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Bread - I finally figured it out

SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
I have been trying to figure out how to make bread that makes me happy for a good while now. I like a round loaf with a chewy crust and an open crumb. I've played with hydration, rise times, bought books, watched videos, stomped, cussed, and everything else along the way. I have now made several loaves that make me happy.


Here's some discussion for anyone that might be interested. 
I've learned the flour makes a difference. I used local bread flour for a while; when I switched to King Arthur flour my bread improved. Other flours might be great - these are just the choices available to me locally. 
I measure in metric units using an electric scale. I use the baker's percentage for measuring the amount of water (hydration level).

ingredients:
430 grams flour
322 grams of room temperature water. That is 75% hydration. 430 grams flour x .75 = 322.5 grams water.
1tsp salt. Non-metric is easier for me on this one. Hey - don't judge - my scale isn't accurate in small amounts. 
1/4 tsp instant yeast

procedure:
I have to plan ahead - I mix the dough 12+ hours before shaping and baking. Sometimes I'll mix at 5:00-6:00 PM when I get home so I can bake in the morning (my weekend plan). Sometimes I'll mix about 5:00-5:30 AM so I can bake after work. 
I weigh out the flour and dump in a plastic container I use for the bulk rise. Then I add the salt and yeast to the flour and stir together. I weigh out the water and add it to the flour mixture. Using a dough whisk I mix until the ingredients come together and all the flour is absorbed. 
If I'm home I'll fold the dough every 30-45 minutes for 2-3 folds total. If I'm not home I don't stress over it. 
Here's the rising container:

As you can see I also use it to store my bread flour. 
I let the dough rise for 12-18 hours. It's not something I stress over. Only in summer does it try to rise too much. 
When I'm ready, I roll the dough out gently on a lightly floured surface - I use my cutting board.  
Here's something that changed my bread - I learned how to "stitch" when shaping my loaves. 

https://youtu.be/YY1qzaOdSdQ

I place the shaped bread in a linen lined banneton. 

Here's another game changer for me - dust the linen with a 50/50 mixture of bread flour and rice flour. The rice flour makes a HUGE difference in the bread not sticking to the linen.
i let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours. 
While the dough is rising I preheat the oven or egg to 500 degrees. I use a cloche on my pizza stone. 

I think it is important to let the ceramics all come to temp and saturate as well as settle at the desired temperature. I give everything the full 1 1/2 hours of rise time to heat up and stabilize at 500 degrees. 
When it's time to bake I sprinkle cornmeal on my wooden pizza peel (I make sure the bottom of my loaf has some of the rice flour mixture on the dough). I roll the dough out on the peel. 
I slash the dough with a ghetto lame made from a coffee stirrer and a razor blade. 

Use the peel to launch the loaf on the pizza stone. Welding gloves are useful for handling 500 degree ceramics. 
I bake the bread under the cloche for 20 minutes. Then I remove the cloche and bake an additional 10 minutes. 
This method has been yielding consistent results that I enjoy. I know there are many ways to make good bread, but this has been working for me. If this helps someone else, I'm happy. 
Here's another loaf I made last week:

Thanks for looking. 
Coleman, Texas
Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
"Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                      YukonRon
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Comments

  • NCSmokyNCSmoky Posts: 246
    Looks great
    Charlotte  NC - XL LG Med Mini MM 
  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 16,635
    Looks great!!  Great documentation and advice.  Well done brother!
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    @NCSmokey @bgebrent Thanks. It has been a journey to get consistent results I am happy with. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,144
    Looks really good.  You said you switched to King Arthur flour  -  which one, KA bread flour?
    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
     
  • StormbringerStormbringer Posts: 1,261
    edited November 2016
    Nice going, and you got a rabbit's ear too.  Getting a consistent result that you're happy with is the best.
    Large BGE and MMX, both with platesetter and cast iron grid. Superpeel for pizza, iDevice for temperature.
    Cooking on the large in deepest, darkest England since Oct 2015. MMX added to the family Mar 2016.
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    | My food blog ... BGE and other stuff http://www.thecooksdigest.com
    --------------------------------------------------------------


  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    Looks really good.  You said you switched to King Arthur flour  -  which one, KA bread flour?
    Yes, the bread flour. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,103
    Beautiful loaf! LOVE the color!! I have that same cloche and will try that next time. Thanks for posting. 

    However, I have a batch of dough working right now (to bake this evening) and as I was reading through your post, I thought, "Did I whisk all the dry ingredients together before adding the water?!" I don't think I did. We'll see. :)

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!

                                                                …Unknown

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    Beautiful loaf! LOVE the color!! I have that same cloche and will try that next time. Thanks for posting. 

    However, I have a batch of dough working right now (to bake this evening) and as I was reading through your post, I thought, "Did I whisk all the dry ingredients together before adding the water?!" I don't think I did. We'll see. :)
    Lol. Don't you hate it when you're like, wait - did I or didn't I?
     Thanks for the comment. Regarding the cloche, I've actually had it for a number of years. I know a lot of folks use CI and that's a good option as well. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,103
    Well, it's "doubling in size" nicely so at least that part is working. I mean, I DID mix it well after I added the water. =)

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!

                                                                …Unknown

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

  • EggNorthEggNorth Posts: 1,135
    Thank you for the post, the bread looks fantastic.   I was on that bread journey but have left it for a while.  You have inspired me to get back on it. 

    I've also had luck heating a Dutch oven with lid for about 45 minutes and cooking the bread in that.  I like your pizza stone setup thought.
    Dave
    Cambridge, Ontario - Canada
    LBGE (2010), Mini Max (2015)
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    @EggNorth Thanks. Bread is a bit of a journey - but worth it. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • ThatgrimguyThatgrimguy Posts: 3,834
    Dude. That's a BEAUTIFUL loaf!!! Way to go. Awesome.
    Biloxi, MS
    Guild's Grocery BBQ Team
    The Grocery Cart
    XL / Small Green Eggs
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    @Thatgrimguy Thank you kindly. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • @SciAggie: Great post and excellent results. I've been doing a little breadmaking myself recently and could obviously learn quite a bit from you! For those of us without cloches (and those who are reticent to acquire them on account of both financial and kitchen-space considerations), can we simply use an inverted vessel such as a ducth oven or stainless steel mixing bowl? 
  • StormbringerStormbringer Posts: 1,261
    edited November 2016
    @GrateEggspectations ; - dutch ovens are a popular choice. Hopefully Kamado Joe links are allowed here.



    The lid is left on for the first period so that the water vapour keeps the dough surface flexible and allows it to rise. However, at some point the crust will form and harden, at that point any excess water needs to be expelled to allow the crust to crisp up, which is why he takes off the lid. I haven't used this method, if I did I would leave it in the dutch oven for 15 mins, then remove completely and place directly onto the grid for the remainder of the cook. That's just a gut instinct, based on what I have done with bread in a normal oven.

    Large BGE and MMX, both with platesetter and cast iron grid. Superpeel for pizza, iDevice for temperature.
    Cooking on the large in deepest, darkest England since Oct 2015. MMX added to the family Mar 2016.
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    | My food blog ... BGE and other stuff http://www.thecooksdigest.com
    --------------------------------------------------------------


  • @Stormbringer: Thanks for that. In my limited experience using a DO the conventional way to bake bread, the bottom ends up more cooked than the top.

    My question above does not concern the conventional use of a Dutch oven; rather, I seek to know whether the pot portion of a DO can be inverted to mimic a cloche and yield similar results.
  • FockerFocker Posts: 8,364
    @SciAggie: Great post and excellent results. I've been doing a little breadmaking myself recently and could obviously learn quite a bit from you! For those of us without cloches (and those who are reticent to acquire them on account of both financial and kitchen-space considerations), can we simply use an inverted vessel such as a ducth oven or stainless steel mixing bowl? 
    Yes, an inverted, preheated, DO would work fine.


    Brandon
    Quad Cities
    "If yer gonna denigrate, familiarity with the subject is helpful."

  • pgprescottpgprescott Posts: 10,628
    Love these baking threads. Unfortunately, I don't have the attention span for the whole baking thing. I sure wish I did though. Bravo!
  • Love these baking threads. Unfortunately, I don't have the attention span for the whole baking thing. I sure wish I did though. Bravo!
    Yeah...I got lost at clotche....I like the razor blade idea to cut the loaf. 

    Great thread. I have more work to do to get there 

    Large BGE - Medium BGE - Too many accessories to name

    Antioch, TN

  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    @GrateEggspectations Sorry to be out of the loop for a bit. It seems like folks have answered your questions. I have never tried baking in CI - only because I have the cloche. As others have said though it is just a means to an end, that end being retaining moisture while the crust develops. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • EggDanEggDan Posts: 173
    @Stormbringer thanks for the video. What size of a proofing basket do you think that was? I'm trying to dimensionalize which basket you need for each Dutch Oven size. 
  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 6,597
    Great thread. I haven't tackled bread on the egg yet, but when I do this thread will be a great help. 

    XL BGE, Klose BYC, ProQ Excel, Weber Kettle, Firepit, Grand Turbo gasser, and a portable Outdoor Gourmet gasser for tailgating

    San Antonio, TX

  • StormbringerStormbringer Posts: 1,261
    edited November 2016
    @Eggdan - looks like a 22cm/8.5inch banneton, something like this:

    http://www.lakeland.co.uk/71109/Round-Homemade-Bread-Dough-Proving-Basket

    Large BGE and MMX, both with platesetter and cast iron grid. Superpeel for pizza, iDevice for temperature.
    Cooking on the large in deepest, darkest England since Oct 2015. MMX added to the family Mar 2016.
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    | My food blog ... BGE and other stuff http://www.thecooksdigest.com
    --------------------------------------------------------------


  • NPHuskerFLNPHuskerFL Posts: 17,001
    Good looking loaf!  I swear by KA Flour.  I've had a fun time with different types of sourdough breads.  For me extended bulk ferment and cold proofing have been key.  Then with high hydration at first I had issues with the loaf sticking to the banneton.  I found using Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour and after turning out the loaf using a pastry brush to remove excess before scoring.  Artistic scoring takes practice, practice & more practice.
    LBGE 2013 & MM 2014
    Die Hard HUSKER & BRONCO FAN
    Flying Low & Slow in "Da Burg" FL
  • SGHSGH Posts: 24,496
    Brother Aggie, I'm certainly no bread expert, but I definitely have an eye for greatness. With that said, I certainly see greatness above my friend. As such:

    Location- Just "this side" of Biloxi, Ms.

    Status- Standing by.

    Arsenal-Just a small wore out and broken down Weber kettle. No other means to cook at all.
    Virtus Junxit Mors Non Separabit
    The greatest barrier against all wisdom, the stronghold against knowledge itself, is the single thought in ones mind, that they already have it all figured out. 
  • HeavyGHeavyG Posts: 5,057
    Nice looking loaf!

    Would love to see a picture of the crumb you are getting.
    Camped out in the (757/804)
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    @NPHuskerFL I think we agree it's little things that sum to a big difference when baking bread. Using KA flour for the bread and a rice flour mixture in the banneton made a big difference - at least if it's a high hydration dough. 
    I don't think there is enough discussion regarding how to handle the dough after bulk fermentation. Once I learned more about preshaping, resting, then final shaping (including the aformentioned stitching) my bread improved significantly. I wonder how many folks search for a new recipe to try when what's missing is the skillset to handle the dough. This was definitely the case for me. 
    I'm still working on the skillset for consistently good scoring.
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    @SGH As always, I humbly thank you for the seal of approval. Making consistently good bread has been a quest akin to making consistently tender brisket. Anyone can hit the mark occasionally, but being consistently good is a whole next level thing. The good news is it's a ton of fun and we get to share the work with family and friends. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 3,610
    @HeavyG Here's a bit from the last of the loaf I posted.

     
    I'm pretty happy with this crumb. I like an open crumb but not too much. I know large open holes are like a holy grail for some, but too open and you can't add mustard, mayo, honey, or whatever to the bread without it running through. 
    I'm really pleased with the oven spring I've been getting lately. 
    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven.
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • FockerFocker Posts: 8,364
    edited November 2016
    Good looking loaf!  I swear by KA Flour.  I've had a fun time with different types of sourdough breads.  For me extended bulk ferment and cold proofing have been key.  Then with high hydration at first I had issues with the loaf sticking to the banneton.  I found using Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour and after turning out the loaf using a pastry brush to remove excess before scoring.  Artistic scoring takes practice, practice & more practice.
    Agree 100% bud.  Like pizza, why I like the Artisan in 5 recipe so much.  It stays in the fridge, you reach in, grab a chunk, cut it off with a serrated, and go.  The dough actually gets better with time, can smell, taste sourdough-like notes.  The sweet spot for my pies was day 3.   
    Brandon
    Quad Cities
    "If yer gonna denigrate, familiarity with the subject is helpful."

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