I haven't posted to this list before but have been enjoying reading the
digests for several months now. I have been baking bread since I was 14,
which means for about 27 years. My Dad and I built an 'adobe' oven from
instructions in an Italian cookbook many years ago and used it successfully
for quite some time. During college and the years following I baked
sporadically, but always enjoyed it. Within the past 2 years I have had
much more free time than ever before and have become a baking fool! We
haven't bought "store bread" for over a year now and I love finding new
recipes to try. I have, thanks to The Laurel's Kitchen Bread book learned
to make whole grain breads that actually rise and thanks to The Village
Baker and The Bread Builders now have a great sourdough starter and recipes
that rise without commercial yeast. Something I never thought I would be
able to do! We got a Toastmaster bread machine a few years ago and after
using it once or twice, I decided I would rather bake by hand than use the
machine. That was until we visited friends for a couple of days and woke up
to the smell of bread baking. What a wonderful thing to wake up to! They
had loaded the machine the night before and set the timer so it would be
ready for breakfast. I thought it was the most amazing thing and couldn't
wait to get my machine back from my mother in law ( who I had loaned it to
but who also was hardly using it) I have been using the machine constantly
since and am having a wonderful time with it. I would like to ask for some
advice though. My only problem is that everything rises too much. I check
on the loaf and about 20 minutes before baking starts, it's ready to be
baked, but, since I have no control over the program I just have to watch
it over rise and squish up against the inside of the lid,etc. I use King
Arthur bread flour and Fleischman's instant yeast ( or maybe Red Star, I'm
not sure which, but it's definitely instant) . I have switched from the 2lb
loaves to the 1 1/2 lb. loaves and measure very accurately and have even
tried decreasing the yeast by 1/4 tsp.And still the loaves get way too big.
Now here come the questions.
Should I try all purpose flour instead of bread flour?
Should I cut out the gluten that most of the recipes call for? (I have
been using books by Lora Brody and Beth Hensperger and the book that came
with the machine)
Should I cut back even more on the yeast?
In sourdough recipes that call for yeast, can I omit the yeast altogether?
Should I add more flour or less water?
I know I could answer these questions by doing a lot of test loaves, but
thought I would like the advice of other bakers who have perhaps
encountered similar problems. In case anyone is wondering, no I haven't
given up on baking by hand at all, I have just been enjoying a new way to
bake and also enjoying having home made bread in the summer without getting
the whole house as hot as an oven!
Well, thanks for listening and I look forward to any advice anyone might
like to offer!