I began baking bread this today, following a Jamie Oliver recipe for facaccia. Came out pretty good for a first crack, however I found just a bit too much salt I find (I'm sensitive to salt, but don't detect salt at all in most other breads). Also, just a touch dense. Not bad, but not as fluffy as I expected it to be.
Any obvious mistakes I've made, or advice/guidance to give?

Anyone bake their own bread as well?
I'd be curious in your recipes, whether it be white, whole wheat, grained, etc.. Even dessert breads.

Anyone? TIA
Original Post
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:
I began baking bread this today, following a Jamie Oliver recipe for facaccia. Came out pretty good for a first crack, however I found just a bit too much salt I find (I'm sensitive to salt, but don't detect salt at all in most other breads). Also, just a touch dense. Not bad, but not as fluffy as I expected it to be.
Any obvious mistakes I've made, or advice/guidance to give?

Anyone bake their own bread as well?
I'd be curious in your recipes, whether it be white, whole wheat, grained, etc.. Even dessert breads.

Anyone? TIA


I found for dense bread it's two things

you overfolded or you didn't let it rest long enough.

that being said, I'm still an amateur and still trying to find my way wiht my idle hands =)
I’ve been baking at least one loaf of sandwich bread every week for probably eight or nine years using a Zojirushi. Although there are plenty of recipes for artisan bread using the machine, I have pretty much limited it to the sandwich bread, occasionally using it to prepare dough for pan rolls and cinnamon sticky buns. (A nearby grocery that is deficient in more ways than you can imagine does have one redeeming quality and that is its bakery. They make wonderful artisan breads.) Yes, purists will rightly say what I make is not truly homemade as the machine does all of the work and I gladly plead guilty as the results are outstanding – every time.

The things I feel significant regardless of how bread is assembled and baked are the importance of exact measurements and storage/freshness of ingredients. There are plenty of niche flours available but I’ve always used King Arthur. I store them in large plastic pails in the pantry and keep yeast and gluten in the freezer.
quote:
Originally posted by Gentleman farmer:
The things I feel significant regardless of how bread is assembled and baked are the importance of exact measurements and storage/freshness of ingredients. There are plenty of niche flours available but I’ve always used King Arthur. I store them in large plastic pails in the pantry and keep yeast and gluten in the freezer.

Thanks for your input, GF. I have found that minor mods in measurements do indeed have a large effect.
The flour I used this time is Five Roses.
I believe I'll back way off on the salt content.
I also used brown sugar in lieu of white. I wouldn't think this makes much of a difference. I thought it would be healthier and better tasting.
I'm looking forward to trying it again.

Fut: Duly noted

Gman: Thanks for the over view. I doubt I overmanipulated it. However I may have rushed the contenting of the Focaccia while it was still in its' second rising. Once I rolled out the dough, it was still rising while I was adding the cheeses, arugala and herbs. I think this 'rushing' was my greatest error regarding the density.
Did it at least once a week since the late 1970s, haven't done it as much the past four years because I'm near pretty good bakeries, but in the winter I still have dough around all the time anyhow.

It's hard to actually "ruin" your bread, but if you're shooting for some particular vision, you can miss that and there are a few things that you can do to make your bread something to be recycled.

I have no idea what kind of measurements to use since you really can't measure the main ingredients with any accuracy anyhow. A lot depends on the weather, your flour, what you want to end up with, etc.

The best way to do it is as follows:

take some flour and water, mix to a slurry, somewhat akin to tempura batter, and set it on the counter or somewhere. You might need to add a touch of water in a day or so if it starts drying too much. In anywhere from three to six days, you should see a few bubbles forming. If you see mold, throw it out and start again. Anyhow, once those bubbles form, you know you've got some yeast. I use whole wheat flour most of the time, but I've used white too.

Let the yeast work for a day or so and then make the same flour/water mix and put a spoonful of that original, bubbling mix into it. Let that develop for a day and you've got yeast to use for your bread making.

Then it's about mixing with flour and water and heat.

You can use yeast that you buy too. That has the advantage of consistency, at least up to a point - the cake yeast is MUCH better than the powdered yeast, and it is also much more reliable. But it doesn't really add any flavor. The yeast you get going on your own may or may not add flavor. If you don't like it, try again until you get one that you like. If you've been baking bread for a while, you'll probably catch whatever's in the air. This incidentally points out the fallacy of the people who argue for "wild" yeast fermentation of wine - you really don't know what you're going to get but it's got a real good chance of being a commercial yeast that drifted in.

Anyhow, salt is used mostly to attenuate the action of the yeast. If you're putting your dough in the fridge overnight, which really helps IMO if you're making pizza or croissants, you put a little salt in to keep the yeast from going nuts. Conversely, if you want to speed things up, you can add more yeast or add some sugar and cut back on the salt. I'm not 100% sure about the need for sugar however, because there's plenty in the flour. In any event, remember that salt kills yeast so don't pour it directly on the yeast as I've seen idiots do on You-tube videos.

Flour matters. Winter wheat has a higher gluten content than summer wheat and will give your dough more stretch and a chewier texture. All purpose flour is whatever that manufacturer decides to package.

Whole wheat flour is similar, although some of them will tell you on the package if it's hard (winter) or soft wheat. But whole wheat has other properties to keep in mind. Some are milled more coarsely than others so you have bigger flakes of bran. I happen to like those, but some people don't. The bran however, absorbs water fairly slowly, so if you start out with a dough that's the consistency you want, it may be drier than you'd like by the time it's risen. So leave your whole wheat dough just a tad wetter than your white flour dough.

Also, the one thing you can do that will definitely ruin the bread is to let the dough rise too much. The dough is like little ballons. Imagine blowing up a ballon almost to the breaking point. Sometimes it actually does break and in any case, the rubber loses strength. The dough rises by the gas produced from the yeast and then the expansion of the air and moisture due to the heat of the oven. If you're already at the breaking point when you put it in, your bread will be crap. It's better to under-rise than to over-rise.

Density can be due to a number of things - the texture of the flour (whole wheat vs white), the amount of flour used, the baking time, the rising time, and the amount of rising allowed. If you allow one rising and bake, you'll end up with big holes and a "rustic" kind of bread. That's what I'd do for focaccia. If you let the dough rise, punch it down, and let it rise again, you end up with a much finer texture.

Focaccia is better the first way. I think it's a mistake to take what was essentially a peasant food and try to make a gourmet item of it. So remember that it was just some dough that they had laying around and they poured some oil on it and sprinkled some herbs and cooked it in the hearth. Eventually that became pizza, but it was just the local ingredients casually combined. So I'd make a slightly wetter dough, only let it do one rising, then bake it for a very short time in a super-hot oven. That will help it heat and expand as fast as possible and you'll get a looser crumb and a less dense bread.

Unfortunately most home ovens don't get really hot - they only go up to 500 degrees, so you have to work with that kind of limitation.

And if you have ruined your bread, grind it up and put it into the dough for the next loaf you're making. That will produce a real dense bread, but that's what I tend to like anyway. I like the German style breads much much more than the white breads from Italy and France that are good for only a day at best. Rye flour also produces a very dense crumb because it lacks the gluten of wheat so doesn't rise. Most of what people call "rye" bread is only about 30% rye flour. If you want to make a denser bread, you can throw in a bit of rye and generally people won't be able to tell by taste if it's not overdone, but you can attenuate the density of your bread in that way.

There are other things you can do too that will affect the final bread. You only need flour, liquid, a rising agent, and heat.

So make a loose polenta or corn-meal mush, add molasses or honey, and use that to provide part of the liquid. Eggs provide fat and consequently a richer bread if you use them as part or all of the liquid. Leftover mashed potatoes or oatmeal can be used. Milk provides a slightly different texture as well. Adding fat, in the form of oil or melted butter, will give a richer bread and will also help it keep from drying out like your baguette might. Cooking hot and fast provides a different texture and crust than cooking moderately and slow.

Happy baking.
quote:
Originally posted by futronic:
Ahem ... it's focaccia, not facaccia. Facaccia sounds like facacked, which means something completely different! Razz


maybe that's the UK spelling
quote:
Originally posted by GregT:


take some flour and water, mix to a slurry, somewhat akin to tempura batter, and set it on the counter or somewhere. You might need to add a touch of water in a day or so if it starts drying too much. In anywhere from three to six days, you should see a few bubbles forming. If you see mold, throw it out and start again. Anyhow, once those bubbles form, you know you've got some yeast. I use whole wheat flour most of the time, but I've used white too.


Happy baking.



I have dealt with sour dough starter (not very successfully) What kind of container are you putting this in? Do you cover it, like use a glass jar with a lid?
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:

I doubt I overmanipulated it .


KSC02, I've never been a good breadmaker. Stef's watched me (she's a great breadmaker) and says I always over work the dough. It's just a size and strength thing. "pretend you're an old Italian woman" is what she usually tells me.
PURPLE - I used a glass bowl and I've used a stainless steel bowl. Both seem to be OK. A lot has to do with what's around in the air and also, I suspect that often as not, you're getting some yeasts that came in with the flour. It's all over and probably the wheat had some, or there was some in the mill, the boxcar, etc. So you may need to try a couple of times. Just make sure your starter stays moist. The flour kind of settles and leaves a film of water on top. When that evaporates, you get a little crust and that's not good.

Paul - I'm not actually sure about overworking the dough, depending on what you're trying to do. One old guy told me that the menfolk used to knead dough because they had bigger hands and could do it harder than the womenfolk back in the pioneer days. I have no idea whether that's true at all, but I knead the hell out of it sometimes. And some of those old Italian women aren't people I'd like to tangle with!

Anyhow, I assume you're kneading by hand. By machine I can't say. The one mistake you can make is kneading too much when punching down the first rising. Once the yeast starts working on the bread, you don't want to knead it any more.

For the same reason if you're kneading away and the yeast starts working but you're still at it, you're kind of working at cross purposes with the yeast and your gluten is going to get overstretched and the bread won't be too good. If you use a fast acting yeast, that can conceivably be a problem.

Too hot for baking right now anyhow.
quote:
Originally posted by GregT:

Anyhow, the one mistake you can make is kneading too much when punching down the first rising. Once the yeast starts working on the bread, you don't want to knead it any more. some old recipes used to say to knead for 10 or 15 minutes but that was always before the yeast started working.



I always under salt my bread, when do you usually add the salt btw?

after the first punch down?
I mix it in with the flour before adding the liquid. My partner in our bakery cursed me out one time because I poured it on the yeast, which we had just dissolved in water and poured into the mixer. He panicked because he was worried that the croissants wouldn't rise. They actually came out OK but I never did that again.
GregT- Holy crap! I was thinking of going out and picking up a book on the subject. But now I don't need to. You supplied a complete plethora of information and it is very much appreciated.

Purple- I put my dough ball in a stainless steel bowl for the first rising, covering the top with plastic wrap.

Paul - Big Grin "pretend you're an old Italian woman". Love it. Noted.

Per the original recipe, it had me add the salt with the yeast, together. After reading GregT's post, seems odd. Frankly, I'm going to cut the salt completely out of the next dough made and try this. I let the dough do one rising, then beat it down and began rolling out to the size and shape I wanted.

Thanks tons for the info provided by all. You guys, as usual, are awesome. Cool

I figured this would all take a bit of practice.
No problem. I've got the time. Big Grin
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:

Per the original recipe, it had me add the salt with the yeast, together. After reading GregT's post, seems odd. Frankly, I'm going to cut the salt completely out of the next dough made and try this. I let the dough do one rising, then beat it down and began rolling out to the size and shape I wanted.

I figured this would all take a bit of practice.
No problem. I've got the time. Big Grin


Don't leave the salt out completely!!!!! the salt is very important for the flavor.
Yeah - a little bit of salt actually makes a big difference. But you can make it the way you want and if you find it not quite right, just adjust the salt next time.

I forgot one thing. The four ingredients are flour, liquid, rising agent and heat and I didn't talk about heat. One day I'm going to do a blog about pizza dough, but for right now, you need to know about heat because the type of heat you apply has a direct effect on the final product.

The yeast digests the sugars and produces gas, Since you've developed the gluten in the flour, the gas gets trapped in little bubbles, kind of like bubble gum. When you bake the bread, you essentially solidify the bubbles that have trapped the gas. The gas itself expands with heat. Also any moisture becomes steam and that also expands and adds to the size of the bubbles.

So if you start with a cold oven and put the bread dough in, your bread will continue rising, a bit quicker because of the heat of course, but eventually the crust will start forming while the inside is still rising. What you usually get is a bread without a thick crispy crust, but more of a dry one.

If you put the bread into a really hot oven, the gas and steam expand really fast but the crust forms even faster. That's one reason to make cuts in the top of your loaf before putting it into the oven. If you don't the loaf will probably split anyway but your bread can end up really lopsided. So that is the way they make things like the French baguettes and some of the white Italian breads.

And in addition to that, they add steam or moisture to the outside. There are many ways psople try to do that, but the idea is to form a crackly crisp crust. Some commercial ovens have steam jets that spray steam for a few seconds when the bread is first put in. Some people mist the loaf. Some have a hot pan on the floor of the oven and they dump a little water into it just before putting the loaf in to create steam.

The key problem with most of those methods is that the home oven only gets to 500 degrees F. If you put your bread into a wood-burning or coal-fired or even gas-fired oven that's made of stone, your temperature is going to be much hotter and the bread will pop and cook much faster, but the resulting texture will be different. You'll get that crisp outside and the inside will have cooked so fast it will still be moist. It's not that easy to reproduce that effect in the home oven.
I have always found warm bread to go so well with red wine. It can be a great pairing by itself. I have made many loaves from scratch over the years, but have found a good short cut, if you are in a pinch. Some pizza doughs actually work pretty well. It took me about a half dozen tries but I finally found one at a local grocery (delivered daily by a regional bakery).

Put fresh dough in bread pan with some olive oil. Gently move it around to spread oil thoroughly (this will help you remove baked loaf later and give you a nice bottom crust). Let rise for about 2-3 hours in a warm environment (cover with towel and don't rush this or you will have a brick). Gently flip loaf (this will give you a nice brown and flavorful crust) and put into preheated oven at 365 for 40 minutes. Remove when done and enjoy warm. Great for toast the next morning as well.
I've dabbled over the years, and it sounds to me like GregT really knows his stuff.
I use The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America by Joe Ortiz, as my bread bible. It's never let me down.

KSCO2, as someone sensitive to salt, I think focaccia may have just been the wrong choice. I could be wrong, but all the versions I've had are finished with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt or kosher salt on top.
quote:
Originally posted by Primordealsoup:
I have always found warm bread to go so well with red wine. It can be a great pairing by itself.
Sometimes there is nothing better than a simple fresh crusty baguette with a nice red. Smile

Time to revive this thread.

While flour is scarce on the shelves around here during the Corona pandemic, yeast is practically non-existent. So I've pulled out my old sourdough recipes to make some fresh bread.  Mixed up some starter a week ago, and today I baked my first sourdough loaf in many years; 2/3 King Arthur bread flour, and 1/3 whole wheat.

Attachments

Images (1)
@mneeley490 posted:

Time to revive this thread.

While flour is scarce on the shelves around here during the Corona pandemic, yeast is practically non-existent. So I've pulled out my old sourdough recipes to make some fresh bread.  Mixed up some starter a week ago, and today I baked my first sourdough loaf in many years; 2/3 King Arthur bread flour, and 1/3 whole wheat.

Damn, mneeley... that loaf looks delicious!  

I've been baking a loaf or two every month for years.  The trick to baking bread is to bake bread.  Just get started. Take notes, be aware of temperatures (ingredients, dough, room and oven) and don't Bella Donna the original recipe.  Make it like the baker recommends the first time.  Baking is no different than cooking, it's just more intimidating because bakers are assholes...

For first time bakers who want an idiot-proof bread, try Cook's Illustrated's Almost No-Knead Bread.  You'll need a 6-8 quart Dutch Oven to do it right.  I brought a loaf to an offline with the local winos and it was pretty well received.  Excellent crust, great crumb and flavor.  I use leftover Corona beer from beach trips as the lager, fwiw...

Recipe

PH

Last edited by purplehaze
@purplehaze posted:

Damn, mneeley... that loaf looks delicious!  

I've been baking a loaf or two every month for years.  The trick to baking bread is to bake bread.  Just get started. Take notes, be aware of temperatures (ingredients, dough, room and oven) and don't Bella Donna the original recipe.  Make it like the baker recommends the first time.  Baking is no different than cooking, it's just more intimidating because bakers are assholes...

For first time bakers who want an idiot-proof bread, try Cook's Illustrated's Almost No-Knead Bread.  You'll need a 6-8 quart Dutch Oven to do it right.  I brought a loaf to an offline with the local winos and it was pretty well received.  Excellent crust, great crumb and flavor.  I use leftover Corona beer from beach trips as the lager, fwiw...

Recipe

PH

LOL, I almost did a spit take just now with my lemonade when I read the Bella Donna reference. 

@mneeley490 posted:

Time to revive this thread.

While flour is scarce on the shelves around here during the Corona pandemic, yeast is practically non-existent. So I've pulled out my old sourdough recipes to make some fresh bread.  Mixed up some starter a week ago, and today I baked my first sourdough loaf in many years; 2/3 King Arthur bread flour, and 1/3 whole wheat.

Good job! This bread is very appetizing. 

Thumbs Up

Add Reply

Post
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×