Tuesday, 24 September 2013

On Bread-Making

To make bread all a person needs are some bread pans, some flour, salt, sugar, water, yeast, and oil, a mixing bowl and a piece of plastic to cover that bowl. That is the right equipment. Trent told me that he and Jamie have an electric bread mixer and a wheat grinder as well as the basic ingredients. OK. They are the lucky ones – truly over the top for having the right equipment. I didn’t get an electric mixer (in my case, a Bosch) until I had been making bread for 20 years. Now I tell everyone, get the equipment first and use it for those first 20 years when you might be making bread every other day. Hindsight. What a gift.

This summer Trent asked if I would show Jamie how to get a product that stands as high as my loaves were standing. I said I would show him, not her. I thought he could whip that bread up before he goes to work in the morning. Jamie will soon have a new baby so with four children under eight, she won’t have time for making bread. He laughed and said, no, really, we both want to know.

The summer moves so quickly, one day after another, and it was over before I got down to the Bates’ for the lesson. The day before I left to go back to Calgary, I wandered down there early in the morning to see if Jamie wanted a demo – this was not about making bread from start to finish – we could throw it out when it was done, for we were going to talk just about method. Our purpose wasn't to turn out bread at all.

Jamie was ready to go to church – 10 minutes until she was going out the door. That was just the right amount of time to show her how to get the dough going.

Someone took off my plastic and put the towel over the bread.
Don't do that even if they do it on T.V.
You can see the towel on Greg's shoulders.
I checked to see if we should throw the dough out.  Nope!  Still fine.

The crusty top just got needed back in.<br/>Not my favourite solution, but a solution
My idea was to throw the sample out.

Wyona thought better of the idea and sent the dough back to my house with Greg. There would be no throwing it out from her house.

Kind of him to walk it back. I baked the bread and was going to take all three loaves back to Wyona’s. When I got to my kitchen to make the delivery back to them, there were only 2 ½ loaves left.  The people who ate it did not feel bad.

We tossed the dough to the counter and Greg took the pink bowl back home.
Lovely product, Jamie.  You probably got to church on time as well.
Here is a list of things I told Jamie and that I would tell any person new to making bread.

On Choosing a Bread Recipe:
Any recipe will do. I have my favorites – there is nothing in the world better than a simple loaf of hot whole wheat bread. Kids like white bread. I love the country seed recipe and the multi seed recipe. If I am making Italian food, I do a bread that has Italian spices in it. Come to think about it, cooking is a nice cheap hobby – I still enjoy experimenting with different loaves and sometimes go into specialty bread shops, just to see what they are making and see if I can replicate the loaves.

On the flour: I am always looking for the 20 pound bag of flour on sale and am not worrying if the flour is one brand or another. One of my boarders brought home a bag of flour that says on its label Robin Hood Brown Flour: Best for Making Bread. I was reading some literature that said extra protein is milled into this flour. I can’t deny that the product was fantastic. Maybe even better than fantastic. The bag was only about 10 pounds of flour, not 20– and in the past, we kept the cost per loaf down by using cheaper flour. I also like using the less costly white flour, always choosing the sale brand. I don’t think it makes that much difference.

On dough enhancers: The Rogers bag of brown flour has a recipe that I use. I cut the recipe off of the back of the bag and hole punched it for my book. Not very fancy, but it works in my collection of good bread recipes. The text on the bag reminds people that lemon juice is a natural dough enhancer and when it is added to the bread dough, better loaves are produced. 

On developing gluten: More than 30 years ago, my brother-in-law, Keith McBride, came to my house and gave me a lesson on how to make bread with my Bosch machine. Here are the tips he gave me. 1. The gluten has to develop in your bread. Let the white dough mix for at least five minutes. The brown dough for eight to 10 minutes. There is a problem talking about this too much. For example, Jamie and I have big machines that incorporate the dough quickly. But when I am using Mary’s machine which is a smaller size, the hook goes around slowly and it is easier to have exact measurements to put into the machine – something I never do with the big batches. In fact with Mary's smaller machine, you have to know exactly how much flour to add, so measure it.  When I was at Mary’s we kept experimenting until we knew exactly how much flour to add to a pre-measured amount of water. She has some 3 x 5 cards that help her. 2. I add flour until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, leaving the bowl clean in about 3 minutes. Then I let the brown bread continue to mix.  On the other hand, Jamie and I can just stand there and watch and incorporate the flour until it looks just right.

On this point, it is nice to find a fellow bread-maker, once who knows what this looks like or feels like. Seeing it once is to 'get it'. I guess that is a good reason to take a picture and put it up on u-tube. I would have the technology if I had taken the Film Course: From Kodak to U-tube this year. But that wasn’t in the stars.

Wait until next year for the video.

I do love that Country Seed Bread. But this Multi-Grain Bread has tasters raving. Take a look at the recipe. I think it is the bulgur that makes it so good, though the seeds are wonderful too.  I usually don't have all of the seeds it calls for.  I didn't have any pumpkin seeds until I found them at the Community Health Food Store.  I figure if you have 9/10 of the ingredients, that is close enough.

 I tell the boarders there is not much flour in the bread – just enough to hold the grains and the bulgur together. If anyone tries this recipe, do leave a comment in the comment box.  Because I use whole wheat flour, I let it mix for 8 or more minutes.  The loaf is dense.  When I make it into toast I don't know if I have a piece of brown bread or a thick slice of a granola bar.  Yum, either way.


Originally published on http://larchhaven.blogspot.ca/2013/09/bread-making.html

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