The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Basic hand baking stuff

Andy_P's picture

Basic hand baking stuff

I've been hand baking in the UK for about 8 months now and although I've had fun with some of the more "artisan" breads, my basic recipe is still the one from the back of a microlised yeast packet!

Just a few questions, if I may...

1. Do you use microlised yeast in the US? I still find it better, if I have the time, to do a second proving when using the microlised yeast, would you agree?

3. Washing up!..... Dough clogs up sponges, scouring pads, brushes cloths horribly. I end up just using my fingers to get it off my bowls, spoons and scrapers, which takes ages. Any tips?

4. Non-stick loaf pans....
Although I am buying reasonably expensive ones and not scratching them with metal utensils, I'm finding the non-stick coating KEEPS coming off, onto the sides of the loaf! (which certainly wouldn't be heathy if I didn't laboriously scrape it off again!). Have I just been unlucky with my purchases so far?

5. Silicon loaf tins... Are they any good? They all look too shallow to me.

PaddyL's picture

I'm not sure what you mean by 'microlised'.  Instant, perhaps?  When washing up bowls and such, always soak first in cold water, then rinse, and wash out with cold water, before rinsing again with hot water.  As for your non-stick pans, I've never heard of any of it coming off on the baked bread, so your pans must be made quite differently.  I'd go and buy some regular cast aluminum or stainless steel pans, or even terra cotta pans, and just grease them well.  I'm in Canada, by the way, and though we do use metric, we also use oz., fl. oz., and we still use the US cup, not the Imperial cup.

Janknitz's picture

I use my plastic scraper or a paper towel to get every bit of dough I can (I scrape into the "green bucket" for composting) and sometimes let the utensil or bowl dry a bit to scrape off before washing. CAUTION: sourdough dries like cement!

If you scrape off as much as possible, a brush can easily handle what's left and still come clean itself.

Non-stick pans are NOT meant for some of the higher temps we bake some breads at. The coating (called PTFB) is not good for lungs and can kill a pet bird in the house if pans are overheated.

Use non-coated pans for bread and grease liberally. Laurel's Bread Book suggests mixing oil and lecithin which you can get in the US at health food stores.

I use "cake release" (from cake decorating supply stores) or spray olive oil.

xaipete's picture

I save the fiber, netted type bags my onions, avocados, and other produce come in to remove excess pieces of dough. I cut them into pieces. They work GREAT at removing and collecting dough. I can use them for several days before discarding and assume they can be recycled.


ehanner's picture


I'm not familiar with that brand name of yeast in the US. There are 3 commonly available varieties of yeast; Fresh, Active Dry and Instant. The old time Pro Bakers swear on the fresh kind. Active Dry requires that you activate the culture in warm water for a few minutes, some add a little sugar to give it a snack. Instant yeast is intended to be added to the dry ingredients and does not need to be "proved" prior to use with dough ingredients. I prefer the instant due to ease of use and consistent reliablity.

A secondary ferment or prove as you say, develops more flavor in the bread. When I first started baking, I didn't understand the relationship between yeast and food(flour and or sugars). When a recipe calls for a certain amount of yeast, say 2 teaspoons or 6-8 grams, you can cut that by 3/4 down to 1/2 teaspoon and still get the dough to rise. It will take longer to rise and taste better due to the increase in fermenting byproducts (acids from the yeast eating the food). Instead of the dough doubling in 1 hour or so it might take overnight or longer.

If you don't have a copy of Bread Bakers Assistant by Reinhart, I would suggest it as a good way to learn about preferments and the basics of making exceptional breads. There are lots of good books out but the BBA is great place to start and many of the members here have experience with it and can speak from first hand knowledge.

Cleanup is easy with a nylon/plastic wound ball scrubber. These are cheap little balls a few inches diameter made to scrup pots and pans without scratching. Using mild water, dough softens up and is unlodged from the pan easily and the scrubber can be easily rinced or shaken clean. Sponges, scrub brushes with bristles and scouring pads are all gummed by dough. You won't believe how well this works.

The non stick should not be coming off. I suggest you throw those pans away and replace them with a newer better grade. You don't want to ingest even a small amount of the coating. Here there are inexpensive bread pans in the grocery stores that work well for under $8. each. I have 4 of the same kind and have never had even a little bit flake off. Overheating on an open flame ruins the nonstick coating. Normal use should be no trouble. Or you could buy some old glass pans at a thrift. I like steel because you get a better crust when the top is done but that's a personal prefrence.

I'm not a fan of the silicone baking pans but they do seem to work. They can be a little hard to rotate in a hot oven for even baking for my taste.

Hope this helps a little. Welcome to the Loaf.


sphealey's picture


There are 3 commonly available varieties of yeast; Fresh, Active Dry and Instant. The old time Pro Bakers swear on the fresh kind. Active Dry requires that you activate the culture in warm water for a few minutes, some add a little sugar to give it a snack. Instant yeast is intended to be added to the dry ingredients and does not need to be "proved" prior to use with dough ingredients. I prefer the instant due to ease of use and consistent reliablity.


I have lived through the tremendous improvement in dry yeast available to the home baker over the last 20 years, and IMHO that progress is a true triumph of science and manufacturing for which the yeastmakers should be proud.

At the same time I have spent the last 8 years in consumer products (prior to that I was in industrial manufacturing), where I have experienced firsthand the joys of branding, marketing, and product line extension that I read about in theory in business school.  So I am just cynical enough to suspect that all 17 types of dry yeast from the brand I usually buy currently found on the grocery store shelf are exactly the same thing, and have been for at least 5 years if not longer.  The "bread machine yeast" does say it contains a bit of ascorbic acid, so I'll grant there might be two manufacturing lines but not more than that:  the consumer products world just doesn't work that way anymore.  It is far more profitable have two different labels made up and sell the same thing for two different prices than it is to actually manufacture two different things.

I am also really curious about the whole fresh yeast question.  If I make a 24-hour poolish with, say, 150 g of flour, 240 g of water, and 1/16 (or even 1/32) tsp of dry yeast, how is the growth of the yeast colony from a microscopic amount to the entire dough mass different from the growth in the fresh yeast makers' vats?  I believe the fresh yeast makers use molassas as their base, but why would that lead to a better taste than yeast grown directly in the flour that will make the bread?

Anyway, that's probably far more than the original poster wanted to hear.  The basic rule of bread is:  have fun, keep trying, don't get frustrated for the first 4-6 weekends, find a simple recipe and stick with it until you get good results, then branch out.  And lots of cold water to clean up.


althetrainer's picture

I am in Canada and I have never heard of microlised yeast.  My husband uses active dry yeast (not that he bakes a lot but when he does, that's what he uses) and I use sourdough so just wild yeast for me. 

Like PaddyL, I use just cold water to first clean the dough hooks, measuring cups etc with my hands.  Then I use warm soapy water to finish washing them.  If I use hot water to start, the gluten will make a big mess and cling on to the sponge, brush, cloth and anything you use to clean with. 

Regarding the nonstick coming off the loaf pan, I have had a few of them happened to me as well. It could be the qaulity of the pans.  I used Ekcoloy - an inexpensive Canadian made nonstick pans, and they do have a certain life span.  Once they start to peel, I treat them as aluminum pans, so grease and flour before use.  If they continue to peel, I just throw them out. 

I have some silicon pans but I don't use them becasue I find them difficult to use.  Some members in the group really love them though.  So I guess it's your own preference.

mredwood's picture



I have heard that non stick pans work by sluffing off micro amts of the non stick surface. In that case your pans are working well. Not my style. Do you have a cast iron fry pan, or dutch oven? I would use this and throw away the non stick until I had a chance to rethink the pan situation. Another option is glass. If you don't have glass loaf pan use a baking 8 x 8 or any other size. Your loaf will rise in it and look different. Try a baking or pizza stone. When using cast iron expect a darker crust. You can remove the loaf after it firms up and finish baking on the oven rack. There is always lining the loaf pan with parchment paper. Now that would be a pain in the pan.

Washing up: cold water. Use your scraper first. Cold water & pull of the pieces of dough & throw away. Or let dry & scrape dried dough into the trash. I wash my sink strainer in the dishwasher as it catches all I miss and gets very yucky. 


halfrice's picture

1. I'm also from the UK and I've never heard of microlised yeast. I use dry active, I rehydrate them in warm water and they are ready when some of them start floating to the top, usually takes about 5mins.

2. What happened to question 2?:)

3. I am a lucky woman, my other half does the washing up most of the time:) Having said that, I find that my proofing bowl doesn't usually have much dough left behind. I just soak them for a bit and use my hands/fingers to give it a swipe, then use the scourer.

4. I don't use a baking pan, not that I don't want to but I haven't found a decent one online or offline. I don't want to use non stick as they can't stand high temp. in the oven. What I want is a proper bread pan with straight ends but all the loaf pans I come across have sloping ends where the top is wider than the bottom.

5. I ask the same question some months ago and decided against it, so I am still baking free form loaves.


Andy_P's picture

Thanks all. Sorry for the confusion from the term "Microlised" It's not a brand name, and I can't even find where I saw it called that now, maybe one of the posh books I got from the library! It's the stuff that comes in little 7g sachets (what's that in cups? ;-)

The packet I've got at the moment calls it "Fast action or Easy bake yeast" so I think we are all talking about the same thing.

It goes on to say "Can be used in both traditional baking and bread machine baking as it contains Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), which accelerates the action of the yeast during the fermentation process".

Interesting about using COLD water to wash up, I'll try that tomorrow!

And, yes... I'm not at all happy about eating PTFE. Time to get more pans I think, but these ones weren't cheap (~£10-12).

Paddyscake's picture

you know, sponge on one side, scotch brite on the other. I accidently found, while washing off my wooden cutting board, that both sides of the sponge come clean. The wood is enough to abrade the dough off. Just give it a rub with a little soap and water and the dough comes right off the sponge.