The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread baking growing pains and other questions

Karmel_Kuisine's picture

Bread baking growing pains and other questions

I am still in the beginning stages of learning to bake bread. I've been at it since October when I got my KitchenAid mixer as a birthday gift. I do all my kneading in the KitchenAid.

I've been trying to perfect the sandwich loaf before moving onto crusty breads. I have little kids and they like a softer loaf. Most of the loaves I've been successful with have incorporated oatmeal in them.

My least successful loaves have been fine at the heels, but crumbling and unsliceable in the middle.

Trying to find recipes can be tricky. I love the King Arthur Flour books, but they always call for butter as the fat. Is butter the best fat or oil? I seem to have better luck with recipes that call for vegetable oil. Another book I like, "The Bread Bible" by BetsyOppenneer calls for oil, but the book is older and doesn't really talk about some of the newer stuff available (heavy duty mixers, instant yeast, etc.)

Second ?: If a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, can I use bread flour?

Third ?: I've asked this before, but let me again. If a recipe calls for active dry yeast, but I want to use rapid rise, how much do I decrease the yeast?\


KenK's picture

I think Crisco gives a better texture than butter.

This recipe (slightly modified) works very well for me.  I use 2 tablespoons of Crisco instead of the 6 tablespoons of butter.  I've been using honey instead of sugar lately and also might substitute 2-3 ounces of whole wheat flour for some of the white flour.

If you use the potato flakes; the potato is slower to hydrate than flour so be sure to give it some time before you start adding extra flour.

Yumarama's picture

Starting at the end:

Switching Instant for Active Dry yeast:

When you want to use Instant Yeast (a.k.a. "bread machine" yeast), use 75% of the Active Dry Yeast required. So if a recipe wants 1 teaspoon Active, use 3/4 teaspoon Instant. And you can just put it right into the mix, no need to proof it. The water that would have been used to proof must also be added to the dough, however.

AP and Bread flour:

There's more gluten in bread flour, typically about 2 to 4% more, depending on the levels in either types since not all APs are the same, nor all bread flours. 

So can you use bread when a recipe calls for AP? It depends on what you're making. 

It may well be possible to trade one for the other but there's no knowing without looking at the recipe if a direct switch will make much difference in the final product. You can certainly try and it will likely be close. But recipes asking for bread flour want that extra gluten for structure. It has to be your call. It most likely won't end up a complete, inedible failure but you may find the texture a little different than if you'd made it with AP. Ditto in the other direction. 

For example, if you were making cookies, the extra gluten strength in bread flour would likely make the cookies tough. Conversely, if you're making Ciabata with large air pockets, it really wants long gluten strands to build the network that 'cages' the bubbles so AP would not help. Neither would be disgusting but would also not be the final product you want.

sphealey's picture

Solid, semi-solid, and liquid fats are all different types of chemicals and will behave differently in recipes.  And even for one fat, its state will determine how it behaves; frozen, cold, soft, and melted butter will behave 4 different ways and each is used for specific purposes in specific recipes.

That said, the amount of fat in the typical bread recipe is low compared to the weight of the flour and water and I find it doesn't make much difference if I use soft butter or vegetable oil for most recipes.  Unless I am trying to make a specific receipe (say from Hamelman or Beranbaurm) and achieve a specific result; then I follow the recipe exactly.

Threre are quite a few threads you can find through the search box on types of yeast.  Personally I think the yeast industry does the beginning baker a disservice by having so many different jars on the shelf - it is intimidating.  But it is part of the modern mindshare-based marketing game so there is no getting around it.  Basically for the 3 major yeast sellers in the US you can use active dry and instant/bread machine exactly the same way.  Rapid rise, depending on the manufacturer, might have some dough conditioning ingrediants that speed up the rise (then again, it might not - marketing again!).  You would use a bit less of it and keep an eye on the dough volume.

But in general, don't worry about the yeast.  1/2 tsp of any modern consumer yeast will get the job done no matter how you use it!


clazar123's picture

Here is a recipe for my fluffy white bread. I actually use AP flour rather than Better for Bread because the AP flour made a less chewy crumb.Butter can be changed to oil, if you prefer less hydrogenated fats but some oil is essential for keeping properties.

To convert to a yeast recipe, omit the starter and add 2 tsp instant yeast.You may need to add additional flour/water but not much since 1/2 c active starter is about 1/4 c flour and a little less water.

This next part is a quote from another thread (under whole grains).It was for a whole wheat recipe but all concepts apply to white flour.

 Try one or all of these ideas to get the level of softness you want.

1. Use up to 1/3 the flour amount as soft or pastry flour. So if you use 6 cups ww flour,make that 4-5 cups AP and 1-2 c soft  flour. It makes it less chewy and more feathery.

2.Use milk,buttermilk,kefir or yogurt in the recipe

3.Add egg (1 per loaf).This really makes a difference.You need to compensate a bit on the liquid and it makes the dough a little sticky.

4. Use AP flour (not bread flour as that justs makes it chewy).

5.Use some oil or butter in the recipe.It doesn't have to be much but even 1 tbsp per loaf makes a difference.

6.Some people use potatoes or potatoe flakes. I just don't have any experience with that but I guess they swear by it.

So use a favorite recipe and try substituting some of these ingredients to see what you like.

I'm sure someone is going to suggest using vital wheat gluten.In my experinece, all this will do is make your bread chewier.Most AP flour has plenty of gluten in it.I use Pillsbury unbleached or Gold Medal unbleached.