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Darrel Manson

Baking Bread

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My wife has decreed that it is my task to learn to bake bread. I've made a couple of simple loafs. Anyone want to comment on tips, or your preferences for making bread? Is hand kneading better than a bread hook in a mixer? Good additions to loaves?

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Good additions? Ooh yeah. Adding a bit of wine instead of water at the beginning brings a hearty flavor to the bread. I've not seen it done much. Not since a restaurant I worked at decades ago whose chief fault was guilding the lilly, so to speak, (odd combinations, too large combinations, etc.) in its breads and soups. Wine bread though, was one of their best.

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Darrel, I have a great recommendation for you: Bread Alone, by Leader and Blahnik. Leader, a great storyteller, weaves his own story throughout the book, making it as inspirational as it is helpful.

At first glance, the approach to bread-making found in the book might seem overly complicated, overly exacting, or just plain elitist. He has entire (short) chapters on kneading, ovens, ingredient, and other such topics. But once you get through his arguments as to, e.g. why top-notch ingredients really do make a difference, the recipes are quite simple and very easy to follow. His standard whole-wheat hearth loaf (his "learning recipe") spells things out in even more detail. But there are 30 or so other interesting looking recipes with all sorts of ideas for additions. I'm still stuck on his country loaf which, with 4 ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt) is one of the best loaves I've ever had.

One warning: Leader makes no bones about the fact that good bread comes from slow fermentation and slow rising. These are not short recipes, although he does have a few "shorter" ones.

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I made a mean banana bread over the weekend. That Connie Lundstrom cookbook strikes again.

-s.

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At the Breadfarm (in Edison, outside Bellingham WA) while my wife was getting their wonderful bread, I went for a t-shirt: Make bread, not war.

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One of the best bread recipes I've ever used is from an old Fannie Farmer cookbook; it's a recipe for quick honey-wheat bread. Bartleby recently made an older version with a lot of the yeast, slow-rise recipes in it available for free online here. Some of those are definitely worth trying, for their overall simplicity and general tastiness. :) Boston brown bread is good. Both of those, though, are best fresh and warm with dinner. If you're not really big into sandwiches, and like thicker bread, a lot of quick bread recipes are good made just as a dinner side.

As far as slow-rise white loaf bread, I'm not sure. :(

I went for a t-shirt: Make bread, not war.

Fun t-shirt!

Edited by livingeleven

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