Hi All, I'm from Singapore. A total newbie to bread making. Just doesn't seem to have much luck with baking so far. Hope to pick up some tips here.
I recommend you look through the Lessons available at the top of the page, use the search box, at the top right of the page, to search for all sorts of information that has already been discussed on here, and feel free to add your own questions or comments as the need arises! One thing that can really help you get off to a good start is to find a known good recipe that interests you, and practice it over and over until you begin to develop your skills as a baker. It will work best if it's a simple recipe, but it needs to be something you won't mind eating lots of as you practice, practice, practice!
Welcome to TFL! Hope you enjoy your stay!
David is a much more experienced and much better baker than me. But I am very new to the baking world and can say that you will drown in a sea of mediocre bread if you flit from recipe to recipe, never having made a good loaf of bread with which you are fully satisfied.
Thank you Davids and Floydm. Went through the Lessons and still looking for a simple enough recipe in hope to make a successful first loaf.
If you want the simplest recipe, you should be using a scale to weigh your ingredients. If you don't have a kitchen scale, they can be bought for really cheap at amazon.com or at your local grocery or supermarket. The reason weight will give you the simplest recipe, is that all the ingredients react to each other in the dough according to their relative weights to each other. Measuring out in cups will give inconsistent results, making it harder to figure out what went wrong, or even in some cases what went right.
As far as ingredients go, the simplest bread will have four and no more: Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt. For a crispier crust, bake at a high temperature. My oven will only reach 500F, so I can bake at that temp, but it doesn't hurt to bake at an even higher temp than that. For a softer crust, bake at a lower temp. A lot of recipes will have you baking at 350F, and some even lower. For my daily bread, for sandwiches, toast, etc, I bake at around 375F.
If you just look around the site and find a recipe you think you'd like to try, post a question and let people help you. There are lots of experienced, helpful and friendly bakers on here. If you just can't find one you feel comfortable starting with, you can even ask for guidance on that. There are plenty of opinions about what is the simplest or easiest.
Should I be using bread flour or all-purpose flour if I don't want the bread to be dense?
Should I be using bread or all-purpose flour if I don't want a dense bread?
Get King Arthur All-Purpose flour. It's widely available, reasonably priced, and works well in a wide variety of breads.
Longer answer is that "bread" and "all-purpose" don't have standard definitions with flour. Every brand has different qualities with their flours and some brands are more consistent between batches than others. Generally speaking, you want unbleached, unbromated flour with a protein content of 11-12%. Higher protein content will usually mean more potential gluten and water absorption, takes longer to knead and will make bread chewier. So high protein is good for things like bagels. The extra gluten can also be good when making whole grain breads or highly enriched breads, since both inhibit gluten formation.
Thanks ericreed. Haven't seen King Arthur here in Singapore. The common ones that we have here are Bake King, Pillsbury, Prima and Redman. I'm currently trying a basic recipe with Bake King All-Purpose Flour. Let's see if it works. I'll post it later.
I couldn't find the protein content of any of those but Pillsbury. The Pillsbury all-purpose is 10.5%, so if you do use that you may find you need less water than some recipes call for. I didn't find a trustworthy looking source for Pillsbury bread flour, but rumor is it's about 12% protein. I think either of those should probably work fine. The all-purpose would probably be better in rustic hearth loaves, the bread flour in enriched breads. And you can experiment and see which ones work best for you.