[LMB] OT: Attention all cooks: looking for a bread recipe NOT using a bread machine

Joel Polowin jpolowin at hotmail.com
Sat Aug 22 14:50:59 BST 2009

Raye Johnsen wrote:
> So I'm looking for a recipe that either predates bread machines or otherwise does not
> involve them. Ye good old mix these ingredients, knead, let prove, shape, place in
> tins, bake. I can work out the method from the recipes for fruit and cheese breads
> I've got on hand, but they vary in ingredients too much for me to deduce a base bread
> recipe. What I'm mostly fuzzy on are the subjects of quantity of ingredients, time of
> baking and temperature of the oven.

There are a couple of catches.

Quantities of ingredients -- can vary considerably with humidity.  I've been making
all my bread by hand for about 18 years, and I do it pretty much by feel.  For two
large loaves, I start with a couple of cups of flour in a big bowl, with about a
tablespoon of salt, two tablespoons of instant yeast, and a quarter cup of sugar,
then add 3 cups of very warm water -- that volume of water is the defining amount.
(When I have to use non-instant yeast, I put the yeast and sugar into a 2-cup
measuring cup, fill it with very warm water, and stir occasionally until the
yeast is working, then add that to the flour-and-salt and add another cup of
water.)  And after that, it's a matter of stirring in more flour, and then kneading
in more flour, until I get the "right" texture.  Let rise covered with a cloth in
a warm place (e.g. oven preheated to a warm temperature then turned off), punch down,
shape into two loaves, oil their surfaces and place into pans, let rise, then bake.

Time and temperature -- can vary considerably with altitude and depending on your
oven and the loaf shape, and probably with the bread type.  For me, a nominal 325'F
and 25 minutes work well for 50% whole wheat loaves.  Partly you have to go by
look and feel and smell, and you may need to experiment a bit with several batches.
If your bread turns out to be undercooked inside when the outside seems to be about
right, you need a lower temperature and a longer time -- you need to take things
more slowly so the inside can catch up with the outside a bit better, all other
things being kept the same.  Or, with the same temperature, make loaves that are
smaller or narrower in proportion, so the centres are closer to the surface.
Using only white flour or bread flour, the loaves rise more, so the insides are
less dense and don't lag behind the outside as much, so a slightly higher
temperature and shorter time are needed.

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