The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with making basic bread

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gingerbreadbabe's picture
gingerbreadbabe

Help with making basic bread

Hi,

I have always wanted to bake my own braed but somehow they have flopped everytime. Does anyone have a basic recipe for me? What sort of flour should I be using? Anmd can I use baking powder instead of yeast? (this is since I have never had any success baking with yeast so I now have a natural fear of it!)

 

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Up near the top of the page under the words "The Fresh Loaf", click on the link that says "Lessons".  You will be on your way to good bread.

Jeff

gingerbreadbabe's picture
gingerbreadbabe

Thank you. I will give it a try!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You can make quick breads using baking powder, GBB, but if you want to bake the type of bread used for sandwiches, rolls, etc., you need yeast.

Am guessing you are measuring your flour using cups.  Here's a good video showing how to measure using cups (if you don't have a scale):  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe/measuring-flour.html

Use all purpose, unbleached flour and keep trying!  

No one starts out baking perfect bread; it's only through our errors that we learn.

gingerbreadbabe's picture
gingerbreadbabe

Hi, Thanks for that. Perhaps I am using the wrong flour? Will look for unbleached flour in the supermarket and keep trying.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Unbleached flour is not necessary for a good sandwich loaf, unless you are one of the few people who can actually taste a difference.  I can't.  However a good bread flour (at least 11.5% protein) will make a huge difference.  Don't bother trying to make bread using grocery store AP flour like Pillsbury, GM, or whatever store brands are around.  Use bread flour or use King Arthur AP flour - King Arthur AP flour is 11.7% protein, for all intents and purposes it IS bread flour.  The KA bread flour is even higher in protein, 12.7%.

KA AP flour can be had fairly cheaply at WalMart - the only thing that will get me through their doors these days.  Depending on where you live, it may go on sale for a good price if you watch for it.  It doesn't in my area.

Pillsbury Bread flour is my second choice, and GM bread flour if I can't find that.

If you have access to a Sams or Costco, the ConAgra bulk bread flour is fine - that's actually my first choice for price, if I have access to a warehouse store.  I think it's running about $14 for a 50 lb bag in my area.  King Arthur is my first choice for quality, but the bread, pizza, and rolls I make from the cheap warehouse club bread flour is just fine.  At 35% of the cost (comparing KA AP from WM to 50 lbs of bread flour from Costco) the savings is significant, and for everyday bread the taste difference is not noticeable.

Don't worry about the quantity.  I break open a large bag like that and repack it in gallons size ZipLoc freezer bags, then store those in a rubber-maid style plastic tote.  Once you start baking bread, you will use it up.  Between pizza, buns, rolls, and bread, I run through flour faster than it can go stale on me, LOL!  Or you could freeze it if you have freezer space.

Also, you can get 2 lbs of yeast from one of the warehouse clubs for around $5.  I paid about $4 last time I bought mine, and I'm still using it.  Keep a small amount in a glass jar in your fridge - I use an old empty yeast jar from the last time I bought yeast in the grocery store.  The rest I keep in a zip loc freezer bag, still in the original packaging, in the back of the freezer.  It'll last forever, or until you use it up, and it's a HECK of a lot cheaper than paying $8 for a little jar of the stuff from the grocery.

gingerbreadbabe's picture
gingerbreadbabe

Thanks that helps a lot. I feel much more confident now and will certainly give it a try

 

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Unbleached flour may not be necessary from a taste standpoint but it most definitely carries a number of health issues.  The chemical bleaching of flour is not a process that lends itself to healthy flour.  I personally would not use bleached or bromated flour.  I do use organic flour and only organic flour.

Jeff

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

There are putative health issues.  If it bothers you, don't use bleached flour.  There's not a lot of evidence for the idea that bleached flour is particularly unhealthy. Except for cake flour, I don't care one way or the other.  I just buy what's cheapest - given that it's an appropriate type of flour for what I'm baking - eg at least 11.5% protein for bread.

For cakes, I want a flour that has been matured using chlorination.  Unless and until I can get access to heat treated flours appropriate for cakes, I'll stick with chlorinated cake flours.  We only eat cake about 4 times a year anyway.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

give up on yeast breads.  I am proof positive that anyone can do it with a little practice and help from TFL community.  It is mjust flour water yeast and sqqlt with some easy techniques to learn.  Just keep at it and you will be making good breads before you know it. 

If you want to make a nice Irish soda bread I use Rachel Allen's recie for white and brown (whole wheat) recipes that are easy to find on the web.  There are lso good ones here by using the search function on this site.

Happy baking  

rayel's picture
rayel

Hi, You don't say what kind of problems you are having with yeast. Are  you using water that is too hot? Or perhaps using yeast that is too old? When you say flopped, do your breads not rise durring rising or durring bake? Are you trying to make bread with white flour or whole wheat? Can you give us some details?  Do you have a mixer, or bread machine? Thanks Ray

gingerbreadbabe's picture
gingerbreadbabe

Hi,

I usually follow the recipe and leave the dough to rise, then punch down and let it rise again before baking. However, the bread that comes out of the oven is usually dense and hard. What type of flour should I be using? I know the recipes usually say all purpose flour, but is that normal flour that you would use for cake or must it be bread flour?

 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Flour to use? Any kind of all-purpose wheat flour will do, although I personally think unbleached is best. King Arthur and Gold Medal are good supermarket brands, although you can make very good bread with generic supermarket brands as well. Bread flour works too, but isn't essential. 

If your bread is dense and hard, it is probably one or more of the following:

1. Overproofing (letting your dough rise too long); this is probably the #1 cause of poor bread flavor and texture. It should just barely double in volume at any stage of rising, any more than that it is probably over-risen. Don't pay attention to the time listed in the recipes, they are almost always ballpark. Instead, pay attention to how big the dough is getting; if it hasn't quite doubled, give it more time, and check back every 10-15 minutes. 

2. Not enough water in your dough. As a very general estimate, the weight of the water in your recipe should be around 60-65% of the weight of your flour. For example, for 1000g of flour, you should be using 600-650g (600-650mL) of water. Too little water and your bread will be hard and dense. Always better to err on the side of slightly too much water; it may be goopier to handle, but the texture and flavor are usually better. 

3. Not kneading long enough. In a stand mixer, this means about 10 minutes. By hand, if you're a beginner, plan for about 2o minutes. You may want to try the stretch and fold technique instead, search these forums for more info. 

Don't give up, making good yeast breads does take some practice, but follow the above and you should get the hang of it quickly. 

BettyR's picture
BettyR

bread machine at a thrift shop and a bread machine cookbook. I think all bread machines have dough cycles, you just measure your ingredients into the pan and let the machine do the kneading and rising. Then remove the dough shape it as you like and bake it in your oven.

Using a bread machine on the dough cycle will actually help you learn how to make bread. By making different breads in your machine on the dough cycle you will learn what different ingredients do to the dough and what the dough is supposed to look and feel like.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Try this recipe for Beautiful Burger Buns.

Lots of people use it for sandwich bread.  It is my go-to recipe for buns.  My son eats them as if they were dinner rolls.  Very versatile, very easy, very reliable.

If you're turned off by the amount of sugar and yeast, cut them in half.  It's a lot easier as written but still not hard if you reduce the sugar and yeast.

I have a by-weight version if you'd prefer to weigh your ingredients, which, btw, I STRONGLY recommend.  Switching to by-weight recipes is the single most important thing I did that improved my baking.  A decent scale can be had for around $20 to $25.  You'll wonder why it took you so long to switch, once you take the leap.

 

BTW, as written, that recipe makes HUGE buns.  I divide the dough into 10 to 12 pieces for burger buns.  About 14 hot dog buns, I think.