Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Upcoming Experiments

This is a quick note to myself on experiments to do during the 100 Loaf Project.

Experiment with the same recipes using 2-3 different flours, but with a different preferment for each loaf to see how it affects flavor and texture.

See how aging the entire dough for a day or two affects flavor vs the same recipe with prefement.

See how different liquids affect the preferment, including milk and juices.

Gague how much gluten to add to simulate high gluten flour, and how much to add to regular loaves, and how it affects preferement.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Some Needed Equiptment

For the purposes of this project, I'll list equiptment that I personally feel that the serious home baker should have. Some people have other ways of baking bread, that's fine with me, but since this is my blog you get to hear what I use and how I use it. This will be an ongoing list to which I'll occasionally add items.


Kitchenaid Mixer with dough hook-sure, you can knead by hand, but why bother when you can just flip a switch? I use this sort of mixer for my dough, so all instructions will involve this machine. Knead by hand if you want, you'll just have to do it a bit longer.

Proof bowl-a stainless steel bowl for proofing your dough. Glass would also work, but you can get a good steel bowl pretty cheap, and they are nearly impossible to destroy.

Cutting board-I prefer to do my hand kneading and shaping on a cutting board, because it makes cleanup much easier, and I know the work surface is clean.

Serrated knife-this is a recent addition. After chatting with a guy at a party who works at a local bakery, he told me that they use simple serrated knives for slashing their loaves. So pick one up and keep it with your bread baking implements, so people don't dull it cutting other food items.

Pizza stone-don't argue with me, you can pick a smaller one up for under $20 at Bed Bath and Beyond. Some people bake only on pizza stones, I typically use it just for pizza. But it makes a big difference.

Loaf pan-my current loaf pan is Pyrex, but I'll be playing with a silicon pan later.

Cookie sheet-making a loaf on a pizza stone may be kinda cool, but a cookie sheet is a helluva lot easier to get in and out of the oven.

Parchment paper-your best nonstick option for use with cookie sheets. Also handy because you can label multiple loaves with pen on the parchment before baking.

Kitchen timer-a good reliable timer so you can bake your loaves the right amount of time.

Pastry brush-used for applying glazes to your loaves.

Dry measuring cups-for measuring dry goods by volume.

Liquid measuring cups-for measuring liquids

Measuring spoons-for measuring smaller amounts of dry goods.

Digital kitchen scale-if you are serious about baking bread, then you need one. Most real bread recipes will have you add dry goods like flour by weight, not by volume.

Bread knife/electric carving knife-if you are going to bake the bread, have a good cutting knife to divide up the loaf. An electric carving knife works best, but a good serrated bread knife is fine.

Cooling rack-the best way to cool your loaf after baking.

Mister bottle-the best way to add minimal amounts of water to the dough while blending, much neater than trying to pour in a teaspoon of liquid.

More to come.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Post the First

I'm an average guy, college degree (textiles) and currently going into my fifth year as a stay at home dad. One of my hobbies, besides costume creation, sewing and photography, is baking bread.

Right now I'm on a self-imposed challenge to make and document the bread I make from 20 pounds of bread flour, and tonight I'm halfway through. I have a modest number of people following this project on LiveJournal, and it has been fun. I thought about other bread challenges, such as baking a loaf a day for a week, but for some reason the long haul projects are more fun.

So in about a week or two I will begin the 100 Loaf Project. I will document the loaves I make, including recipe and methodology, along with pictures of the results. How long will it take to make 100 loaves? I could have it done in a month if I was insane, three months if I pushed it at a loaf a day and a few extra on weekends. I'm figuring I can get the challenge done in about a year or less. I'm hoping to score a better Kitchen Aid mixer before it's over.

So stay tuned folks, when I'm done with the 20 Pound Bread Flour Challenge, the 100 Loaf Challenge begins.