What are some good fundamentals for becoming a great baker? My goal is to be able to bake sandwich loaves with great variety without having to read a recipe.
Are there some simple ratios I can memorize, like the parts of water per parts of flour?
Depends on what kind of bread you're making. Many recipes will have baker's percentages to make it easy to scale them up or down. There are other things you need to learn like how to mix the dough, how to let it rise and not overwork the dough.
Find a good supplier for flour and eggs, buy an high quality oven that maintains heat, and practice recipes a lot with minor variations each time.
Having friends as taste testers is a plus as well. No one turns down sweets till you fuck it up.
Divide your loaf tin into four quarters. Then put a different flour/water/yeast/salt/other combo in each corner. Bake for 25 minutes at 220 degrees celsius. That way you get to try out four loaves at a time, to see which combinations work and which don't.
Within a month you'll be a master baker.
baking in a smaller container with a lid (like a roaster) preserves steam and will enhance the quality of your crusts
you can even include a little ramikin of water to really blast that shit to the max
Ok, take for example this for example
I didn't have a pullman pan so I used a normal 9 inch bread pan. The bread was tasty but didn't rise enough. Was my pan too large for this recipe, or does the pullman type pan make that big of a difference?
I've also tried making this in the past
but it comes out cakey
Can you elaborate? I don't understand those numbers. What would the volume by weight be for the water, flour, yeast, and salt for a basic white bread loaf?
I just want to perfect the most simple loaf so I have a base to modify off of. I keep trying different loaf recipes and they never come out perfectly, and I'm not sure if it's the recipe, or the moisture/temp of where I live, or if it's just my messing up.
Most of the recipes I've tried call for all kinds of extra ingredients including eggs, butter, sugar, etc, so I think cutting down the ingredients to just the required (flour, salt, water, yeast) would eliminate a lot of variables
Those are the ingredients to flour ratios by weight.
A typical sandwich bread would be something like this:
Water 60% of flour weight
Oil 2% (sandwich bread needs fat)
The rest of it is good technique but it shouldn't be too hard with sandwich as it's supposed to be a simple and straightforward process.
It's easier to kneed if you let the dough sit for 10 minutes or so after mixing it all together.
If you have a very wet dough and a long fermentation period (refrigerated or with little yeast) folding the dough a few times is enough.
Related, can anyone direct me to understanding the alchemy that is sourdough bread?
get a digital scale. it makes everything a snap.
Bake using a starter. I dump about 600-700 grams of starter into a bread-machine pan (sitting on a zeroed digital scale), then add enough flour to bring the hydration down to a proper level, like 50-60%, then let it knead in the machine for 30 minutes, dump it in a bread-pan, cover it with a little oil and plastic wrap, and let it rise for 3 hours. Then into the oven for 40 minutes at 350. When there's 10-15 minute left, I put a little tin foil 'hat' on the bread to keep the crust from getting too hard.
The leftover start goes back in the fridge. When I want to make more bread, I add a bunch of flour and water to build up the starter, and let it ferment on the counter overnight.
Leave the bread out uncovered and it'll get a yeast infection so you don't need to add any yeast. It'll also get a load of other bacteria and shit, and between that and the fact that wild yeast hasn't exactly been bred for its neutral flavour profile your bread will taste funky.
Whatever works, all you're trying to do is stretch and mix the dough. Look at what a bread mixer does, it just blindly twists the dough around and it works fine.
For really wet doughs you can drag lumps towards you with your fingertips and then push them back in to the main body. More sticky dough you can slap against the bench then pull up like a giant wad of gum. Solid dough you can grab one end and push the other end away with your other hand, or smush it out against the surface with the heels of both hands. Once it's almost ready you can even swing the whole thing around like a nunchuk to stretch it.
Here's the result.
13oz of King Arthur bread flour
3oz extra virgin olive oil
First rise was for 1hr in a bowl coated with olive oil to prevent sticking
I then punched down the dough and transferred it to a lightly oiled 4.5"x8.5" USA bread pan
Second rise was for 1hr
I baked in the preheated oven for 32 minutes at 350F
Waiting for it to cool down before cutting into to check the crumb.
It still didn't rise quite as much as I wanted, any ideas on what I'm fucking up?
The crumb turned out pretty good, the crust is crisp, but not hard. It tastes like white bread, so overall this is a great starting point, I just need to figure out my rise problem.
Am I kneading for too long or not long enough?
Do I need to knead at higher speeds?
Do I need to spend more or less time on my first and second rises?
Is punching the dough down bad for rising?
Is my oven not hot enough?
Do I need to bake for longer?
Do I need to cut vents into the top of the loaf before baking?
Nice, it looks well risen to me. If you want it to spill out of the form some more you could use more dough.
Or use warmer water, a wetter dough or more time.
Poke it with a finger during the second rise to see when it's ready to bake.
The indentation should sowly but not completely disappear in a few minutes.
If it doesn't you overproofed.
Hard to tell from pictures, it's hard to overdo it though so maybe try some more next time.
I would bake it hotter to get more color on the crust.
That helps a little with oven spring, along with a hotter oven.
Thanks, I'll try again with slightly more dough, I want the loaf to look like this, with the big dome on the top.
I'll try the poking the bread next time to check if it's proofed enough, I've never done that before. I'm guessing overproofed bread will stop rising before it gets into the oven?
Yeah, it's about picking a moment where the yeast has produced a good amount of gas but isn't exhausted yet.
If you overproof the bread won't grow much in the oven and if you underproof weird stuff like blowouts, big holes with a tight a crum and crust that doesn't brown well happens.
bread doesn't suffer from being baked for a long time. get your crust to a color of your liking, that looks a little light to me. For a white bread you want a deep golden brown, wheat get's you the deep dark brown color.
If you wanna take a good photo, use more dough, and brush the top with melted butter after pulling out of oven, it gives it a nice shine.
also this crumb for me is too airy for a sandwich bread. you want a tight but not dense crumb. From the looks of the photo you overproofed it, which caused the airy crumb. this is why it didn't rise in the oven much since your yeast was already full and gassed out. You typically want 1 lb of dough to go into a 8 x 4 pan or 1.5 lbs for a 9 x 5. very good start tho anon, best of luck.
check out thefreshloaf . com if you really wanna get into a bread discussion, bunch of old flyover folk who do nothing but bake bread.
After almost a year of try and error, this is my result..
>I just want to perfect the most simple loaf so I have a base to modify off of. I keep trying different loaf recipes and they never come out perfectly, and I'm not sure if it's the recipe, or the moisture/temp of where I live, or if it's just my messing up.
How have you tweaked the recipe to make improvements?
After fucking around with a pizza dough recipe, I found the biggest improvement came after I stopped trying to simply bake it on the rack in the oven and instead baked that fucker on a stone right underneath the hot ass broiler.
Futz with your water to flour ratio, and try starting the bake on the highest setting your oven will do, then back it off to 400-350 or so to finish it. You're just going to have to keep experimenting until you get something close to what you want, anon, that's what everyone does.