Bread 101: the tools

Bread 101

These are the tools I use to make bread.  I didn’t photograph the Kitchenaid, but I don’t use that for normal sandwich bread.

#1: Breadmaker: mine is a Breadman, and it’s probably 4+ years old.  When I first started making bread I did the entire process in the breadmaker. Since we don’t like the hard crust and the hole in the bottom of each loaf, I’ve switched to a new method.  I throw all the ingredients in the breadmaker, let it do it’s thing on the dough cycle for about an hour, then plop the dough into my own bread pan and let it rise a bit more while the oven preheats.  As soon as the oven is heated I put the bread pan in the oven.

#2: Vitamix: We use this several times a day around our house – smoothies, soups, salsa and for grinding wheat.  To use a VitaMix as a wheat grinder you do need to buy the additional dry canister.  You might choose to make only white bread or have  a different type of wheat grinder.  This is what I use.  You could buy whole wheat flour, too.  But I don’t like store bought whole wheat flour at all.

#3: Bread keeper: This one is just from Target, I believe, and it’s lasted us about 3 years so far.

#4 Bread pan: A normal bread pan is about 5×8 or 5×9 inches.  Those loaves didn’t fit in my bread keeper!  So I bought a special pan that is about 12×4.5 inches.  I love it.  I found a similar bread pan here.

#5  Wheat gluten: If you’re making bread with whole wheat, you will need wheat gluten.  This will help your bread rise.   I use 1 Tablespoon per cup of whole wheat flour.

#6 Dough Enhancer: when I started making bread I noticed that when I cut into it, I would often lose a lot to crumbing, and even the slices I cut felt not quite right.  Dough enhancer to the rescue.  1Tablespoon per loaf does the trick and makes the bread smooth and so it doesn’t crumb.

#7 Electric knife: We got this for our wedding and used it just several times a year for Big Meat, usually at holidays.  When I started making homemade bread I hated how the slices were uneven – thin on top, fat on the bottom – you know what I’m talking about, right?  I started looking into heavy duty slicers like you see in the grocery stores for meats, cheeses and breads.  Then I had a lightbulb moment and tried the electric knife.  Perfect slices every time.  Yeah!  I also love that the bread doesn’t get squished down when it’s being cut like I tend to do to loaves when using a serrated bread knife.

Not pictured:

Bread flour: Bread flour has more protein and gluten than all purpose flour.  It rises better than all purpose and also gives bread a better chew, if that makes sense.  Depending on the bread, you might not even be able to tell what flour was used, but generally all purpose flour can make breads more tough. I have a five gallon bucket of bread flour in the pantry (next to my 5 gallon bucket of all purpose flour!).  You might want to use all bread flour and not grind any whole wheat, or you might want to start out with half and half.  Whatever is fine and the recipe doesn’t change depending on the type of flour you use.

Yeast: I already posted on that here.

KitchenAid: or other good quality stand mixer.  This will make bread mixing and kneading a lot easier, especially if you don’t have a bread maker. Some recipes I don’t use the bread maker for at all (french bread, foccacia, etc.) – I only use the stand mixer for mixing and kneading those.

Any questions? Anything else you’re wondering about that you want me to post on?

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