The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New guy here HELP

BostonJohn's picture

New guy here HELP

New guy here.. I mean brand new. Just got a Zojirush bread maker. First thing I want to make is some good Italian bread. Order a bunch of stuff from KA and purchased an Italian Loaf pan. Yesterday I got a news letter from them talking about their long covered Baker. I looked on line and also found the Sassifras Super Stone Covered pan.


1.  what's your opinion on these different baking pans??

2. Are they worth the money??

3.I kind of like Italian bread that is longer and shaped bit longer than these pans.


Thanks for your help

Felila's picture

If you're going to use the bread maker from start to finish, follow the directions and recipes that came with the machine. 

Some of the bakers here use a breadmaker to mix dough, I believe, though most bakers just use a stand mixer. Which stand mixer? Passionate debates here.

As for pans ... I don't understand why you think that buying stuff will help you make bread. You can make bread with almost nothing in the way of equipment. I shape my dough into batardes and bake on an old cookie sheet, blackened by years of use.  

There are recipes and videos online here that will help you make tasty Italian-style bread. How about the ciabatta recipe?  What is really going to make the difference is lots of practice. You'll learn what dough feels like when it's just the right hydration or when it needs more water or flour. You'll learn how to stretch and fold, to retard dough, to shape loaves so that you have a gluten veil around the loaf. You'll learn how to slash. Once you've learned that, you may be ready for oven stones, couches, peels, dough-rising buckets, and other baking impedimenta. 

foodslut's picture

.... that you don't necessarily need more STUFF to get a decent result.  I've baked bread at home as a hobby since 2005 (averaging +10 lbs. per week every weekend), and I've used bread pans/loaf pans maybe a dozen times to make certain breads that specific folks asked to be shaped in a way that could be used by the specific toasters they own.  Otherwise, it's hand shaped on parchment paper on a stone in the oven.  Here's some of what I've been able to do without loaf pans:

If you're going to use the bread maker, use it over and over according to instructions to learn what it can and can't do for you.  I'm guessing from what I've read about bread makers, though, that you won't get a very dark, crispy crust going this route (I stand to be corrected, though).

If you want to make "Italian bread", first define what you mean by this (ciabatta?  saltless central Italian bread?  filone?), then look for recipes/formulas to make it, then make it - you may even be able to make the dough in the machine, and shape it yourself before baking it in an oven.  If you're looking for a filone ("large loaf"), for example, this is a good place to start:

YouTube videos will never replace face-to-face instruction, but it can be a pretty good way to learn techniques on your own if you don't have access to such instruction.

Good luck!


jannrn's picture

I TOO have a Zo and LOVE it!! I use it mostly for dough except when I am in the camper....the oven in here sucks!! Anyway, as was said above, there are all KINDS of videos, tutorials and recipes on here as well as all the help you could ever hope for! It is an amazing site!! Enjoy it and if I were you, I would hold off on buying alot of equipment until you have a better idea what you are doing. Enjoy getting to know Dough! BTW...I was a travel Nurse for 9 years and worked in Salem(Beverly) for 6 months and was on the Cape for 9! The thing I miss most....Portuguese Sweet Bread! But I THINK I have finally cracked the recipe!


HeidiH's picture

I agree with the rest, pans are not necessary.  I mostly do bread just on parchment paper either on some heated tiles or on a cookie sheet that's seen better days.  If I make a bread that's slack enough that it needs walls to keep it from spreading out into a flat puddle -- which nevertheless is sometimes desireable, e.g. foccacia, ciabatta -- I use almost anything that seems to fit the bill, including a fish pan and a rectangular salad bowl.  I do have a french bread thingie -- I hesitate to call it a pan -- that is perforated and holds two long rolls.  It comes in handy when I'm trying to keep the bread corralled  on one side of the oven while something else is in there like a pot of stock or a pork butt.   I started out doing the Bittman-Leahy no-knead bread and used a cast iron Dutch oven for that. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love kitchen gadgets.  The most important one, though, is the kitchen scale to measure the flour and the liquids by percentages.   Using volume measurements like cups to measure flour makes bread making very hard for the newbie who doesn't know what dough should really feed like.  I know it was a revelation when I started weighing.  I haven't made a brick or a doorstop since -- unless I intended to, of course, like a heavy dark, dark rye to slice thin.

The second most important gadget is a quick-read thermometer to read the internal temperature of the loaf as it comes out of the oven.  Much better than using the "thump on the bottom" method. 

You will find fantastic advice here from folks who know a great deal about making bread. 

BostonJohn's picture

Thanks, I'll take that info. I already have a nice little electronic scale I'll be using. what do you mean by Liquids by percentages??? i have saved and printed the KA weight chart, for converting to weight.




loafgeek's picture

John, have you purchased Hamelman's "Bread" book yet?   That would be a good place to start I'd think.  I am also getting Peter Reinharts "Whole Grain Breads" book as well.  Others here can recommend other good books--perhaps a good one to start out with.

Felila's picture

That's the book I've been using for the past year. Spreads baking out over several days, but the long rise times mean big flavor. For doing stretch and fold or shaping loaves, I'd watch the videos available through this site. For so many cooking tasks, a video is a better teacher than words or even pictures.