I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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Hégé
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I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Hégé » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:45 am

I think a lot of you are interested in getting good at sourdough bread making,

I live in France and work in an artisan bakery, so I though I would try to teach some of you. I am not an expert yet, but I know enough to get you going in making bread.

First step, is getting the right materials.

You'll need
  • Flour or grain. You need organic flour or grain, otherwise you'll just poison yourself, it's useless. Flour must be milled with stones and you should have little or almost no bran in it. Contrarily to popular beliefs, bran is bad for you, it is not digestible in bread. (unless prepared in a particular way, soaked, etc...).

    If you get grain instead of flour, you should buy or have a mill at your home. Unless you have an exceptional flour mill next to where you live, it may be the best option, because fresh flour is immensely superior to old flour. You lose a lot of the nutrients and taste with time.
    (example of what to buy : http://www.moulins-alma.pro/fr/moulins- ... seuse.html )
  • Water. Almost any water is fine. No rain water. If it comes from the tap, let it rest overnight to remove the chlorine.
  • Salt. Good quality coarse salt. Sea salt is fine but just know that sea salt nowadays is always polluted in some way.
  • Oven. Oven that can go up to 260 °C (500 °F). Brick oven is the best, if you have that in your garden. You can also buy a brick oven for the kitchen, but it cost a lot. https://www.lepanyol.com/fr/fours-a-boi ... liers.html
  • Pizza stone If you only have an electric oven, you HAVE to imitate the way a brick oven works. So you should place a stone in the oven that will accumulate heat and cook the bread strongly at the beginning. You can either find a good stone that won't break with heat (but be careful of the size of the stone, the bigger it is, the longer you have to preheat it, the more electricity you will use...) or you can buy a pizza stone. Or even make it yourself with a special cement.
  • A large cast iron dish That is another solution if you don't have a stone. You preheat the dish the same way as the stone. It can yield good result, but it is generally considered a bit too aggressive for the dough.
  • A bread peel. Buy or make one suitable for the size of your oven. You probably don't need a large handle. That one you can easily make yourself with a board and some nails... (you won't need a peel if you use the cast iron dish)
  • A way to knead the dough. You can either use your hand, or a machine. But just know that if it is a machine, it should be quite gentle, and have a hook. Like this : https://www.pieces-online.com/4247-9525 ... d-kmix.jpg
  • A recipient to knead the dough. (if you do it by hand) A laaaarge bowl is good. If you want to do bigger quantities, you can build something like this http://petrin.canalblog.com/
  • A blade To score the bread before cooking and make the "grigne". A razor blade is good. Anything really sharp and easy to handle.
  • Other useful instruments A thermometer for the dough and for the water. Also, that thing (but i don't know the name in english http://fr.academic.ru/pictures/frwiki/6 ... uisine.JPG )
If you have more or less all of that, we can start with the next step! Making the sourdough starter :)
To be continued...

Smashter
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Smashter » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:03 am

I'm excited for this, thanks. I've tried making sourdough with my own starter many times, and it never comes out right. Maybe this will finally help me figure out where I've been going wrong.

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FBeyer
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by FBeyer » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:57 pm

That 'thing' is called a scraper. I own very large scrapers out of plastic, but I have to say I'm sorry I didn't get some in stainless steel.
When I'm sliding the bread off of the peel and unto the (insanely) hot pizza stone I really like NOT to burn the edges of the scraper. Admittedly that issue only arises because I don't want to do more dishes that I absolutely have to.

A bowl for mixing dough should be somewhat shallow and wide, and also have a lid that fits snugly. So when you're letting the dough rise overnight, the mixing bowl doesn't take up all the shelf space in the fridge and you can put things on top. Also keeps the dough from drying out in case you're letting it rise for a long time. Also helps keep unwanted flavours out of the dough in case you HAVE to store it somewhere unconventional. Trust me, you'd like a lid with your mixing bowl.

The reason the bowl should be rather shallow is mainly if you use a spoon or your hands to mix it. The wrist angle you have to work with with a deep bowl compared to a shallow bowl makes a rather large difference when you mix enough bread often enough by hand.

When mixing with a spoon, remember that gluten forms into long strands in the dough. You don't have to 'stir' the dough, you have to 'stretch' it. So when mixing with a spoon, you can actually quickly 'knead' the dough by scooping a spoon under the dough and then pulling the dough out until just BEFORE the dough starts to tear. Do this continually by scooping under the dough and lifting/pulling and you can have the dough ready as quickly as a stand mixer would. That's also part of the reason why you want a shallow bowl for mixing: There is a fast and easy way to do it with a wooden tool :D

If you have the time, don't mix in the salt to begin with. Knead the dough by folding it over itself a couple of times, and then let it rest for 15 minutes. Then fold it over itself a couple of times again, and repeat for as long as you feel like. Add the salt with a little bit of water and thoroughly fold the dough over itself until you're certain you don't have pockets of salt anywhere. You can dissolve the salt in a little, tiny, bit of water before pouring it in. That means that when you're folding the dough without salt, the dough should be just that 1/4 dl water short of perfect.

Kneading that way gives the sourdough more time to propagate (salt tends to kill bacteria you know) and apparently salt has an effect on the gluten structure so that the dough quickly start to feel 'tighter' after you've mixed in the salt.

Kneading without salt; google 'Autolyse Bread'.

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Hégé
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Hégé » Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:44 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:57 pm
That 'thing' is called a scraper. I own very large scrapers out of plastic, but I have to say I'm sorry I didn't get some in stainless steel.
When I'm sliding the bread off of the peel and unto the (insanely) hot pizza stone I really like NOT to burn the edges of the scraper. Admittedly that issue only arises because I don't want to do more dishes that I absolutely have to.

A bowl for mixing dough should be somewhat shallow and wide, and also have a lid that fits snugly. So when you're letting the dough rise overnight, the mixing bowl doesn't take up all the shelf space in the fridge and you can put things on top. Also keeps the dough from drying out in case you're letting it rise for a long time. Also helps keep unwanted flavours out of the dough in case you HAVE to store it somewhere unconventional. Trust me, you'd like a lid with your mixing bowl....
Thanks for the notes. A scraper! A plastic one is better for the usage I will be recommending because it will mostly be used to remove the dough from the bowl and put it in a surface where we can work it. When the dough is on the peel, a simple slide should suffice to place it on the stone (considering we have put semolina on the peel). We only use the metallic ones at my work when scraping dry dough or cutting the dough.

You are very right about getting a good bowl and a lid. Get a lid or a good plastic to cover the dough or it will dry out.

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FBeyer
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by FBeyer » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:34 pm

Hmm. I think maybe the reason why I have to use a little help to get the bread off the peel is because mine is homemade, not stainless steel :D

Loner
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Loner » Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:25 pm

Great. Just started a sourdough starter 2 days ago. It looks as it should. It smelled somewhat like vomit though, but thats also OK according to internet. Am I on the right track? I will be reading on for sure. I am not sure how much effort I am willing to devote to baking, as it looks a bit time consuming, so at first I'll be looking for the pareto-principle recipes :lol:

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FBeyer
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by FBeyer » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:40 am

I will stop smelling like that soon, and start smelling strongly like vomit for a few more days. Then the smell will die down and it'll change towards beer/champagne/bread soon. Keep stirring and keep it up.

Usually the 'whiter' the starter the more it reeks to begin with.

Loner
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Loner » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:18 am

Thanks FBeyer. As you suspected, I used what I had on hand: all purpose white flour. I'm looking forward to the champagne smell. BTW, the bread you posted in the other thread looks delicious. I'm sure there's a lot of skill and effort involved.

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vexed87
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by vexed87 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:45 am

Great write up, we love homemade bread and pizza here.

A few points to add, a damp cotton towel is sufficient to keep your dough wet whilst proving, no need for fancy plastic lids or cling film, but if you prefer not to get your fancy tea towels wet and floury, a clean and hole-free shopping bag will do!

A flat baking tray (turn a shallow one upside down to avoid the lip if there is one) makes for a great budget peel, just ensure you dust it as you would any peel. Due to the volume of pizza and bread baked here, and the recent aquisition of a pizza stone, I've just added a dedicated peel to my cuboard.

Another nearly essential piece of kit is a banneton, especially useful for particularly wet doughs or sour dough receipes which would otherwise slump down in a heap during the final prove (they require the structural support). The baskets also give that artisanal ribbed effect on your bakes which seems to make people salivate for some reason.

Image

Stand mixers are a god send if you bake more than a few times a week, for an occasional bake, they are overkill. I wouldn't bake as often as I do without one. Plus, lots less mess with wet doughs!

As for sour dough starter, it should smell sickly sweet, sort of like milk that's just turning. If the stater is making you wretch when you sniff it, you may have some not-so-beneficial bacteria in your starter (trust me, you don't want to taste it). You may need start [your starter] again. Once you get a stater you like going, consider freezing some, because it takes a while to establish a new batch, and if you are infrequent baker, keep it in the fridge. I've lost too many starters out on the countertop when I forgot to feed them for days on end. Don't be ashmed to use quick yeast. I know if SHTF I can always fall back on the sour dough method, but quick yeast is way more convenient on busy working days, the occasional sour dough is nice though.

White bread flour is way more forgiving for a beginner, but ancient grains like rye, einkorn and spelt help add variety and new flavours to your bakes. My favourite part about baking is experimenting with my flours. I don't enjoy 100% wholemeal loaves, as they are too dense and rarely taste great without lots of butter or cheese, but good news, as you are baking, you control what goes in, so try experiementing with the ratios, a good starting point is 1:1 or 2:1 ancient wholemeal flour with a strong white modern grain. Wholemeal loaves are much nicer, but the flour doesn't last as long in your pantry after milling as white flour, and buying quality wholemeal in 1kg bags can get expensive, so consider or milling it yourself.

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Hégé
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Hégé » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:59 pm

Second step, Starting the sourdough

There is many ways of starting a sourdough, as there is many ways to make bread . If it is the first time you are making bread, just follow one way of doing it, don’t mix it up. You’ll have more chance to succeed.
We’ll be making a “hard” sourdough (“levain dur” in french)

What you need:

-Flour. I would advise on having a sourdough made with the same flour you will you use for the bread. But, depending on your successes, you can try to use a flour with a bit more bran than the flour you use for your bread. The bran is a great source of yeast and bacteria and will give a good boost to start your sourdough.

-Water. No chlorine in the water! Super important to not have any chemicals that are anti-bacterial.

-A bowl, a recipient, a deep glass jar. No metal.

-A warm spot the place the jar. Between 20°C and 25°C is best. Too hot and it will go too fast, too cold and it will take too long.

-A cling film to cover the jar or bowl. When you are finished mixing, put the film back and make a few cuts in it with a knife to leave some aeration.

First day:

Morning: Take 50g of flour and 100g of water and mix it with a clean wooden or plastic spoon (no metal).

Evening: Same thing

Second day:

Morning: Same thing

Evening: Same thing

So the ratio you are following here is Flour = Water/2
You will arrive to a point where you have too much dough, so it is important to remove half of it when you have too much.

Third day, Fourth, Fifth… Until the sourdough is born.
Image
Image
You’ll see that in about 4 hours (20-25 °C), your sourdough will double in size. You will see bubbles of air forming, it will smell like vinegar or like a lacto-fermentation, depending on the wheat, it can smell a lot of things, but it should always smell good. (it can smell strong but good at the same time!).

Bad signs: Mold of any color, really bad smell, separation of water (transparent water on top),...

At this point, you can start changing the ratio to Flour = Water, so 50g of water for 50g of flour. The goal is to have a dryer sourdough, but it should still form a dough. If it’s too dry or too wet you might have to put less or more water.

You can also “feed” it only once a day. Keep doing it until it doubles in size 4 hours (20-25°C) after you’ve fed it.

If the sourdough don’t seem to be strong enough, try to slowly change the proportion, experiment a bit.
When it is ready, put it in the fridge and it’s ready to use!

Beware of the whole ecosystem that lives in a fridge, many bacteria and yeast are living in it. Be sure to not have anything rotting in your fridge. Cover the sourdough with a lid or a solid plastic.

Man, there’s so many thing to tell about bread and sourdough, that it’s hard for me to know what to say and what to leave behind. There’s so many explanation for all of the steps but it would take to long to write them up. And since I am a french speaker, I fed up with writing in english :D So I thank you guys for writing the things I am forgetting and giving advices too, and for forgiving my bad english, eheh.

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Hégé
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Hégé » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:08 pm

vexed87 wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:45 am
Great write up, we love homemade bread and pizza here.

A few points to add, a damp cotton towel is sufficient to keep your dough wet whilst proving, no need for fancy plastic lids or cling film, but if you prefer not to get your fancy tea towels wet and floury, a clean and hole-free shopping bag will do!...
Aaah, the list of materials is getting bigger! A banneton is awesome and easy to use. For those of you who won't buy one, but still want to go on with the recipe, you can use a colander to kind of mimic it. But a better way even is to buy or get some flax textile to do something like this:
Image
The advantage is that it's cheap and simple and you can put multiple dough on it. Also you won't ever wash it and the more you use it, the better the bread will rise.

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FBeyer
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by FBeyer » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:59 am

I acknowledge your professional knowledge over my own, but I've come across plenty of people on the net who've given up on their sourdough because it stinks to begin with, or it separates, both of which seem to be inconsequential for the quality of the final sourdough.

In other words: I see pros advocating a very strict set of rules for how the sourdough should behave to begin with, and plenty of amateurs quit after several tries of getting it right, but I also see plenty of people (including Denmark's most famous bread baker) saying that separation of water or bad smell (to begin with, not later!) doesn't matter. Just stir the dough and keep tending to it and it'll turn out fine.

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Hégé
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Hégé » Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:38 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:59 am
I acknowledge your professional knowledge over my own, but I've come across plenty of people on the net who've given up on their sourdough because it stinks to begin with, or it separates, both of which seem to be inconsequential for the quality of the final sourdough.

In other words: I see pros advocating a very strict set of rules for how the sourdough should behave to begin with, and plenty of amateurs quit after several tries of getting it right, but I also see plenty of people (including Denmark's most famous bread baker) saying that separation of water or bad smell (to begin with, not later!) doesn't matter. Just stir the dough and keep tending to it and it'll turn out fine.
Well I am not a professional, but I do help to make bread at a great bakery (I don't want to give too much information to stay anonymous, but lets just say that we do work with 3 stars michelin restaurant, even if that doesn't mean anything about the quality of our bread...)

Since I am not actually a baker (I help to make the bread, but my job at the bakery is to make pasta and jams), I am just repeating what I am observing and what I have been taught.

You are right. You can still try to recover a bad start of a sourdough. But I wouldn't say it doesn't matter. It is the sign that it is not properly taken care of. Our bakery has a strong philosophy of taking care of nature and humans, so we try to take care of living things. Every decision that makes our bakery what it is today is because of a deep and serious respect to these values. The wheat is only ancient varieties of wheat, grown from farmers we know, they grow the wheat with respect to the soil and ecology (it grows in association with as much as 4-7 others kind of plants). The wheat is then brought to our bakery and we mill the flour with granit stones which keep the germ of the wheat and we use it the same day or the day after. So when you buy a bread, the day before, it was wheat, not flour. We have long fermentation process, and we cook the bread in a stone oven of about 40 tons.

That said, we are not as professional as many bakers, because it was all done with love for the nature and the people, and none of us has a formal baker apprenticeship!

What I would be interested in knowing, is to see if there's an impact on the final yeasts when you keep going with a sourdough in the way you are writing.
I know that it still makes a sourdough that will work great. That we agree on. But would it make a change in the nutritional values at the end for example? I wouldn't be surprised if there was something different going on.

Yeah, so for us, that decision of not wanting to work with a sourdough you are describing, is purely ideological. Not based on science. But sometimes, ideology, common sense and philosophy makes the best decision and it's only years after that we discover that it also made scientific sense too.

But again, these are not my ideas, these are the way we work.

Loner
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Loner » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:08 pm

My first sourdough starter experiment failed. After smelling strongly of cheap Kraft parmesan for 1-2 days, I continued like Fbeyer suggested, and it started bubbling much (big bubbles on top; it didn’t look like the ready-starter I see all over the web). I continued on with the feeding but at some point the bubbles disappeared, and it looked and smelled like flour mixed with water. I think it died, and I'm not sure what happened. So now I’m giving a shot at your directions, Hégé.

I had kept the discarded started from the days that it didn’t smell so much like cheese and did pancakes with it (I hate waste). It didn’t taste bad, but it was quite sour (and did taste a bit like cheese). It this normal?

In the meanwhile I made a white bread (the third I made ever). Mixed some yeast with sugar and water, waited for 5-10 minutes, then mixed in the rest of the flour and water. I let it rise for some time, then deflated it. The dough was hard to work with, really sticky (I was distracted and I think I put too much water), and it wouldn’t hold a shape. I ended up putting it in the oven anyways thinking I’d eat some flat, hard pita-lika bread, but it came out nice. The texture was like that of a ciabatta: the inside was moist, with big and small bubbles (image here: https://ibb.co/gfiwFJ). Quite by mistake, I made exactly the kind of bread texture I love.

Any idea what I did wrong/right? I would like to make something like it again. What gives such a texture? From reading on the web, I figure I made a high hydration bread. Is getting such a texture just a matter of putting more water in the dough?

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Hégé
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Hégé » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:44 pm

Loner wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:08 pm
My first sourdough starter experiment failed. After smelling strongly of cheap Kraft parmesan for 1-2 days, I continued like Fbeyer suggested, and it started bubbling much (big bubbles on top; it didn’t look like the ready-starter I see all over the web). I continued on with the feeding but at some point the bubbles disappeared, and it looked and smelled like flour mixed with water. I think it died, and I'm not sure what happened. So now I’m giving a shot at your directions, Hégé.

I had kept the discarded started from the days that it didn’t smell so much like cheese and did pancakes with it (I hate waste). It didn’t taste bad, but it was quite sour (and did taste a bit like cheese). It this normal?

In the meanwhile I made a white bread (the third I made ever). Mixed some yeast with sugar and water, waited for 5-10 minutes, then mixed in the rest of the flour and water. I let it rise for some time, then deflated it. The dough was hard to work with, really sticky (I was distracted and I think I put too much water), and it wouldn’t hold a shape. I ended up putting it in the oven anyways thinking I’d eat some flat, hard pita-lika bread, but it came out nice. The texture was like that of a ciabatta: the inside was moist, with big and small bubbles (image here: https://ibb.co/gfiwFJ). Quite by mistake, I made exactly the kind of bread texture I love.

Any idea what I did wrong/right? I would like to make something like it again. What gives such a texture? From reading on the web, I figure I made a high hydration bread. Is getting such a texture just a matter of putting more water in the dough?
How much where you feeding the sourdough? Maybe you didn't give it enough, but it's hard to say since I don't know what it really looked like. A good rule is to feed a sourdough x2 up to x8. So if you have 100g of sourdough you could actually feed it 350g of water and 350g of flour it would be ok! The reason is that you then have in the total of the sourdough more fresh lactobacillus then old ones. And that's better for the bread.
The fact that you say it didn't smell as strong also makes me think that the temperature was maybe a bit low.

That's an awesome mistake you made there :D Yeah, you get that kind of texture with more water :) In the recipe I will give, I will be advising to have a dough quite wet. So you should like the end result.

Loner
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Loner » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:05 pm

I started with a cup of floor and half a cup of water. For two days I removed half of it and replaced it with one cup of flour and half a cup of water, once a day. Then for the three-four following days it was twice a day. I think your guess might be right. It was cool-ish here during those days, maybe under 20C. I'll try to keep it in a warmer place. Thanks for the advice. I'm looking forward to try your recipe.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:26 pm

If someone has never baked bread before and just wants to get started, they could do a lot worse than this recipe: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/113 ... nead-bread. Flour, yeast, salt, water.

If you just want to get the job done you can even skip steps 2 and 3 and it will still work. Also, it says you need a particular pot to bake in but I've put it in an eight quart or so stock pot and it still works.

Loner
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by Loner » Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:51 am

Hégé wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:59 pm
Second step, Starting the sourdough
Hégé, just a little not to say I tried your sourdough starter recipe some weeks ago, right after my first failed experiment with an Internet recipe. Well, your recipe worked. I just came to say thanks to you. Thanks also to the others who gave me tips. I've been making sourdough bread these past weeks and it is absolutely delicious. I made some with raisins and honey, and some with herbs. Great, great bread. I cook it on a cookie pan and use only AP flour, so it's not ideal and I don't get the gorgeous bread I'd get using a dutch oven, but it is still excellent. Certainly better than the sliced "bread" from the store. It would cost me 5x more to get such a bread from a baker. When you get the twist, it is also much less time consuming than I thought.

Anyhoo, thanks.

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FBeyer
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by FBeyer » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:30 pm

The easiest tool-less way to knead and mix dough.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgz0oAh ... 2s&index=6

The Old Man
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Re: I'll teach you a way to make good bread at home

Post by The Old Man » Tue Aug 28, 2018 8:05 am

So, what is your professional opinion on Bread Machines?

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