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Looking for a daily, routine, solid, simple bread recipe/process. - Page 2

post #31 of 34

I'll just stick to the recipes in 'Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day' me-thinks and figure out what I was doing wrong as lots of friends use those recipes daily with success. I suppose only making 1 or 2 recipes from there isn't really giving it a good chance.

 

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post #32 of 34

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisLehrer View Post

Can't entirely agree with you there.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post
Anyway, bread is not so complicated and it always bothers me when people make novice bakers think that this is some very difficult thing that will take them hours of time and that they need all kinds of equipment to make, and heaven forfend if they don;t have electronic scales or special thermometers or mixers or if they don't know all kinds of math.  Eye, hand, ear, nose - sight, touch, hearing, smell, they are the scales, the thermometer, the tools, the math.  

These requirements, thermometers, scales, all that stuff, puts people off, makes it seem like some culty, esoteric ritual or very difficult science experiment.


To my mind, the "esoteric ritual" side of things usually comes up with people who take your position but get very hard-core about it. Lots of people seem to think that making bread with just your hands and your senses is natural and superior. Well, if you can do it, great, but it sure takes a good deal of experience and practice. I started making bread because I found I couldn't get decent bread in Vermont in the summer: either it was horrible supermarket bread or it was stuff from farmers' markets made by people who really, really care about nature and all -- but don't happen to be any good at making bread. These people sell loaves for five bucks a whack, full of 18 zillion special organic kinds of seeds and whatever, and the stuff doesn't rise properly: it's these horrible little lumps of dense yuck. I know exactly what you mean!  anyone remember the "health food store" breads that were like pure bricks - no yeast, but no sourdough starter either, just dense horrible stuff! So I went with Rose Levy Beranbaum, who does everything by weight and is hyperactive about fine detail, and it never misses. The more times I do it, the less I need her detailed instructions, but I find "trial and success" a more appealing way to learn than "trial and error."

 

I do agree about thermometers, though. The one time I've used one for bread was in a situation like the one starting this thread: a bread that didn't seem to work right. I did a temp check, and that wasn't the problem, so that was useful to know. Otherwise, just bake it until it thumps hollow.


Yeah, Chris, it's true that it's better to do trial and success - but i think i would never have tried making bread at all if i had only found recipes that called for weighing ingredients, using thermometers, etc, i would just have been put off.  Most people who like making bread, i think, like the mucking around in the dough part of it, the feel, the smells, etc. and would be put off by 328 grams of something and 213 grams of another.   It makes it seem like if you get one gram more you'll ruin the bread!

 

I like recipes that teach you how to do the mucking around part, going by feel and smell.  Like recipes that show what a windowpane is,  that show pictures or make graphic descriptions of how dough should feel - how sticky, how smooth.  Because i swear, i can make it many times and pay attention to the measures (i usually do pretty careful measures the first time off) and it comes out differently each time, because ingredients are not always the same. 

 

But if you like measurement, why not?  Just don;t insist that that's what makes the bread come out right or people who want to start making it will probably be scared off. 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #33 of 34

Maybe the fact that it;s been 3 years since you started baking bread, KY, that you rely more on the tools. 

 

You misunderstand, Siduri. I said I'd been serious about baking bread for three years. Not the same thing as just starting. Fact is, I've been baking bread since Lazarous was a corporal. But that entailed slavishly following a recipe that was, more often than not, given in volume measurements. Until my hands gave out I always kneaded by hand---because dough is a living, tactile thing, and that's the only way you can truly learn what a "good" dough is supposed to feel like. But at no time, in all those years, did I have even a glimmer of understanding about the process, no feel for the mystical transformation of flour, water, salt and yeast into bread.

 

So, I produced a lot of very acceptible bread, bread that, compared to store bought, was exceptional. But that's all it really was; acceptible bread. What I didn't have was a clue about how to improve it.

 

The interesting thing, since I became serious about bread making, is that I don't know a single serious baker who sees all the special techniques and equipment as anything more than tools to help them make better bread. Not a one of them has the attitude that you must do it this way, or that their approach is somehow purer than anyone elses. Not one of them who won't reach out and help a beginner. Not one who won't happily decomplicate the process and show a newbie how to make a simple pan bread.

 

Seems to me, if beginners are confused or intimidated it's because they try to skip the learning stages and jump right in to advanced techniques. That's certainly not the fault of those who already know those techniques, or of the authors of advanced baking books. There are 12 steps to baking bread; the same steps apply whether it's a simple loaf bread or a complex artisan loaf calling for preferments and retarded fermentation and three days worth of prep time. If somebody isn't willing to learn those 12 steps, that's their decision. But don't accuse me of making things complicated because I took the time to do so.

 

Sure, there's a lexicon that could be confusing to newbies. But every field has it's own jargon. But unlike cooking in general, the one for bread making is easy to learn, cuz there ain't that many special terms. And when it is used it's more meaningful. In the old days, if a recipe said "let it rest ten minutes" I did so, without knowing why. Nowadays, a formula might use the word "autolyse"  instead. But I understand exactly why I'm doing it, and what's happening to the forming dough. Again, if you don't want to learn the proper terms, that's your decision. I don't know anyone who will fault you for that. But, by the same token, don't blame me if you don't understand the language---especially as it tends to be used among equals. My friend who doesn't bake, for instance, would never hear the term from my lips; not until he had some loaves under his apron.  

 

I'm really pleased that you were able to learn how to bake by trial and error. But you are an exception. The fact is, unlike cooking, baking is not intuitive. Ingredients are there for specific reasons. Sure, you can (despite what some of the literature says) play with quantities to a certain degree. But there are rough ratios that must be adhered to or all you get is an acceptible loaf, and ingredients that must be included. And there are effects that are determined by when you add ingredients as well as what they are.

 

I would suggest that if the typical person tried learning to bake bread the way you claim to they would face a lot of frustration. And make some really bad loaves. And they'd give it up, rather quickly, as being too complicated.

 

Finally, although I'm sure you don't mean them this way, your posts on this subject really come across as being holier than thou, as though your way was decreed by the baking Gods, and anyone who doesn't do it that way is, somehow, a sinner.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #34 of 34

 

HI KY,

I do tend to get on a soapbox, so i accept your last comment with apologies - it's just the passionate interest in things that makes me come on too strong.  I guess my reply was not directed at you, who are always very moderate in your advice, and helpful, but I have had people say that there is no way to get bread to come out right if you don't measure to the gram.  Which is simply not true, so my reply - in way more intensity than intended - was directed towards them.  I wouldn't want to recommend to someone to buy a thermometer to make bread, because it would put many people off, though to recommend using one to learn what "done" bread will look like, feel like and sound like, can be a good idea.   I was often fooled by thermometers, that gave me wrong "advice" - like with jam that didn;t jell but came to the recommended temp. 

I also didn;t realize you had always baked bread - Lots of excellent chefs and cooks never bake, so i thought that may have been the case.  It's always a surprise, because they come together for me as a continuum - but I only recently realized why restaurants that have wonderful food often have so-so deserts. 

 

I read a lot of cookbooks, esp the ones that explain the why of things, so that i can extrapolate from there in new situations.  I learned to add more flour to cakes because of Julia Child's explanations in her baguette recipe, explaining the softer nature of french flour, etc.  Most of my cookbook library, however, is old, and i don't have the latest books that rely more on techniques. 

 

I don't say mine is the only way, by hand and touch, but i think it is offputting to newcomers to think they have to do so much precision work that they just give up before they start, and bread is actually very forgiving.   In any case, I do measure - with cups - and pour not scoop and level-  though I am approximate (certainly a teaspoon, or tablespoon more or less flour doesn't make a difference in bread - i often have to adjust from touch, even if i measured accurately.  Which is WHY i don't bother so much now.  And cooking with italian ingredients made me have to adjust way more even for cakes - more flour, less butter, or I'd get a flat and greasy cake.  Having a broken thermostat made baking temps become less relevant, though if the oven is too cold, most things don't work.  Thermometers are always a problem for me and have led me astray with false security when i should have relied on my eye. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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