The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Beginning Bread Baker (but have been baking bread for 35 years)

Jane Clark's picture
Jane Clark

Beginning Bread Baker (but have been baking bread for 35 years)

Hi! I'm new to the forum and have been baking mediocre bread for decades. But I searched the web, found this forum, and decided to work at being a better bread baker...WITH SUCCESS!

Here's what I have learned the hard way:

1) Get a scale...seriously!

2) Get a simple recipe and use only simple tools. The recipe I use calls for 500 grams of flour, so it's easy to experiment with hydration levels. I also use a plastic bowl, plastic bench knife, baking stone,  parchment paper, and, of course, my sexy new scale.

3) Use your hands and learn to knead!

All of the problems I was having boiled down to two things: 1) I was working with too low a hydration level to develop good structure and 2) I was fooling myself with the no-knead recipes. I hope to eventually figure out the no-knead technique, but for now I'm enjoying the Zen of kneading.

Thanks to everyone who's posted on this forum, I'm now making consistently excellent bread!

LindyD's picture

Glad you found the site - and a scale!  

If you do a TFL search on strech and fold, you'll come up with lots of threads discussing its benefits.

Happy baking!

Grenage's picture

Stretch and folds are fantastic - yay for finding this site.  I tend to do folds along with the kneading; generally 10 minutes kneading (or until it 'feels' done), let it proof for an hour, then fold.  I fold once or twice every hour, depending on how it feels.


I'd like to add that there is kneading, and there is kneading.  I've seen some people knead with such little stretching, that they effectively need to knead for 3-4 times as long to get the same result.

Jane Clark's picture
Jane Clark

I realize how heavy and stiff my old doughs were compared to the 76% hydration loaf I'm currently hatching. Can anyone tell me when you know a wet dough will hold together as a loaf? Window pane test still appropriate? Or will I know when I try to shape a loaf and it won't come together? Just keep stretching?