Oh You Great Bread Goddesses

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Show me the way.
I’m grinding my own wheat, I’m usin‘ the kitchenaid but I have YET to love it.
I feel like I’m either making it with too much wheat, or not enough, or perhaps I need to add my own blood instead of water?
Anyway, here’s my few brief questions:
1. I feel like I’m adding almost a cup (sometimes more) of flour more than what almost every recipe says I should in order for it to clean the bowl and cling to the hook. Then, I feel like my bread is crumbly… and dry. Anyone else have this problem?
2. How long to knead? I hate it when the recipe says 5-10 minutes. Well, how do I know when to stop?
3. Mixer users: Do you put your dry ingredients in the bowl first, or the wets (the book says dry first… but I did that today and I ended-up having to scrape the bowl a few times because the dry stuff was all matted at the bottom).
4. Tell me how much you like me, because frankly — this bread thing is killing my self esteem. I’m trying about every 2 weeks with no great success as of yet. Today’s dough was more like very thick batter. It wasn’t particularly kneadable… but I’d already gone 1/2 cup over what the recipe stated in flour and I wasn’t gonna do anymore.

It’s rising right now, and I’m having a bit of pretzel jello salad. I’m so Mormon it’s crazy. {no comments, please}

Pulling Curls blog by Hilary EricksonCheck out Hilary's Most Popular Posts ~ Learn more About Hilary

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  1. says

    You’re amazing. I would have given up ages ago, therefore you have admirable stick-to-it-iveness, even if your dough doesn’t. Or does. :) If it helps, you’re following in the footsteps of Julia Child – experimenting until you come to an understanding of how bread works. You’re a total rockstar.

  2. says

    Hillary, You make me smile, even when you are grinding your teeth in frustration! The best way to learn how to make bread is to find an older sister at church and ask her if you can make bread with her. I’m not old, but – I’d show if I were there. Bread is very much a go with the flow process. Yeast is a living organism and the dough is affected by both temperature and humidity.

    Are you making 100% whole wheat? Do you add extra gluten, dough enhancer, or a cup of bread flour? Whole wheat also requires 25% more water than regular flour. Blood may make your bread taste a little metallic. I wouldn’t reccomend it.

    When my Kithen Aid died, I bought a bosch and it makes bread a snap to make. I loved KA for it’s looks and it was great for cookies, batter breads, whipping cream, and many other desserts, but I struggled making bread with it. I did learn w/ whole wheat you want to knead for at least 6 or 7 minutes, it may take 10. You want your dough to look stretchy and feel soft and supple. it may be a little tacky to the touch. Think the texture of a newborn’s skin. (Ok, you work w/ babies- maybe more like a one-two week old baby’s skin.

    I really like the kitchen aid cook book 1 hour dinner roll recipe. I have slowly added whole wheat until it is 2/3rd ww. I don’t use it for kneading directions though, it should take longer than a minute.

    I find that I have better luck w/ my whole wheat bread if it is on the stickier side and I resist my ocd tendancy to add all the flour called for.

    1. WHen the recipe says to clean the side, it will still be a little sticky and cling to the hook. Add flour, then watch for a minute as it is incorporated. Be patient. After you put 2/3 of your flour in, add it in 1/4-1/2 c at a time. You may be cooking it too long too. Use a meat thermometer in the center to test for doneness. It should read about 200 degrees for whole wheat. For most recipes you’ll cook it at 350 for 30-40 min or at 400-425 for 15-25 minutes. You can also put an ovenproof cup w/ water in it while you preheat the oven to create some humidity.

    2. Kneading- Whole wheat requires that you knead the heck out of it! So it will take 5- 10 minutes, it depends on what you add to the whole wheat, the alignment of the stars, etc, for how long you knead it. Your dough will feel soft and supple, maybe even a little bit tacky. The dough will be stretchy.

    3. I mix wet first, dry ontop. Actually, I mix water/milk, sweetner, and yeast, then a little flour w/ the oil and salt since these are growth inhibitors, then I add more flour and whatever other dry indredients the recipe calls for. Sometimes I use the sponge method too- See Molly Katzen’s book The enchanted broccoli forest for description. There are two excellent cookbooks both titled The Bread Bible- check your library for these. You can also use your paddle to mix the wet and dry together then swith to your hook when you are ready to knead.

    4. Hillary, you are using the most messed up recipes. You could not possibly be the problem. =) It is always the recipes fault. If it is humid in SC today that may mean you have to add more flour, slowly.

    Ok, way too long of a reply. Happy baking. If you are still having problems in 12 days, get in touch w/ me. Our 6 months in OR are finished & I’ll be back in AZ and have access to all my cookbooks and supplies and can help you more.

  3. says

    Well . . . I remember you from a BYU student ward. We met our respective husbands in that ward, and married the same summer, I believe. And it took the bread post to get me to stop stalking!

    Here’s my two cents worth:

    1. Whole wheat flour absorbs water A LOT more slowly than white flour, and so if you’re adding more flour than it calls for, you’re probably adding too much. This will make a much heavier, denser, and drier loaf than is necessary.
    2. I use a Bosch mixer, and after I’ve mixed all the ingredients together, I set my kitchen timer for 20 minutes, and then push the machine to the back of the counter and let it knead away. I’ve tried many different times, and this is what works for my recipe — some time around 18-20 minutes, the dough changes from the grainy whole wheat dough you’re used to to a stretchy, glossy, smooth, beautiful mass of dough with a fabulously developed gluten. Adequate development of gluten will help with the density of your loaves as well.
    3. Here is my order of ingredients: water & about half of the flour, yeast, salt, honey, dough enhancer (King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Bread Improver) and the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough BEGINS to pull away from the sides but does not necessarily clean the sides of the bowl. You have to give the flour a chance to absorb the water.
    4. I don’t know you now, but I knew you then . . . and I liked you then! If you want to try my bread recipe (it’s truly to die for, and I have great instructions for the process, which is almost more important than the ingredients) send me an e-mail, and I’ll be happy to provide it —

    Good luck!

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