Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Converting Bread Recipes, Part One

There are basically three ways to mix your bread dough: by hand, with a mixer, and with a bread machine.

Because of a medical condition, mixing by hand is difficult for me. I once owned a bread machine but hated the way the bread came out. I used it only for mixing the dough. More recently, I purchased a Kitchen Aid mixer and love it. This means converting my old recipes to fit my new mixer.

It's really very simple to do. You just need to keep in mind the differences between these methods. Each day for the next few days, I'll post about converting recipes one way or the other. For today:

Converting Bread Baking Recipes From Bread Machine to the Kitchen Aid
Bread machines tend to have the beginning steps backwards, depending on the model. They start with the liquid, followed by the dry ingredients, ending with the yeast. Then you set it to mix and bake.

To convert to a mixer recipe, first start with your liquid (remember: 105 to 115 degrees!), yeast, and sugar. Stir. I like to let it "poof" before going on. Poofing is just letting the mixture sit for 5 minutes. You'll see it bubble on top. That tells you the yeast is alive and working.

Now add in the salt and any other ingredients. Only add about 3/4 of your flour. Mix with the kneading hook on low, slowly adding the rest of the flour in 1/4 c. increments. The reason for this is that humidity has a lot to do with how much flour you need. You'll know you have enough flour when the dough starts looking stiff and pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl. Don't worry, after you bake bread with the mixer 2 or 3 times you'll be an expert at seeing when the dough is ready.

Knead on low for 3 minutes after it's all mixed. Your speed should be set to 1 or 2. Never, ever, knead on a speed higher than 2 on your Kitchen Aid Mixer.

Grease a big bowl (personally, I use an old plastic pitcher -- I'll post more about that another day) and place your dough into it. Roll the dough around so that it's greased also. This keeps it from drying out as it rises. Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap. If you use plastic wrip spray with cooking spray.

Place in a warm place to rise until it's double in size. How long this takes will depend on how warm it is. Could be 30 to 60 minutes. Once doubled, punch it down. Shape into a loaf and place into a greased loaf pan or baking sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise until double.

Bake at 350 until brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Probably about 30 minutes.

Bread machine recipes are single loaf recipes. A great downfall, imo, of bread machines. Why heat up your oven for just one loaf. If you do a week's worth of loaves at one time you'll save energy. You can double or triple the bread machine recipe when you convert it.

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