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The Staff of Life - A Primer on Baking Bread

Printed From: Foods of the World Forum
Category: Food Groups
Forum Name: Grains, Breads and Baking
Forum Discription: A place to discuss breads and grains in general, and also for baking projects that don't have a particular country or region..
Printed Date: 13 July 2020 at 04:08

Topic: The Staff of Life - A Primer on Baking Bread
Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Subject: The Staff of Life - A Primer on Baking Bread
Date Posted: 10 January 2013 at 15:00

Part 1:


When Ron recently asked me to prepare a bread baking primer for FotW members I had to give it considerable thought. We are a diverse group, with all levels of experience in the kitchen. So the question became, how to arrange such a primer to achieve the greatest good.


I finally decided that most members are like me; primarily cooks, rather than bakers. When it comes to bread, they are casual bakers who merely want to serve homemade bread, and, maybe, improve their baking skills somewhat.


The whole point of this primer, seems to me, should be to help you make a better loaf of bread. I believe that’s all most of us want.


So for this to work, we have to follow the KISS principle---Keep It Simple, Stupid. Basically this means reducing the technical aspects to their minimum.


Not necessarily an easy task. The foodie revolution, overall, has been a good thing for the culinary world. Baking is a perfect example. Techniques and methods that, in the past, were strictly the provenance of professionals are now common knowledge. Tips for improving one’s bread baking are readily shared via the internet, books, and magazine articles. And an incredible number of breads, once confined to small regions of the world, are now being baked globally.


That’s the good part. The downside is that foodies tend to fall in love with jargon, and the technical aspects of food. To some degree there is a little snobbishness about this. After all, if you use the special language of the trade, that establishes your expertise, whether you actually have any or not.


A classic example is the word “autolyse” (which, btw, many of them pronounce incorrectly). Autolyse refers to a resting period given the dough. Technically, it promotes full hydration of the flour, and enhances certain enzyme action that improves the flavor and texture of the finished bread.


Older bread recipes merely said something like, “let the dough rest 10-15 minutes…..” To the casual baker, that’s all that’s needed. “Resting the dough” is a lot easier to understand, and certainly more non-intimidating, then something like, “French fold the dough and let it autolyse 15 minutes.”


And that, I believe, is the key. Far too much of today’s  bread-baking literature is intimidating and overly complex. It’s as if the authors have set out to confuse and obfuscate what is, at base, a simple process.


Gluten development is a good case. Gluten is, basically, the glue that holds bread together. But do you really have to know the chemical reaction that causes two particular proteins to combine and produce a third one? I think not. Your concern is how to control gluten so as to produce the best bread.


And, of course, all that technical stuff is available for those who are interested.  Boy oh boy is it available. So, whenever possible, I will simplify things as much as possible.


Before going any further, perhaps we should discuss my qualifications---such as they are---for writing this primer.


Until about four years ago I was a casual bread maker at best. I’m a cook, after all, not a baker. I didn’t understand the process of making bread, and, therefore, was afraid of it. When I did, on rare occasion, bake a loaf I would follow the recipe slavishly. And I never made anything that wasn’t a same-day, single-rise bread. That is, you mix the ingredients, let the dough rise (which, for the jargon deprived, is called “proofing” in the literature), put it in a pan, give it a second rise, and bake. Indeed, if you suggested, back then, that I would blithely discuss breads that took three days to make, I’d have looked at you like you were crazy.


Sometimes, using the same recipe, this produced a superlative loaf. Sometimes a mediocre one. And sometimes one that was barely edible. This made it even more confusing, and I was less likely to bake because of it.


Sound familiar?


Then, for no special reason I can recall, I was bitten by the bread making bug. I read everything I could find about it---probably 20 or more books---hung out at bread baking web sites, and turned-too becoming a baker. Even considered taking a class with one of the authorities, but it was cost prohibitive.


Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, right? From hardly ever baking bread, I was suddenly baking at least once a week, more usually two or three times. That schedule continues today. I own all sorts of specialty equipment, or multipurpose gear that was acquired specifically to help me become a better bread maker. I even adapt and modify recipes, just as I do with savory dishes.


I figure, at the rate I’m going, in another ten or 15 years I can call myself a baker.


Essentially, this primer will cover some of the things I’ve learned in the past four years.


Proviso: There are many paths leading to the end of a journey. This is, perhaps, more true about bread baking that any other aspect of the culinary crafts. So what we’ll be talking about are the ways that work for me; the methods I’ve found most useful; the information that has proven valuable to me. But I am most certainly not providing them as the only way. Or even suggesting they are the best way. They merely recount, by and large, the path that I’ve followed.


Hopefully, other members who have followed other paths will chime in, and together we’ll figure out who shaved the barber.


Before actually getting started I want to dispose of the single biggest myth about baking. You hear it time after time. Bread making is more scientific, more precise, than cooking.


In a word, nonsense! Bread making merely requires an understanding of how certain ingredients interact with each other. This is the same principle that applies to braising a roast or making a sauce.


If there was so little room for movement, if bread making is so precise, then riddle me this: why are there so many recipes for bread? And how are new breads developed?


Recently we had a discussion about weight vs volume measuring of flour that may provide insights" rel="nofollow -  

Until the 1990s, all American, and some other, bread recipes were based on volume measurements. Bread making books either used volume, or expressed amounts in volume with weight given in parenthesis. When it came to recipes in magazines and newspapers, I don’t recall ever seeing weights given until about that time.


Is it merely coincidence that the dates coincide with the start of the foodie revolution?


 Be that as it may, the simple fact is, thousands and thousands of good, serviceable loaves have been baked using volume measurements. If you are not making your own bread because you don’t own a scale, then you’re doing yourself a disservice.


As it turns out, volume measurement has not been abandoned, even by very serious bread authorities. Experts such as Dan Leader and Peter Reinhart give their formulae in terms of both volume and weight. Interestingly, they both list volume first, followed by weight. Treuille & Ferrigno (Ultimate Bread) give everything in volume, with nary a scale in sight.


Alford & Duguid (Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas) and Greg Patent (A Baker’s Odyssey) share one thing in common: In both cases their recipes were collected, first hand, from around the world. Not from professional bakers, but from home cooks and housewives. In other words, the way real people make their breads. Guess what? Neither book---both of which contain recipes for exceptional breads---mentions weight.


Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-scales. As mentioned above, I’m one of those who do weigh ingredients. What I’m saying is, don’t let the lack of a scale deter you from baking.  


Something else that can be intimidating is the overuse of the word “artisanal.” Sure, I realize it’s the buzz word for many things. But frankly, despite having made hundreds of loaves of bread, rolls, etc., I’m not sure what artisanal really means. It seems to apply to any bread other than the typical soft white bread, baked in a pan, so favored by Americans. All of the other recipes, shapes, and methods that have been used, sometimes for centuries, seems to fall into the artisanal rubric.


So do yourself a favor. Forget that word. If you’re going to bake bread your goal should be to make the best loaf that you can. Hell, if all you want is Wonder bread, it’s cheaper, easier, and less expensive to just go out and buy it. If you want bread that’s different from that, then just make it, and don’t worry about whether or not it’s artisanal.

Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 10 January 2013 at 15:29
Great effort! I look forward to more.


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 02:26
TU Brook for all ur time producing such an informative feature.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 04:31

Part 2:


I promised, in part one of this primer, to keep technical terms and jargon to a minimum. But there are some terms we have to all understand, if for no other reason than to communicate. In each case, when I use them, I’ll define the term. At least the first time I use it, at any rate.


Bread is made, primarily, from four ingredients: Flour, yeast (or other leavening), salt, and water. Other ingredients are sometimes added, either for flavor, or to achieve a desired goal, such as keeping quality, softness, crust formation, etc. We’ll be looking at these ingredients in more depth. But first, some pointers and general discussion.


-Bread is divided into three categories, which give you a clue as to its properties:


1. Lean bread (also called basic bread, and, sometimes, rustic bread). This refers to breads made only with the four basic ingredients. Upwards of 90% of breads, worldwide, fall into this category, varying only by the quantity and quality of each ingredient, and how it is risen, shaped and baked.


2. Enriched breads. These are breads that include other ingredients, such as oils, eggs, dairy, sweeteners, and so on to achieve a desired goal. A sub-category of enriched breads is a group called celebration breads, which are associated with particular holidays or events. They almost always include sweeteners, and often fruits and/or nuts.


3. Rich breads. The least common breads, these are made with oils making up 20% or more of the dough. If you’re a beginner you don’t have to worry about them, because they require special handling techniques that you won’t be involved with.


-The single best way of improving your bread making skills is to throw your clock away. Good bread takes time. The more time you invest, the better the bread will be. Certainly, if you set your dough in a warm place, and let it rise for an hour (as many recipes direct), you’ll produce a more than adequate loaf. If you set the same dough in a cool place, however, and let it take longer to rise, it will be better. Ultimately, if you use retarded fermentation techniques (which we’ll discuss later on) you’ll produce the best possible bread from that recipe.


-The best breads result from the highest quality ingredients. Ultimately, this means choosing the right flour. And that, by and large, means not choosing the big, national brands. Used to be you didn’t have much choice; it was Pillsbury or nothing. But that’s no longer true. Most supermarkets carry brands such as King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill, Weisenberger Mill, and flours from other small, specialty mills. Or you can order on-line, although the postage can as much as double the cost.

     You often read that stone-ground flour is better. To a certain degree that’s true. But the degradation caused by huge, high-speed roller mills is much less evident in the flours produced by small mills, because they do not heat up as much. The fact is, Weisenberger and King Arthur, among others, now use roller mills.

     If you have access to stone-ground flours, then certainly use them. If not, just opt for a smaller brand and you’ll do just fine.

    Once you’ve found a flour you’re happy with, stick with it. Different brands do have different characteristics, and you won’t get consistent results if you keep changing around.

     When I first got serious about bread making I used King Arthur exclusively. Then I realized that, while my back was turned, they’d gone and put a 150 year old mill almost in my backyard, and switched to Weisenberger. I had to modify practically all my bread recipes due to changing flours.


-Bread dough is, first and foremost, a tactile experience. While there are all sorts of methods used to determine if a dough is ready, your fingers are the best tool. That’s why hand kneading is preferred---the dough will tell you, through your hands, when it’s ready. Once you know, through experience, what a good dough feels like, the rest is easy.

     For many of us, full kneading by hand is difficult. There’s nothing wrong with using a stand mixer. But, if possible, hand knead at least the final minute or two, so you develop a feel for what the dough should be like.

     Most of the time (not always), a dough should be slightly tacky, but not sticky. That’s the “smooth, shiny” goal so often found in recipes.

     If you opt for a stand mixer, cut the recommended kneading time in half. That is, if the recipe says to knead for ten minutes, run the mixer for five.


-In practical terms, yeast is interchangeable. Technically, there is a difference in fresh, active dry, and instant yeast, having to do with the percentage of live cells found in each. But in practice, one cake of fresh yeast equals one envelope of active dry or instant; equals two teaspoons of bulk. They are not used the same way, however.

     Fresh yeast is hardly used anymore except by commercial bakeries. You won’t find it at the supermarket. It is 300 times less potent than instant yeast, has to be activated (variously called proofing or blooming) in warm water with sugar added, and has virtually no shelf life. Even refrigerated it will only last about two weeks at full strength.

     Active dry yeast, until the advent of bread machines, was the most familiar form. It has to be bloomed, with or without the addition of sugar, and is added as part of the liquid ingredients. Refrigerated or frozen it will last seemingly forever.

     Instant yeast (aka rapid rise, fast rising, bread machine) has 25% more active cells than active dry, and, like active dry, lasts two days longer than forever when refrigerated or frozen. It does not require blooming, and is added as part of the dry ingredients.

     When it comes to yeast, less is more, particular when using advanced techniques like preferments and retarded fermentation.


-Water can have a significant effect on how the dough forms, and on final texture and taste of the dough. Generally speaking, tap water is not the best choice, because it can lead to inconsistent results. As with flours, if you opt to use bottled water, use the same brand all the time. But if you choose to use tap water, well, there are no dough police around to tell you not to.


-All salt is not the same when compared by weight. Due to its shape (flakes, crystals, cubes), different types of salt have different densities. Table salt, for instance, “weighs more” than kosher salt. Different forms of sea salt have greater or lesser salinity, volume for volume. Here, again, the solution is consistency. Use the same type of salt each time, and your results will be consistent.

     One of the big controversies among bread bakers is when to add the salt. In theory, particularly when using instant, salt can negatively affect yeast activity. But as somebody once said, in theory, theory and reality are the same. In reality, they’re not.

     In my experience, it doesn’t matter whether you add the salt sooner, as part of the dry ingredients, or later, once the dough starts to form. Try it both ways, and see for yourself.


-All doughs benefit from a rest period before rising. Whether you knead by hand or by machine, try letting the dough rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Then knead for another minute or two before setting it to rise.

     This assures that all the flour particles are fully hydrated, and, to a certain degree, assures that the yeast is equally mixed through the dough.

     If you want to carry this to the ultimate, French fold the dough before setting it to rise. That’s just a fancy way of explaining a particular configuration. To do it, pat the dough into a square. Fold it in thirds, the way you’d fold a letter. Then fold that rectangle in thirds, the same way.


-“Punching down” is an expression, not an actual direction. Once you’ve proofed the dough you do not want to handle it that roughly. Deflate it by pressing down on it, rather than punching, retaining as much of the trapped gasses as possible. Handle it the same way when shaping the loaves.


-The wetter the dough, the less likely it is suitable for a free-standing loaf. To understand this, we have to get into some of the technical stuff.

     Although often presented as recipes, dough is actually constructed based on a formula. Flour is always considered 100%, and the other ingredients expressed as a proportion of that. If you look at advanced baking books you’ll notice that the total is, therefore, always considerably more than 100%. Formulae are used so that bakers can easily maintain the proper proportions when multiplying quantities.

     Lean breads typically run 65-70% liquid content. That is, by weight, the water will be 65% of the flour. Such breads can be baked either contained or free standing.

     Doughs like focaccia (with about 85% moisture), because they have much higher liquid percentages, cannot support themselves, even with good gluten development. They always have to be either supported, or used to make flat breads.


-If you’re using volume measurements, ignore the above. While it’s true that formulae are necessary for mass baking, the same isn’t true for the home baker. It’s one thing if you’re making 200 loaves at one time, something else again if you’re merely doubling or even trebling a recipe.

     Again, the theory is that the proportions do not stay true when multiplying by volume. But for the few loaves you’re likely to make at any one time, it hardly matters. You’ll be adjusting with flour or water, as the case may be, anyway.


-Every bread dough can be  improved by a second rise. While you can skip this step, you’ll find that a second rise does improve the flavor, and sometimes the texture, of the bread. Sure, it takes extra time. But the results are worthwhile.


 Now comes more technical talk. You can skip this section if you like. To understand why dough improves with a second rise you have to understand how yeast grows. When first encountering moisture, the yeast wakes up and starts to feed and multiply. Initially it rather quickly consumes the sugars in the flour, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide as by-products. The alcohol helps flavor the dough, and the carbon dioxide, trapped between the strands of gluten, causes the dough to rise.

     You can stop there. But if the dough goes through a second rise the action is much slower. The yeast, along with enzymes, converts starches to sugar, and then eats them. This slower process has a distinct effect on the texture and final flavor of the dough. In fact, the slower the rise the better, which is the whole philosophy behind retarded fermentation.

     So, while a single rise can produce a good tasting bread, a double rise produces a great one. All with no other effort on your part except allowing more time.


As noted, flour is the most important component of a bread dough. And there’s a lot to be said about it. So we’ll look at flours more closely in the next installment.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 05:00
I have found Bottled Mineral Still Water to work out best. Press & no punch ! Glad u covered topic so thoroughly.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 09:15


Thanks for taking the time to put all this down, and for putting out such an easy-reading, informative primer on something that I think everyone should learn how to do, if they don't know already. Even if someone has been baking bread a long time, there is some very good information here, and I especially appreciate the elimination/explanations of the "jargon."
Keep up the great work, and thanks again!

If you are a visitor and like what you see, please" rel="nofollow - click here and join the discussions in our community!

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 10:14
Thanks, Ron.
I intend keeping it going as long as there's interest shown. My gameplan is to post a new installment every day or two.
I'm particularly hopeful that other members will, between my posts, add their comments, experiences, and other ways of accomplishing the same task.

Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 12:21
Well then, let me start.

I don't always make bread, but when I do I make "no knead" bread. Just a lean bread as you described it, at 74% hydration with an 18 hour room temperature rise. Baked at a high oven temp in a preheated, heavy covered vessel for the first part and uncovered to finish. I use a thermometer to tell me when it's done. Makes a crusty boule with a nice yeasty taste. If I get the punch down part right, the crumb is excellent. That doesn't always happen.

Now, if I could just find an economical way to slice a loaf into very even, sandwich thickness slices I would be happy. I'm using a 10", very sharp and thin bladed filet knife and it cuts slices as well I can control it. I haven't been happy with the serrated knives I've used.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 15:18
"No-knead" breads hit the modern culinary world a few years ago and became all the rage. But there's nothing new about them. At least as far back as the 18th century some breads were made that way. Sally Lunn and Miss Bowdoin's come immediately to mind.
What the modern versions bring to the table is the delayed fermentation; 18-24 hours of rising.
Most of the recipes I've seen for modern ones call for mixing, proofing, and baking in a cast-iron kettle.
I did get a PM asking if I'd explain some of the terms in your post. So here goes:
1. .....74% hydration. Hydration is merely the way moisture content is expressed in a bread formula. In this case it means that the liquid is equal to 78% of the flour, by weight. Heavily hydrated doughs have to be enclosed in a container, because they cannot support themselves.
2. ....the crumb...... Personally I'd have thought this one to be self-evident. But maybe not. A finished bread consists of two parts; the outer, harder "skin," which is called the crust, and the soft, inner part, which is the crumb.
3. Makes a crusty boule...... Technically you haven't used this term quite correctly. Boule translates as "ball," and refers to a free-standing bread shape in which the dough is shaped into a slightly flattened ball. If you look at the cover of The Bread Baker's Apprentice, the young lady is holding a boule. A rather large one, it's true.
Slicing bread evenly is, perhaps, the biggest bug-a-boo home bakers face. For starters, a bread knife really does make a difference. I use  a ten inch model, because, in my experience, the longer the blade (and the wider) the easier it is to control. This is the only serrated knife I own. Trouble with a filet knife is it's width. Thin blades have a tendency to wander, no matter how sharp they are. If nothing else, you might have better luck with your chef's knife.
One possible problem using bread knives is that most of them only cut in one direction. Sawing back and forth usually results in a poor slice. They also should cut cleanly with very little downward pressure.
I can tell you how to build a jig for cutting equal-sized slices. It only works for sandwich-loaf shaped breads, but you might be able to modify it for other shapes. If you're interested, let me know and I'll post instructions.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 17:07
Well, I created a post of about 400 words and when I tried to post it I got an "access denied" message and all my work was gone... My internet connection failed...

To recap:

I weigh, do math and measure temperature when I make bread and ferment things.
Converting percentages to volumes results in odd and unwieldy measures.
I don't do this often enough to get an instinctual feel for it. I could obtain this with constant repetition and reinforcement.
Sure Brook, tell me how to make even slices.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 11 January 2013 at 17:28
It's really quite simple, Rod.
You'll need some 1 x 6 or 1 x 8 dimensional lumber (depends on the size of the loaf pans) and some dowel rods. Quarter inch will do, but thicker is probably better.
Start by cutting a base plate several inches longer that the longest bread you'll be baking. On one end, screw & glue an end plate, about six inches high. This will serve as a stopper.
Next, determine how wide you want the slices. Let's say 3/8th inch. Measure 3/8th inch from the inside of the stopper, on each side of the base plate. Drill a 1/4 inch hole, aligning the bit so it's forwardmost edge is on the mark. Glue a six-inch rod into each hole.
To use, put the loaf on the base plate and push it against the stopper. Then, using the dowels as a guide, cut through the bread. Remove the slice and repeat.
You could set this up to cut different sized slices. In that case, drill a series of holes at the spacing you want. You can then either put in a group of dowels, or, if you'd rather, just use one set. Do not glue them in place, because you'll be shifting them to the various holes.
I'm thinking you could adapt this by making the base plate and stopper wide enough to accomodate the bread you are making. This wouldn't work for me, because I make so many different sizes and shapes. But for you, only making the one bread, it's probably doable.
If your no-knead is, say, ten inches in diameter, then the base and stopper should be 11 inches, and the dowels slightly higher than the bread's loft.
Keep in mind that the dowels should surround and cradle the bread, but not press in on it. So leave enough slack to accomplish that.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 12 January 2013 at 07:36

Part 3


Most of the time, when we say “flour,” we’re talking about white wheat flour. For the time being, that’s what we’ll confine ourselves to discussing.


Flour is made by milling (i.e., grinding) wheat berries, which are the seeds of the wheat plant. Each seed consists of three parts: the outer husk, called the bran; an inner kernel, called the germ; and the bulk of the seed, surrounding the germ, called the endosperm. If the seed were planted, the endosperm provides food for the growing plant until the roots take over that job.

     Clear flour, which we use most of the time, consists of flour that has been sifted to remove most of the bran and germ. Whole wheat flour, on the other hand, uses the entire berry.


Flour is classified, in North America, by its hardness---which merely means how much gluten-forming protein it contains. In general, flour is broken down into four classifications:


-Cake and pastry flour. This is made from soft wheat, and has the lowest protein content of all, ranging from 6-7% for cake flour, up to 9.5% for pastry flour. They are used for baked goods that require tenderness rather than strength, such as cakes and biscuits. It is not suitable for making yeast breads.


-All-purpose flour. This is a combination of pastry flour and bread flour. While it is suitable for making bread, it doesn’t work as well as straight bread flour. More than any other type, all-purpose flour varies from mill to mill, so if you find one you’re happy with, stay with it. On average, all-purpose flour ranges from about 9- 11% protein content.


-Bread flour. As the name implies, this is the first choice for yeast breads. Milled from hard winter wheat, it has a protein content ranging from 11-14%.


-High gluten flour. This is a specialty product whose protein content can be as high as 16%. It is rarely used alone, but, for some breads, is added to bread flour for the extra protein.


Why the concern with protein levels? Quite simply, gluten, the building block of bread, results when certain wheat proteins combine when mixed with water and agitated. The better the gluten development, the higher the bread will rise, and the lighter the crumb will be.


Note that I specified “North America.” In Europe flours are classified other ways, often numerically. Quite frequently they are categorized by how finely they are ground, rather than from the source of the flour.


All flours types are available either bleached or unbleached. With bleached flour, certain chemicals are used to remove the beta carotene naturally found in wheat. This affects both the color and flavor of the final product. But there’s also a beneficial enzyme reaction with beta carotene. So, in general, unbleached flour makes a better tasting bread.


We can see from this that unbleached bread flour should be your preferred choice. But if the only thing available is all-purpose bleached flour, don’t let that stop you. Maybe your final bread won’t be the best. But it will still be better than store bought.


Breads made with 100% whole wheat flour (as with all whole-grain flours) tend to be heavy, compact, and rather chewy. So initially you want to avoid such breads, as they require special handling techniques.


If you’re concerned about missing out on the health benefits, you can replace up to 25% of the flour with whole wheat with no ill effects. Some authorities say up to 50%. In my experience, that high a proportion puts you into the special handling requirements of whole grain flours.


Wheat flour sometimes contains additives that help with the baking process. Ash, for instance, in various amounts contributes to oven spring---the final rising of the dough once it’s in the oven. Some mills, like King Arthur,  automatically include ash, but most don’t. For the home baker ash content isn’t something to worry about, except when it affects final results if you change flours.


There are all sorts of flours other than those made from wheat; in both whole grain and sifted forms. Rye is the most familiar, but other include barley, buckwheat, chickpea, corn, oat, potato, soy, spelt, and rice. While all of these, alone or in combination, are useful in making great breads, they either lack, or have low levels of  the gluten-forming proteins found in wheat. Using them alone requires special handling or they typically produce compact, heavy, bricks. As with whole wheat, however, they can be added, in various amounts, to wheat flour to produce light, airy, high-rising breads. Until you have some baking time under your belt, however, I would not add more than 25% of them unless the recipe specifies otherwise.


If you get passionate about bread making, and do it often, it pays to buy it in bulk if you can. I get both my all-purpose and bread flours direct from Weisenberger Mill, for instance, in 25-pound bags. There’s a considerable savings when buying that way.


But you don’t want that much flour sitting around at ambient temperature for the time it takes you to use it up. Not to worry. You can freeze it. Just transfer the flour to moisture proof containers (like zipper bags) and pop them in the freezer until needed. Make sure, however, that when you remove one that it comes to room temperature before you open the container. This is to prevent condensation from forming inside.

Even in small amounts, if you’re storing whole grain flours for any length of time they should be kept in the fridge, because once ground the oils in the bran and germ can turn rancid.


Flours are affected by environmental conditions such as heat and, especially, humidity. It’s incredible how much moisture flour can absorb on a rainy day, for instance. If a recipe that worked perfectly one day suddenly needs the addition of a lot more flour, that’s probably the reason.


In theory, one of the reasons for using weight measurements, is to level that playing field. But does it work in reality? Sometimes. And sometimes not. The basic question is: how much does flour weigh? I once made a chart tracking the reported weight of flour. It ranged from 4 ounces per cup to as high as 5 ½ ounces, depending on authority cited. One source actually said 4.5-5 ounces per cup. 


To my mind, that’s no more precise than volume measuring.


Once you develop a feel for what a dough should be like, you’ll adjust for the differences by adding more flour or more water as the case can be. And the only way to learn about dough is to make some. So, in the next installment, we’ll bake a loaf of bread.




Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 12 January 2013 at 09:32

Brook. Good Afternoon.

One of my fave country French breads requires a starter as follows:
1 cup warm bottled water ( 105 farenheit - to 115 degrees farenheit )
1 tblsp. honey
1 envelope dry yeast
1 cup Rye flour
1 cup + 1 tblsp. bread flour
2 1/4 cups warm water 105 to 115 degrees farenheit
1 envelope dry yeast
6 cups sifted bread flour
3/4 cup Rye flour
1 1/2 tsps. fine grain sea salt
It is gorgeous however, very laborious ... This recipe was given to me by a 4th generation French bread baker in Provençe in a tiny village called Cavaillon.
Are there any short cuts to produce such a stunning pale brown bread with this profile ?

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 12 January 2013 at 10:17
115F tends to push the safe limits. So it's better to shoot for the lower figure. Basically, 90-105 is the accepted range. Water hotter than 115 will kill the yeast.
The loaf you presented is what we call a transitional loaf. That means it uses some whole-grain flour, but there's still enough white flour to assure gluten development. One of my planned installments will deal specifically with transitional breads.
Shortcuts? I don't think so. The hallmark of French breads is that they take time and effort. That's why bagettes are so appealing to everyone. They're lean breads, using just the four basic ingredients. How the dough is prepared, however, and the shaping and baking, is what provides it's incredible taste appeal.
The starter in your recipe is a rye poolish; a pre-ferment that is made the day before it is used. Unusual in a French bread, because they more often use a pate fermentee, or, sometimes, a biga. The difference between the three is strictly the proportion of liquid to dry ingredients. That's another subject we'll deal in later on.

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 12 January 2013 at 10:23
Thanks alot for the temperature correction on the hot water, and the details on this specific recipe.
It turns out a wonderful light golden brown bread with a lovely profile ...
Yes, I agree working on this bread in two days, would be a great suggestion.
It is a rustic looking very thick loaf; not a baguette. The name in French is COUNTRY BREAD OR
Thanks for your knowledge and advice.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 13 January 2013 at 06:41

Part 4:


OK, enough of this idle chatter. Let’s bake bread.


Much of the modern literature presents the 12 steps to making bread. I’m going to skip that. Instead, we’ll learn them, as well as other techniques, as we go along. It’s a lot less overwhelming that way.


As you progress with your bread making you’ll discover that any lean dough (and most enriched ones) is very versatile. You can bake them in pans, shape them into large free-standing loaves, or divide them into buns. But you have to walk before you can run. So we’ll start by making a plain single-rise white bread, baked in loaf pans.


Neither this, nor any other home-baked white bread will resemble the Wonder types found at the market. One reason being that the grocery-store bread doesn’t not use a real leavening. Instead, the dough is whipped to incorporate air, and it’s those bubbles that make the holes in the crust.


In this, and with all other recipes, we’ll presume that flour weighs 4.5 ounces per cup. If you have to add a bit more or less to form a perfect dough that’s perfectly alright. If you need to make significant changes to the amount of flour then you’ll have to adjust for the brand you are using.


One cautionary note. The following will make a bread that might be saltier than you are used to. You might want to cut back. You can use as little as 2 teaspoons---which is more common.


Plain White Bread


6 cups (27 oz) unbleached bread flour

1 tbls salt

1 envelope (2 tsp) active dry or instant yeast

2 cups (16 oz) warm water

2 bread pans


If using active dry yeast, bloom it in ¼ cup of the water. If using instant, combine it with the flour and yeast.


Make a sponge: If using active dry yeast, combine 51/2 cups of the flour with the other salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients. Carefully draw down flour from the sides, mixing it to create a thick batter in the well. Sprinkle the batter with a little flour. Let this sit about 20 minutes until it is aerated and frothy.


Gradually mix in the balance of the flour to create the dough. If too dry, add a little water, a tablespoonful at a time. If too moist, slowly add flour, a tablespoonful at a time, combining each addition well. Some authorities insist that all mixing should be done in the same direction, to better develop the gluten strands. I’ve not found it makes much difference.


Note: Making a sponge is not absolutely necessary. But considering the contribution it makes to the final bread, it’s well worth taking the extra time.

     If using instant yeast, skip the sponge stage.


Finding your own way: If you use a stand mixer, the choices are to start with the paddle, for mixing, then switch to the dough hook for kneading; or just using the dough hook for the whole process. While some are comfortable just with the dough hook, I find it takes longer to mix, and doesn’t do as good a job. So I use both.


Knead the dough, ten minutes by hand or five minutes by stand mixer. Although hand kneading can be physically demanding, it isn’t difficult. Form the dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using the ball of your hand, push the dough forward, starting at about the equator. Make a quarter turn, fold the kneaded flap over the top, and do it again. And again.


As you knead the dough will become smooth, elastic, and somewhat shiny. Make any adjustments by adding very small amounts of flour or water as necessary. The final dough will be slightly tacky, but not sticky.


Form the dough into a ball and set it to rest, covered, on a slightly floured work surface, for ten minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the mixing bowl, and oil it lightly. Any oil will work---butter, lard, vegetable oil or what-have-you. Nowadays most bread makers use spray oils.


Transfer the dough to the bowl and roll it to coat all surfaces with the oil. This will prevent it from forming a tough skin. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic film, and set it in a draft-free location to rise until doubled in bulk.


At best, any time-to-rise figure is a rough guideline at best. Temperature, humidity, and other factors will affect how fast this happens. In general 1-2 hours will suffice.


You can take that “double in bulk” instruction with a grain of salt as well. Many, perhaps most, people cannot accurately judge when that has happened. But there’s no need to worry, as there is a precise method of telling when the dough is ready. Stick your finger into it, to about the first joint. If the depression fills back in, the dough is not ready. If the depression remains unchanged, or only slightly fills, it is.


Punch down the dough: As noted earlier, this is more an expression than an actual instruction. Instead, press down on the dough, to gently collapse it. It helps if you lift it from the edges as you press down on the center.


With your second attempt at this bread, repeat the rising process. Again, a second rise isn’t absolutely needed. But this will give you an opportunity to see the textural and taste differences it can make.


While this is happening, lightly grease the baking pans and dust them with cornmeal or semolina.


Shape the dough:  You can, if you want, just pat and stretch the dough until it fits. But this leads to inconsistent rising and misshapen loaves.

     To do it correctly (and why wouldn’t you?) divide the dough in half. On your work surface, stretch and pat the dough into a rectangular shape a couple of inches longer than the pan. Starting at the far edge, fold the dough into the center, pinching it slightly to seal. Then lift the near edge and fold it over. All of this is precisely like folding a letter.

     For the most even rising, and crust formation, you want to tighten the surface. Using the flat of your hand, draw the top of the dough down towards the far side, tucking it under about halfway. Really try to develop a feel for this, because all great breads depend on improving the surface tension that way.

     At this point you have a dough log longer than the pan and as wide, or slightly narrower, than its width. Fold the ends down, in equal amounts from each side, and tuck them under so the log is the same length as the pan. Carefully lift the dough and place it in the bottom of the pan, pressing it to completely fit as necessary.

     Why this step? In the oven bread naturally rises more in the center than at the edges. To a certain degree this doming is a good thing. But to prevent the bread from over-rising in the center, you increases the mass at the ends.

   Repeat the shaping with the second half.

     Cover the pans and set them in a draft-free location to rise. This will usually take about half the time of the first proofing.


Preheat the oven: While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 450F. Frankly, I’m appalled at some of the instructions given for this. One book talks about preheating 15 minutes before baking. Hmmmph! Not in any oven I know. Allow 45 minutes to an hour to properly preheat, especially if you’re using a baking stone.


Finding your own way: Do you really need a baking stone in your oven? The simple answer is “no.” Will a stone help you bake better bread? Absolutely! Here’s why:

    The thermostats in modern ovens work by recycling on and off. When the oven reaches the set temperature it turns off. At a certain point, as the oven cools, the oven turns itself on again. In a well-working oven, this cycling takes place over a 25 degree range. But don’t count on it happening even within that range. Most ovens don’t.

     The more mass there is inside an oven the less frequently it cycles. Something like a stone holds the heat, keeping it near the target longer, and cooling much slower. If you used four stones to build an internal hearth it would hardly cool at all, and some home bakers do exactly that.

     Later on, as you progress to free-standing loaves, you’ll find that many of them are baked directly on the stone.

     But preheating the stone takes time.


Bake the bread: When the loaves have risen, dust them lightly with flour. Then, with a very sharp knife or one-edged razor blade, make a slash, about half an inch deep, down the center.

     Put the pans on the center shelf of the oven and bake 15 minutes. Rotate them 180 degrees, lower the heat to 400F, and bake another 10-15 minutes until done.

     The dough will rise some more in the oven.  FWIW, the additional rise that takes place when heat hits the dough is called “oven spring.”


     To test if a bread is fully cooked, remove it from the pan and tap the bottom. You should get a hollow sound. If not, return the loaves to the oven for another five minutes.

     Alternatively, use a probe thermometer inserted into the center of the bread. Bread is fully baked at 190-210F.


Cool the bread: Transfer the breads to wire racks and let them cool completely. Despite the romantic myth, it is never a good idea to slice or tear hot bread.


Enjoy! You’ve just made your first loaf of bread.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 14 January 2013 at 08:44

Part 5:


Margi’s French country bread," rel="nofollow -  

European members should be cautious of the term corn flour. In America, it’s actually a flour, ground from the whole corn kernel. In Europe it refers to what is called “corn starch” in the U.S. In this primer we’ll always call it cornmeal so there is no confusion.


At any rate, transitional breads provide the texture, flavor, and health benefits of whole grain breads, without the special handling hassles inherent in using them exclusively. The white flour component provides the gluten otherwise missing.


Transitional breads, per se, are no more difficult to make than plain white bread. One difference, however, is that they usually are free-standing loaves. Which means we’ll learn shaping techniques as we go along.


For openers, we’ll make Broa, which is a Portuguese corn bread. Most American corn breads use baking powder and baking soda as the leavening. But there are yeasted corn breads found all over Europe.


This one originated in northern Portugal, but quickly spread through the country. It’s now found everywhere, differing only in the  proportions of wheat to corn. And, with apologies to our members in Rhode Island and the American South, yellow cornmeal should be used, because the color is important.




2 tsp dry active or instant yeast

½ cup +2 tbls (5 oz) warm milk

¼ cup water (2 oz)

1 1/2 cups (7 oz) yellow cornmeal

2 cups (9 oz) unbleached bread flour

2 tsp salt

1 tbls olive oil


Sprinkle active dry yeast into the milk in a small bowl. Let it stand until frothy. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, bread flour, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the bloomed yeast and the olive oil.


Alternatively, combine instant yeast with the cornmeal, bread flour, and salt. Add the milk and about half the water. Mix to form a firm, relatively moist dough, adding more of the water if necessary. Mix in the olive oil.


Knead the dough, about ten minutes by hand or five minutes with a stand mixer.


Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk. This will take about 1 ½ to 2 hours.


Punch down the dough, form it into a ball, and set to rise a second time.


Punch down the dough, form it into a ball, and let it rest on your work surface, covered, ten minutes.


Form the dough into a boule, which simply means round: Start with a hand-shaped ball. Set this on your work surface. Using the flat of your hands, cup and pat the dough from both sides while you simultaneously turn it clockwise. This will give you the basic round shape. Then tighten the surface tension by using the flat of your hands to draw down the dough, tucking it underneath. Keep turning the dough as you do this, or you’ll lose the round shape.


You’ve just created the start of a boule.


Gently turn the dough and seal the bottom seam by pinching it together. Set the dough, seam side down, on a baking sheet that’s been dusted with cornmeal or semolina. Cover and let rise in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk.

Finding your own way: There are numerous ways of making baking pans non-stick, so far as dough is concerned. The simplest is to just dust it with cornmeal or semolina. Or you can lightly grease it first, and then dust it. One alternative is to line the pan with parchment paper, and then dust it or not as you prefer. Or you can merely use a silpat. The all work.
     In my experience, whatever method you choose, you should always at least sprinkle some cornmeal or semolina. This not only prevents the bread from sticking, it eliminates any chance of it picking up foreign flavors. 

Preheat the oven to 400F.


Dust the loaf with cornmeal and bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Finished bread should sound hollow it you tap the bottom.


Transfer bread to a wire rack and let cool.


In France, they tend to call any bread not a baguette a Pain de Campagne---which loosely translates as “country bread.”  Most often they’re formed in the shape of a torpedo, called a batard. Think of the generic Italian bread sold in America and you’ll get the idea.


Margi’s version uses a pre-ferment, a technique I will be discussing, in detail, in the future. But her instructions are so clear, you might take a stab had her transitional version. Here’s how to shape it:


 Lay the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Press and stretch it into a rectangle, with the long ends front and back. Size will be determined by the amount of dough, and how long or wide you prefer the bread to be. I use width as the determining factor. When elongated dough doubles it only slightly lengthens. Most of the movement goes upwards and sideways. Once you’ve made a few batards you’ll develop a feel for how large the dough rectangle should be.


Now, starting from the far edge, fold the dough to the middle of the rectangle, pinching it to seal. Then fold the bottom over that. We’ve done this before, and it’s no different than folding a letter.


Tighten the surface tension, just as you did with a boule. Transfer the dough to a baking pan, dusted with cornmeal or semolina, seam side down. Cover and let rise.


If you’re not happy with the finished size you can adjust it by rolling the whole thing under your hands. This will lengthen and thin the batard.


Pain de Campagne is perfect for sub rolls. To make them, divide the dough into six equally sized pieces. Then fold and roll each of them as above, making the finished bun about six inches long. You’ll have to adjust the baking time if you do this. With Margi’s recipe I’d start by baking 20 minutes. If they don’t sound hollow when the bottoms are tapped, return them for five minutes more.


Although transitional breads are usually free standing there’s no reason you can’t make sandwich loaves with them. My Oatmeal Pain de Mie" rel="nofollow -  

Note that this bread specifically uses instant yeast, so no sponge is necessary. If you use active dry yeast you should be able to adjust by following the standard sponging technique.


Oatmeal Pain De Mie


5 cups (22.5 oz) unbleached bread flour

1 1/3 cups (5.6 oz) rolled oats

14.5 oz lukewarm milk

3 tbls butter, softened

4 tbls honey

3 tsp instant yeast

2 tsp salt


Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixer bowl, using the paddle. Add the butter, milk, and honey, stirring until well combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead five minutes, adjusting flour or liquid as necessary. (if making this by hand, knead 8-10 minutes)


Turn dough out on a lightly greased work surface and French fold it. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic film, and let sit 1 hour. French fold again and let rest 15 minutes.


Repeat for a second rise.


Form dough into a log and transfer to a pain de mie (pullman) pan. Cover loosely with plastic film. Let dough rise until one inch from top, put cover in place, and let rise another ten minutes.


Bake in preheated 350F oven for 35 minutes. Remove cover and if necessary let bake five minutes more to brown top crust and assure bread is cooked through. Internal temperature should be about 200F.


Transfer bread to a rack and let cool.




Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 14 January 2013 at 09:06


Baker Roger Auzet, is a 4th generation baker in a tiny village called Cavaillon, Provençe, France. He had given me the great rustic loaf recipe Pain de  Campagne or Country Bread, as we raved about it at his family Boulangerie ( Bakery ) ... Truly a treat ...
Thanks for your interest and for publishing the lovely mention in your very exemplary and informative Bread Primer Series.
Appreciate it and good luck with your French Country Rye and Wheat Bread ... Look very forward to hearing ur results ...

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 14 January 2013 at 09:12

Country breads in France range from rectangular, log, square, round, spheres, logs with pointy endings, and every shape imaginable a creative Baker can do to please his customers and visitors ... HERE IS THE WAY I PREPARE IT ...


photo courtesy: -

Kind regards,


Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: pitrow
Date Posted: 14 January 2013 at 10:32
Thanks Brook, awesome tutorial you've got going here.

Can you explain this part a little more? I'm having trouble picturing it in my head.

Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

For the most even rising, and crust formation, you want to tighten the surface. Using the flat of your hand, draw the top of the dough down towards the far side, tucking it under about halfway.


Mike" rel="nofollow - Life in PitRow - My often neglected, somewhat eccentric, occasionally outstanding blog

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 14 January 2013 at 13:05
You're not alone, Mike. Most folks have trouble envisioning this, until they try it.
The idea is that you're going to stretch just the surface of the dough, to improve the surface tension. But you don't want to collapse any of the gas.
So, gently lay the flat of your hands more or less in the center of the round, and draw the dough downwards and under. You will hardly change the size of the round, but will wind up with a dimple in the middle of the underside. Bakers call that the "key." You want to pinch it so that it seals.
It's easiest to learn this with a round bread, rather than an oblong one. Once you've got the technique down you can apply it to other shapes.
If you skip this step you'll probably not notice any difference, unless you do two breads, one with the tighter skin and one without, and compare them side-by-side for height and crust formation.

Posted By: pitrow
Date Posted: 14 January 2013 at 14:09
Ah, ok, I see what you're going for now. Thanks Brook!

Mike" rel="nofollow - Life in PitRow - My often neglected, somewhat eccentric, occasionally outstanding blog

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 15 January 2013 at 10:44

Part 6:


Some of the world’s favorite breads are made with enriched doughs. These include the four basic ingredients, of course. But they’re made lighter, richer, and buttery tasting primarily by the addition of fats.


Don’t be misled by the word fat. Certainly actual fats and oils, such as olive oil, butter, and even lard, are used to enrich doughs. But additional fats come from the addition of eggs, milk, and similar products. Enriched doughs are almost always sweetened, as well, either with sugar, honey, or other sweeteners.


Enriched doughs are often made in special shapes, such as crowns, twists, and pull-apart buns, or are baked in special pans to provide eye appeal to the bread.


The classic enriched bread is Brioche. While always appealing, Brioche jumped into even more prominence when it became the first choice of many celebrity chefs.


Traditionally, Brioche is formed in two parts, a larger bottom ball and a smaller ball centered on it to make a top hat. It was also baked in special fluted tins, which are available in several sizes ranging from full-sized bread to mini-buns.


However, there’s no need to confine yourself to the classic shape. Brioche can be made as a sandwich loaf, or in the form of muffins or rolls. It’s a very versatile dough.


Brioche is made by mixing the dough and letting it sit, overnight, in the fridge. This is a technique called “delayed fermentation” or, more precisely, “retarded fermentation.” We’ll have much to say about that technique later on. But, for now, you need just remember to mix the dough the night before you’ll be baking.


For our version we’ll make the traditional shape, making them cupcake sized. You can purchase the Brioche tins in that size. But it’s just as easy to use a standard muffin tin.  


Brioche Buns


12 Brioche or muffin tins

½ cup (4 oz) warm milk

2 tsp active dry or instant yeast

3 tbls sugar

6 extra-large eggs at room temperature

4 ½ cups (20.25 oz) unbleached bread flour

2 tsp salt

2 sticks (8 oz) butter, softened

An eggwash made by combining 1 egg with 1 tbls milk


Start the night before:


Combine the milk, sugar, and active dry yeast in a mixing bowl and let bloom about five minutes. Whisk in the eggs until well blended. Alternatively, if using instant yeast, combine the milk, and eggs in the bottom of the bowl. Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.


Add 2 cups of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, beating well. Add 2 more cups of the dry ingredients, and beat in well. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture and beat at least two minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.


Next day, remove from fridge and let stand until the chill is off. This can take as much as two hours. While waiting, prep the Brioche or muffin tins by greasing them lightly and dusting with cornmeal or semolina.


When the dough has warmed, divide it into twelve pieces. Separate each piece into two, with one piece using 2/3 of the dough. Roll each piece into a ball. Place the larger ball in a tin and center the smaller ball on top of it. Cover with a dishtowel or oiled plastic wrap. Set in in a draft-free spot and let rise until doubled in bulk, which could take another two hours.


Preheat the oven to 350F.


Brush the Brioche with the egg wash and bake 20 minutes.


In the Emmentaler region of Switzerland they celebrate the harvest thanksgiving with a special bread called Zupfe. Similar loaves, called Zopf, are made in other parts of Switzerland. What they all have in common is that they are braided. Don’t let that throw you. As we’ll see, braiding dough isn’t much different than braiding hair.




2 tsp active dry yeast

1 ¼ cups (10 oz) warm milk

3/14 cups (15.75 oz) bread flour

1 ½ tsp salt

4 tbls (2 oz) unsalted butter, softened and creamed

1 tsp sugar

2 tbls kirsch or brandy

Egg glaze made with egg yolk and 1 tbls milk


Make a sponge: In small bowl, sprinkle the yeast into ½ cup of the milk. Stir to combine. Let sit until yeast is frothy, about five minutes. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast and draw down enough flour to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl and let it sit, about 20 minutes, until the sponge is frothy and slightly risen.


Pour about half the remaining milk into the well. Mix in the flour, salt, butter, sugar, and kirsch or brandy. Stir in the reserved milk, as needed, to form a soft, moist dough.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth, shiny, and elastic, about ten minutes, adjusting with water or flour as needed. If using a stand mixer, knead five minutes.


Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel or plastic film, and set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½-2 hours. Punch down.


Repeat for a second rise. Punch down and let dough rest ten minutes. Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece to form a 16 inch long rope.


Shape the loaf: The key to an evenly braided bread is to start in the middle. If you begin braiding at one end, the opposite end will be thinner, because you can’t help stretching the dough as you work.

     To make the braid, lay the three ropes side by side, with the long direction away from you, on a lightly floured work surface. Starting halfway up, pass the left-hand rope over the middle rope. Then pass the right hand rope over what is now the middle one. Continue in that manner until reaching the end, which should be tucked and pinched to create a finished look.

     Turn the loaf and braid the other half.


Preheat the oven to 350F.


Transfer the braided dough to a baking sheet that’s been dusted with cornmeal or semolina. Cover with a dish towel or oiled plastic film. Set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk, about 35-45 minutes.


Brush the top of the loaf with the egg glaze.


Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 15 January 2013 at 10:54


Truly lovely segment and very valuable thread on whole ...
Thanks so much for posting and taking the time to type this here for all of us to have as a reference.
All my best,

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 16 January 2013 at 07:44

Part 7:


Using the methods we’ve discussed so far you can bake, literally, hundreds of different breads. With one or two exceptions these can all be done as single-rise, single-day loaves. Even if you use a double rise, most of them can be completed from raw materials to finished bread in less than a day.


Now we’re going to move into some more advanced techniques. Don’t get your panties in a bunch over the word “advanced” though. All it means is that we’ll be taking some extra steps, and extending the time frame out to two, or even three days.


I can hear you saying, “Oh my God! Three days! Is he kidding?” Fully understandable. I would have had the same reaction five years ago. But, as it turns out, these extra steps just require a little more planning. And there are ways to avoid devoting the time all at once if that’s a problem.


Is it worth putting in the extra time and effort? IMO, absolutely! Using them can elevate your bread from good to great.


The first thing we’ll discuss are pre-ferments. That’s another one of those technical terms. All it means is that you’ll make what your grandma probably called a starter, and use that as your primary leavening agent.


European bakers traditional kept a piece of today’s dough and used it to jump start tomorrow’s bread baking. All that pre-ferments do is formalize that process, and make it a little more consistent. Besides which, saving a piece of yesterday’s dough only works if you bake every day. And how many of us do that?


What that does for us, though, is provide an extensional definition for pre-ferments. What they are, quite simple, is a process in which you make one dough, then use it to create a second dough. These are called “indirect” doughs.


You’re probably already familiar with the idea. The sponges we’ve been using in many of our recipes, for instance, are one form of a pre-ferment. The ultimate pre-ferment is the mother used to create sourdough. Even if you’ve never tried maintaining one, you no doubt have heard of them. Sourdough, because it uses wild yeast, is a special class of bread. So we’ll hold off on discussing it for now.


Pre-ferments are useful because they slow down the fermentation process, allowing more flavor to be released from the wheat. In simplistic terms, the yeast and enzymes have time to convert the starches to sugars. This not only makes a more flavorsome bread, it leads to better crust formation.


How so? Again, over-simplifying what is a complicated chemical reaction, crust is produced when surface sugars caramelize. Obviously, the more sugar present the more efficiently this happens.


With the exception of sponges, which are always prepared as part of the dough-making process, pre-ferments are made the day before you bake. For home bakers, that usually means the evening before. They are then left to ferment overnight; sometimes at room temperature, sometimes in the fridge.


They can be made up to three days in advance, and kept in the fridge. Or you can freeze them for up to three months with no loss of quality. Frozen starters should be thawed overnight in the fridge, then taken out and allowed to stand at room temperature to remove the chill before using---which can take as much as two hours. That take-off-the-chill period applies to any preferment that has been kept in the fridge.


Because I use pate fermentee more than any other pre-ferment, I’ll typically spend some time making a big batch, then freeze it in use-sized portions. For this I take quart-sized zipper bags, spray the inside with oil, and put in the appropriate amount of pate fermentee. The bags are labeled, dated, and popped in the freezer.


There are two kinds of firm pre-ferments, and two moist ones. Modern American bakers have adopted the European names for them, and we’ll continue to do so.


The firm pre-ferments are called Pate Fermentee and Biga. Many home bakers think they are synonymous terms; that Pate Fermentee is the French version, and Biga the Italian. But they are different. Pate Fermentee is, at base, a recipe for making a French bread dough on a small scale. Bigas, on the other hand, while superficially resembling it, are made without salt.


The wet pre-ferments are sponges and Poolishes. You’re already familiar with sponges if you’ve made any of the breads in this series. A Poolish is a very moist mixture, with the flour and water (or other liquid) weighing the same. That is, in any Poolish formula, the water will be 100%---or close to it. While a Poolish can be frozen, it hardly pays to do so, because they take very little time to make.


The precise mixtures of pre-ferments vary slightly, baker to baker and author to author. As we discussed with flour, it’s best to be consistent, and use the same recipe all the time. With one exception, I use Peter Reinhart’s recipes, taken from his The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and those are the ones I’ll post here. If you’re more comfortable with somebody else’s, then use them. It’s not so much the specific recipe that matters as it does the technique


Oh, yeah. The one exception is when I make Bavarian style soft pretzels. In that case I use Eric Kastel’s pate fermentee, as found in his Artisan Breads at Home. Eventually I’ll post the entire procedure for making them.


The second advanced technique we’ll be discussing is called “delayed fermentation” or “retarded fermentation.” 


We’ve already talked about the benefits of extending fermentation time to provide better flavor and texture to the finished bread. Retarded fermentation carries this to the ultimate that is practical for home bakers. To accomplish it you put the dough in the fridge overnight. In that environment, yeast and enzyme activity will continue. But it will do so at an incredibly slow rate. Most of the time, when you remove the dough from the fridge, there will have been hardly any expansion at all.


Depending on the particular bread, this retarded fermentation takes place immediately after mixing the dough; after the first rising; or, in some cases, after shaping the loaf. Sometimes all the stages go through retardation, but that’s fairly rare. Most typical is a double retardation. The pre-ferment, obviously, has been in the fridge at least overnight. And then the finished dough, in one form or another, goes in the fridge for a second retardation.


Finally, let’s talk about steaming. Dough, when put in the oven, is happiest in a humid environment. Both oven spring and crust formation are affected by the amount humidity, particularly at the start of the baking process.


Commercial bread ovens have built-in steam injectors to maintain this higher humidity. Obviously, this isn’t practical for the home baker. So various techniques have evolved for simulating that.


I’ve tried several, and here’s what works best for me. Put a baking dish (wide and shallow works best) in the bottom of the oven, with 2 cups of water, as the oven preheats. Set the oven 25F-50F degrees higher than your baking temperature.


Set the dough on the middle rack of the oven. Close the oven and wait two minutes. Then, using a spray bottle, open the door, spray the bottom and sides of the oven (avoiding the built-in light) and close the oven. Repeat the spray 30 seconds later, and repeat 30 seconds after that. Lower the oven to the baking temperature, and bake until done.


Speaking of baking, because most home ovens do not heat evenly, it’s a good idea to bake the bread halfway, then rotate it for the balance of time.


Can you skip these steps? Without a doubt. As we’ve seen in the first six installments, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of great tasting breads are baked every day without them. But if you do use these techniques you’ll produce breads that are far superior to any you have baked before.


And, who knows, it might turn out, as it did with me, that you develop a passion for bread making.



Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 17 January 2013 at 12:10

Part 8:


Last time we started discussing advanced bread baking techniques. As we did in the beginning of this series, we’ll take them one at a time, learning as we go.


Here is the recipe for the first pre-ferment, taken from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice:


Pate Fermentee


1 1/8 cups (5 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/8 cps (5 oz) unbleached bread flour

¼ tsp  (.19 oz) salt

½ tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast

¾ cup to ¾ cup plus 2 tbls (6-7 oz) water at room temperature


Stir together the flours, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add ¾ cup of the water, stirring until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball (or mix on low speed for 1 minutes with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer). Adjust the flour or water according to need, so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. (it is better to err on the sticky side, as you can adjust easier during kneading. It is harder to add water once the dough firms up).


Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook for 4 minutes), or until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. The internal temperature should be 77F to 81F.


Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it arund to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour, or until it swells to about 1 ½ times its original size.


Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it lightly to degas, and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. You can keep this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freedze it in an airtight plastic bag for up to 3 months.


And to use it, we’ll make a Pain de Campagne. This is my go-to bread. So much so, in fact, that the book falls open to that page, it’s been used so often.


In France, particularly in Paris, they tend to call any bread not a baguette a Pain de Campagne. This translates as “country bread.” The generic French bread sold in American markets is a form of Pain de Campagne.


As noted, I make this a lot. Not only is it great tasting, it’s very versatile in terms of size and shape. Literally any bread shape can be formed from this dough, and you can make anything from dinner rolls to oversized boules from it.


Most of the time I shape it as a batard. But for dinner parties, when I really want to impress guests, I make it as an Epi (i.e., Sheaf of Wheat), which is merely a baguette cut into a fancy form.


Pain de Campagne


3 cups (16 oz) pate fermentee (one recipe as above)

13/4 cups (8 oz) unbleached bread flour

1/3 cup (1.5 oz) whole wheat or rye flour or combination of the two

¼ tsp (.19 oz) salt

1 tsp (.11 oz) instant yeast

¾ cup (6 oz) lukewarm water


At least one hour ahead of time, remove the pate fermentee from the fridge. Cut it into 12-15 small pieces, dust in flour, and set aside, covered, to take the chill off.


In the bowl of a stand mixer (or mixing bowl if doing this by hand) combine the flours, salt, yeast, and pate fermentee. Add the water, stirring until everything come together a makes a coarse ball. If necessary add a little water, no more than 1 tablespoon at a time, to gather any loose flour. Dough should be soft and pliable.


Knead the dough, 8-10 minutes by hand, or 5-6 minutes by machine, adding more bread flour if needed to create a dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky.


Form the dough into a ball and set it in an oiled bowl, turning the ball to coat all sides. Cover the bowl and set in a draft-free location. Let rise until double in bulk, up to two hours.


Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide it into three or more pieces, depending on the shape you desire. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, sprinkle them with cornmeal or semolina, and transfer the shaped loaves to them, leaving room for expansion. Lightly mist the dough with spray oil, cover loosely with plastic film, and set in a draft-free location until 1 ½ times their original size, about an hour.


Preheat the oven to 500F. Put the pans on the middle rack of the oven. If they both won’t fit, stagger them on separate shelves, remembering to not only rotate them, but to switch places, halfway through the baking.

Steam the oven as described above. Lower the heat to 450F and continue baking for ten minutes. Rotate the pans and bake 10-15 minutes more. Loaves should be a rich golden brown all over and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, or register 200F to 205F on a probe thermometer.


Transfer the loaves to a wire rack and let cool.


To make an Epi start by forming the dough into a batard. Roll and stretch it until it is baguette shaped; that is, long and thin. Using a kitchen shears make the cuts. Holding the shears at a shallow angle, cut about ¾ through the dough. Bend this ear to the right. Make another cut, and bend that ear to the left. Continue in that manner the length of the loaf.


To make sub rolls, divide the dough into six or eight pieces. Form each piece into a miniature batard. Reduce the baking time by at least five minutes.


For dinner rolls, divide the dough into six or eight pieces. Form each piece into a miniature boule. If desired, use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to create interesting designs.  


Margi recently posted a Pain de Campagne recipe" rel="nofollow - that I tried a couple of days ago. It differs primarily in the greater amount of rye flour used, compared to my standard. Frankly, it’s a much better tasting bread, and is likely to become my new best friend.


Next time I make it, however, I’ll put the finished dough through a retarded fermentation to see if it makes it even better. Retarding fermentation of the dough always makes a better bread. Sometimes dramatically so, other times in a barely perceptible manner.


I’m anxious to see how it affects Margi’s recipe, because it’s already a superior bread, well worth making.












Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 18 January 2013 at 09:59
Keep up the outstanding work, Brook ~
I gotta admit, I've learned more in your primer just in the last few days, than in all the years previously when I fumbled around trying to learn on my own. Very easy-reading and informative style -
... and inspiring as well! I'm looking forward to applying a few things!

If you are a visitor and like what you see, please" rel="nofollow - click here and join the discussions in our community!

Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 18 January 2013 at 10:13
I'm looking forward to your treatise on a retarded ferment Pain de Campagne.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 18 January 2013 at 13:34

Part 9:


Many bread recipes start out with a slack (i.e., moist and somewhat sticky) dough. While you can use a firm pre-ferment for these, you have to adjust the liquid content upwards. That being the case, you may as well start with a moist pre-ferment to begin with. That’s where a Poolish comes in.


The big difference between a Pate Fermentee and a Poolish is their runniness. Firm pre-ferments are, in effect, already dough. In theory you could make a Pate Fermentee in a large enough quantity and bake it. Moist pre-ferments, on the other hand, are closer to being batters than doughs. They are incredibly hydrated, with the liquid content running at least 100%. Here, for instance, is Peter Reinhart’s version:




2 ½ cups (11.25 oz) unbleached bread flour

1 ½ cups (12 oz) water at room temperature

¼ tsp (.03 oz) instant yeast


Stir together the flour, water, and yeast in a mixing bowl until all the flour is hydrated. The dough should be soft and sticky and look like very thick pancake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, or until it becomes bubbly and foamy. Immediately refrigerate it. It will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator.


Note that in this formula the water content is 107%. Actually, I should say liquid, because you could just as easily use milk.


The difference between a Poolish and a standard sponge is merely fermentation time. Remember, we only ferment sponges about 20 minutes. And, whereas sponges can be used with both firm and slack doughs, Poolishes are only used with slack doughs.


Handling slack doughs presents special challenges. They’ll stretch and distort just by picking them up. And they have to be retained, at least until they’ve risen, or they’ll run out in a puddle. For shaped breads, such as baguettes and Ciabattas, retention is achieved by creating a temporary trough with baking canvass. Other times they’re contained by sidewalls of the baking pan, or allowed to run until their own surface tension stops them, to form flatbreads, such as Focaccia.


The problem is simple: We all love many of these breads, and want to rush into baking them. But, because of the special handling requirements, this likely leads to failures and frustrations. So my recommendation is that you get a bit of experience with firm doughs before taking on these challenges.


To show you what’s involved, we’ll start with Ciabatta, one of the most popular breads in both Italy and America. It’s also one of the most difficult breads to pull off.


Although rustic breads such as this one have a long tradition, the name “Ciabatta” only stems from the mid-20th century. A baker in the Lake Como region noticed that the amorphous shape of these breads resembled the slippers worm by dancers. He named his version “Ciabatta di Como,” and the name stuck.


Start by preparing the baking cloth. Professionals use linen for this, but that’s cost prohibitive for the home baker. Instead, muslin, light canvas, or even an old tablecloth with do. Or you can find kits in some stores that include a couple of sizes of baking cloths.


First time you use it start by spraying it with oil, then flouring it. After that just keep it floured each time you use it.


It use you’ll create a couche, which mere means that you’ll bunch the cloth to create channels and sidewalls. You’ll want the troughs to be as wide as your intended dough, and the sidewalls higher than it. In effect, you are creating a series of very high wrinkles.


BTW, the softer the cloth the easier this is to do, which is why linen is preferred over canvas.





3 ¼ cups (22.75 oz) poolish (one recipe)

3 cups (13.5 oz) unbleached bread flour

1 ¾ tsp (.44 oz) salt

1 ½ tsp (.17 oz) instant yeast

6 tbls to ¾ cup (3 to 6 oz) lukewarm water (or substitute milk or buttermilk for all or part of the water). Using milk will make a more tender bread.

Semolina or cornmeal for dusting


Remove the poolish from the refrigerator at least at hour before you need it, to take the chill off.


In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt and yeast. Add the poolish and six tablespoons of the water. Mix the ingredients to form a sticky ball. If necessary, add a little more water to pick up any loose flour. Use the spoon like a dough hook to mix the  mass thoroughly until it forms a smooth, sticky dough. This will take five to seven minutes. Alternatively, use the paddle attachment on the stand mixer, switching to the dough hook for the final couple of minutes.


Sprinkle enough flour on your work surface to create a square about 8 inches on a side. Transfer the dough to this bed, and perform a stretch & fold. What you’ll do is grasp the dough from both sides and stretch it in both directions, while simultaneously folding it in thirds. Spray the dough with oil, dust with flour, cover with plastic film, and let rest 30 minutes.


Stretch and fold the dough again, mist with spray oil, dust with flour, cover, and let frerment on the counter for 1 ½ to 2 hours. The dough will expand, but not necessarily double in bulk.


Lay your baking cloth on a work surface.


Carefully peel the plastic off the dough. Using a bench scraper that has been dipped in water, divide the dough into three rectangles, trying to degas it as little as possible. Generously flour the dough, then use the scraper to lift each piece from the counter. Roll both sides in the loose flour to coat.


Lay the loaves on the cloth and gently fold each piece letter style, working from the long ends, creating an oblong about 6 inches long. Bunch the cloth between pieces to create the couche walls. Mist the loaves with spray oil, dust with flour, and cover the cloth with towels.


If you think all this sounds awkward, wait until you try it.


Proof the dough for 45 to 60 minutes until it has noticeably swelled.


Preheat the oven to 500F. Steaming will be required, so set the oven up for that.


Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina or cornmeal and very gently transfer the dough pieces to the peel or pan, using the bench scraper to help support them. Lift the dough from each end and tug it out to a length of 9-12 inches. If it bulges too high in the middle, gently dimple it down with your fingertips to even it out. Slide the doughs onto the baking stone, or bake directly on the sheet pan. Steam the oven. After the final spray, lower the heat to 450F and bake for ten minutes. Rotate the loaves for even baking, and bake 4 to ten minutes longer, or until done. Loaves should be a golden color (but with dusty streaks due to all the dusting flour). They will feel hard and crusty when removed from the oven, but will soften as they cool.


Transfer the loaves to a wire rack and let them cool.

Baguettes were traditionally shaped using a couche, and still are by smaller bakeries in France. Fortunately, there now are specially shaped baguette pans for this purpose. If you want to try your hand at baguettes (and what bread maker doesn’t), I recommend getting one of those pans instead of frustrating yourself trying to more the long, thin doughs on and off a couche.




Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 19 January 2013 at 14:47

Part 10:


As a primer we’ve pretty well covered the bases. With the exception of sourdough, there isn’t a bread recipe I know of that you can’t make, now that you’ve learned the basics.


There are short sourdoughs, in which the starter only ages two or three days, which would be included. Real sourdough, however, using a mother that is made with wild yeast and maintained for years, requires skills far beyond the scope of this series. So I’m not going to discuss it.


If you’ve been making bread following this series, however, you’ve certainly got the skills. There are numerous sources of info that you can turn to.


What I am going to do, however, is provide a running commentary on breads and bread making. There will be bits and pieces, in no particular order, that fill in the gaps, answer questions, talk about techniques we haven’t discussed, and provide recipes that interest me. Hopefully you’ll find them interesting as well. And, of course, if you have questions or concerns I'll do my best to address them.  


First off, I want to share a short bibliography. I don’t pretend it’s at all exhaustive---a list of books that deal just with bread making, or in which bread plays a significant role would stretch as long as this entire primer. Indeed, just the books titled “Bread,” or “Breads of the World” would go on for pages. Instead, what I’m going to do is list the six books I find myself returning to, over and over, either for information or recipes.


1. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 2001. Although Reinhart’s own Crust & Crumb and other books about baking “artisan” breads predates this by several years, BBA is the book most credited with starting the revolution in home bread making; popularizing concepts like retarded fermentation and the use of pre-ferments.


2. Bread Alone, Daniel Leader & Judith Blahnik, William Morrow and Co., New York, 1993.  Dan Leader’s seminal work covers much of the same ground as BBA. It is slightly more technical, though, and, being based on the methods he used at his bakery of the same name, often seems more commercially oriented. Still and all, it provides many insights not found in Reinhart’s work.


3. Ultimate Bread, Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno, DK Publishing, New York, 2004. Although published in the 21st century, Ultimate Bread is sort of a throwback to the simpler pre-artisan days of baking bread. Their recipes, for instance, use only volume measurements. Sponges are the closest thing they come to using pre-ferments. And almost all their 100 or so recipes are single-rise, single-day productions. But there are some truly great tasting breads to be found here.


4. Flatbreads & Flavors, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, William Morrow & Sons, New York, 1995 (hardback), 2008 (softbound).  One of my all-time favorite cookbooks. Alford and Duguid traveled around the world, collecting flatbread recipes from the native peoples wherever they went. In addition, they provide recipes for savory foods of those same cultures that go well with the breads being discussed. This is the only book I know of devoted strictly to flatbreads.


5. A Baker’s Odyssey, Greg Patent, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2007. Have you seen Mo Rocca’s Food Network show, “My Grandmother’s Ravioli?” Greg Patent did it first, with baked goods. The book’s sub line “celebrating time-honored recipes from America’s rich immigrant heritage” sums it up. Not strictly a bread book, in does contain a wealth of ethnic breads, along with other baked goods---both savory and sweet---provided by folks who are maintaining the food culture of their forebears.


6. Bread: The Breads of the World and How to Bake Them at Home, Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter, Anness Publishing Ltd, London, England, 1999. This is a relative newcomer to my collection. I’d come across it in the library, browsed through it, and had to order a copy. If there ever was a bread book that seemed written for our Foods of the World forum, this is it! It’s an exploration of bread from all over the globe. About 2/3 of it is a pictorial with text, providing insights into the history, shape, texture, and rationale for each bread, sometimes comparing them to similar breads from other regions and countries. The last third of the book contains recipes for 100 traditional breads from various cultures.


This raises another point. There is no particular reason to invest a lot of money in bread books. Not when today’s libraries contain so many books on the subject. I’ve read maybe 30 such books that I don’t own. But every one of them provides unique information or recipes that are useful.


For instance, there is a bread shape called a “couronne,” which translates as “crown.” Basically it’s a bread made into a ring shape. Reinhart starts with a boule, punches a hole in the middle, and then stretches the ring to the size he wants, making a seamless loaf. Most bakers start by rolling the dough into a thick rope, forming a circle and sealing the seam where the ends meet.


My library has a volume simply called The Bread Book. IMO it is generally unremarkable, and not worth owning. But there are things in it well worth knowing. Example: It has a recipe for a fruit-filled couronne that is formed unlike any other I’d seen. You start by rolling the dough into a thin rectangle. Then you spread the filling on the dough, and roll it like a jelly roll. But it goes even further.


After filling and rolling the rope you carefully slice it in halve lengthwise. Then, keeping both halves cut-side upwards you twist them together. Then form the circle and seal the ends.


Being as that was one of the few things in the book I found worthwhile, I copied it for my files.


Lo and behold, the technique is not so unique after all. Ingram and Shapter, for instance, use the same method for making a Danish savory crown, filled with onions and cheese. But the fact remains that I learned it from a book I have no intention of ever buying.


My point, if it needs stating, is that if there’s only one, or two, or half a dozen things to learn from a bread book it’s worth reading it, even if you’ll never own it.


I’d be remiss, too, if I didn’t talk about the web as a source of bread making info and recipes. To be sure, there are web sites that focus on bread.  The Fresh Loaf (" rel="nofollow -  is perhaps the best of them, but there are others. If you can’t learn from those sites you’re really not trying.


On the other hand, be cautious using those all-too-many recipe dump sites. In my experience, most of them are the next best thing to useless. Recipes of any kind are rarely tested, and errors abound. Ingredients are left out or misstated. Instructions are written poorly, with steps often omitted or written incorrectly. This tends to be even more true when bread is involved.


Once you’ve got some bread making experience you may be able to spot the mistakes, and adapt for them. But if you’re just beginning, you’ll more likely frustrate yourself when the bread doesn’t come out right.

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 19 January 2013 at 15:56
Firstly, thanks so much for all the labor taken to create such a Bread Encyclopedia for all of here at FOTW ...
I truly have enjoyed following the chapters ...
Kindest regards,

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 19 January 2013 at 18:25
   Oh my word, Brook! 

  I had missed this post until today.  I have only finished part one so far, I just wanted to take some time to tell you thank you for posting this.  You're far too humble a man...this is really quite good instruction...very nicely written too.  I don't know if you remember, but you are primarily responsible for my deeper adventures in bread making.  I plan to read the rest of your installments giving each time to digest.

   Thanks again!


Enjoy The Food!

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 19 January 2013 at 20:51
Sure, I remember Dan. And if I were able to help, well, isn't that the point of these forums?
Why don't you share some of your bread-baking experiences with the group? I'm sure that will help fill in any blanks, or provide other ways of achieving the goal.

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 20 January 2013 at 10:43
I was wondering if you would be planning a chapter on STUFFED BREADS, for example; ethnic stuffed breads to be exact; those gorgeous breads filled with olives, sausage, ham, hard boiled egg and even --- sweet tooth fillings, RAISIN BREAD FOR EXAMPLE ...
Look forward to hearing from other members too ...
Thanks in advance.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 20 January 2013 at 13:54
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Sure, I remember Dan. And if I were able to help, well, isn't that the point of these forums?
Why don't you share some of your bread-baking experiences with the group? I'm sure that will help fill in any blanks, or provide other ways of achieving the goal.

   I'm still firmly in the apprenticeship phase.  I'll speak up if I come across anything as I read it.



Enjoy The Food!

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 20 January 2013 at 14:17

Part 11:


I promised, earlier, to provide the complete procedure for making Bavarian style soft pretzels. So here goes.


This whole thing is taken from Eric Kastlel’s Artisan Breads at Home. In general, I am not a fan of the  at Home series. The CIA (Culinary Institute of America) started with good intentions; to convert their professional training literature into teaching at-home cooks. They just didn’t pull it off very well, and, in fact, the first five of them were published without testing recipes on home equipment.


A case could be made that up to its 2010 publication date, Artisan Breads was the worst of the series. Indeed, I did make that case when I reviewed it. It suffers  all the faults of the others, plus a whole passel of its own. I tell you this to explain why you didn’t find it on my list of preferred books last time.


But as I stressed then, even a bad book often has information you can use. And so it is with this one. Among the few things from it that have become a part of my repertory is Kastel’s pretzel recipe. The dough is certainly the best such that I’ve tried---and I’ve gone through a bunch of pretzel recipes. More to the point: Although most soft-pretzel recipes talk about using a lye bath to create the signature crust, Kastel is one of the few that actually walks you through the process. And that alone is worthwhile.


Kastel uses a slightly different Pate Fermentee than Reinhart. So we’ll start with that. One note: As befits somebody whose professional experience is as a production manager of large commercial bakeries, Kastel only uses power equipment for mixing and kneading. If you want to do things by hand, you should have no trouble by now.


Kastel is also a big believer in malt syrup in his doughs. Malt does have certain effects on a final dough. But the fact is you probably won’t notice much difference if you leave it out. I do.


Pate Fermentee (Kastel)


¼ cup (2.4 oz) warm water

¾ cup (3.5 oz) flour

Pinch instant yeast

Pinch salt


Make the pate fermentee the day before you want to mix the dough. Put the water in the bowl of a mixer, combine the flour with the yeast and salt, and add the flour mixture to the bowl. Place on a mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix for 4 minutes on low speed or until homogenous. Place in a lightly oiled bowl large enough for it to double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Allow the pate fermentee to ferment at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 18 hours or up to 3 days.




For the final dough:


1 Pate Fermentee recipe

1 ¼ cups (9.9 oz) water

¼ cup (.4 oz) malt syrup

3 ¾ cup (19.3 oz) high-gluten flour (or sub unbleached bread flour)

2 ½ tsp (.3 oz) instant yeast

2 tsp (.4 oz) salt

2 tbls (1 oz) butter at room temperature

Coarse salt for garnish


For the lye solution:


3 cups (24 oz) boiling water

3 tbls (1.25 oz) food grade lye

1 cup (8 oz) cold water


Make the pate fermentee two days before you intend baking the pretzels.


Put the water, pate fermentee and malt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for 1 minute on low speed to break up the pate fermentee. You can also first break the pate fermentee up with a scraper. Combine the flour and yeast and add to the pate fermentee, then add the salt and butter.  Mix for 10 minutes on low speed, making sure to scrape down and flip the dough over in the bowl 3 times. The dough should be very strong and stiff.


Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide it into six 5-ounce pieces. Preshape the pieces tightly into 5 oblongs. Place the pieces on the work surface, seam side up, and cover. Allow the dough to rest for five minutes.


Put a piece of dough on a clean, dry surface with no flour and flatten it. Fold the dough over in thirds, making sure to tighten well. Roll each piece out to 30 inches. If the dough becomes too elastic to roll to the full length, stop rolling to allow the dough to rest and shape the other portions part of the way, then go back to the first one you started to roll and finish them all in consecutive order. Put a 30-inch rope on a work surface and form it into an upside-down U. Take each end piece and cross them over in the middle twice. Then take each end and bring it to the top inside of the U. Make sure to press the ends in well; if needed you can moisten the ends with water. Place the shaped pretzel on a baking tray lined with parchment paper that is sprayed with oil. Finish shaping all the pieces and place on the tray.


Refrigerate the pretzels, uncovered, overnight (a minimum of 8 hours) so they form a skin.


To bake the pretzels, preheat the oven to 475F. Remove the pretzels from the refrigerator 15 minutes before baking. Line a baking tray with oiled parchment paper.


Prepare the lye solution. Cover your work surface with newspapers. Pour the boiling water into a stainless steel bowl on your work surface. Wearing gloves, measure the lye into another stainless steel bowl. Add to the bowl of water, then stir with a metal whist until the lye is dissolved. Add the cold water and stir. Let this sit for ten minutes. Wearing gloves, dip 2 pretzels in the solution for 15 seconds, then take each one out with both hands, let the solution drip off, and place the pretzels on the prepared tray. Repeat this process with the rest of the pretzels. Sprinkle with coarse salt.


(Note: I have never been able to do this two at a time. If you can only handle one at a time, that’s just fine)


Put the tray in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 450F. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the pretzels are dark brown.


Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the pretzels from the tray to a cooling rack.


Note: To make different shapes, scale and shape the dough accordingly. Follow dipping and baking instructions as above: For rolls, 2 ounces each. For stuffed sticks, 4 ounces each (5 inches long). For subs, 5 ounces each (5 inches long)



Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 21 January 2013 at 18:57

Part 12


It should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of flatbreads. All kinds, from all over the world.


Apparently, I’m not alone in this. Flatbreads have taken the country by storm. Everywhere you go, from casual dining to four star restaurants you find them on the menu. And celebrity chefs present them, seemingly, on every episode of their shows.


For a while there was an unfortunate trend to call any flatbread with toppings a pizza. Many of the---shall we say---strange toppings resulted. While that syndrome still applies, many of the celebrity chefs have stopped doing that. They now refer to the base merely as flatbread, or use the actual name of the particular bread.


Worldwide there are probably as many forms of flatbread as there are risen loafs. Although I can’t document it, my gut feeling is that the two most popular flatbreads in America are pizza and pita, with focaccia, perhaps, coming in a distant third.


I am not going to give you a recipe nor instructions for pizza. There are several reasons for this, but the most cogent one is that I can’t make pizza. At least not in any form you’d recognize. I’ve tried many doughs, listened to instructions ad nauseum, and spent countless hours watching pizza pros do their thing. But when it comes to actually handling the dough, and shaping it, there’s something in my make-up that rebels.


So, if somebody wants to pick up the slack, and add a chapter on pizza making, please do so.


Ironically, I don’t have the same problem with pita, which is a much more difficult bread to pull off successfully. I’ve tried numerous recipes and methods, and have settled on the one used in Flatbreads & Flavors as my most favored.


Ideally, pita is baked quickly, in a hot oven, on pre-heated quarry tiles. A baking sheet will work almost as well. But it has to be scorching hot. I put the pans in the oven when I turn it on to preheat to assure this.


You can also “bake” pita on a hot griddle, on top of the stove. I’ve never had consistent results with that method, but others have. It might be worth giving it a go.


Caution: If your idea of pita is those plastic-wrapped disks from the supermarket, don’t make this recipe. It will spoil you, and you’ll never be satisfied again with commercially produced ones.




2 tsp active dry yeast

2 ½ cups (20 oz) lukewarm water

3 cups (13.5 oz)unbleached bread flour

3 cups (13.5 oz) whole wheat bread flour

1 tbls salt

1 tbls olive oil


Combine the flours.


In a large bowl sprinkle the yeast over the water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, then stir 100 times, about a minute, stirring in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes or as long as 2 hours.


Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a ckup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Urn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead eight to 10 minutes. Rinse the bowl, dry and oil it lightly. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.


Place unglazed quarry tiles, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the tiles or pans and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F.


Punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into eight equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle, eight to nine inches in diameter and less than ¼ inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack them.


Place two breads (or more if your oven is large enough---I generally do four at a time) on the tiles or pans, and bake two to three inutes, or until each bread has gone into a full “balloon.” If there are seams or dry bits of dough, or for a variety of other reasons---e.g. your baking surface isn’t preheated enough---the breads may not balloon properly. But don’t worry, they will still taste great. As you bake pita more often you’ll develop tricks and techniques to assure even ballooning.


Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.


Ksra, the ubiquitous flatbread of Morocco, is one of my favorites. It’s also a lot easier to make than Pita.


As is true with so many household breads of the world, there are numerous versions; thick and thin, large and small, flavorings added or left out. Almost universally, though, its hallmark is the surface decorations made with the tines of a fork


I’ve already posted one version, flavored with anise, which you can find at" rel="nofollow -  

Although Pita is the most well known flatbread of the eastern Mediterranean there are many others. One I’ve only recently started making is Barbari---Persian Sesame Bread.


This is undoubtedly the favorite breakfast bread in Iran, where they often top it with crumbled white cheese and sprinkled with fresh herbs. It’s also made in a spicy seeded version, which we’ll look at as well.




1 tsp honey

1 ¼ cups (10 oz) water

2 tsp active dry yeast

3 ¼ cups (14.63 oz) unbleached bread flour

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tbls olive oil plus extra to glaze

2 tsp sesame seeds


Stir the honey into 2/3 cup of the water in a bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand five minutes, stirring to dissolve. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and our in the dissolved yeast.


Draw enough of the flour into the yeast to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl and sponge until frothy and risen, about 20 minutes.


Pour about half the remaining water and the olive oil into the well. Mix in the rest of the flour. Stir in the reserved water, as needed, to form a firm, moist dough.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth, shiny, and elastic, about ten minutes.


Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½-2 hours. Punch down, then let rest ten minutes.


Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round five inches across and one inch thick. Cover and proof until doubled in bulk, about 30-45 minutes.


Preheat oven to 425F. At the same time, preheat two baking sheets in the oven until very hot.  


Meanwhile, use your fingertips to gently press into the surface of the dough to form nine dimples, about ¾ inch deep, across the top of each round. Brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Dust the baking sheets with cornmeal or semolina. Place the shaped dough on the hot baking sheets and bake 20 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.


To make the spicy version: Mix one teaspoon paprika and ¼ teaspoon cayenne into the flour before combining with the yeast. After brushing the shaped rounds with olive oil sprinkle each with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and cumin seeds evenly over the tops. Then bake as above.


If you share my fascination with flatbreads, I recommend you get a copy of Flatbreads and Flavors. It is, imo, the definitive work on the subject.






Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 21 January 2013 at 20:13
Chapati or roti. These are small unleavened flat breads about 5 or 6 inches in diameter and maybe a little more than 1/8" thick that are completely hollow inside. When cooking they expand into almost round spheres, after which they collapse into flat breads. These things are made all throughout Asia. It's a very old way of making bread. I wonder how many trillions of these little breads have been made over the last several thousand years.

I've made these a number of times. I'm good at it. They're simple things but interesting to make. Interesting in that to make a bunch of them you gotta move quickly. And it helps to have one special tool. I took a small pair of ice cube tongs and filed the teeth off and smoothed things well and flattened the ends a little so to create a tool to gently manipulate the rotis. You could do it with your fingers, but you gotta be fast and tough.

Anyway, here goes:

One rounded cup of whole wheat flour.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add water to form a soft dough and knead for 5 minutes. Allow to rest for 1/2 hour. Knead again for 5 minutes.

At this point you can refrigerate it for several days.

When ready to make the Roti set up your work area. The stove should have enough clear space to allow a heavy flat pan (I use a cast iron griddle pan) to set over the burner and room for it to be slid off to the side. A clear area of counter space should exist right next to the stove top with room to roll out rotis and more room to have a flat plate with flour in it and more room for a covered dish to keep the cooked roti in.

Heat the flat pan till water sizzles off it quickly.

Take a deep breath because here we go.

Take a portion of dough and form into a smooth ball. Using some of the flour from the plate, in mid air, using your hands, form the ball of dough into a flat disk. Flour the rolling surface and roll the flattened disk of dough into a perfect circle of even thickness. Flip flop the formed roti between the palms of both hands to knock all the excess flour off, them flop it onto the hot pan.

Immediately begin to make a second roti and while you're doing that flip the roti that is already in the pan. Finish making the second roti.

Pull the pan off to the side and take the cooking roti out of the pan and throw it right on the burner flame. Put the second roti in the pan.

Using the tongs lift the roti that is on the flames by just the edges and look under it and rotate it several times (don't flip it over) till it's cooked. Then flip the roti that is on the flames over and repeat the lifting, rotating motions till the roti is completely puffed out and cooked. Remove the inflated roti to the warming dish.

Immediately slide the pan with the second roti back over the heat and flip the roti on the pan. Smear a bit of ghee on the finished roti and cover the dish to keep it warm.

Form another roti to replace the one finishing up in the pan, and keep going till you run out of dough.

Not working? Work faster.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 22 January 2013 at 05:43
Thanks for the great addition, Rod. That's the sort of thing I was hoping for when I started this series. I'm particularly pleased because the Roti requires special techniques. Teaching them is what a primer is all about.
Now some questions:
When you check the roti on the flame, what are you looking for to indicate doneness? Do they get chared? Just dried looking?
Also, would it make things any easier to set up an assemly line? At a minimum, couldn't you shape the balls all at once? Or, it seems to me, you could roll out a number of the roti at one time, perhaps covering them with a damp towel, then feed to the griddle, to the flame to the bowl?
All supposition on my part, as I've never made them.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 22 January 2013 at 05:48

Part 13:


I’m going to continue our discussion about flatbreads, specifically to demonstrate why the tendency to call any flatbread with toppings a pizza drives me a bit crazy. Case in point: Lamejun.


Lamejun is a Turkish/Armenian dish in which spiced lamb or beef is combined with onions. This is used to top a flatbread, and the whole thing is baked. The toppings actually cook into the bread.


Traditionally, Lamejun is made using Lavash; a super-thin flatbread baked into either a hard cracker, or with a softer, tortilla-like consistency. The soft version is used for Lamejun. If you’re very good with a rolling pin you can make your own Lavash. I’ve never done so---among my many failings is a total inability to use a rolling pin with any level of skill.


Lavash is also readily available in some supermarkets (Wal-Mart carries it). An alternative is to use Manaaeesh, a Lebanese flatbread that’s a bit easier to work with. Manaaeesh is normally baked in large rectangles, resembling a very thin Focaccia.


We’ll look at the traditional Manaaeesh first, then see how it’s adapted to making Lamejun.


I’m indebted to Ana Sortun, owner and head chef of Oleana, in Boston, for these recipes.


Both recipes use za’atar, which is a common spice mix of the Mid-East. It consists of sumac, ground sesame seeds, and either thyme, oregano, or Syrian hyssop. Za’atar and sumac are available in specialty shops or from spice suppliers such as Penzey’s. If you live in an area with Staghorn Sumac grows, you can gather the red berries in the fall. Grind them as you need them, when sumac is called for, or combine them with equal quantities of ground sesame seed and oregano or thyme to make your own za’atar.


And,  just as an addition to your font of useless trivia, the plant called za’atar---which gives its name to the spice mix---is the hyssop mentioned in the bible.




2 tsp active dry yeast

¾ cup (6 oz) warm water

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups (9 oz) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

4 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

4 tbls za’atar


Whisk the yeast into the water in a large bowl and let the mixture bloom until the surface is covered with a gentle foam. Whisk in the ¾ cup olive oil, and mix in the flour and salt. Mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough, 8-15 minutes. It will still be sticky but hold together in one piece.


Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let sit in a draft-free location two hours, or overnight in the fridge. It should be doubled in bulk.


About two hours before baking, punch down the dough and place it with two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil on a heavy baking sheet. Cover and set in a draft-free location and let it rise at room temperature 1 ½ hours.


Preheat the oven to 375F.


Press the dough onto a baking sheet, using your hands to stretch and pull it into the corners, forming a flat 10 x 12-inch rectangle. Make dimples in the dough with your fingertips and brush the dough with the remaining extra virgin olive oil.


Sprinkle the za’atar evenly over the dough, and then sprinkle the whole bread with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.


Let the dough rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes, uncovered, at room temperature.


Bake for 15 minutes, until golden on the edges and cooked all the way through in the center.


Serve warm.


Chicken Lamejun with Roasted Red Peppers, Pistachio, and Sumac


If you’re looking for a traditional Lamejun recipe, this isn’t it. In Turkey and Armenia, Lamejun is always made with either lamb or beef. Using chicken is Ana Sortun’s adaptation. But it’s just as good tasting, and a lot less expensive to make.


1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 small Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 scallions, root end trimmed and finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, minced

1 ½ tsp sumac

¾ tsp za’atar

1 tsp salt

1 egg white

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup lightly toasted, finely ground pistachios

½ recipe Manaaeesh dough


1 tbls olive oil

2 roasted red bell peppers, peeled and cut in strips

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup Greek yogurt for garnish.


Remove all fat and connective tissue from the chicken breasts. Cut into two-inch chunks.


Use a food processor fitted with a metal blade to grind the chicken to a paste until it comes together in a ball and becomes smooth and thick. The mixture must get smooth enough or it will crack and break up as it cooks into the dough.


Using the pulse button on the food processor, incorporate the onion, scallions, red pepper, sumac, za’atar, salt and egg white until the vegetables and spices are thoroughly mixed into the paste. Transfer to a small mixing bowl, stir in the cream and pistachios, and set aside.


Preheat the oven to 375F.


Divide the Manaaeesch dough into four equally sized pieces. Form them into balls and roll them out, dusting lightly with flour as you go, into thin rounds, no more than ¼-inch thick.


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high and par cook the reads for three minutes per side. Alternatively, bake them in a preheated 425F oven for four to five minutes on a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone.


Top each Manaaeesch bread with 2/3 cup of the chicken mixture, spreading it evenly, and coating the bread completely. Place the lamejuns on a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone and bake them for about 12 minutes until they are crisp and the chicken mixture cooked through.


Top each lamejun with a few slices of the roasted peppers and a dollop of yogurt. Serve hot.


See what I mean? Lamejun is a lot of good things. But it is definitely not pizza!


Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 22 January 2013 at 06:21
Thanks Brook. I might have overstated the difficulty a little. The process as outlined does keep one focused. There just won't be much spare time to do anything else. So when you're making roti, you're making roti. It's really not difficult, just busy if that makes sense.  A rhythm develops. .

Anyway, The roti are all but cooked when they hit the burner. They're thin anyway. The pan cooking produced a sealed outer skin and some browning in spots, not unlike what you would see on a commercially produced flour tortilla. So what's happening on the flame is the addition of concentrated intense heat to flash the moisture inside into steam, inflating the roti. There will be some very localized burning, but being quick and watchful prevents any serious problems. You can burn a hole and let the steam out before they inflate if you aren't careful. In essence, you're looking for trouble when you're looking at the bottom of the roti. You're preventing trouble when you rotate the roti.


Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 22 January 2013 at 11:25
Many have heard of Naan. That wonderful flat bread encountered in India and in Indian restaurants. This bread is leavened and has other additions, so takes Roti to another level. Great with any soup or stew and of course most Indian meals or just by itself with a little more Ghee. This is normally made in a tandoor. A big conical wood fired clay oven that reaches well over 800F. I don't have one of those. So, the following includes adjustments for the American home kitchen and cook. I think you'll find the results quite satisfactory. I did.

I've made this several times too.

2 Cups all purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
A good 3 finger pinch of baking soda
2 Tbsp Ghee
2 1/2 Tbsp plain yogurt
3/4 Cup lukewarm water

Dissolve the yeast in the water and allow to set for 10 minutes.
In a bowl mix the flour, salt, baking soda and sugar.
Add the ghee and yogurt and mix to make a crumbly dough.
Add the water/yeast mixture and mix and knead till dough is smooth and soft.
Cover and keep in a warm place till it doubles in volume. Maybe 3 or 4 hours.
Place oven rack on one step higher than the middle.
Heat oven to 500F with a pizza stone or all your cast iron pans inside for 30 minutes past reaching temperature.
Switch from oven temp to broiler heat.
Knead the raised dough for 3 minutes and divide into 6 equal pieces.
Dust a counter top with flour and roll the dough out into 8" or so oval shapes.
Open the oven door and wet your hands and flip flop a Naan between the palms of your hands a few times then onto the stone or into a pan. Close the door.
Continue wetting hands, flopping Naans and putting in oven till space in the oven is filled, close the door and wait just 2 or 3 minutes.
The Naan should be brown on top and it's done. It cooks quickly so keep an eye on them.
Remove from oven and immediately brush lightly with ghee and place Naans where they will stay warm while you wait a few minutes for the oven to get hot again so you can cook the rest on your breads.

This stuff will puff up considerable in the oven, but not like Roti.

Now you folks know everything I know about bread.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 23 January 2013 at 07:31
Thanks, Rod.
One point that should be made is that naan made at home can never equal the traditional stuff, because home ovens do not get hot enough.
Naan is made in a tandori oven, a roughly conical shaped one whose temperatures can well exceed 1,200F. Tandori cooking is the opposite of low & slow.
The shaped naans are slaped onto the inner walls of the oven, and, literally, take only a few seconds to bake. The slight char flavor on the exposed surface contributes to making naan what they are.
But don't let that stop you from trying Rod's recipes. Naan is one of the great flatbreads of the world.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 23 January 2013 at 07:31

Part 14:


Stuffed and filled breads can be thought of as a separate category. There’s not much difference in how you mix the dough. But handling and shaping are often more complex. Plus, because of the fillings, the liquid content sometimes has to be adjusted. Russian Sauerkraut Bread is an example of how the filling can affect moisture content.


These adjustments are nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle by this point. So, if you have a favorite bread, and want to add sliced green olives to it, go ahead and try it.


Is there a difference between “stuffing” and “filling?” Technically, no. They’re just different words for the same thing. But I think of them differently.


To me, a stuffing is something that goes into the middle of the bread, with dough sandwiching it one way or another. The Peach Couronne I referred to in Part 10 would be an example of a stuffed bread. A filled bread, on the other hand, is one that has the filling ingredients incorporated throughout the dough, or has them pressed into it. Focaccia, which is often made with “toppings” like olives, cheese, and anchovies, is a good example of a filled bread.


For the sake of convenience, however, we’ll just refer to all of them as filled breads.


(Finding your own way: I’m going to assume, from this point forward, that you understand how to adjust yeast from active dry to instant; to knead by machine vs. by hand; that “cover” means with a damp towel or plastic film, and so forth. So, from now on I’m not going to include the how-to for those things.)


What can be used as a filling? Among the more common ingredients, used alone or in combination, are olives, anchovies, nuts, cooked eggs, ham and other charcuterie, dried & glazed fruits, cheeses, and vegetables. The list is endless, limited only by your taste preferences.


Because they are more time consuming to make, and are often formed into complex shapes, filled breads are often reserved for holidays and festive occasions. Many of them, as it happens, become associated with that special event.


Panattone is a classic example of this. Like so many specialty breads, there is a romantic tale behind it. In short, a baker in Milan spent six months developing a bread in order to impress a lady. Unfortunately, they never got together. But he started selling the bread in his shop, under the name “Pane di Toni” (Tony’s Bread) This eventually got corrupted to Panattone. It’s very popular throughout Italy, particularly at Christmas, and has become associated with Yuletide celebrations. Panattone is an enriched, fruit-laden bread almost cake-like in texture and taste.




2 ½ tsp active dry yeast

1 cup (8 oz) lukewarm milk

2 ¾ cups (12.38 oz) all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

8 tbls (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup (2.7 oz) sugar

3 tbls candied citrus peel, chopped

½ cup packed cup golden raisins

Pinch grated nutmeg

Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

Egg glaze made with 1 egg yolk beater with 1 tbls water

Confectioners’ sugar


Sprinkle the yeast into the milk. Stir to dissolve. Let stand for five minutes until frothy. In a large mixing bowl mix the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the dissolved yeast. Draw enough flour into the yeast to form a soft paste. Cover and let the sponge develop, about 20 minutes.


Mix in the flour from the sides of the well to form a stiff dough. Turn the dough out and knead until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes.


Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Punch down, rest for ten minutes.


Lightly grease a round mold, a deep cake pan, or a small saucepan about eight inches across and six inches deep, with softened butter. Line the base and sides of the mold with buttered baking parchment so that it extends 5 inches above the top.


Knead seven tablespoons softened butter, the egg yolks, sugar, citrus, rains, nutmeg, zests and vanilla extract into the dough until thoroughly combined, about five minutes. Shape the dough into a round loaf, put it in the prepared mold, and cut an “X” across the top. Cover and set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk, about two hours.


Preheat the oven to 350F.


Brush the top of the dough with the egg glaze. Bake for 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the mold and cool in the baking parchment on a wire rack. Dust the top with confectioners sugar.


There are at least as many filled savory breads as sweet ones. Many of them, like focaccia, are more or less flat breads. Among my favorites is Fougasse, a bread from Provence typically eaten on Christmas eve. After Midnight Mass, people from the region celebrate with a tradition of 12 sweets (symbolizing the 12 Apostles), surrounding a Fougasse centerpiece.


Fougasse translates as ladder bread. Originally it was shaped into an oblong, with a series of slightly diagonal slashes made through the dough and opened. When baked, this resembles a ladder. While that shape is still used, there are many variations. I like flattening the dough into an oval, and making two rows of chevrons, leaving a center strip. I’ve even seen them cut to resemble a Christmas tree.


Every family has its favorite version. Very often the bread is made plain, as a foil for the 12 sweets. But it’s often filled, as well, with savory items. This version uses cheese and nuts for one ladder, anchovies for another.




1 Pain de Campagne dough (see recipes above)

1/3 cup Roquefort cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tbls drained anchovy fillets, soaked in milk, drained again, and chopped

Olive oil for brushing.


Prepare a Pain de Campagne dough through the first rising.


Punch down the dough, divide in half, and set one half aside. Flatten the first half into a rectangle. Sprinkle on the cheese and walnuts. Tri-fold the dough over on itself. Repeat with the second half, sprinkling with the anchovies.


Shape each piece into a batard. Flatten the dough into a long, thin oval, for traditional ladder bread, or into a wide one if using a different pattern for the cuts. Make the cuts, opening them slightly.


Transfer the Fougasse to prepared baking sheets, cover, and set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk, about 30-45 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 425F.


Brush both loaves with a little olive oil and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Couronnes, or crowns, are often used for festive occasions. Simply put, a crown is a ring of dough that looks as if it were baked in a savarin mold. Creative bakers take it a step further. For instance, Peter Reinhart uses a dowel rod to crease the four quadrants of the circle. This makes it more squarish than round, and provides a textural break.


Perhaps the ultimate in manipulating couronnes is to turn them into filled twists. The fillings used for this can be savory or sweet. This one happens to be savory. Caution: This is the most complex bread I’ve presented. Be sure to read---and understand---the instructions before proceeding. And before to have the mise en place ready for the filling.


Danish Savory Crown


For the dough:

2 cups (9 oz) unbleached bread flour

1 tsp salt

Generous ¾ cup (6 oz)  butter, softened

2 tsp active dry yeast

Scant cup (8 oz) mixed lukewarm milk and water

1 egg, lightly beaten


For the filling:

2 tbls sunflower oil

2 onions, finely chopped

¾ cup fresh bread crumbs

¼ cup ground almonds

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and black pepper to taste


For the topping:

1 tbls sesame seeds

1 tbls fresh grated Parmesan cheese.


Prepare a baking sheet.


Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Rub in 3 tablespoons of the butter. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the milk & water, let it proof until frothy, about five minutes. Add the yeast to the flour, along with the egg, and mix into a soft dough.


Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead ten minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a draft-free locations until doubled in bulk, about an hour.


Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into an oblong about ½-inch thick.


Dot half the remaining butter over the top two-thirds of the dough. Fold the bottom third up and the top third down and seal the edges. Turn 90 degrees and repeat with the remaining butter. Fold and seal as before. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.


Turn the dough 90 degrees. Roll and fold again, without butter. Repeat once more. Wrap in lightly oiled plastic film and let rest in the refrigerator 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, heat the oil for the filling. Add the onions and cook for ten minutes until soft and golden. Remove from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, almonds, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Add half the beaten egg to the mixture and bind together.


On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring 22 x 9 inches, with the long sides left & right. Spread the filling evenly on the dough, leaving a ¾ inch border on the sides and a 1-inch border at the top. Roll the dough tightly from the bottom, like a jelly roll.*


Using a very sharp knife cut the roll lengthwise (I find this works best if you follow the seam). Keeping the cut sides upwards, braid the two halves together. Shape into a ring, weaving and pinching the cut ends to assure they seal.


Transfer the ring to the baking pan, cover, and let rise in a draft-free location, 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 400F.


Brush the remaining beaten egg over the dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and Parmesan cheese and bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


This is an exception to the general rule, in that it can be served still warm from the oven if desired.


*To make rolling easier, transfer the dough rectangle to a kitchen towel. Spread the filling. Then use the towel to life and turn the dough over on itself---sort of like using a sushi mat.



Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 24 January 2013 at 11:18

Part 15.


I’m going to subtitle this installment “bits and pieces.” It’s nothing more than a collection of bread baking tips and techniques that I’ve learned, that work for me. They’re in no particular order.


Sheet pans. If you’re using those thin cookie sheets sold in supermarkets, do yourself a favor and invest in some sheet pans instead. Unlike cookie sheets, sheet pans will not warp and twist in the high heat of a bread-baking oven; they are sturdier for lifting and moving; they can double as a mock-baking stone; and, in general, are better choices. Plus you’ll find all sorts of other uses for them in the kitchen. I do much of my prep work with them.

     Make sure you get the right size for your oven. Unless you have a 36” oven (and few of us do), a full sheet will not fit. But half-sheet and quarter-sheet pans will.

     Sheet pans aren’t all that expensive, not much more than some cookie sheets. In the box stores you’ll find half-sheets for about ten bucks. But check out any restaurant supply houses in your area, and you’ll do even better than that.

     Some places (Gordon’s Food Service is one) have plastic lids that snap fit to sheet pans, turning them into ideal storage containers for some items. Unfortunately they only come in full sheet and half sheet sizes.


Loaf pans. Loaf pans come in a range of sizes, technically rated by the weight of bread they produce. Generally they are sized as 1-lb, 1 ½ lb, and 2-pound. This didn’t used to be a problem from home bakers, because only the 1-lb pans were generally available. Nowadays you can find a loaf pans just about anywhere in a diverse range of sizes. And some non-stick pans are not made to standard sizes.

      What this means is that if you’re having loft problems with your bread---it’s either not rising enough, or is over-flowing the pan---it might be your pans, rather than your recipe or work methods at fault.

     Keep in mind, too, that glass and metal absorb and retain heat differently. Most bread recipes assume metal pans. If you’re using glass you’ll have to adjust baking time, temperature, or both.


Cornmeal and semolina are about the best release agents you can find. Not only do they prevent doughs from sticking, they add a bit of flavor (and, sometimes, color) of their own.

     To prep loaf pans and other molds, lightly grease them. The key word here is “lightly.” Then pour a handful of the grain into the pan. Shake and rotate it until the bottom is coated. Then do the same on each side in turn.

     For sheet pans, don’t even bother with the grease. It contributes nothing, and could lead to frying the bottom of the bread. Instead, just dust the surface of the sheet and place your dough on it. If you want, you can lay-down a sheet of parchment paper first. This will help keep the pan clean, but isn’t really necessary for baking.

     Awhile back I saw what may be the stupidest, and certainly the most unnecessary direction in bread baking history. It said to first oil parchment paper, then dust it with cornmeal. Yeah, right! Modern parchment paper is silicon impregnated. Oiling it serves no purpose whatsoever.


Baking stones are very useful. As detailed above, they regulate the oven and help provide a consistent temperature. Mine lives permanently on the bottom of the stove.

     Many breads are baked directly on a stone. But this presents some challenges. If you keep one always in the oven, as I do, it is in the wrong position (breads should be baked in the middle of the oven), and awkward to use. This leaves you a choice. You can either move it, as necessary. Or you can buy a second one, and place it on the middle rack when needed.

     Using a stone to bake on also means investing in additional equipment. At a minimum, you need a peel to put the bread in and out of the oven. A peel is, essentially, a thin, oversized paddle, made of either wood or metal. You dust it with cornmeal or semolina, place the dough on it, and line it up on the stone. A sharp pull, and the dough slides off.

     Alternatively, use an inverted sheet pan. Set it on the middle rack of the oven while it preheats. When ready, remove it, dust it, lay the shaped dough on it, and immediately return it to the oven. Works just as well.


Flours should not be stored in the paper bags they come it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that’s how your mamma did it. She’d remove what she needed, roll down the top, and slip it into a cabinet.

     Fact is, that’s a good way to assure pests. Everything from mice, to ants, to weevils can find their way into the flour that way. Instead, transfer the flour to a sealable container. I happen to use large tubs available from restaurant supply houses, that hold eight pounds of flour each. But any appropriate sized container will do. Rubbermaid, among others, makes a whole range of them.

     If you prefer, you can leave the flour in its original bag, and put the whole thing in a sealed container. But it’s not necessary to do so.

     FWIW, I store my sugar the same way.


Measuring utensils are not all the same. For instance, glass measuring cups are designed to measure liquids, whereas metal ones are designed for solids. But, due to manufacturing methods, different brands of the same utensil can be different. One brand or model of, say, a tablespoons might measure more or less than a different brand or model.

     Does this mean you need discrete measuring tools for your bread baking? Not at all. But it does mean you should be consistent, and use the same ones each time.


 Storing bread presents an interesting challenge. In theory, bread keeps best either frozen or at room temperature, but should not be kept in the fridge. Why not? Bread kept in the fridge tends to dry out quickly, even if stored in a plastic bag.

     I reserve comment on that. Suffice it to say I keep bread in the fridge all the time. There’s just the two of us, here, and I’d waste a lot of bread if I didn’t.

     That aside, if you want to retain the crispness of lean, crusty breads, they should be stored in paper, never in plastic. These sorts of breads go stale fairly quickly, though, and are best eaten the day they are baked. Soft, enriched breads, on the other hand, are best stored in plastic.

     Frozen bread should be pulled from the freezer at least two hours before you intend serving it.

     To rewarm thawed breads, heat the oven to 400F. Cover the bread with a damp towel and pop in the oven until warmed though. To restore a crackly crust, remove the towel and pop the oven up to 450F for the final few minutes.


Glazes can be used on any bread. They provide a glossy sheen to the crust, and, sometimes, make it more crispy. Glazes can also be used as a glue to hold other toppings---nuts, seeds, etc.---to the bread.

     Glazes should be applied gently, with a clean, soft pastry brush. Try to avoid drips, or actally brushing the pan, because this can glue the bread to it. Even if that doesn’t happen, glazes on a baking pan tend to burn.

     Glazes can be applied before or after baking. When used as post-baking application they soften the texture of the crust.

     Each glaze has a different effect on the appearance and taste of the bread. So it pays to experiment. Among the items used as glazes: Egg wash; milk; salt water, honey, olive oil, and cornstarch made into a slurry. For vegans, a mixture of soy powder and water makes a nice glaze.


Not all standard techniques work at home the way they do for professionals. For instance, the so-called windowpane test for determining gluten development. The literature says to stretch the dough until you can practically see through it. Maybe so. But I have to confess, I have never made a dough that the windowpane test worked with. Yet I’ve made some superlative doughs.

     So don’t get frustrated with these aspects. Pay attention to your dough, so you learn what a good dough looks and feels like.


But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 24 January 2013 at 12:12

Question: where would you put things leavened with baking soda and such? Like Irish soda bread or the many kinds of biscuits.

Biscuits could be a study onto themselves, I think. Maybe they really aren't bread. I don't know. What say you?


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 24 January 2013 at 12:19
It's not my intention to speak for Brook, but I say they would definitely be bread.

If you are a visitor and like what you see, please" rel="nofollow - click here and join the discussions in our community!

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 24 January 2013 at 19:11
See tomorrow's edition, guys. It's all about non-yeast breads.

Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 24 January 2013 at 20:09
Sorry Brook, I thought you were kinda wrapping it up there. I'll wait for the next installment. Great thread.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 25 January 2013 at 05:09
Actually, Rod, I am getting ready to wrap it up. Those tips and tidbits were the finis to yeast breads. Today I'll be posting about non-yeast breads. After that, I don't think I have too much to say.
I do recognize the intricacies of biscuit making. But I'm not the one to discuss them. I making biscuits maybe once a year, if that. So, as with sour dough, I'll leave that conversation to somebody who knows what they're talking about.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 25 January 2013 at 05:11

Part 16


Until now we’ve been discussing yeast breads. There is, however, a whole world of breads that do not fit this rubric.


Primarily, they use leaveners other than yeast---mostly baking powder and baking soda---or no leavening at all. They are often “baked” on the range top, or even on a grill. And sometimes they are steamed, rather than using dry heat.


I’m including, in this installment, versions of each type. While each of the recipes is tried-and-true, there purpose, primarily, is to show you the various techniques involved.


The most familiar version of this sort of bread is pancakes. You start with a batter, rather than a dough; leavening it with baking powder, baking soda, and an egg, and pour disks of this mixture onto a hot griddle.


Corncakes, a version of pancakes, are found more in the South than other parts of the country. A real shame, because they make one of the best breakfast breads around. They’re also served as an accompaniment to regular meals.


In Colonial days, corncakes were often made with pumpkin puree added to the mix. This added flavor, to be sure. But it also was a way of extending cornmeal supplies.


Here is an updated version Friend Wife and I adapted from original source materials:


Pumpkin Corn Cakes


2 cup cornmeal

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup pumpkin puree

¼ cup honey

1 tbls baking powder

1 egg

Milk, cream, or evaporated milk as needed


Mix dry ingredients. Add the egg, honey, pumpkin, and enough milk to form a medium thick batter.


Drop by large spoonfuls onto a hot, lightly greased griddle. Cook, turning once, about five minutes per side until nicely colored and cooked through.


Many breads depend on high heat and steam to do the rising, with no other leavening agents. The classic case are popovers; light, airy morsels nearly akin to soufflés.

The first secret to making popovers is to heat the oil content the same time you preheat the tins. This provides that sudden burst of heat, that causes the internal moisture to turn to steam. It also assures a nice crustiness to the popovers.


Speaking of tins, special popover tins are now readily available in most stores selling housewares. But there’s no reason not to use muffin tins. I made popovers that way for years. But any cup-like container will do. If nothing else is available, try making them in pudding cups, or deep ramekins. If you’re using individual cups, lay them out on a baking sheet to facilitate putting them in and out of the oven.


The second secret to popovers is, no peeking. Let me repeat: no peeking. Opening and closing the oven can cause them to fall, just as it does with a soufflé.


Golden Cheese Popovers


2/3 cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp salt

1/3 cup ilk

1/3 cup water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 ½-2 tbls shortening


Preheat oven to 375F.


Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Gradually add the milk and water, blending well. Beat in the eggs until smooth. Fold in the cheese.


Put about ¾ teaspoon of shortening the bottom of each of four popover tins. Put I the preheated oven, three to five minutes, until shortening is melted and very hot. Fill the tins ½ to 2/3 full with the batter.


Bake 45 to 50 minutes until puffed and golden.


And, once again, no peeking!


Another steam-risen bread is made from choux paste. Depending on how you mix it, choux can be used for savory breads, such as the very popular gougere, or sweet ones, such as profiteroles and eclairs.


Sweet versions are made with milk and, sometimes, sugar, whereas savory ones just use water.


Profiteroles and gougere usually are made merely by dropping the paste by spoonsful onto the baking sheet. With eclairs, on the other hand, the paste is piped into those long logs.


There’s a clue in there for shaping gougeres into appealing shapes. Using a pastry tube and a large opening, pipe the paste into shapes that you like: crescents, squares, circles, triangles, whatever.


What I like to do is make a selection of spreads. Each of them then goes into its own shaped gougere. For instance, tuna salad might go into the crescents; Reuben spread into triangles; country ham salad into squared, etc.


Nor do you have to confine yourself to the standard smallish gougere. When making fish burgers, for example, I bake gougeres the size of hamburger buns, split them, and use them that way.


In my experience, choux paste works best when mixed by hand, because it can be overbeaten with a mixer.




1 cup cold water

½ cup (one stick) butter, cut in small pieces

1 tsp salt

Dash black pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs

¼ lb grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Dash dry mustard

Milk for glazing


Preheat the oven to 425F.


Bring the water, butter, salt and pepper to boil until butter is fully melted. Add the flour, all at once, and continue stirring until it forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat.


Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat each one until all the shine goes off the paste before adding the next one.

Mix in the cheese and mustard, combining well.


Shape the gougeres as desired on a baking sheet. Brush with milk.


Bake the gougeres for ten minutes. Lower the heat to 375F and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden.


Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Slit them and fill as desired.


Perhaps the largest group, after yeast breads, are quick breads. The word “quick” is used because they do not require the kneading and rising times or yeast breads. But they can take just as long---sometimes longer---to bake. Thus, “quick” refers to the prep time.


As with yeast breads, quick breads can be made sweet or savory. Sweet ones are often made with fruits and vegetables, such as the ubiquitous zucchini bread and banana breads made all over. To my mind, these are more cake-like, and I reserve them for desserts and snacks for that reason. Savory versions, such as Irish Soda Breadand most cornbreads, can be served anytime, and are better accompaniments to meals, in my opinion.


White Oak Plantation, a hunting resort in Mississippi’s famed “Black Belt,” often serves the following at lunch. It took some effort, but I persuaded them to part with the recipe:


Lemon Bread The White Oak Plantation


 1/3 cup shortening

1 1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ cup milk

½ cup finely chopped nuts

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 350F.


Cream shortening and 1 cup sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with milk to creamed mixture, beating well. Add nuts and lemon rind.


Pour into a greased-and-floured 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes.


Blend remaining sugar and lemon juice; pour over bread as soon as it comes from oven.


Steamed breads---which are an alternative cooking method for peoples who do not have an oven or other way of surrounding a dough with dry heat---sound kind of strange to our ears. But they stretch well back beyond modern history. Long before European contact, for example, the Cherokee made bean bread by wrapping the dough in corn leaves and dropping those packages into boiling water. Old timers among the Cherokee still make them.


About the only steamed bread that’s still commonly made is Boston Brown Bread; a heavy, molasses-rich, whole-grain bread that is pudding-like in consistency. Indeed, it’s sometimes hard to differentiate steamed breads from some old-time puddings.


If you intend trying it you’ll need to collect empty tin cans first, because that’s what they are cooked in. Standard cans work just fine, but I like adapting this to the larger 28-oz size. The recipe will make four 15-ounce breads or two 28-ounce loaves.


Although my original recipe does not use nuts or chopped dates, I like adding a good handful of each to the breads.


Boston Brown Bread


1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup rye flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cups buttermilk

2/3 cup molasses

¾ cup raisins

½ cup chopped nuts (optional)

½ cup chopped dates (optional



In a large bowl combine the flours, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the buttermilk and molasses, and fold in the raisins, nuts, and dates.


Butter the insides of the cans. Divide the batter among four smaller cans or two larger ones. Cover the tins with buttered foil, and tie the foil in place with kitchen twine. Set the tins on a rack in a kettle and add enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the cans. Cover the kettle and steam the bread over low heat, adding more boiling water if necessary, for two hours.


About half an hour before they finish steaming, preheat the oven to 300F.


Remove the foil from the cans, and transfer them to the oven. Let the bread dry in the oven for 15 minutes.


Release the bread from the tins by running a sharp knife along the inside of the cans. Unmold the breads onto a wire rack and let them cool.













Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 08:51
Brook, awesome! What a wonderful reference! Thank you for doing this!

Mark R

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 09:04
Wow ... Pannettone .. Thanks for posting your recipe; this is a definite on my list ...
One of our favorite things to do with left over Pannettone is that when the Pannettone is a bit  stale; use for French Toast and / or Spanish Torrijas, the key difference is; red wine instead of cream or milk and Evoo instead of butter ...
Have nice Sunday.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 09:07
Perhaps, you could provide some advice on a few ethnic Iberian breads for me ... I shall post the photos ... In terms of the preparatory ... The Yeast, the Rising and the length of time of baking ... Would you require the recipes ( translated ) ?
I believe you shall require the ingredients and amounts; please confirm ...
Thanks for the advice in advance.
Thanks in advance.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 09:43
I would like to see those as well, if it is possible! But maybe in separate threads to themselves!

Mark R

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 09:47


I agree that they should be in a separate thread called Classic Iberian Breads; however, my question here is : would Brook require the recipes in order to provide me his expertise, or not ... Could he possibly, know by just seeing the photos ?
Then, I would post the recipes; and do it that way ... whatever Brook needs to provide some of his knowledge on my preparing correctly and the most simply.
Thank you.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 12:05
Margi, I'm not quite sure what you're asking.
If you have the recipes, then, seems to me, you've answered all your quesitons. And if you don't have them, I don't know how I can help.

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 12:12
I have the recipes ... However, I would like your feedback / view point and some of your expertise on the bakers´ recipes  ... These are rustic breads however, they have become  very popular in the Madrid Capital ... 
I just would like a view point ...
If you have a few minutes ... Thanks in advance.
I shall post in Iberia ...

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 24 April 2013 at 08:57
Darlene, a friend on a baking list, just posted this, and I thought it would make a good addition to the primer.It provides details on the properties and uses of almost all non-wheat flours.

Living Without's guide to choosing and using gluten-free flours.

From beans and grains to tubers and seeds, there's a rich and wonderful array
of delicious and nutritious flours waiting for you.

Baking gluten free normally requires using a mix of flours. If you're new to
this type of baking, start with our standard blends or purchase an all-purpose
commercial blend at your local natural food store. Once you're comfortable
with the nuances of a basic gluten-free blend, try introducing new flour
varieties slowly into your repertoire. In time, you'll be able to customize
recipes to your individual preferences.

Knowing the properties and uses for alternative flours sets you on track for

selecting the ones best suited for each baking application. As you learn how
to use these flours, you can remake your favorite foods without compromising
taste and texture. In fact, you can add essential vitamins, minerals, protein
and fiber to your baked goods, fortifying your diet in flavorful ways.

Beans and Legumes

Bean flours are high in protein, fiber and calcium. Varieties include
chickpea (garbanzo), bean (navy, pinto and red) and soy. Garfava flour is
a blend of flours made from garbanzo, fava beans and Romano beans. These
flours work well with foods, such as breads, pizza and spice cakes. Try mixing them with tapioca flour, cornstarch and sorghum flour for a hearty, nutritious blend that lends structure and texture to your baking. Store them at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

How to use: Add up to 30 percent of a total flour blend. A small amount (1/4
to 1/2 cup) added to pie crust or wraps makes these items more elastic and
easier to roll out.

Watch out for: Certain bean flours, particularly garfava and chickpea, impart
an aftertaste that some people find unpleasant. Offset the taste by using less
than 30 percent in a flour blend in recipes that contain brown sugar, molasses,
chocolate or spices. Bean flours are not well suited to delicately flavored
goods, like sugar cookies and biscotti.

Pea Flour and Green Pea Flour, the newest addition to the line-up of gluten-
free flours, have many benefits similar to bean flours but without the strong
aftertaste. High protein content lends structure to baked goods without adding
any distinct flavor. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

How to use: Add up to 30 percent pea flour to a basic gluten-free blend.

Watch out for: Green pea flour imparts a green hue to the final baked product,
which may be nice for Easter or St. Patrick’s Day but is not suitable for
bakery items you want to be white. Too much produces goods that have a
starchy taste.

Gluten-free Flour Blends for Multiple Allergies Grains

Amaranth An ancient food used by the Aztecs, this flour is made from the s
eeds of the broad-leafed amaranth plant. Amaranth seeds are also puffed into
kernels for breakfast cereals. High in protein, calcium and iron, amaranth
flour adds structure to gluten-free baked goods and helps them brown more
quickly. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.

How to use: Works well in recipes that contain brown sugar or maple syrup.
Because of its distinct taste, use it sparingly, about 10 to 20 percent of a
flour blend or no more than 1/2 cup per recipe.

Watch out for: If too much is used, baked goods may have a bitter aftertaste
and may brown too quickly.

Corn Flour Milled from corn kernels, this is finely ground cornmeal that
comes in yellow and white varieties. One form of corn flour is masa harina
(milled from hominy), used to make corn tortillas. If corn flour isn't
available, you can make your own by grinding cornmeal into a fine powder in
a food processor. High in fiber with a slightly nutty taste, corn flour is a
good source of fiber, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron and thiamin. To store,
refrigerate in an airtight container.

How to use: Blend with other gluten-free flours, preferably rice and sorghum,
buckwheat or amaranth for hearty baked items. Use it for tortillas, waffles,
pancakes, breads and desserts. Great for cornbread and as part of a breading
for deep-fried foods.

Watch out for: Don't confuse U.S. made corn flour with the so-called corn
flour (really cornstarch) used in Great Britain.

Corn Starch A flavorless white powder that lightens baked goods and makes
them more airy. It is highly refined and has little nutritional value. Store
in a sealed container in a dry location.

How to use: Can be used in place of arrowroot or potato starch. It makes a
transparent thickener for gravies, soups and sauces. It's an important part
of many all-purpose gluten-free flour blends.

Watch out for: The British term for corn flour is really cornstarch.

Cornmeal Larger particle size than corn flour, cornmeal lends excellent
texture to foods and has a nutty, slightly sweet taste. Cornmeal comes in
yellow and white varieties and in fine, medium and coarse grinds. Great for
cornmeal cakes, breading, cornbread, Johnny cakes, Indian pudding and Anadama
bread. Select finer grinds for baking and for polenta. Use coarse meal for
breading. High in fiber, iron, thiamin, niacin, B-6, magnesium, phosphorus
and potassium. Refrigerate to extend shelf life.

How to use: Blend with corn flour or a gluten-free flour blend. In most
recipes, it should be no more than 25 percent of the flours used. However,
some cornbread recipes call for just cornmeal.

Watch out for: Select the grind appropriate for your recipes. Using too much
cornmeal or a grind that's too coarse produces a gritty texture.

Millet An ancient food, possibly the first cereal grain used for domestic
purposes. It imparts a light beige or yellow color to foods. Easy-to-digest
millet flour creates light baked goods with a distinctive mildly sweet, nut-
like flavor. High in protein and fiber and rich in nutrients, millet adds
structure to gluten-free baked items. It is excellent for flat breads, as well
as bread, pizza and other items containing yeast. Store in the refrigerator or
freezer in a tightly sealed container.

How to use: For best results, use no more than 25 percent millet flour in any
flour blend.

Watch out for: Short shelf life. Millet can quickly become rancid and bitter.

Oat Flour and Oats High in fiber, protein and nutrients, oats add taste,
texture and structure to cookies, breads and other baked goods. If oat flour
is not available, you can make it by grinding raw oats in a clean coffee
grinder or food processor. Quinoa flakes can be substituted for whole oats
in most recipes. Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place or
freeze to extend the shelf life.

How to use: In most recipes, oat flour should be less than 30 percent of a
flour blend.

Watch out for: Most oats grown in the United States and Canada are rotated
with wheat crops, making cross contamination a major concern for people with
gluten intolerance. Select oats that are marked gluten free. People
with celiac disease should consult their physician before consuming oats.

Rice Flour Most often used gluten-free flour. It's available as brown rice
(higher in fiber), sweet rice (short grain with a higher starch content) and
white rice. The texture varies depending on how it's milled, fine, medium or
coarse. Fine grind is used for cookies, biscotti and other delicate baked
goods. Medium grind, the most readily available, is suitable for most other
baking. Coarse grind is best for cereal and coatings. Finer grinds produce
the best texture in baking. Easy to digest and blend, white rice flour has
a bland taste. Brown rice flour is slightly nutty. Brown rice flour should
be stored in the refrigerator.

How to use: Relatively heavy and dense, rice flour works best in recipes
when it's combined with other flours, especially those that are high in
protein to balance texture and build structure.

Watch out for: Too much rice flour (unless it's super-fine grind) can produce
a grainy taste and texture and can make baked goods crumbly.

Sorghum Flour Also called milo or jowar flour, some believe this flour
tastes similar to wheat. Available in red and white varieties, it has a
slightly sweet taste and imparts a whole-wheat appearance to baked goods.
Sorghum flour is high in protein, imparting all-important structure to
gluten-free baked goods. It's also high in fiber, phosphorous, potassium,
B vitamins and protein, a great choice for pancakes, breads, muffins and
cookies. Sorghum flour is ideal for darker-colored, heavier baked goods,
like brown bread or ginger cookies. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

How to use: Should be no more than 25 to 30 percent of any gluten-free flour

Watch out for: Darker in color than many other flours, it's not a good choice
for baked goods that should look white.

Teff Flour Milled from one of the worlds smallest grains, teff is a key
source of nutrition in Ethiopia. It's available in dark and light varieties.
High in protein, fiber and calcium, teff imparts a mild, nutty taste to
cookies, cakes, quick breads, pancakes and waffles. Combine teff flour with
Montina in an all purpose flour blend to produce high-fiber bread with a
whole-wheat taste. Refrigerate for longer shelf life.

How to use: Should be no more than 25 percent of any flour blend.

Watch out for: Too much can overpower delicate recipes.


Buckwheat Despite its name, buckwheat is not a wheat. It is a fruit from the
poly-gonaceae family, which also includes rhubarb and sorrel. Buckwheat has
a strong, robust flavor that combines well with other gluten-free flours. A
great source of balanced protein and eight essential amino acids, this flour
is high in fiber and B vitamins. It's available in light, medium and dark
varieties. Light buckwheat flour is usually preferred for baking. Store in
an airtight container in the refrigerator to extend shelf life.

How to use: For breads and rolls, use up to 1 cup per recipe to impart a
taste and texture that comes close to whole wheat. Use less when baking
delicate cookies or pies.

Watch out for: Too much can overpower a baked product.

Montina Flour is made from perennial Indian rice grass, a dietary staple of
Native Americans before the introduction of maize. Recently rediscovered and
now grown in the western United States, this protein-rich, fiber-rich flour
has a wheat-like taste and hearty texture. Blend with an all-purpose gluten-
free flour blend to add fiber, nutrition and protein to baked goods. It's
an excellent choice for use in dark baked goods, like spice cakes and
gingerbread. Refrigerate in a tightly covered container.

How to use: Add up to 30 percent Montina flour to your flour blend to produce
bread with a whole-wheat taste and texture.

Watch out for: Too much can overpower other flavors. Its whole-wheat
appearance may not suit delicate, light cookies, cakes or sandwich breads.

Wild Rice Flour is not made from rice but a wild aquatic grass originally
grown in lakes, primarily in the Minnesota area. Wild rice is now produced in
man-made paddies and, therefore, it's more plentiful. Rich in folate, wild
rice has a long shelf life because it is dried and slightly fermented. This
flour's very dark brown color adds a rich hue to pastries and other baked
items. It has a hearty, interesting flavor and texture. It's best used as
part of a flour blend for pancakes, muffins, scones and cookies. Use it to
thicken casseroles, sauces, gravies and stews.

How to use: Add up to 25 percent to a basic flour blend.

Watch out for: Like Montina flour, wild rice flour imparts a distinct flavor
and adds a dark appearance to baked goods. Not suited for delicate pastries,
such as sugar cookies, white cakes or biscotti.


Almond Flour and Almond Meal impart a sweet, nutty flavor to baked goods.
High in protein, fiber, vitamin E and healthy fat. Make your own almond flour
by finely grinding blanched nuts in a clean coffee grinder. Don't over
grind; almond flour can turn into almond butter very quickly. Leaving the
skin on the almonds will darken the flour and the final baked product. Almond
flour adds structure and texture to cakes, cookies and cupcakes. It is popular
for Passover baking. Almond flour can be substituted for oats in oatmeal
cookies for people who cannot eat oats.

How to use: Add up to 25 percent to a basic flour blend or use up to 50
percent or more in cakes leavened with eggs.

Watch out for: Not suitable for people allergic to almonds. Because of its
high fat content, almond flour and meal can go rancid quickly. Store in a
tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer and use within a few

Chestnut Flour Made from ground chestnuts, this flour imparts a nutty,
earthy flavor to baked goods. High in fiber and low in protein, it is used
widely by Italian bakers and cooks in everything from pasta (tagliatelle and
gnocchi) to cakes, pancakes, breads and muffins. Because chestnut flour is
low in protein, it should be combined with a high-protein flour, such as
bean, amaranth or soy flour, to ensure baked goods hold together. Store in
an airtight container at room temperature.

How to use: Add up to 20 percent to a basic flour blend.

Watch out for: Too much chestnut flour can impart an unpleasant earthy
taste. Don't confuse chestnut flour with water chestnut flour, a starchy
white powder with different baking properties.

Coconut Flour A low-carb, high-fiber flour with the subtle, sweet fragrance
of coconut. Usually well tolerated by people who have multiple allergies.
People on low-carb diets often bake with 100 percent coconut flour.

How to use: For best results, add up to 15 percent to a flour blend.

Watch out for: Too much can create a very dense end product. If using 100
percent coconut flour, recipes usually call for extra eggs to create height
and airiness.


Flaxseed Meal is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Make your own
flaxmeal by grinding flaxseeds in a clean coffee grinder. (Whole flaxseeds
are not digestible.) Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

How to use: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons per recipe for baked goods or sprinkle on
yogurt or cereal for a nutritional boost. A mixture of flaxseed meal and warm
water is used as an egg replacer in vegan and egg-free baking.

Watch out for: Flaxmeal produces a flecked appearance in bakery items. Too
much flaxseed or flaxmeal may have a cathartic effect on some people.
Introduce it into your diet slowly.

Salba Also called chia, salba seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant.
Hundreds of years ago, Aztec warriors would tie a bag of these seeds to
their belts to sustain them during their conquests. The seeds were so
important in Aztec culture that they were used as money. Considered a super
food due to high levels of multiple nutrients and protein, salba is
flavorless. Unlike flax, salba seeds do not have to be ground in order to be

How to use: Can be added by the tablespoonful to everything from yogurt to
baked goods. A mixture of 1 tablespoon salba and 3 tablespoons warm water
(let stand, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes until thickened) can
replace one egg in vegan and egg-free baking.

Watch out for: High in fiber, salba may be cathartic to some digestive
systems. Introduce it slowly into your diet.

Hemp Flour A protein-rich, whole-grain flour that imparts a nutty flavor to
breads, muffins, cookies and pancakes. It is an excellent source of protein,
containing all essential amino acids, and is very high in dietary fiber.

How to use: Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup to a basic flour blend.

Watch out for: Too much produces a gritty texture and an unpleasant earthy

Mesquite Flour Ground from the pods of mesquite trees, this pleasantly sweet
flour is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. Combine it
with other gluten-free flours to lend a molasses-type flavor to baked goods.
Best added to darker bakery items, such as brownies and gingerbread.

How to use: Add up to 25 percent to a basic flour blend.

Watch out for: Too much imparts a distinctive taste that can compete with
other flavors in a recipe.

Quinoa Milled from a grain that's native to the Andes Mountains, quinoa is
a seed with a delicate, nutty flavor that's similar to wild rice. This
flour is easy to digest. Quinoa contains high levels of calcium, protein,
complex carbohydrates, phosphorous, iron, fiber and B vitamins. Quinoa
flakes are an excellent replacement for oats in cookies, breads, cakes and
rolls and a delicious addition to granola. Store in the refrigerator or

How to use: Mix with other flours, up to 25 percent of total blend, to
increase the nutritional value of baked goods.

Watch out for: Too much can overpower the flavor of bakery items. Whole
quinoa should be rinsed first to remove the bitter-tasting natural oil that
sometimes lingers on domestic varieties.

Tubers and Roots
Potato Flour Made from dehydrated potatoes, this fine yellow-white powder is
high in fiber and protein. It can be used in place of xanthan gum or guar gum
in gluten-free baking. It lends a soft, chewy mouth-feel to baked goods,
homemade pasta, breads and pizza crust.

How to use: Add 2 to 4 tablespoons per recipe. Reduce or eliminate the gum
ingredients accordingly.

Watch out for: A little goes a long way. Too much potato flour will create a
gummy product. Don't confuse potato flour with potato starch, which is used
in much larger quantities in recipes and has different baking properties.

Potato Starch Made from the starch of dehydrated potatoes, this white powder
is often used as a one-for-one substitution for cornstarch in recipes. It has
excellent baking qualities, particularly when combined with eggs. Contains no
protein or fat.

How to use: Gluten-free recipes often call for 1/2 to 3/4 cup potato starch
as part of a flour blend.

Watch out for: Potato starch tends to clump so it should be stirred for
accurate measuring. Don't confuse it with potato flour, which is used in
much smaller quantities and has different baking properties.

Root Flours (Arrowroot, Sweet Potato, Tapioca) Made from root plants, these
flours/starches are usually well tolerated by food-allergic people, even
those with multiple allergies. Their high nutritional properties enhance
baking performance and give bakery goods a chewy texture and increased
browning capabilities. Arrowroot flour is pleasant-tasting and versatile,
good for making breads and bagels. Sweet potato flour, which has a yellow-
orange hue, imparts its color to baked items and has a taste that complements
recipes containing chocolate, molasses, spices and such. Tapioca flour (also
called tapioca starch), is made from the cassava (manioc) plant. It's a good
choice in breads, tortillas and pasta.

How to use: Root and tuber starches should be part of a flour blend, up to 25
percent. Arrowroot starch and tapioca flour/starch are also used as thickeners
in gravies and other sauces.
Watch out for: Too much of any of these flours can produce a gummy result.

Posted By: tjkoko
Date Posted: 29 May 2013 at 12:30
Originally posted by Margi Cintrano Margi Cintrano wrote:

Country breads in France range from rectangular, log, square, round, spheres, logs with pointy endings, and every shape imaginable a creative Baker can do to please his customers and visitors ... HERE IS THE WAY I PREPARE IT ...
photo courtesy:" rel="nofollow -
Kind regards,

Great looking boule and ear!  How big is that boule and what was your baking temperature?  C'est un pain de seigle?

A foodie here. I know very little but the little that I know I know quite well.


Posted By: Karen
Date Posted: 07 June 2014 at 17:03
Since I just recently joined this forum, I have been diligently playing catch up reading all the posts. Brook, you have done a wonderful job covering the subject matter! And the others who chime in make it even more interesting. Just finished the tidbit section, and Brook's comment . . .
"Suffice it to say I keep bread in the fridge all the time."
We do the same, otherwise our bread would be sprouting mold in no time flat -- that is what living in the woods gets you! However, I have come across a product that really helps all the way around and wonder if anyone else has tried it? I am not affiliated with this product in any way, so hope it is ok to bring it up. It is called Bee's Wrap, and it is muslin impregnated with bees wax and oils. You wrap your bread (or wrap a sandwich, cheese chunk, half a tomato) with the wrap and use the heat of your hands to mold it closed. My daughter gifted me the first one; and since then, I have purchased several more. They come in different sizes, even a longer version for wrapping baguettes. We can actually keep the bread way longer out of the refrigerator when it's wrapped in this. If I bake two loaves, one gets wrapped and left out and the other is wrapped and kept in the refrigerator until needed. There, that's my tidbit's worth.


Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 08 June 2014 at 02:13
That sounds very interesting Karen....and welcome to the forum by the way.

I'll have to do a little research on that....I'm forever tossing out moldy bread.

Go with your food!

Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 08 June 2014 at 02:19
And here it is.....a rather nice looking product:

Go with your food!

Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 08 June 2014 at 06:59

Welcome aboard. Fascinating. Definitely shall be checking into this, as I just cannot refrigerate my left over Baguettes ! I would rather not have bread if this were the case.

Shall be speaking to my contacts in regard to possibilities where in France, Iberia or Italia, this is available.

Exemplary post.
Margaux Cintrano.

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 08 June 2014 at 08:32
Good to hear from you, Karen. You might want to head over to the members lounge forum and tell the folks something about yourself.

I'm very intrigued by the Bee's Wrap. Have never heard of it before. Where do you buy it?

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 08 June 2014 at 09:59
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Good to hear from you, Karen. You might want to head over to the members lounge forum and tell the folks something about yourself.

I'm very intrigued by the Bee's Wrap. Have never heard of it before. Where do you buy it?

   I tried posting a link earlier, but every attempt showed a broken link.  The best prices I found was from Amazon for a three pack.  

Enjoy The Food!

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 09 June 2014 at 22:16
Hi, Karen, and welcome to the forum! We hope to see more of you here.... Thumbs Up

As for the Bee's Wrap, I was unable to find them on Amazon, but here's the link to the home page:

Dan, if you could email the link that you have to me, I'll give it a shot.

If you are a visitor and like what you see, please" rel="nofollow - click here and join the discussions in our community!

Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 11 June 2014 at 08:31
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

Hi, Karen, and welcome to the forum! We hope to see more of you here.... Thumbs Up

As for the Bee's Wrap, I was unable to find them on Amazon, but here's the link to the home page:

Dan, if you could email the link that you have to me, I'll give it a shot.

   When I copy/pasted the link, from Amazon, here the link would change when redirected.  But I could go to my Google search for Amazon and Bee's came up with a vendor for Bee's Wrap.  They had three products listed.  Today when I tried to do the search I cam up empty, when I went to my history and clicked the exact link I had used previously, Amazon showed "Looking for something? 
We're sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site"

   Perhaps it was in the middle of being withdrawn from Amazon's website...or perhaps it will show up again in the future...dunno???

Enjoy The Food!

Posted By: AK1
Date Posted: 11 June 2014 at 10:50
Looks like an interesting product. Seems that there is a place locally that sells them. Will have to give them a look see.

Here's Beeswrap's stockists page;

Posted By: Karen
Date Posted: 11 June 2014 at 15:23
Thank you for the welcome! My children were in visiting for a few days, so I haven't had much time on the computer. This is a another place to obtain Bee's Wrap products:
and here for the baguette wrap:

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