Saturday, January 7, 2017

Homemade Bread Success


Over the past six weeks, I have made many attempts at homemade bread, and I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. It's all thanks to my loyal readers who shared such helpful advice on November's "My Homemade Bread Failures" post.

I read through all your hints and printed off every recipe you suggested, and I have now made three tasty loaves of bread that actually rose. (Imagine that...bread that rises!) The recipe I ended up using is Simple Whole Wheat Bread from allrecipes.

I still have some work to do on the presentation of the bread. (Let's be honest...the top is a little flat.) But it's light and fluffy, and it tastes great. Mr. Handsome and I have especially enjoyed eating it with our homemade apple butter.

Thanks again! You are the best readers a blogger could hope for.



39 comments:

  1. Anonymous1/07/2017

    Your top may be flat because when you took the cover off after the last rising, it pulled at the dough. I always use Saran wrap sprayed liberally with Pam cooking spray to cover the bread for the last rise. Also, don't put too heavy of a cloth over the bread as it's rising. Let the dough have room to move. The Saran alone can be enough, if you're rising in a closed, protected environment (like a proofing box). Otherwise, nothing heavier than a cloth napkin or tea towel or piece of cotton fabric. Remove it slowly and carefully, preserving the risen dome. Don't bounce the unbaked pans down onto the hot oven rack, either.

    Overproofing can also result in a flat top. Watch the progress as you're letting the dough rise. Read up on when to tell if it's risen enough. Don't be tempted to add more time because "it's rising so well." There is a tipping point, like an over-inflated balloon.

    Keep trying! It will come. And when it does, it will be second nature for the rest of your life.

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    1. Wow! Thank you for those words of wisdom.

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    2. Anonymous1/07/2017

      The pattern at the back edge of that loaf shows that it had risen, but something deflated it.

      I'd check the oven temp while baking, too. An inexpensive metal oven thermometer might help. Ovens can be way off and you might not realize it.

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    3. I'm going to try Saran Wrap when making my bread. I have trouble with my bread not rising well too. Thanks for the tips.

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    4. Anonymous1/08/2017

      Regina, you should go back and read all the tips in the other post Ellie had about bread making.

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    5. That's very helpful advice. Thank you! There's definitely a lot to know about making good homemade bread. No wonder most people resort to buying it at the store. Haha.

      Ellie

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    6. Anonymous1/09/2017

      Thank you for this info. I often get the flat top as well and now I can begin to figure out why. It is over proofing for me for sure. Many thanks!

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    7. Do you have little kids or did you drop somthing? Large vibrations like a bowl hitting the floor or a child jumping somewhere in the house could also make the bread fall. I useually time it with naptime or playdates. Or both ;)

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  2. No fair! This bread looks delicious and you didn't post the recipe! Could you be so kind and post it, please?
    I know it takes time but I am looking for a tasty recipe that doesn't take hours of work.
    I'll trade you for a different recipe...

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    1. Anonymous1/07/2017

      Just click on the link, Ellie mentions the recipe from allrecipes.com, click on the blue text. :)

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    2. I added the link to the post at your request. :)

      Ellie

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  3. Anonymous1/07/2017

    Galatians 5:9. May we all persist to be alright.

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    1. Anonymous1/07/2017

      Proverbs 24:16: For a just man (or loaf?) falleth seven times and riseth up again...+

      Ellie is up to what, about 3 or 4 falleth-s now with these loaves? Only a few more to go! ;)

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    2. I like the humor. I can handle 7 fails if it means learning how to make perfect bread. Lol.

      Ellie

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    3. Anonymous1/08/2017

      Well at least you can eat the failures, so they aren't that bad! My mother-in-law used to make white bread that was like a wet sponge when done. Or when she thought it was done. I could not eat it at all. It just made a big wad in my mouth like chewing gum. Ugh!

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  4. Anonymous1/07/2017

    It's good for you to post your failures and near-failures as well as your successes (or near-successes). People here have enough experience to diagnose what might have gone wrong. Hope it helps others as well as you.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. I love it when everyone chimes in. We can all learn from each other. :)

      Ellie

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  5. Anonymous1/07/2017

    Have you tried a recipe where you reknead the dough before you put it in the form. It looks like you left it to rise for too long in the form. Most of the rising should happen in the oven.

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    Replies
    1. The recipe I used has you knead it once, let it rise, punch it down, and let it rise in the pan before baking it. I didn't realize it was so easy to overdo the rising time. I'll have to get better about that. Thanks!

      Ellie

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  6. Anonymous1/07/2017

    Looks kind of dense...

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    1. Anonymous1/08/2017

      It does look dense for kneaded bread. I'm curious about the amount of whole wheat flour she uses. Is she using whole wheat bread flour? Is she adding extra wheat bran? Is she using enough white flour to develop the needed gluten? Does the recipe call for adding any separate vital wheat gluten (which you can purchase online or in some stores)? How is she kneading it, by hand or by mixer?

      I would start by making basic white bread and kneading by hand to get the hang of it and to learn what properly kneaded dough looks like. Learn what a stretched "window" looks like in the dough when the stretchy gluten "chains" have formed properly. Learn about making surface tension in your shaped dough. Learn what properly risen dough feels like when poked. Then I would attempt whole wheat, but maybe with a different recipe, or the addition of extra gluten.

      There are scads of bread-making videos online, and the King Arthur Flour Co. is another helpful source, with their blog, their recipes, and their baking helpline. They also sell gluten.

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    2. Here's the recipe I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/6773/simple-whole-wheat-bread/

      I kneaded by hand. I suppose I'll just have to keep experimenting/practicing until I get it right. :)

      Ellie

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  7. YAY Ellie!!
    It looks delicious and wholesome. Bread must be treated like a baby, it's very fragile, haha.

    Holly

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    Replies
    1. I'm beginning to realize just how fragile bread is. Lol.

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous1/08/2017

      It's not really fragile, there's just a zone you have to be in. The handling during kneading is necessary in a lot of recipes, so you have to rough it up a little, lol.

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    3. No kidding. While bread is rising don't let little kids jump all around the house. I speak from experience, haha.

      Holly

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  8. Anonymous1/08/2017

    I read the recipe and here are some potential trouble spots I noticed:

    They have you put the yeast and warm water into a large bowl. That bowl will be colder than 110 and will cool the water immediately. The honey will further cool it. Ditto with the addition of 5 cups of flour. So your nice cozy warm yeast/water mix won't be so cozy any more. Other bread recipes have you add the yeast and water and a little sugar in a measuring cup, then let that sit for 5 min. to start softening the yeast and get it "eating" the sugar (activating it). I would warm the bowl (with hot water, dumped out later) and the honey a bit, add those and yeast and water, and let it sit for a few minutes before adding the flour. Or better yet, put the water and honey and yeast in a 4-cup measuring cup first. If you've heated the water in the measuring cup, the cup itself will be warm.

    There is a large ratio of whole wheat flour (hard to form gluten) to bread flour (higher in gluten). There is no additional gluten added. Sometimes whole wheat flour needs extra help from added gluten.

    They have you knead in 2-4 additional cups of whole wheat flour. This could be where the dense texture is coming from. Too much additional flour of that lower-gluten type, and you'll dry out the dough, making it heavy and less springy. Sounds like it would be hard to get good texture with so much of that added whole wheat flour.

    I don't like that the added flour amount is non-specific, either. Some recipes give you the total amount of flour at first, and have you hold back a cup or so to use during kneading. I see an opportunity for too much flour to be added to this recipe during kneading.

    I don't see the amount of time needed for kneading mentioned. They're not specific on the timing, just the "stickiness." Most breads are kneaded by hand for about 10 minutes. It can take even more kneading than that for whole wheat bread to get a good springy texture. If you under-knead it, that could give you a heavy, dense texture more like a "quick bread."

    There are no specific directions for the forming of the loaf. Most bread doughs are rolled out a bit then rolled up into a loaf, or formed by hand into a loaf shape, working the top to the underside til you have good surface tension on top.

    They are not specific on covering the dough for the second rise (or not). I don't like the idea of the towel possibly touching the dough in the first rising, and you sure wouldn't want it touching your loaves in the second rising, or it will tear at the dough when removed. Greased Saran!

    I would put that recipe aside for now and learn good bread-making techniques by mastering a basic white bread recipe or dinner roll recipe. Experiment with recipes like that until you get the hang of kneading and making good texture. It's really not hard. Look to a classic cookbook for a recipe, not necessarily the Internet (by the reviews of that bread recipe, people did have problems). Edited cookbooks like Betty Crocker and Good Housekeeping have home-economist tested recipes with specific directions. Even recipes from the yeast companies themselves should be foolproof.

    I think that recipe is not the right one for a beginner. There are better recipes out there. Just be careful that you pick one that uses "regular" yeast, not Rapid-Rise yeast. The temperatures and the mixing directions for Rapid-Rise are completely different than the ones for traditional dry yeast packets. Both yeasts will work, but you must follow the specific directions for each. Learn to work with traditional yeast first.

    Good luck!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous1/10/2017

      I agree with your in-depth assessment! Bread making is a whiz when you finally get the right recipe and some experience behind you. I never had much luck with recipes that called for too much whole wheat.

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  9. Looks nice! I'm glad it came out well for you. :)

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    1. Well thank you, Moon Sparkle! Have a great day.

      Ellie

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  10. The reason your bread is flat is you need to kneed the dough, till if you poke it with your finger, there should be a imprint of your finger inside the dough, and you need to add more flour too!! Try making a white loaf, because wholewheat,( brown), is very hard to do, if you're new, then white is easier to do, when your tech. gets better try wholewheat!!!!!

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  11. OPPS, try Martha Steward, because her classic white loaf recipe, IS THE BEST, I've tried lots of different one, but that is the BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Justine! :)

      Ellie

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    2. One more thing I swear, if you turn the loaf to it's side, you can make better slices, because cutting from the top, will squished down, and that's not good!!

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  12. From personal experience, I've found raising the bread in the fridge and stowing the yeast in the freezer makes for a lighter, fluffier bread and a rounder top. Don't ask me about the sience of it, I just know that's what a baker friend said to do and it works. :) Also, if you know any Amish or Mennonite, they'd be a ton of help. Amish bake all their own bread and mennonite mostly do, but if those ones don't their bound to know someone who does. Maybe theye'd be willing to do a "workshop" with you at their/your house sometime?

    Also, air moisture and microclimates have a HUGE impact on bread.

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    1. Anonymous1/13/2017

      The science: The prolonged resting time at lower temperature gives the gluten molecules time to join to each other and form the network that makes good texture, without the yeast being able to bubble up and grow too fast.

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    2. Thank you for the tips! I really appreciate it. :)

      Ellie

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    3. Really can rise your bread in the fridge?!

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    4. SOOOOO, are you guys saying, to put the dough in the fridge?!

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