[Sca-cooks] partly on-topic, partly off: bread

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Mon Jan 25 13:32:51 PST 2010

> On the making of bread.  Someone's going to buy me a used bread machine,
> something called a "Welbilt."  So, naturally, I have some questions about
> bread making, and I'll be mostly referring to the machine, but some of my
> questions are general questions about bread, which, I suppose, is arguably
> period in topic.
> First, my sister said that when she'd used a bread machine, the outer inch
> or inch and a half was unusable, as it was stale.  I read the florilegium,
> and one section recommended "misting" the bread, and another buttering the
> surface of the bread.  Do either of these help, and during what stage do 
> you
> do them? Is there some other way to avoid this?

While I really don't like or use bread machines, I don't think that you're 
supposed to get stale bread from them.  All of this depends on what is meant 
by stale.  Are we talking dried out or tasting funky?

Misting is done shortly after putting the dough in the oven.  You can either 
put in a fine mist of water or add a pan of water to the lower rack.  The 
moisture helps gelatinize the starch on the surface of the dough to produce 
a better crust.

Butter is used to keep the crust soft.  The dough can be basted with melted 
before putting it in the oven or the melted butter can be added after baking 
to help soften a standard crust.

> I've been told that if you open the oven during baking, it can make your
> bread collapse.  Is this true?

I've never had it happen and I've baked a lot of bread.  I suspect somebody 
started this going when they had overactive yeast build a bubble just under 
the crust and the bubble collapsed before the crust could solidify.

> I've heard (from you lot, I think) that some flours are not high enough in
> something (gluten?) to rise.  I presume I can add these flours to 
> "regular"
> flour (say, what, 1/4?) and make something out of it.

Any wheat flour will rise, but those with more gluten will rise better. 
Check the protein content.  All purpose flour runs about 10%.  Bread flour 
usually runs 12 to 14%.

Wheat and rye are the only flours that have a significant amount of gluten, 
so if you expect oat flour, barley flour, etc. to rise, you need to add 
wheat flour.

> Okay, here's the point.  I"m trying to find a way to eat healthy on a
> budget, and I've tried "craft" breads, and always felt more satisfied, 
> full,
> and, I dunno, just better after eating them.  I'm hoping the machine will
> allow me to make something healthy.
> My dad, from Poland, always said that, in this country, our bread wasn't
> really bread, it was cake (being not very nutritious, and too fluffy). 
> And
> I've heard things about pyramid bread, and alternative grains, and looked 
> up
> some of the nutrition information on other grains, and, WOW.  so, I'm 
> hoping
> this'll allow me to make something good.
> The ones I'm interested in are:  oat flour (for cholesterol management),
> teff, spelt, and any others someone else recommends.  Store-bought bread
> always disagrees with me, slightly.  I'm not sure why.  Of course it has a
> number of things I've found my body doesn't like, including sodium
> silico-aluminate (which is also used in some salt as an anti-clumping
> agent), corn syrup, and possibly wheat gluten, though I'm not sure if 
> that's
> one of my problems, or not.

Spelt is a high gluten wheat flour that is so hard it mills very coarsely. 
It makes ome nice bread.

> Any recommendations of grains to try?  I'm hoping for bread that's heavy,
> nutritious, but not inedibly brick-like.  Ideally, if you get hit with it,
> it should cause a concussion, but not fracture your skull.

Start with a simple bread recipe using flour, water, yeast and salt.

> Here's hoping.  BTW, I've never cooked with yeast bread, before.  Just
> self-rising (baking soda).  I am checking the Florilegium, but it's a 
> fairly
> big section.
> Ian of Oertha

Dry active yeast is fairly simple.  I prefer to proof it (dissolve the yeast 
in liquid and let it foam up) for about 15 minutes to make sure it is still 
viable.  2 1/2 teaspoons in a cup of the liquid to be added to the recipe 
will produce 2 to 4 pounds of bread.  If you are going to try serious 
baking, start with a jar rather than the packets.  Store it in the 
refrigerator.  If truly serious, 2 lb. bags of yeast are available from 
baker's supply stores.  Keep 4 oz. in the refrigerator and the rest in the 


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