The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie here from Denver with a question

cookatheart's picture
cookatheart

Newbie here from Denver with a question

First of all I have to say I love this site! I could probably spend all week on here! Alas my family would miss me prolly! =) Anyways, I'm brand new to bread baking and have had a few okay attempts at making some loaves. My first two were okay as I think I had killed off much of my yeast with water that was too warm....ooops, but tasted good. My last loaf I made 100% Whole Wheat from P. Reinhart's Whole Grain book and the rise and crumb were way better than anything I have done so far. My question though is this: The taste is alright, it has a slight nutty flavor, but not as sweet as I would have liked. Is that something that is typical with this formula? And how much more sugar can I add without affecting the outcome of the loaf altogether, especially since I live a mile high? Any other advice would be great, especially related to high altitude baking.

proth5's picture
proth5

I have been baking bread for a number of years in Denver, I have never made any adjustments to formulas and I seem to get satisfactory results for all types of bread -artisan, pan breads, sweet breads, bagels, pizza etc.

Bear in mind that this is at only a mile high - if you are baking at real altitude this advice may not be valid.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that the dry climate impacts how much flour I use on boards, couches, and peels.  Much less is needed in arid Denver as opposed to more humid climates. I am also very careful about keeping my dough covered for fermenting and proofing - as it will dry very quickly.  For artisan breads, I steam the oven very thoroughly - if I do not, I am not happy with crust color.

When I first arrived in Denver, I used the Hungarian High Altitude flour, however I have been using King Arthur flours for the past few years.

As for sweetness in your bread, I am unfamiliar with the formula you are using, but you may want to try white whole wheat flour - which is available in most Denver supermarkets.  Too much sugar will impact the activity of the yeast.  Some of my old bread formulas call for 2 - 4 TBS sugar for 2 loaves of bread.  When I make Pain De Mie (which is a white, enriched bread) I use sugar at 3.8% of the weight of the flour.  This yields a very nice taste and crumb, but the bread is further enriched with 11% by weight of butter.  Again, this is the same formula that I used when I baked at sea level - works fine for me.

Hope this helps.

Cooky's picture
Cooky

If you re in the mood for experimenting, I would suggest trying honey and/or orange juice as sweeteners. They bring more complexity of flavor than straight sugar, particularly the orange juice. It doesn't make the bread taste citrusy, but it does make it taste lovely.

 With juice, you'd use maybe a quarter cup for a two-loaf recipe (and adjust water accordingly). With honey, anything from one to three tablespoons per loaf should be plenty.

 Of course, you can cut those amounts in half and use both at the same time Yummy!

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

cookatheart's picture
cookatheart

As I'm trying to think this through, could my lack of a sweeter taste in my bread have been from too much yeast possibly, as I used 3 T. of brown sugar for one loaf and that should have been enough? Just a thought.........anyways, am I anywhere near on track with my thinking?

proth5's picture
proth5

That's plenty of sugar for my taste, but it might not be for yours.

Perhaps white whole wheat would produce a milder flavor that would be more to your taste. Most whole wheat flours are from red wheat.  King Arthur (and others) markets whole wheat flour from white wheat.  Red wheat bran will have a bitter flavor that white wheat bran does not. I do know that King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour is easy to find in the Denver area.  If you don't normally eat a lot of whole wheat products you may want to try this.

A lot of extra yeast might cause flavor problems in the bread, but it would need to be a lot of extra yeast.  I have doubled and even tripled the amount of yeast (inadventently) and not experienced flavor issues.  Additional yeast shortens fermentation times which will result in somewhat less flavorful breads, but not specifically less sweetness.  You could try reducing the yeast to see if you like the results - but allow extra time for the bread to rise.

Change a factor, bake, taste and decide.  That's always my advice.

Hope this helps.

proth5's picture
proth5

What I was not clear about in my first reply is that an excess of sugar will cause yeast to grow more slowly.  Sugar is hygroscopic which means it locks up available water.  Although a small amount of sugar will feed the yeast, a large amount will absorb water that the yeast cells need for fermentation so fermentation will be inhibited by too much sugar.

Sorry for the confusion.

cookatheart's picture
cookatheart

Wow, thanks for the great information. I will definitely be trying to make this bread again. I'm sort of a perfectionist so I know I'll get it right someday! =) In the meantime I think I'm going to try to make the bread from the lesson on here.

jonquil's picture
jonquil

Hi,

I've been baking my bread at 6000 ft. My thought is on the flours. The same bread made with KA whole wheat vs Hungarian High altitude is very different. I make the rye and the many-seeded bread in P Reinhardt's book and the Hungarian was much drier and the crumb did not stick together as well. Also, in the final dough, PR says to add 56 grams of flour. I would count that in some of the flour on the board, rather than add it immediately. So I will buy King Arthur or Bob's Red Mill or Bronze Chief (Montana)(from Walmart), but not Hodgson Mills or Hungarian (these are all whole wheat or rye flours I'm talking about).

I will try to keep these doughs as wet as possible, too, and add yogurt, not milk to my recipes.

Jonquil