Anyone baking their own bread?

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by IveofIone, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. Just wondering if there are any other bakers out there. At our house we haven't eaten store bought bread for years and were shocked recently to find how much a loaf cost in the store. A fine sourdough that we used to often find on sale 2 loaves for $2.50 was selling for $3.62 a loaf! A convincing case can really be made for baking your own at those prices. A five pound bag of flour usually runs around $3.50. Move up to a 25# or 50# bag and the price drops significantly. A typical loaf will require around a pound of flour so it is obvious that for the price of a loaf in the store you can make 5 loaves at home. And they will be better bread. Read the label on the next loaf of bread you buy and try to determine what some of that stuff is and why it is needed.

    Good bread needs just 4 ingredients-flour, water, yeast and salt. How you manage those 4 ingredients determines how the bread will taste and that is the joy of building your own. We start all of our breads the day before baking, a process that probably takes all of about two minutes. The biga, or pre ferment, is then left to work overnight and the next day flour is added to make the finished dough. It is dead simple, very enjoyable and maddenly delicious. During the summer when I am mostly outside I don't have time to work on artisan breads so I make a quick and simple No Knead Sourdough that I sometimes ferment for up to 2 days. By then the dough smells like beer and the resulting bread is rustic, crunchy on the outside and soft in the center. Guest love it and are amazed at how little work is actually involved.

    Now that shorter days are keeping me inside longer I have time to work on my main interest which is french bread. It requires a little more attention but the loaves are beautiful with a crisp crust and a soft creamy crumb. Excellent with cheese and a decent red wine. I am just a beginner having only baked seriously for about 3 years now but I get some stunning successes at times and occasionally a complete flop.

    When the long dark evenings start to get to you get out in that kitchen and shape up a few loaves of bread. The house will smell great and the family will think you are a hero. No machinery is needed, no "breadmaker", no mixer, just a good hot oven with an accurate thermometer and a timer are about the only tools required. Every human comes with two of the best breadmakers in the world attached to the end of his arms. Put 'em to use, you'll love the results.

  2. Ive,
    Any chance you'd share your recipe for your favorite no knead sourdough?
  3. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Breadmachines suck. When I have time I bake but it seems I rarely do anymore. Last time I tossed a loaf in it was a tad toasty. LOL. I want to get back into doing it more. I know my Grandma never had a loaf of storebought bread in her house. Long story on baking and my family. I know someone who has an old sourdough start they were gonna give me. Need to take them up on it. All the baking I've done has been in dutches in camp. LOL
  4. The misses goes on streaks where she'll bake a few loaves and the girls have become very good helpers. That means from time to time I get to eat fresh baked bread that is just awesome. I wish she did it more, but despite her stay at home mom status, even her schedule is too filled to find consistent time to bake. She bakes a pretty mean pie too, several types. I've got the belt line to prove it.
  5. Yep, I'll admit it, we cheat and use a bread machine. The results are pretty good actually but I'd like to do more the "right" way!
  6. Bitterroot...
    Really... A bread machine...??

    It's so simple...!

  7. I've used them too Lonnie. Just got to point I used them to mix dough then toss into breadpan and toss in oven.
  8. Did I say bread machine? I meant to say that I used a 500 year old, wood fired brick oven. Ya, that's what I meant to say.:rofl:
    Alex MacDonald and Clarki like this.
  9. Baking bread is one of my favorite Sunday pastimes. Gives me an excuse to watch football while the dough rises. I have used a bread machine as well, but I prefer to knead by hand.

    I recently obtained a sourdough starter from a co-worker. He caught his own wild yeast, but I don't find it to be too sour. I let the last loaf retard in the refrigerator for 24 hours, but even that didn't give it the punch I wanted. Any advice?
  10. Ive - want to share your recipes?
  11. Disclaimer: I am by no means an authority on any of this stuff, just a hungry guy that devours his successes and feeds his failures to the birds. Before a REAL baker gets on here and stomps a mudhole in my ass, I just want to make that abundantly clear. I have learned enough in 3 years to make myself happy and have had a lot of fun doing it but am in no position to consul anyone. Jus' sayin....

    I have made some observations though. First, so called breadmakers are an electro-mechanical device that only produce a bread-like substance and as such should be contributed to the landfill. If you need a machine for your bread buy a big powerful unit like a Kitchen Aid mixer that has a powerful dough hook. In addition there are a number of accessories that add a great deal of versatility to the mixer including a dandy meat grinder that is handy if you are a hunter. I'm thinking sausage here. Some people have wrist and hand issues or elbow and shoulder problems that make kneading difficult so the mixer is just the thing for them. It does a number of jobs very well where a breadmaker does only one job and does it poorly.

    Second, an accurate scale will make you better long term than measuring by volume. I have a dandy digital kitchen scale that I use for not only my baking measurements but almost everything else around the house including weighing fly rods. Flour is affected by humidity and a level cup can vary quite a bit in weight depending on the climate in your area and how the flour is stored. Grandma knew this intuitively, something she probably gleaned from her own mother years before and just made adjustments on the fly depending on the weather.

    Third, no one is assured of success anymore in breadmaking than they are in fly fishing. Some just seem to have magic in their fingers no matter what they do while others seem like they are going through life with welding gloves on. I hope no one is in the latter group.

    Fourth, bread pans matter. If you have those flimsy aluminum pans get them out in the barn where they can be put to good use for soaking paint brushes, storing screws, etc. Get decent black steel pans to do your business in. They cook much more uniformly. The best I have found are the Norpro dimpled pans. They are just excellent and although a little more expensive up front they will last a lifetime and produce beautiful bread.

    Oven temperature. Get a good thermometer for all of your oven needs, bread or otherwise. Many ovens are off by up to 40 degrees and this will just kill your efforts to produce consistent results. And preheat thoroughly. Never put bread in the oven right after the buzzer tells you it is up to temp. It isn't. I always allow at least 25 minutes after the buzzer sounds before opening the oven, even more if I am baking on a pizza stone.

    By now I have had to learn a new vocabulary as I try to expand my skills. Like any endeavor breadmaking has it's own language the same as fly fishing does. Tell your neighbor that you are going chironomid fishing and you will probably be met with a blank stare. Read that you need to autolyse your french bread dough and you will probably think: "What the ????" I have a highly technical book that explains all of the science and chemistry of breadmaking that I have learned a lot from. I also have books that were written by grannies with decades of experience that were equally as helpful.

    Like any other undertaking you can make it as simple or as challenging as you want. Some of us are content hiking to the top of a mountain while others feel the need to climb the sheer rock face. Different strokes. But like fly fishing I suggest you start simple and keep it simple until you have consistent results.

    I won't offer any recipes since I live at a higher elevation in a dry climate than the west siders. I would suggest that if you want to start with a simple no-knead recipe that you Google 'Steamy Kitchens No Knead Bread Recipe" and see a photo sequence of a 4 year old boy baking a beautiful loaf of bread. There are hours of reading under the headings of both no-knead bread and sourdough no-knead bread. Photo montages of big successes and also some shots of abject failure and disappointment. Just pick a recipe that looks good and have at it. You will learn something no matter how it turns out and the next one will probably be even better.

  12. LOL you are so spot on. Id love a kitchen aid but so many other toys on my list. I was given a breadmaker years ago and only thing it was good for was mixing. Just say it this way I don't have it anymore.

    I do have some recipes. Ill dig them out and will post when I find them. Have a great sourdough start, that's if you can geet it to take off.
  13. FWIW, it's been sooo hot down here lately that every time I shower and use powder, I'm bakin' bread too.
  14. Holy crap! There IS a kitchen appliance that I own and Jerry doesn't!!!!! Mark the calendar, it's a historic day!!!!:rofl:
    Bradley Miller likes this.
  15. ROFL. Ok, you got me there. :)
  16. Since I love bread and love to cook I figured baking bread would be the next best thing.I was watching a show on Bravo called Chef Academy and he showed how easy it was to bake a basic bread.I tried it and was hooked.Now I do variations on the general recipe like adding Rosemary or dehydrated onions to the mix.Recently I started putting in a cup of yogurt and some curry powder(just a little),roll out flatbread and parbake,finish on the grill.I use Pendleton flour mills Morbread or Power flour mixed with a hand mixer by me,my wife uses her hands but they taste the same.I try to bake all my own bread but there are some good bakeries in Bellingham.Next I want to try some kind of bread in a dutch oven.I almost always finish my bread with a spritz or brush of olive oil and some seasalt a few minutes before its done.
  17. Everyone go up and 'cut/paste/print' Ive's post just above; he's nailed it point for point. Made my own bread for years and was damned good at it (used the largest Kitchen Aid for the initial kneading, then finished off by hand) but "French Bread," one of the simplest you'd think you could make, always 'defeated' me. Never could make a proper loaf.

    My/the Kiddo's fav. was a 'Dilly Bread' free form loaf. Do up the loaf in a 'mushroom cap' shape and slide (couple of pancake turners for this) on to a pre-heated baking stone, into the oven ..... a food group of the GODS was the end result.

  18. hand made bread tastes so darn good. I make it all the time and freeze some too. I wouldnt knock the bread makers because it is a lot better then going to the store and buying bread that is packed full of preservatives and other additives that no one can pronounce.

    It is a time thing. If you like fresh home made bread but dont have time and hate the store stuff...... buy a bread maker. If you have time one day a week and can stay home to make bread by hand..... that is an option too.

    A good recipe I use:
  19. Love baking bread, and when I have the time to knead the dough by hand that's what I do, almost as therapeutic as getting out fishing...

    At other times though, I'll cheat and use the Kitchen Aid.

    For the utimate cheat, I'll use the kitchen aid combined with a recipe from:

    Results aren't the same, but they're really close and the bread is less effort. Although, really, when I'm using the kitchen aid, it isn't that much effort, but the 5 minutes a day book does give you a little more flexibility as to timing, since you keep the dough in the refrigerator until you're going to use it.

    Still, I'm curious about the preferment technique/recipe Ive mentioned.
  20. A tiny but tasty upgrade to my French bread baking. Lately I have been baking the best French bread I have ever eaten and am just thrilled with it. It takes about 3 days from start to finish but 2 days of that is just waiting for the poolish to develop. And oh-how good it smells when it is ripe! On the third day I form and knead the dough and then let it rise twice before baking it on a pizza stone. Actual time taken is almost insignificant because most of the time involves just letting the yeast and dough do their magic.

    But the ingredient that has improved my bread is the French gray sea salt sold in specialty spice houses. It has a flavor all it's own and contributes another tier of taste to something that was good to begin with. It is a little spendy at around $14 a pound but I don't use it for everday cooking-just the stuff that deserves the extra quality and flavor. A 4 oz bag is around $4, try it and see for yourself.

    Forget the chips and dips-try a big slice of fresh French bread with creamery butter, a room temperature slice of your favorite cheese and a glass of wine. Snacking at it's finest.


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