The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi from NJ! And a question...

tamborine's picture

Hi from NJ! And a question...

Hi, my name is Maryann and I love bread! And pizza, and pasta....  Lately I've been trying to change my lifestyle and eating habits to include more homemade, organic, and local foods. So I figured making my own bread would be appropriate (and fun and delicious!). I'm not quite ready to start grinding my own flour, though!

I had a bread machine maybe 15-20 years ago - it's still in my attic, actually - and enjoyed making bread, but all the loaves were kind of the same, even though flavored differently. The other day I ordered a Kitchenaid Pro 5 Plus mixer, and started searching the interwebs for bread baking info. That's how I found this site, and it's fantastic! So many recipes and hints!! I got kind of upset reading the various Kitchenaid threads, though. But as a breadmaking newbie, hopefully it'll be good enough for me. Also I'm single, and won't be making huge batches of anything to really stress out the machine.

What is the general feeling on the board about the 5-minutes-a-day or dutch-oven artisan breads that seem to be popular lately? How do they compare to bread done "the hard way"?

BakerBen's picture

Welcome Maryann,

I am pretty new to bread making too - a little over two years now in a serious way.  I am sorry I can not really answer your questions about the KA and no-knead ... I have a KA but don't really enjoy using it as much as I do mixing and kneading by hand.  I really feel - no pun intended - that using your hands as much as possible is a good thing - it keeps you as close to the dough development as possible and you can really learn to feel the transitions of the various development stages.  I want to get to the stage that the dough is talking - it always is - and more importantly I can hear what it is saying (cornie but true).

Sounds like you are on the right track in my opinion - the biggest pointer is try to get better and learn something everyday and from every loaf you bake - don't let it become some "cookbook" procedure.  And also, bake as much as you can ... With that said and done you can only become a very successful and satisfied bread baker.  The folks on this site are extremely nice and helpful too.  Again, welcome!


LindyD's picture

Don't worry about your KA.  Just make sure you read the instructions carefully and never, ever run the mixer at a higher speed than recommended when mixing dough.  Am guessing that's speed two for  your Pro5.

I have a KA Artisan which I do use on occasion for the initial mix, and used to use to make bagel dough (which is very stiff).  It did a good job, but I never mixed higher than speed two.  Lots of people here have KAs and love them; others bad mouth them because of a bad experience, no matter whether it was hardware or operator failure.  Get to know your mixer, follow the instructions, don't ask more of it than what it can do, and enjoy it.

The AB in five and no knead recipes are a good start for a beginner baker, or the harried baker who has a full schedule with little time to bake, but wants to enjoy better bread than what's stacked on the store shelves.  There really is no bread "the hard way."  Some formulas just take more time and knowledge, depending on the ingredients.

Use only unbleached, unbromated flour, pick a recipe and bake it over and over again until you have it down pat, and remember the most important thing of all: have fun in the process and especially in the eating.

Check out the Handbook and videos here  - just go to the tabs at the top of the page, and if you have any questions, there's lots of experienced bakers here who will be delighted to help.

clawhammer's picture

I've got a Kitchen Aid and it works great. Also, I would recommend Peter Reinhart's "artisan bread every day" as a good start for understanding the differences, similarities and nuances of no knead vs. "the hard way". 

His earlier books are all about the hard way, or at least they are very technical and complex. His newest book, gave me the insights I wanted, but also made making bread very doable, and if I may say, ended in the most delicious bread I've ever made. 

I'm rather new myself, but the water is fine. Come on in.

dosidough's picture

Hi Maryann,
I’m like you, a single baker.  Had a bread machine years ago and only used it a little then I got it back out and used it on the dough only cycle and liked that bread more. Then I got an inadequate mixer then I got a sourdough starter then I found this site then I got a Bosch Compact then I tried the No-Kneads then I Reinhart books then I tried wheats now ryes.......pheew this stuff is fun!
I often like having more than one kind of bread around for variety and can usually bake only on weekends so some times I have the bread machine starting a simple sandwich loaf while I “BabyBosch” a more involved loaf. All machines and methods that work,!  The No-Knead are great when your pressed for time but I find they sometimes lack depth. I agree with clawhammer about PRs”Artisan Breads Everyday” being perhaps his most accessible book. Another one worth looking into is Beatrice Ojakangas’ “Whole Grain Breads by machine or hand” Lot’s of great sandwich loaves with directions for dough only cycles, stand mixers or by hand AND each is given in 1, 11/2 and 2lb sizes. Unfortunately amounts are in volume measures; but it’s great for putting together a simple “this rocks” sandwich loaf while you perfect your slash and steam techniques on the new perfect baguette, LOL.

Enjoy it all, and Bake-on...

maiasimon's picture

In addition to not using a speed higher than 2 for kneading with your KA, you must adhere to the times they recommend in the manual.  I've sent mine back, but I think it was 3 or 4 minutes for kneading after 2 minutes of mixing.  It might be more than that, but the point is, the machine will not last if you exceed the 'recommendations'.

Good luck, and welcome to TFL

Maia in Trenton, NJ

tamborine's picture

Thanks for the welcomes, insights, & hints!! I went out & started stocking up on things I'm going to need - flour, yeast, etc., but also picked up the books Artisan Bread Every Day and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

While I'm waiting for my new mixer to arrive, I'm going to take the plunge & try some no-knead bread. And, thanks to this forum, I see I could've used my old bread machine to knead (DUH!!). Why didn't I think of that before, as the stupid thing sat collecting dust for 15 years, lol? I have a LOT of learning to do!