Sunday, December 22, 2019

BREAD!.....Part Deux

Got another Big Ball 'O Bread nicely buttered up and rising in the warm oven.

All the advice I received after the first Great Bread Experiment indicated a couple of things. One, the 70* ambient here is probably a bit too cool for the yeast to really kick off, and Two, the 70* ambient here is probably a bit too cool for the bread to raise normally.

Everybody's solution (D'OH!) was to proof the yeast and raise the bread in a slightly warm oven.

I got curious about how low a set-point our oven could hold, so I downloaded the manual and read it. There was nothing even remotely approaching a set of "Specifications" in any of the documents I could find on the GE Support website, so I did an experiment the other night. I set it to convection bake, entered 100 degrees, and hit start. The display immediately jumped to 170*, sat there a few seconds, and then the display went to 100* (it always does that a few seconds after it displays the set point you just entered) and slowly began to go up. When it hit 170* it stabilized and held it.

OK, a bit too warm. I set it to 170*, let it run for a few minutes, and then shut it off. It peaked at 130*, and when it got down to 100* or so I declared it to be a "warm oven", and commenced baking.

I was MUCH more careful getting the yeast started this time. I mixed the packet of yeast with 1/8tsp of Turbinado sugar and 1/4 cup of water, and put it in the warm oven as I started mixing the other ingredients.

After about 15 minutes, I had this:

Holy Smokes, It more than doubled in volume! And it smelled great, bringing back memories of Mom making bread. Looks I got got some happy yeast this time, compared to the puddle of bubbly water I had last time when I let it sit out in a large bowl at 70*.

Commence Mixing!.....

Adding in the Bubbly Happy Yeast.....

And after thoroughly  mixing the ingredients, we now have a nice, buttered ball of "Smooth and Elastic" dough, per the recipe, something that was also a bit lacking the last time.

Sitting in the approx 100*F oven.....

45 minutes later and it's already close to double.....

90 minutes, and ready to smack down, divide, and plop into the buttered loaf baking dishes....and it's turning into The Loaf That Ate Fort Collins!

Oh, well....on to Divide and Conquer!

The Big Ball was separated and plopped into the two well-buttered glass baking pans, and ut back into the warm oven to continue raising.....

I need to take lessons into how to get the two loaves the same size....

Out of the oven after 45 minutes so I can preheat the oven to 390*.

Wow...they filled the baking dishes this time. Happy Yeast!


In they go.....

And 35 minutes later....FRESH BREAD!

Yeah, one of them slumped a bit, but they both popped right out of the dish after cooling for 20 minutes.


Much lighter than last time, but it has a tendency to fall apart. It tastes great, but my Sweet Little Wife commented that it needs a bit more salt, so I'll increase the salt by 1/4~1/2 tsp. One of the reasons it falls apart is that this loaf has a "seam" in it from when I divided the Big Ball and shaped it to fit the dish. I didn't make sure all the parts were blended together, and now the San Andreas Fault is running through this loaf.

Not much beats fresh bread with fresh dairy butter on it!

I'll get the recipe dialed in better, but now that I have the yeast proofing nailed, and the raising temperature nailed, the rest is just "Adjust to Taste".


  1. Congrats on the successful production! It sure looks good from here.

  2. Envy. Not on my diet plan and I love fresh baked bread. My favorite was sourdough and my sons couldn't get enough.

    1. I'll probably try some sourdough. Sweet Little Wife wants me make "Just White Bread" next time.

  3. Another suggestion: Your proofing bowl. Warm it in the sink by running hot water into it while you're mixing and kneading the bread the first time. Then drain, dry and wipe the inside of the bowl with Crisco. Put your dough ball in, roll it in the crisco and put the most greasy side up. Cover with a dampened tea-cloth (dish towels are too heavy.)

    And how to divide your dough. When you're ready to divide it, take a big old knife and cut the dough ball in half while in the bowl.


    Plop the double dough batch on your flowered dough board or silicon pastry sheet and then cut in two.

    If you don't have a plastic pastry sheet, buy one. They are wonderful things, having guides for rolling pie crusts, and convenient rulers on the side.


    Equipment for bread, pie crusts, cinnamon rolls and such:

    1. Mixing bowl or Stand Mixer with paddle or bread hooks. Like that Kitchenaid stand mixer your wife was looking at years ago.

    2. Proofing bowl. Preferably large deep stoneware or heavy glass.

    3. Pastry or Tea towels. Light-weight, you can roll out dough on top of them for making rolled pastries.

    4. Silicon Pastry Sheet. Available at good supermarkets, Walmart, Amazon, expensive cooking supply stores...

    5. Heavy marble or wood rolling pin. If you do rolled pastries or pie crusts, get one wider than what you're going to be rolling.

    Since I do both regular flour and gluten-free breads, I have 2 sets of measuring cups and spoons. It's worth it.

    If you are having issues with your bread falling when cooked (all the little bubbles collapsing) you can add a 1/2 teaspoon of Xanthum gum (available on-line or in stores in the bakery aisle) as it is a binding agent.

    You being 'high altitude' poses some issues us lowlanders don't have to deal with.

    Looks good. Keep up the bread works.

    1. The "proofing bowl" was one of the grandson's little soft silicone bowls. It seemed the right size, so I grabbed it. As soon as I mixed the yeast, sugar, and water and made sure it was dissolved, it went into the 100* oven.

      I'll probably turn the dough out onto the plastic board we have and use a knife. I think that would help keep the San Andreas Fault at bay when I put the loaves into the baking dishes.

      There's a top-of-the-line Kitchenaid stand mixer under the tree with my name on it.

      I have some "lightweight towels" the wife uses for her baking. I'll use them next time.

      I'm pretty sure I know why the dough slumped on the one loaf. I had a bit too much water in the dough, and tried to balance it out with some extra flour, but my ratios were unknown, and the dough felt a little too "jiggly" in the bowl. When I punched it down, the whole giant ball of dough began to collapse before my eyes! It rose back up in the baking dishes, but still felt too "jiggly" to me. Of course that last batch could have subbed for a building material, but at least the water v. flour ratio was correct. The yeast wasn't proofed correctly for that first batch, and if it had been, I bet it would have been really good.

      The "high altitude adjustments" at this time consist of increasing the temperature by 25*, and reducing the baking time by 12 minutes. There's a few other things you can tweak, but according to what I've read, those two are the biggies. I'm sure I'll find out otherwise, but for now that's what I'm doing.

    2. Argh, I meant 'rising bowl' instead of 'proofing bowl' but ceramic (stoneware at the least, not cheap slipware) or glass for either of them is the way to go.

      And as for proofing your yeast, make sure you measure the temp of the liquid, stay within 110 - 115ish degrees to start proofing (and this is where having a good ceramic or glass (Corelware is glass...) helps to hold the heat in.

      As to that high-end mixer, so far I have every attachment except for the grain-mill, pasta maker and juicer. They all seem really good, high quality. But... if you want a food processor that you can make nut-butter in or grind wet ingredients, you will need to get a dedicated food processor.

      I always seem to use a tad more flour, mostly in the kneading and rolling process, that the recipes call for. You can go over in flour, just never under.

      Sounds like you're having fun. Which is what matters. That, and smelling yeast breads rising and baking.

    3. To keep the bread from being "crumbly", add some gluten. Improves the texture and greatly reduces crumbs.

    4. @Beans - The water temp I use is "out of the tap" hot. I'd guess it's roughly 100* or so. I'm looking forward to using the mixer. The wife was quite surprised when I told her that's what I wanted for Christmas!

      @Lqke City - Yes, some of the recipes mention adding some gluten or "Rye Bread Improver". I'm using King Arthur BREAD flour, so some say it not required because the bread flour has very high gluten. I'm pretty sure I used too much water. The other bread I made didn't crumble.

    5. Get yourself one of those instant read thermometers, and test your assumption.

      I know that for 1 1/3 cup refrigerated milk with 3 Tbsp of sugar mixed takes 75 seconds to bring it up to 115 degrees, the perfect temp for our little yeasty friends.

    6. You mean a non-contact "infrared" thermometer? Got one in the garage, along with some thermocouples that plug into my Fluke DMM.....

  4. I don't have suggestions. But there is not much in this world better than home made bread with butter and a little honey on it.

    Keep at it!

  5. I usually just turn on the oven for 1 minute, then shut it off. It usually has enough heat to get to around 80 degrees, and leave it off until first rising is done. Do same for second rise.

    1. That's what I did, but I let it get to about 100*.

  6. Replies
    1. More like "One Loaf of Bread at a Time", but the process is the same!

  7. Oh, and one more thing...

    My bread bible is the 1956 edition of 'Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook.'

    The sweet-bread recipe is the base for cinnamon rolls, Swedish Tea Rings (cinnamon rolls done festive,) Poteca (a rolled bread with sugared walnut filling, my favorite) and others. Not a bad thing to have as reference.

    Funny story about that book. So here I am at an SCA event, after a day of fighting, now I'm helping my wife in the main kitchen and I whip out my 1956 BCPCB and in about 15 minutes I have 5 seriously brutish fighters rifling through it.

    It's also a fond part of my childhood, helping my mom with the Christmas Breads (Swedish Tea Ring, Poteca and Yule Kage (a Scandinavian almost fruitcake bread.) And the one year dad was in hospital until right before Christmas so I did all the cooking by myself, since he and mom were in Alabama, and I was in Florida.

    My wife tracked down, pre-internet era, a copy.

    Fun to look at what was new and wonderful in the '50s. But the bread and cookie recipes are standard old fashioned types, which means they are all darned good.

    It's not too late to snag one on Amazon, as, you know, Christmas lasts till January 6th...

    1. Geez....looks like Blogger ate another reply.....

      Are those the cookbooks with the red and white plaid cover? My Mom had one like that, in a 3-ring binder. My sister has all those now, including the little metal box full of 3x5 cards with all of Mom's handwritten recipes on them.

    2. That was the previous version, early 1950's. This one has pictures on the cover, a table covered in pies and cakes.

      Fun to read the descriptions, "Mrs. Whositsname says this cake recipe, handed down over the years, has always been a success at holiday time..."

    3. Thanks for the info, Beans. I fondly remember her cookbook, and all the extra hand-written notes she had in it.

  8. Funny how a kitchen appliance is a good gift for a guy if it is categorized as a tool.... can't have too many tools. I'd never consider buying one for Mrs Differ as a gift....

    1. I'm sure my Sweet Little Wife will make good use of it, too.

      These things have more attachments than a Bobcat!

    2. The Kitchenaid Stand Mixer is the Shopsmith of the kitchen. Base unit is good for beatings and whippings, but the attachments allow you to go crazy.

      As to garage tools, a Shopsmith with a bandsaw attachment is pretty much everything you need. The joiner attachment is just icing on the cake.

    3. All the relatives were "oohing" and "aahing" it on Christmas Day.

      I got a coupon code for 25% off any one attachment when I registered it for warranty.

  9. Those glass loaf pans (or perhaps a second set) are jtt for processing sheet film or etching small circuit boards.

    1. Yup. Made many a circuit board in one of Mom's big glass brownie/casserole glass pans.


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