Bread Making Tips & Tricks

Measuring your Ingredients
Although bread making seems very basic, it is a science and the proportions of ingredients are critical. The most important step in using your bread maker is to measure the ingredients precisely and accurately. Always make sure the ingredients are fresh.

Measure the liquid ingredients in see-through measuring cups with accurate markings. Place the cup on a flat surface and measure at “Eye Level,” not at an angle. All measurements must be accurate. Always use liquids between 80-90°F (27-32°C) to assure optimal yeast activity.

Purchase the correct dry ingredient measuring utensils. You cannot properly measure dry ingredients in a standard measuring cup. You need to buy ones like these. Spoon the dry ingredients into the appropriate measuring cups or spoons, and then level off with table knife. All ingredients measured in measuring spoons and cups must be level, not rounded or heaping.

Never scoop measuring cups into dry ingredients. This will compress the ingredients into the cup and cause the dough to be dry which will result in a short loaf of bread. (Sadly I do this all the time in baking, now that I have the correct tools I will never do it again.)


Bread Flour vs All-purpose Flour

Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes. Bread flour is called for in many bread and pizza crust recipes where you want the loftiness or chewiness that the extra gluten provides. It is especially useful as a component in rye, barley and other mixed-grain breads, where the added lift of the bread flour is necessary to boost the other grains.
All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high- and low-gluten wheats, and has a bit less protein than bread flour — 11% or 12% vs. 13% or 14%. You can always substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour, although your results may not be as glorious as you had hoped. There are many recipes, however, where the use of bread flour in place of all-purpose will produce a tough, chewy, disappointing result. Cakes, for instance, are often made with all-purpose flour, but would not be nearly as good made with bread flour.

Making your own Bread Flour

After many trips to several different grocery stores and finding a lack of bread flour I have instead decided to make my own. It is simple and relatively cheap. First you need your standard all-purpose flour. The brand does not matter so much. Next you will need to find Gluten Flour. Now don’t be frightened it is easier than you think these days. I found mine at Price Chopper in the health food area. It is created by Bob’s Red Mill. They create a large verity of products including Vital Gluten Flour. (As a side note they carry many Gluten Free products that I use as well so you will hear lots about them as my blog progresses.)
Now all you have to do is sift one cup flour with one tsp gluten flour and you are all set. I suggest you make enough for a single loaf of bread and give it a try to make sure you have enough of the gluten flour added as flours vary. Once you have a mixture that works then go ahead and make yourself a large batch to have one hand for quick bread making.


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