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Baking Bread

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I started a sour dough culture and have baked a couple loaves of bread. Does anyone here bake bread? Do you have any favorite repipes or tips that you would care to share with a beginner? I am going to try buns at some point in time but I better learn the basics first.

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My sister bakes bread about every other day for her family. She uses a bread machine to do the mixing/kneading, then shapes the dough into whatever she wants. She even grinds her own flour from wheat we give her.

Personally, the only bread I usually make is in the form of caramel rolls.

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Check out the book "artisan bread in 5 minutes a day" by a couple folks from the cities. They also have a web site. Many libraries have the book if you want to look at it.

Basically you mix up a dough, let it ferment for a while, and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you want fresh bread, you whack off a hunk, form into a ball, let rise for an hour, and bake.

The dough is 2 lb flour (6 1/2 cups) 3cups water, 1.5 T (2 packs) yeast, and 1.5 T kosher salt (or use about 2tsp regular salt.). Mix until a dough forms. let set on counter for 2-5 hours until it rises and starts to collapse. put in refrigerator.

Bake at like 400 degrees on a pizza stone, with steam if possible although steam is not essential. Time depends on size of loaf etc. if you check with a thermometer, temp should be like 200 degrees.

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Thanks Del. I appreciate the info. I have been reading and searching the net. I have found the best recipes tend to come from some old family member's recipe box. I just went through my mother's old recipe box and it was a wealth of memories. The best was and old letter from my Grandma written on the back of a paper place mat written in the 50's while on their way to Floria to visit my uncle. I was just hoping someone would share an old family favorite. Thanks again.

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Here is a dinner roll recipe that my sister gave me. It uses the bread machine to do the first part.

Fly-Off-The-Plate rolls

1 Egg

1.5 cups warm water

4.5 cups flour

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons instant dry milk

3 Tablespoons oil

2.25 teaspoon yeast (one packet)

Mix egg with fork. Add ingredients to bread machine pan in order given. For yeast, make a well in the flour and add. Select dough cycle on bread machine, and start.

After about 10 minutes, push finger into dough. If it is sticky, add more flour. When dough cycle is complete, shape into buns. Allow to raise about 20 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 10-15 minutes.

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I just made the Christmas bread from the 5 minutes folks. It was good. There is a page you can search for. Basically it is 3c water,

6 1/2 c flour (maybe a little more)

1 stick butter melted

4 or 5 eggs,mixedwith fork

1/2 cup sugar

dried fruit

1.5 Tb salt

1.5 Tb yeast (2 pk)

Mix to make soft dough. let sit at room temp for a few hours. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Take a hunk of dough of desired size (mine was about size of softball) and shape. I just put mine in a round pan. They made a ring on a piece of parchement.

Let rise for an hour or so. Until double.

Bake at 375 until nice and brown and internal temp is 200 if you have a thermometer.

You can with egg wash to make shiny if you want to. I didn't.

I used some mixed fruit from sams club, some raisins, and cut up some apricots.

They added some ground cardamom but I didn't

Do what you like for flavoring.

baking time was like 20 minutes.

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Bread is pretty simple. flour, water, salt, yeast. The basic formula can be enriched by adding milk, butter or other fat, eggs, sweetener like sugar or honey.

Enriched breads tend to keep better but have softer crusts than "lean" breads. In general, the liquid should be about 0.6 the flour by weight, so 2 pounds of flour should have about 1.2 pounds or 2 1/2 cups liquid, more or less. Salt is about 2 percent of flour.

My mother's bread recipe came out of the betty crocker cookbook.

You can also use a pinch of yeast and some of the flour and water to make a starter or poolish for a little more flavor. It is a pancake batter like (or a little thicker) that is left to ferment overnight and then used as part of the dough.

Some folks also put the dough in the refrigerator overnight. See the books by Peter Reinhart.

But old time recipes mostly had milk and butter in them and didn't use all the fancy dancy techniques.

del (edited to add further thoughts)

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Thanks Del. I appreciate the information. I need a good book so I will try your suggestion. I bought a digital food scale so I can accurately measure and record what I am doing. My problem right now is finding the correct consistancy of the dough. My dough seems quite sticky but I like the crumb that it produces. I have been using the poolish method but I really need to understand the "theory" of bread making better. I started using a Kitchen Aid mixer to knead my dough but have now switched to hand kneading just to try and get a better feel of the dough. Thanks again for your input.

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Dough with a high degree of hydration is often pretty sticky. Hydration refers to the percent of water compared to the weight of the flour. So a pound of flour mixed with a cup (8 oz) of water would be 50 percent hydration. AP flour and Bread flour feel different at the same hydration.

There is a newsgroup that has experienced bakers and a Frequently Asked Questions site that can be very helpful. The newsgroup may be accessed through Google Groups if you don't normally read newsgroups.

The Reinhardt books, "bread baker's apprentice", "crust and crumb" are very good and have a lot of background if you want it. Your local Library might have them or be able to get them on a loan for you so that you can look at them.

I can try to answer questions but I am no expert.

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