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Chop Wood, Carry Water, Bake Bread

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ChTTay

Looks delicious! Recommend buying an oven in China just to show your friends what real bread should be like. 

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Shelley

Looks delicious. Might have to take up bread making again if I can't buy any in the week. That takes me back a few years.

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abcdefg
6 hours ago, Shelley said:

Looks delicious. Might have to take up bread making again if I can't buy any in the week. That takes me back a few years.

 

Many ways to make a delicious loaf that involve less overall time, less kneadings and risings. In a couple days, when this batch has been eaten, I will make one of those that I think is a winner. 

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abcdefg

Chop wood, carry water, bake bread, and drink tea!

 

Had an old ripe Pu'er 熟普洱 this morning with my toast! Rich, like a fine wine. It was from the '90's 九十年代。

 

401701569_IMG_20200322_080712(2)-950px.thumb.jpg.aa14352f719ae9ec15fd3d65e761834a.jpg     1861181001_20200322_100151(2)-940px.thumb.jpg.e4b7a63b296e01ddd669d7128858ee45.jpg

 

 

Sure do miss Kunming。我好想昆明! 

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abcdefg

Today was another red letter bread day, even though the weather is warm now and oven heat doesn't do the house any favors. Used the same basic recipe as above with an overnight starter or sponge. This gives the bread a little tang, almost like sourdough. One mixes yeast, sugar and two cups of flour with a half cup of liquid. I used half buttermilk and half potato water for the liquid. My flour was half bread flower and half whole wheat. (KIng Arthur brand.) Yeast was Red Star -- granules. 

 

485439186_20200407_131649(2)-930px.thumb.jpg.66d5f94c8ecb593b0e5d74d45cf411c8.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This time I divided the dough into two loaf pans, baked them about 40 minutes in a 400 degree (F) oven. Finished them out of the pans right on the oven rack for the last 5 or 6 minutes. Buttered the tops when they came out. Will freeze one loaf and keep the other one out. (It will miraculously disappear in the next 2 or 3 days. I would like to blame that on a colony of mice, but wouldn't be fair, even during 鼠年。)

 

1963123560_20200408_173037(2)-940px.thumb.jpg.9dcbe7f70b98c59791bb6f68037543af.jpg     1226429523_20200408_182427(3)-940px.thumb.jpg.7367b29ec168463dd20868dd4c6497ee.jpg

 

 

Tasted first rate! Nice crumb, decent crust. I took these photos partly to show you and partly to look at on some cold Kunming winter night when I feel nostalgic for Texas. Doesn't happen often, but sometimes after too many steamed buns 馒头 I get homesick for real bread. 

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abcdefg

Are there any other bread makers here? 

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li3wei1

Long ago, I did a lot of baking by hand, and had a copy of Beard on Bread. Tried all kinds of stuff. I still do naans when we have curry, but otherwise it's all bread machine now. There are purists who say that hand-kneaded is the only way to go, but for the effort saved, and the energy, and the fact that it's ready first thing in the morning, it can't be beat. At the moment, flour is hard to get in the UK, so I'm experimenting with spelt and buckwheat flour.

When I was in Taiwan, I remember figuring out how to bake a loaf of bread in a toaster oven that wasn't much larger than the loaf itself. It involved aluminum foil.

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abcdefg
2 hours ago, li3wei1 said:

When I was in Taiwan, I remember figuring out how to bake a loaf of bread in a toaster oven that wasn't much larger than the loaf itself. It involved aluminum foil.

 

That would be a good trick! Here in Texas I have lined my oven with brick tiles to make the temperature more even. Seems to help the crust. And I often use a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf. 

 

No denying that home made bread is a lot of work. I bought an all-in-one bread machine 10 or 12 years ago, but never had very good results. There are probably better ones available now. It's also possible I had just become spoiled. 

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大块头

This January my wife decided that we were going to go vegan, and since she does most of the cooking I am along for the ride. After a experimenting with plant-based proteins I settled on homemade seitan, which is very inexpensive because gluten-rich foods aren't exactly in vogue. I was going to buy a 25 pound bag of wheat gluten flour online but ended up getting a 50 pound bag because it was the same price!

 

After being cooped up in the house for several weeks with my gigantic sack of gluten, I think I've perfected a breakfast bun that is roughly equivalent to a chicken breast in protein content.

 

"SEITANIC" SODA BREAD

 

IMG_20200208_133029669.thumb.jpg.916ee8d5385aabc7d778da2dca5a279e.jpg

 

nutrition:
* serving size = 1 bun (180 g)
* energy = 493 kcal
* protein = 48 g (for comparison, a chicken breast has 54 g)

 

ingredients:
* 360 g vital wheat gluten
* 120 g chickpea flour
* 100 g brown sugar
* 160 g raisins
* 2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 480 mL soymilk
* 2 tbsp lemon juice
* 1 tsp vanilla

 

directions:
* preheat oven to 375°F
* mix soymilk, vanilla, and lemon juice and allow to thicken for at least 1 minute
* mix all other ingredients in another bowl then add soymilk mixture
* stir until combined, then knead for no more than 2 minutes
* separate dough into six flattened discs and place on greased baking sheets
* bake for 35 minutes at 375°F

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大块头

We got a breadmaker a couple years ago and I use it several times a week to make bread or knead seitan dough. It's been great because our kitchen is small and doesn't really have a lot of counter space I could use to knead bread.

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abcdefg
7 hours ago, 大块头 said:

"SEITANIC" SODA BREAD

 

That looks delicious! And a prodigious amount of nutrition in each bun. A 50-lb bag of wheat gluten flour will make a whole lot of bread! Could you mix it half and half with ordinary wheat flour to make a loaf with more rise?

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大块头

When I'm making normal bread I usually add two tablespoons of gluten if I'm using bread flour and three tablespoons if I'm using all purpose flour. It definitely helps the loaf rise and stay that way.

 

I wouldn't add more than that though. The soda bread above definitely needs the juiciness of the raisins to break up the somewhat dry and chewy texture of the loaf. Some of my failed seitan attempts had a texture akin to furniture foam because I kneaded too much.

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abcdefg
2 hours ago, 大块头 said:

I wouldn't add more than that though.

 

Interesting! I've never worked with seitan. When you mention "normal bread" in the first paragraph above, am I correct in assuming you mean yeast-rising bread instead of bread that relies on baking soda? 

 

If I could buy a small bag of it (much smaller than yours) I would try adding some to "fortify" a normal loaf. However it sounds like it would be advisable proceed with caution, just add a little and not overdo it. 

 

If I'm not remembering it wrong, someone on the forum a couple years back talked about using seitan in making the meat-substitute dishes that Chinese vegetarian restaurants love to present, such as "mock chicken" and "mock fish" that are shaped and colored like a chicken or fish. They look a whole lot like the "real thing." I believe I've also seen sheets of seitan for sale in my Kunming neighborhood wet market. Never explored its uses. 

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大块头
1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

I've never worked with seitan. When you mention "normal bread" in the first paragraph above, am I correct in assuming you mean yeast-rising bread instead of bread that relies on baking soda? 

 

Sorry, by normal bread I meant any sort of bread baked from flour. I've never made soda bread with flour.

 

1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

If I could buy a small bag of it (much smaller than yours) I would try adding some to "fortify" a normal loaf. However it sounds like it would be advisable proceed with caution, just add a little and not overdo it. 

 

My local supermarket usually has 20 oz bags sold by Bob's Red Mill, which is fine for fortifying bread dough. For seitan though I prefer De Tulpen because the Bob's Red Mill product kind of has a musty odor and aftertaste.

 

I'm actually kind of surprised that you've never heard of adding gluten to bread dough? I read about it in my bread machine cookbook by Beth Hensperger. Never thought I'd swagger into this thread and teach the baking whiz something! :wink:

 

1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

If I'm not remembering it wrong, someone on the forum a couple years back talked about using seitan in making the meat-substitute dishes that Chinese vegetarian restaurants love to present, such as "mock chicken" and "mock fish" that are shaped and colored like a chicken or fish. They look a whole lot like the "real thing." I believe I've also seen sheets of seitan for sale in my Kunming neighborhood wet market. Never explored its uses. 

 

I think you mean this thread? In any case, I like to think of seitan as its own kind of protein, as opposed to something that aspires (but will always fail) to duplicate the flavor and texture of real meat. We cube it up for curries and stir-frys, or coat it in chickpea flour batter and fry it to make seitan tenders. It's not a complete protein unfortunately (lacks lysine), so you have to make sure your daily diet includes a few servings of beans, lentils, etc. 

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889

Abc -- if I may call you that here among friends -- uses a cloche, which apparently keeps some steam around the bread during the baking process.

 

Real French bread comes from a special type of professional oven that actually injects steam into the chamber at intervals during the baking process. Somehow that creates the crisp crunchy crust you expect on your baguette.

 

I see there are several home ovens now available with a steam feature. Has anyone splurged on one of these? Do they really produce bread like you'd buy in Paris? I'm a bit doubtful, since these seem to be jack-of-all-trades ovens and not specifically for baking bread, unlike those in French bakeries.

 

http://www.amazon.com/s?k=steam+oven&s=review-rank&qid=1586628912&ref=sr_st_review-rank

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abcdefg
5 hours ago, 889 said:

Abc -- if I may call you that here among friends -- uses a cloche, which apparently keeps some steam around the bread during the baking process.

 

Haha/smile about the screen name! Only reason for not adopting that shorter version is that I did not want to misrepresent myself as being ABC (American Born Chinese.)

 

Absolutely right about the cloche! I soak the bowl-shaped lid portion in hot water before putting it on top of the loaf in the oven. That way it not only traps moisture released by the bread as it cooks, but emits some extra steam on its own. 

 

313744274_cloche-60.thumb.jpg.1938e86189501d053c65b0560dd91a23.jpg

 

When I'm making baguettes, which I haven't done in a while, I set a pan of boiling water on a lower shelf. In addition to that, I mist the loaves a couple times towards the end of the cooking with a spray bottle. Really helps the crust! 

 

 

Quote

大块头 -- I'm actually kind of surprised that you've never heard of adding gluten to bread dough?

 

Oh, I've heard of that and may have even done it. Just wasn't familiar with the name "seitan." Most of my baking experience is from a long time ago. For most of the last 10 years I've been living in China without access to an oven. So I only bake when I'm back stateside. This time the stateside sojourn is looking like it will be of longer duration, so I am dusting off old skills and revisiting old pleasures. 

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大肚男

I'm glad you started this thread.

 

I actually bake every weekend.

 

I started because I love the Chinese bun you get in china stuffed with custard or red bean paste, but they are not too easy to find here in Miami.

 

it took me a bunch of tries, with a bunch of different recipes, but I think I finally perfected the sweet bun recipe to be a perfect copy of what you get in a bakery.

 

I tried to get a sourdough starter going, but did not have much success, so now I just stick to commercial yeast.

 

Some examples of my handy work, but could not find a photo of the sweet buns :)

 

 

 

 

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abcdefg

@大肚男 -- Those are magnificent! I am really impressed. Would you please tell a little about the ones you have show? I am especially intrigued by the first one which looks like a free-form loaf baked in a cast-iron skillet. (Maybe a "bowl loaf," just finished in the skillet.) How did you get the spiral pattern on top? Gives it lots of eye appeal. 

 

Tender looking dinner rolls! Love 'em!

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li3wei1

another long-ago story: I was on Ko Lanta in Thailand, long before the tsunami, and I'd been there for quite a while, and got a hankering for bread. The only oven available was an outdoor brick oven that hadn't been used for a long time, wood fire in the bottom, shelf at the top. No thermostat, and I don't remember if I had a watch at that point. Just getting the ingredients was a struggle, because I had to explain them to the kitchen people, who would explain them to the boat people, who would explain them to the town people. I managed to produce an edible loaf, somehow.

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