The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Thanks from Vermont

powerdog's picture

Thanks from Vermont

I've been reading forum posts here over the past few weeks, as my interest in whole grain breads has grown. Although health considerations should have driven me to this topic long ago, it didn't happen until I became genuinely enthusiastic about what I could produce. And the info I've found here has really helped me correct mistakes and gain a better understanding of what's likely to happen as I change ingredients and techniques.

I now have a few reliable recipes that leave me with no desire for store-bought bread. Variations on whole grain sourdough.

One thing I'll add: I love to experiment in the kitchen, and almost never is something so bad that it's inedible. So a certain amount of my cooking and baking is devoted to "seeing what happens." Nothing crazy, but it can be fun to treat the kitchen like a science lab. If the result is a little too this or that, it's fine with me.

The time has come to post, however, because some questions are itches I just have to scratch!

Other posts in the intoductions forum have questions, so maybe I'll try putting a few here:

1. When I double a bread recipe I increase the baking time, but are there any other variables to consider? Do all ingredients double as well? Does mixing time change? Or do these things depend on the specific recipe? 

2. I want to try lightening the breads with a bit of vital wheat gluten. For whole grains, are there ever times I would not want to use it?

3. Ready to take the plunge for an Ankersrum, because my old KA gives off a burning smell whenever I knead dough. I've watched many YouTube videos and read many articles about it. I know it's great for dough, but is it second-best for things like cake batter?

4. Pleasant Hill has the orange Ank on sale right now, $50 off. Do they always have a color on sale, or are there times when all colors are the list price? 



jimbtv's picture

Ya, this bread thing can be pretty addicting!

As you mentioned, experimentation can be a lot of fun. Just remember how to get back to a baseline in case you go too far astray.

Doubling the recipes - my spreadsheets break every formula I have received into single loaf proportions, then I expand accordingly by increasing the number of loaves I want to make. I have yet to have to modify the proportions on anything. From as few as 1 to as many as 68, I have yet to modify the formula.

I might add or subtract some leavening based on the time of year and the strength of my starter. I might add or subtract some water depending on the humidity and daily environmental heating (woodstove?). This is an ongoing learning process.

Mix times can be variable depending on the capabilities of your mixer. My two primary mixers are an Ank 6220 and a Univex M-20, 20-quart. Both mixers have their ideal capacities. Too little volume can be as big a problem as too much. When I am outside of the mixer's comfort zone I find I have to mix longer and occasionally get my hands and a scraper involved (with the mixer off, of course).

The Ank is wonderful. I bought it for making bread dough but have recently started using it for cookies, waffles, meringues and more. I have been very impressed in every case. I really didn't think the plastic bowl and thin beaters would do the job but to me, they do it better than the beater on my KitchenAid. Now I'm thinking about accessorizing! I just need to scrape the coinage together.

The last time I saw a sale on the Ank was when they upgraded to the 6230. Color was not a financial incentive at that time but hey, it's Halloween - go for it. In my opinion and from what I have been able to gleen, I wouldn't pay the additional money of a US version of the 6230. For a hundred bucks you get metal knobs.

Best of luck to you and we look forward to your future posts.



Dsr303's picture

Hi , I see your form Vermont Have you ever taken any bread classes at King Arthur? I’ve taken a few. I live in South Jersey so it’s a 9 hour train ride for me but we’ll worth it. I love it there and have learned so much about bread baking,from whole grain ,to sour dough.

I was amazed at what I didn’t know, If I lived in Vermont I’d be at King Arthur every day

powerdog's picture

Jim, many thanks for your answers. Very helpful. There's so much to learn! You did mention one concern of mine about the Ank: the plastic accessories look flimsy on the YouTube videos I've seen. I wonder why they didn't make things like the shaft and 2nd bowl out of stainless steel. Cost savings?

Dsr, it would be nice to visit KA often. However, for me - in northern VT -  it's about a 3.5 hour ride each way, so it would be a long day (and night). I have visited, though, and it's as impressive and overwhelming as a huge toy store. Most of the time I have to be satisfied with drooling over their catalog.

jimbtv's picture

Dsr, I have attended one class at KAF. It was a 3-day class on Classic French Bread taught by Jeffrey Hamelman and James MacGuire. I had been baking as an avocation for about 9 months and wanted to spend some time with professional who had been at this a long time. I couldn't have been more pleased with the course, and especially with the talented and giving instructors. Fortunately for me KAF is a couple hours away or they'd be draining my wallet with regularity. As it is now, I purchase some supplies from them through their website.

Power, making bread in a mixer can be pretty hard on the machine so the stainless bowl is designed to take the abuse. Nothing that I have put into the plastic bowl (yet) has proven to be a problem. Anything that requires beaters really isn't going to stress the bowl very much. The Ank is pretty pricey as is so I think their was some cost considerations in the design. One thing for sure is that they have been making this mixer a long time, and distributing it under various names, and it has a stellar reputation across the board.

Do not worry about the plastic, either the bowl or the knobs. Unless you do something very unwise they will serve you quite well I am sure.



pairs4life's picture

Hey there,

I am from the south. I will always be from the south.  I have now lived most of my adult ife in the City of Big Shoulders.  I have an interest in regional foods, particularly breads and foods that are preserved, e.g. pickles and fruit preserves.

I have had an account for years but I didn't understand bread and was frustrated with the process of my first starter.  I suspect I opened my account back then, almost 4 years ago.  Well, for some reason I got interested again this month.  I had an array of success with yeasted doughs, pizzas, cakes, laminated doughs, etc. as a home cook.  This time I understood more about coaxing wheat to do what you want in the first place.  I started a new starter and then decided my old starter, starving for years in the fridge should be re-animated.  And she is.  In fact, I am confident she is mad with me because I thought something was wrong when she went dead silent, like that moment in the horror pic before the monster roars out of the shadows.  She roared back to life.  I have way too much.  I have a day job and can't get to all the baking I thought I would do today and yesterday.

Super grateful for the threads reminding me that the starter will keep and I can start another time if I like.