loaf.) Loaf number 2 was kneaded in the bread machine and 2nd rise out of the machine and baked in the oven: flat and dense. I had to throw it away. Loaf number 3 same start, but just a bit higher in the baking. Not worth the calories. Loaf 4 I thought holy cow I might be able to do this. . . and I ate the whole thing. OHMYGOD! CARBS & CALORIES. (Well, it did take me a week to consume it, worth every calorie in taste, if not in texture -- still too dense.)

So this weekend I'm stepping back, knowing that I've got this magnificent starter in the fridge, poised for excellence. My process has been to get it out of the fridge on Thursday night, feed it Thursday pm, Friday am and pm, then start working on things Saturday and . . . CREATING INCFREDIBLY YUMMY CARBS AND CALORIES. . . so there it sits and NOW what do I do. Ignore it?? I can't.

What do you other "breadies" do about eating what you make?????????????

Glad to be here, love the posts and yearn for the perfection I've seen here . . . would just love to NOT have it settle on my hips!

Peggy Bjarno

Janknitz's picture

You will do your body a lot better if you make breads with at least some whole grains.  The fiber is much better for you than all the white flour, and you can still use your starter for sour, sour breads.  There are some great books that show how to handle the whole grains and avoid the heavy, chewy, and bitter texture that some people associate with whole grains--e.g. Peter Reinhart's Whole Grains Bread book.   If you care to experiment with no knead breads, look for Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day--it has some great ideas and it's VERY easy.  

Your doughs don't have to contain a lot of fat and sugars.  You can make great breads from flour (whole grains are best), yeast, water, and salt.   Enrich doughs with healthy olive oil instead of butter and eggs. Boost the nutrition by adding protein and fiber rich goodies--nuts and seeds, flax, soy, vegies and fruit.  

Portion your breads by slicing when cool and then freezing.  I put two slices in each sandwich size zip lock bag and freeze them.  20 seconds in the microwave make them taste like they just came out of the oven.  I freeze small boules and other "dinner" size loafs for future meals (thaw wrapped loaves at room temperature and then heat briefly in the oven for that just-baked taste).  Rolls would be a nice, limited serving size for you--toss them in the freezer and thaw only one at a time.  

Watch your toppings and sandwich fillings.  You can roast garlic (just wrap  a whole head loosely in foil and toss it in the oven when you bake your bread) and spread the softened cloves on your bread--so much better than butter, but no fat.  I love the intensity of no-sugar added jams.  Put a little cinnamon IN the bread instead of cinnamon sugar and butter ON the bread.  Use low fat mayo for your tuna and chicken, or try mixing it with low fat yogurt, mashed avocado, or a small amount of olive oil instead.  Play around with bringing calories down and flavor up.  

Bread does not have to be a diet disaster, but you can't keep eating the whole loaf ;o)


hutchndi's picture

The bread that I bake myself is my one real weakness, but one that I allow myself without guilt, and yes I put real butter on it. I don't eat much junk food so it does not really effect my weight, at least so far, and I am the only bread eater in my house. Averaging two loaves baked a week, and usually giving one away, I guess I am not killing myself too fast...

Russ from RI

KenK's picture

It is much easier for us to control portion size on the front end.  If I make six rolls they will last six days.  If I make one loaf with the same amount of dough; for some mysterious reason, the loaf is gone after about four days.

I freeze them and thaw one a day and then crisp them up in the oven.

LindyD's picture

Nor does bread have to be fattening.  It's what you put in it, on it, or in between it that adds the fat.

Here's a site that lists the calories/carbs for various breads.

Adding a percentage of rye or whole wheat adds flavor.  If you're like me and dislike the taste of whole wheat, try King Arthur Flour's white whole wheat - it's very nice and I was delighted to find a local store (Meijer) that carries it.

Bread is a staple at my table and it's served at every meal, and sometimes as a snack.  There's nothing like a slice of good sourdough dribbled with a Tuscan herb or other flavored olive oil.  I make a seeded sourdough rye that is so awesome, it's eaten plain.

Admittedly,  I enjoy unsalted butter and good cheese on bread, but I use them in moderation. 

Another thing to consider is that you can bake your bread and eat it, but you've got to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.  Walking is great (and free).  If you have kids around and a Wii, you can get a pretty good workout with the Wii Fit Plus exercises.  

Eat well and exercise well.

Peggy Bjarno's picture
Peggy Bjarno

This sounds wonderful! Have you posted the recipe anywhere?? Please share!

And yes, we are talking about a Wii Fit -- as soon as my husband is back at work.



LindyD's picture

Hi Peggy, 

Here's the posting I made on Hamelman's wonderful seeded rye.  My shaping skills have improved over the last year, thank goodness.

Coincidental that you asked for the recipe, as my daughter's birthday is this weekend.  She loves Reinhart's ancienne baguettes, so I may create some sort of fake cake base out of a cardboard box and use the upright baguettes as candles.

I hope your husband gets back to work soon.  These are tough times everywhere.

clazar123's picture

I,too am a puffy baker that cannot give up bread BUT it can be integrated into any healthy eating plan. I am a lot less puffy than 6 months ago and whole wheat bread is actually a help and delicious.There are a lot of professionals out there and a lot of advice on losing weight. Pick one that will help you adopt a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits that come to feel normal. You should NOT have a diet mentality. You want to adopt a healthy lifestyle.Bread should be included and whole grain especially.

As for learning how to make bread-the best way is to continue to make bread.Find a basic recipe and get the hang of the one recipe before you move on. Makee it the same way the first few times and see how it turns out. Then have a notebook and start keeping notes and change just one thing. Critique that loaf ,review your notes and make another loaf-changing just 1 thing,again.It is the BEST way to learn how changes affect an outcome.BUt stick to one recipe only until you "get" it.

Also-read this site and the "how to".Great experiences here. Believe me you are not the first person to bake a brick or hockey puck.If you bake more than you want to eat, give it away. Even "failures" are viewed with great delight by people that don't have any home-baked goods available.

I bought a Wii Fitness Plus and I think it's perfect for a middle-aged person who hasn't exercised in a while.And it's fun.

Good Luck.

Gardenwife's picture

You make such a good point about sticking with one recipe until you get it right. I'm doing that with a molasses whole wheat bread from my Cuisinart mixer's cookbook. My husband and I both love the taste of this bread, and I'm tweaking it to get the best rise and crumb out of it.

He and I both have a substantial amount of weight to lose, but we start each day with an egg sandwich for breakfast, so bread is something we work into our daily calories.

We need a fluffy bakers thread! ;)

Bertel's picture

Well burn some off. Get rid of your TV and car. Buy a bike take walks, you'll be amazed. Oh and give a lot away to people. If you have found 'your bread' bake it now and then. Slice the rest thinly and freeze.

dharris's picture

I would like to echo Bertel's comments. I love to bake bread and I love to eat bread. I eat a lot of it daily, but I also get a lot of exercise whether it's biking, cross country skiing, shovelling snow or cutting wood for my clay oven. To me bread is fuel and while I like to try a variety of baked goods, my staple is a multigrain/flax sourdough bread. My friends also love it and I give a lot away. I even sell a few loaves. None of my bread contains sugar or oil with the exception of my pizza dough which contains olive oil. Bread is good and it's good for you, you just have to balance it with exercise and a healthy lifestyle. This works for me, i.e. has allowed me to keep my boyish figure and to enjoy the fruits of my oven. Keep baking!


DownStateBaker's picture

Glad you enjoy bread enough to make it yourself.

Somethings I have learned in my time as a baker.

-You don't need a lot of fancy equipment (a good standing mixer is great to have and worth every buck but not necessary)

-Kneading is unnecessary (Long rising times and autolysing when you first mix the flour and water will help make gluten and reduce the oxidation of the dough which gets rid of the scrumptuous beta caratinoids(sp?))

-Ferment as long as you can (Dont want dense bread? let the puppy rise for three hours or more folding it lightly every 45mins to help make gluten with minimal oxidation as well as spread flourishing yeast colonies. Hell sometimes I do a 17 hour rise in the fridge, then shape the loaves and let rise for about an hour or so.)

-Last but not least dont stress (If you relax your dough will relax and you'll both be very happy)

Hope this helps and dont worry so much about carbs you need them just use them and you'll be fine.

Tom Georgalas

Gardenwife's picture

Can you point out a favorite thread here concerning autolysing and folding? I'd like to make 100% whole wheat bread and know these techniques will help with the rise.

LindyD's picture

An autolyse is simply mixing the ingredients together (sans the salt) and allowing the flour to hydrate for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.  The salt is added after the autolyse, either with a mixer or hand kneading.

Here's a video by Mark Sinclair showing the folding technique, and some kneading.

rayel's picture

The way to use up carbs, as has been often stated, is to do some cardio exercises. Walking is easiest, but I often use the eliptical cross trainer 5 to six times a week. when I can't get to the gym, I use my treadmill at home. I do some weight training a couple of times a week as well. I have a "thing" for whole wheat bread, and the higher fiber gives me a slower glycemic spike. Forty minutes a session on the elipitcal always  feels better when I am heading home. Right, it is nice when it stops. Sometmes I rest/cool off on the stationary bike. What a life, eh? But it really takes care of all My bread carbs throughout the day. I agree with your philosophy of eating the best bread one can. Otherwise, what would be the point? I have tried the lower carb, really high fiber (5 grams)store bread once. But the ingredient list was all too revealing. Plus no substance what ever. It simply was not bread. Good luck. Ray

Franchiello's picture

I know all about the diet and exercise it takes to burn off the carbs from good bread, but my most favorite way to avoid getting too many of those delicious carbs deposited on the hips and thighs is to share!!  I'll bring a nice fresh loaf in to the office and let everyone have their share.  Spread the joy, I say!!  I also tend to keep my bread basic no added fats or sugars and try to use whole grains often.  Nothing is better than a slice of nice warm bread drizzled with a little good olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and a grind of fresh pepper (just how my Sicilian Grandpa like to eat it)!!