The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from the UK

  • Pin It
firstfloorfront's picture
firstfloorfront

Hello from the UK

Hello All


I've been making bread on and off for about 15 years, nothing spectacular just basic mixes and not always with success. I think its time I started to concentrate, expand my knowledge and experiment. Hopefully you will all start pointing me in the right direction. This is my basic mix which I think is always a bit "sticky": -


700g flour
15g salt
25g olive oil
7g dried active yeast
430ml water.


Peter

bakinbuff's picture
bakinbuff

Hi Peter!  I'm in the UK too.  I have only been baking my own bread for a year or so, but this website has been exceedingly helpful, and I have benefited a great deal from doing research online.  I found that just practice and trial and error, and baking regularly (I bake bread every day pretty much) has helped me improve my loaves tremendously.  I started baking with sourdough a couple months ago and I am so pleased to be making delicious beautiful loaves with only natural levain.  Hope you enjoy honing your baking skills!

jpchisari's picture
jpchisari

Hi firstfloorfront,


Try to measure everything consistently. Volume measurements are not as accurate for baking as weight. Water expressed in grams along with other ingredients will give more consistent results.


Are you mixing by hand or with a mixer?


Depending on what kind of bread you are trying to make, your water level is at 61%., along with 3.5% oil. Giving your dough a hydration level of 64.5%.  High, for say straight dough French or Italian breads. They should be at approx 57% water or about 400g plus oil. Try this and see if it helps.


John

TheVillageBaker's picture
TheVillageBaker

That’s interesting; I use whole-wheat flour 500 gms with 350ml water and a dose of olive oil, giving me a much higher hydration level. Although I will adjust the dough as it kneads in the mixer if required.

I hadn’t really thought about the levels before, although a lower hydration will be noticeable by the way my mixer responds.


I guess I like working with a wetter dough, mainly for bread rolls and buns rather than loaves.

firstfloorfront's picture
firstfloorfront

Thanks you all for you welcomes and for your replies.


John, that's what I mean about expanding my knowledge, it never occurred to me that adding volume of water / olive oil together would make much of a difference.


I'm just trying to make and every day bread at the moment; I mix by hand and I just blindly followed a recipe I got from a library book.


How do you work out the percentages by the way?


Peter

jpchisari's picture
jpchisari

Hi firstfloorfront,


Flour is always 100%


1. When you know the total % of dough (all ingredients percentages added together)


Example:


Water 57%


Fresh Yeast 3%


Flour 100%


Salt 2%


Total 162%


and you would like to make 5 kg of dough.


5 / 1.62 = 3.09 (rounded up)


3.09kg is your flour weight


Multiply all other ingredients by their prospective percentage to get all other weights


Water 3.09 x .57 = 1715g


Yeast 3.09 x .03 =  53g


Salt 3.09 x .02 = 35g


I hope this helps


John


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Peter,


I lecture at Newcastle College, in bakery, and live in the North of Northumberland.   Where are you based?   Oh, and, welcome to the forum, of course; you are in the company of a LOT of very kind and knowledgeable people here.


There is some excellent information provided above to get you thinking.   If you can get your head round bakers percentages this will be of great help to you in the future.   I cannot agree more about using weight in grams, as opposed to volumetric.   Accurate digital scales will really help you to get to grips with how recipes fit together as formulae based around the bakers %.


One or two comments you may wish to linger on:


1. I never count fat, or, oil as part of the liquid content; it isn't liquid.


2. Just read carefully through the words given about hydration levels.   Lots of advice is thrown for you here, none of which gets over the main fundamental: different flours absorb different amounts of water.   So, a crusty French, or, Italian loaf will use fairly strong white flour.   If you add water at 57%, you will mix a tightish dough, that will need high energy input from your hands, or, mixer, to develop the gluten and make the dough elastic.   Personally, I look to get 63% water in white bread doughs.   If you are wanting to move into producing authentic baguettes and continental breads, you would look to up the hydration to 65%.   Ciabatta go up to 85%, so you can see hydration really varies.   Artisan bakers on here often refer to All-Purpose, or, AP, flour.   We don't have the equivalent in the UK, as our plain flour is not of the same quality.   You could mix a portion of plain with some strong flour if you want this flour type.   If you use speciality local flours, at all, you will see how very different English wheat is to North American.   Then on to brown flours, and wholemeal.    These absorb a lot more water, because of the bran content.   Where I achieve 63% for white, the same wholemeal would take up 72%...but it takes quite a long time for the bran to soak up this liquid.   Your dough starts off like a pudding, but soon soaks up the liquid.   Find something that works for you with regard to addition of water, and go from there; but hydration levels are very important to good bread, be in no doubt.


3. You say you are working from a recipe book.   If the book tells you to knead on a floured surface, then please disregard this advice; it is nonsense.   If you go to the bother of working out the correct hydration, as above, then adding unknown amounts of flour to your dough will make a mockery of your hard work.   Yes, dough can start out sticky; let the child-like qualities of being happy to play with these now alien textures come through.   As the dough works up it will become satin-like and smooth.   But if you add extra flour, it will turn out like a brick.


Best wishes


Andy

jpchisari's picture
jpchisari

Hi Andy,


 


You're absolutely right fat & or oils should not considered part of a doughs hydration. I guess I was trying to help Peter understand why his dough was so sticky, and while it may not be a part of hydration in formula it will affect the doughs consistency.


John

firstfloorfront's picture
firstfloorfront

John / Andy


Many thanks for your replies.


Andy: I'm based in Braintree, Essex.


John: I could follow your sums up until the point where you multiply the other ingredient by their prospective percentages to get their weight.


No matter how I tried I couldn't get 3.09 x .57 to equal 1715 (I make it 1.76) even if you multiply that by 1000 it comes out at 1761; am I missing something?


Peter

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Peter,


It's just a matter of making sure you are working in kg or g.


John has accidentally switched from g to kg.   So, 0.57kg = 570g.


570 x 3.09 = 1761.3.   If he said 1715, he's just made a mistake; whoops!


Basically ,with percentages, you just have to work out the factor.


So if your total of percentages adds up to 170, and you need to make 1700g dough, then your factor is 10.   It follows that you then multiply each percentage figure by 10 to get your recipe.   So, easy one first up; 100 of flour x 10 = 1000g, or, 1kg flour, and so on, for salt, yeast and water, and any other items.


When you get time, you may want to look over my blog.   Don't be intimidated by anything you see on there.   I just hope you enjoy your time here, but also, make the most of it!   Here's the link: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/ananda


Best wishes


Andy

jpchisari's picture
jpchisari

Hi Peter,


Sorry I reversed the #s.  Had a dyxlexic moment. 1761 is correct!


Here are the other quantities.


Yeast 3009 x .03 = 90g


Salt  3009 x .02 = 60g


I'm not sure how I came up with the other #s


 


John


 


 

firstfloorfront's picture
firstfloorfront

Now I get it. Thank you.


Peter

enaid's picture
enaid

Although these postings are about volume/weight, I noticed some are from posts from U.K.  I would like to ask what oven temps. you use.  Although I now live in Canada, I have a European oven and find the temps. usually given (generally for a North American oven) are far too high, particularly for when using a stone and steam method. I understand a high temp. is needed to heat the stone and create steam but what is the lowest temp. I can use to do that.

grumpidoc's picture
grumpidoc

Hi - I'm in the UK. I also found I was burning loaves at the temps advised. I now heat the oven to 450F, (I don't use a baking stone but I do use steam), then turn it down to 350 after the loaves have been in for 5 minutes. This seems to work for enriched and lean doughs.I get reasonable oven spring and no more charred tops!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi,


I can offer you the followoing advice, although I only work in Celsius, so you may have to do some conversion.


If you use a pizza stone, then you need to get your head round the idea of storing heat in your oven.   I have over 20 years experience of working commercial bread ovens of all types...but the bread eaten in our household now is nearly all baked at home in a standard electric fan oven.   Except, that I have 3 bricks in line on the wire shelf, and bake all my breads, one at a time on top of these.   A pizza stone works just the same way.   So, unfortunately, the temperature reading your are referencing is just a point on the thermometer dial that relates to the heat detected by a sensor at some arbitrary point in your oven.   It takes no account whatsoever of the heat you have "stored" in your pizza stone, through pre-heating.   If your dial says the heat is in excess of 240*C, then your bread will most likely burn.   This is nothing to do with the heat stored in your pizza stone, as, when I say burn, I mean it will burn on the top of the loaf.   If the oven thermometer reads less than 200, then you may struggle to get colouration on the top of a standard bread.   But, I'm a real non-fan of convection ovens, and this is why...


The baking all happens in real bread through conducted heat into the bread.   So, most people may use a pizza stone, I use 3 bricks.   The magic of baking really happens when the stored heat from this masonry is transferred upwards into your bread.   A hot metal box throwing circulated heat at a loaf is an easy compromise for commercial oven manufacturers aiming to satisfy the domestic cook.   Trouble is..this isn't baking.   The key is retained heat: heat your oven for at least an hour with the pizza stone inside.   If you are baking enriched doughs, then drop the heat AFTER it has been pre-heated, and allow some settling time.


The oven I use in College is a Tom Chandly 3-deck electric oven.   It is fabricated from steel, and has thermostatic heat controlling top and bottom source.   But the key is that the bottom heat is stored in stone flags which the baked products sit on to bake.


Hope this gives you more ideas about howe baking really works?


Best wishes


Andy

enaid's picture
enaid

I work in Celsius too.  You have answered a problem I've been worried about for ages.  My oven takes a long time for the temperature to reduce so my bread tends to burn very quickly on top as the temperature is still too high.  I was concerned that, if I lowered the temp. and waited to put in the bread until it dropped more, the stone wouldn't remain hot enough.  Now I understand more how things work.


Many thanks.

TheVillageBaker's picture
TheVillageBaker

Following ananda’s informative post , my temperatures range from 200C for rolls and buns to 240C for pizza, ciabatta and focaccia style breads, although the oven will heat to 400C.


I too dislike the fan assisted convection oven. With ours the fan cannot be switched off, only part reduced, so I bake nearly all our bread in a second hand commercial pizza oven, having a heavy built in stone, independent top and bottom heat control, and excellent insulation. It also has a good hight clearance.


I don’t bake single loaves, but work with larger batches to make the most use of all that contained heat.

rolls's picture
rolls

when working dough by hand ive found the best technique is richard bertinets 'slap and fold'. it helps u feel the changes in the dough with ur own hands and u know when its 'ready'.


there's a video on the gourmet site just google richard bertinet sweet dough, there's also a foodie episode showing his cooking school in bath and demonstrates his dough and technique as well as recipes.


i learnt bout baker's math from a link i got here to susan's wildyeastblog.com, there's a couple tutorials very easy to understand.


hope this helps