Yeast, Salt, Flour

Bread baked in the Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine does not need as much yeast as recipes other than the Panasonic manual say:

  • The yeast dispenser for a machine that will bake an extra large (2.5 lb) loaf that may take more than 4 cups of flour does not hold much more that a tablespoon;
  • Panasonic’s  recipes (in the manual; see its online recipe resource pages) call for half the amount of yeast in typical recipes:
    • 1 tsp (instead of 2 tsp or more ) for 3 cups of flour for a medium loaf;
    • 1.5 tsp. for 4.375 cups of flour for extra large loaves;
  • Medium loaves  based on The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (“BLBMC”) and other recipe resources filled the  pan, and had airy, weak crumb; some ballooned or cratered/collapsed/imploded.

I prefer low sodium bread machine bread. 50% salt reduction doesn’t affect the process or hurt flavour.  The principle is to reduce yeast by the same percentage as salt as suggested in BLBMC at p. 290 and by the Please Don’t Pass the Salt bread page

I monitored recipes in June-August, 2018. I peeked under the lid to see what happened – including the last part of the rise phase after the machine knocked down the dough.  I made manual interventions a few times – I ran a silicon spatula between the dough and the pan 5-10 minutes just before the start of baking to gently deflate the loaf. (Using a spatula risks marring the no-stick surface of the pan. Silicon spatulas are safer.)

I adjusted yeast in BLBMC formulas for white, whole wheat, and combined flour (multigrain), and formulas requiring 2 tsp  yeast for a medium loaf (a formula with 3 cups or 15 oz. flour +/- by weight). This approach resolved the inflation problem and produced loaves that were not inflated:

  • Ignore the amount of “bread machine yeast” in a formula in the BLBMC – (BLBMC has different amounts of SAF instant dry yeast and any other “bread machine yeast”)
  • Use half the amount in the recipe for SAF instant dry yeast in a BLBMC formula (instant or “bread machine” dry yeast in other formulas not specifically written for a Panasonic machine) i.e. reduce 2 tsp. for a medium loaf to 1 tsp.
  • Weigh yeast and know the correct conversion factor – 1 tsp of instant yeast weight 2.8 grams;
  • Weigh salt and know the correct conversion factor – assume a recipe is referring to conventionally ground table salt – 1 tsp weighs 5.7 grams.

For a Panasonic recipe I cut yeast and salt equally.  For a BLBMC or other recipe I make my “Panasonic” adjustment for yeast amount above first, then I cut yeast and salt equally.  When  I use 50% of a BLBMC recipe amount of salt, I use 25% of the BLBMC recipe amount of yeast (or less).

The recipes and my notes for that round of tests are in a separate post.

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Panasonic SD-YD250

panasonic bread maker sizes

Reviews at Everyday Sandwich and Make Bread at Home describe and illustrate the Panasonic SD-YD250.  It has loaf size settings for medium (1.5 lb), large (2 lb) and extra large (2.5 lb) loaves baked in an extra large vertical rectangle pan.  The control is a button.  The default is XL.  Choices are locked out on some cycles.

It was not offered in Panasonic Canada’s online store as of late 2018, but was still offered in Panasonic USA’s web store and on Amazon. The Canadian store sells other Panasonic 2.5 lb loaf machines – the SD-RD250 and the SD-YR2500. These models have setting for medium and extra large loaves. The SD-YD250 remains a good value machine.  It seems to have the motor, drive train, non-stick pan and heating element of the newer models.

The SD-YD250 can bake daily or sandwich bread, whether with white flour or whole wheat, as well as I can bake those loaves in conventional baking pans in an oven. It can bake light rye bread with a mixture of white flour and rye flour, and other multigrain loaves.

The pan coating releases the loaf easily at the end of the bake cycle but the paddle stays on the shaft in the pan.  I don’t know if Panasonic has a uniquely effective coating, or has designed the connection fitting on the shaft and paddle in a better way, or if these innovation or features are present in modern machines by other manufacturers. (Removing the paddle from the pan can be done after the pan cools after taking the loaf from pan.  It works better before the bits of crumb around the end of the shaft dry out and bond the paddle to the shaft.)

The inside measurements  of the pan are 19 cm (7.5 inches) long by 14 cm (5.5 inches) wide in the pan’s normal operating configuration when it is vertical. Any loaf will be or should be 19 cm x 14 cm.   The pan is 14.5 cm (5.7 inches) bottom to top. In a Panasonic extra large pan, a 2.5 lb. recipe of 4.4 cups of flour and about 2 cups of liquid would bake a loaf over 14.5 cm “long”, 19 cm “high”, and 14 cm “wide”.

A medium loaf baked on a basic cycle has about 3 cups of flour and 1.25 cups of water or fluid. This dough is hydrated at 71%.  It could be baked in a 1.5 pound bread pan (about 2,600 cubic centimeters) – perhaps filling it.
A 1.5 pound conventional oven pan is 25 cm (10 inches) long, 13 cm (5 inches) wide and (about) 8 cm deep.

With white flour on the basic bake cycle, the height of  medium loaf from the bottom of the pan to top of the loaf at the wall of the pan would be around 75% of the height of the Panasonic extra large pan: about 9 cm at the side of the pan. To the top of the domed top of the loaf, 11-12 cm is reasonable; more is tall.  Height changes with:

  • type of flour (e.g. rye flour does not rise as well as wheat flour); or a small change in the amount of flour (1/4 cup), water, salt or yeast; or
  • cycle, e.g. French Bake – the bread rises and is less dense – more space for the same mass.

Height affects how I store and slice the loaf, and can be a sign that a loaf lacks structure.

There are two kinds of cycle, “bake” and “dough”.  Each cycle has three phases; a bake cycle has the fourth one:

  • (Initial) Rest – the ingredients come to a common temperature. The heating element, as far as I can tell is used for short intervals but not enough to heat the outside of the machine;
  • Knead – mix the ingredients together, hydrates the flour, dissolves soluble starches and works the proteins into gluten;
  • Rise – fermentation. 2 hours in basic bake cycle. There are clicks indicating that the heating element is deployed to keep yeast at a good temperature (the dough may heat up on its own) on a cooler day. The mixer drive is deployed for knockdowns in this rise phase in all cycles including the dough cycles. In basic bake cycle there are 2 sets of about 15 slow turns  at -2:00 and -1:40 on the countdown timer;
  • Bake – the heating element bakes the bread.

The knead phase includes mixing. The motor has two speeds: off and on.  Mixing involves turning the power on and off in short intervals.  Mixing, for a medium loaf, on any cycle is under 5 minutes:

  • 30 seconds – 40 pulses: 1/2 second on, 1/4 second off;
  • 120 seconds – 120 pulses: 3/4 quarter second on, 1/4 second off;
  • 30 seconds on;
  • 35 second rest or pause. The yeast dispenser drops yeast at the start of this rest;
  • 60 seconds – 10 pulses: 4 seconds on, 2 seconds off.

The mixing forms a ball of dough centered on the paddle. The machine pushes it around the pan to knead it – longer intevals with the motor on.

This machine has a long warm rise. After the second knock down (50 minutes before baking)  the dough should relax and flow to fill the bottom of the pan and rise again. In the first part of the bake phase, the dough should spring. A tenacious, elastic dough holds its ball shape for a long time. It may gather at one end of the pan.  The result is that the top of the baked loaf slopes. It isn’t a bad loaf – it just happens with some dough in this kind of pan.  There is a hydration zone.  A dough under 70% or a tenacious dough may not flow.  A wet dough may balloon or collapse.

BLBMC

Beth Hensperger wrote about baking for 15 years before writing cookbooks for specialty appliances in the Harvard Common Press‘s “Not Your Mother’s … ” series. Her baking books published by Chronicle Books, such as Bread (1988) capture the transition from home baking with the packets of Instant Dry Yeast, through the recovery of whole grain baking by whole earth hippies who became the original foodie artisans (the commercialization of the Counterculture). Her Bread Bible earned the 2000 James Beard Foundation award for a cookbook in the Baking & Dessert category.

The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (2000) (BLBMC) adapted hundreds of recipes for the bread machine. This involved explaining technology and more precise measuring. She tried to make it seem new and traditional at the same time. While Ms. Hensperger is clear about the importance of measurement of ingredients, she uses home cooking conventions in her recipes including measuring out ingredients by volume.

The section on using the machine to mix and knead dough for baking in an oven, and using artisanal baking methods is informative but a bread machine a labour saving tool, not a tool for artisinal baking.

I had a problem with BLBMC recipes in a Panasonic SD-YD250, which I solved.

The BLBMC implies that its recipes should work in any bread machine. It treated all bread machines (it listed 18 manufacturers in the market at the time) as equivalent, with a  warning to “Take Stock of Your Machine”. This oversells the capabilities of bread machines and undersells the complexities of adapting the knowledge of bakers for a consumer appliance:

  • Baking involves doing something until a result it observed (the dough is mixed and supple; it has risen, or is ready to bench or bake);
  • Some steps cannot be described to a novice without pictures and videos. A baker with some experience might know how a “shaggy” dough (whole wheat dough that has been mixed to the point that the ingredient including water have been blended and the flour has absorbed the water and can be kneaded to develop gluten and left to rise may be described as shaggy) differs from a dry dough that needs more water;
  • Machines work in simple steps, without feedback.  The designer can program combinations of steps that should produce results with some combinations of ingredients if the machine is loaded properly;
  • Machines are not all the same; some machines work with some doughs, and not others;
  • The book did not anticipate technological and market changes including the developments in growing and preserving instant dry yeast and changes in machine mixing.

BLBMC recipes have ingredient lists for “medium” 1.5 lb. and “large” 2 lb. loaves. A medium loaf usually uses 3 cups of flour – white, whole wheat and multigrain. The BLBMC recipes are consistent with other bread machine recipes and with conventional oven recipes. There are outliers; e.g. the recipe for a “medium” loaf of 100% whole wheat bread on p. 124 is 4 cups of flour with 1.5 cups fluid.  That is a 2 lb. loaf. “Tecate Ranch Whole Wheat” at p. 126 is a more workable 100% whole wheat loaf.

Like other bread and bread machine recipe books for the American market, the BLBMC says bread flour should be the white flour in bread recipes.   Ms. Hensperger describes bread flour as having 12.7 % protein. White bread flour in the USA has 11.5-13.5 % gluten-producing protein. All purpose white flour in the USA has 9.5-11.5 %.  Canadian all purpose flour is milled from hard red wheat, and has the same protein content as USA bread flour (Canadian Millers’ technical standards are not necessarily reflected in retail packaging). Canadian all purpose is fine for bread.

Ms. Hensperger favours the use of vital wheat gluten (gluten flour; added gluten) in formulas for many breads baked in the machine.  She suggested added gluten in almost every formula for bread baked in the machine up to 1 tsp of added gluten per cup, less gluten for bread flour. Added gluten changes the balance of the loaf and the performance of the dough (flow and rise); the effect may be different according to the machine. Adding gluten doesn’t improve white flour breads made with high gluten bread (Canadian AP flour. It doesn’t seem to help if the machine has well planned whole wheat cycle for whole grain breads.

Ms. Hensperger described the varieties of dry yeast as: 1. active dry yeast; 2. fast acting or instant dried yeast; 3. quick-rise (rapid-rise) yeast; 4. bread machine yeast.  There are few functional differences between 2, 3 and 4. Instant yeast, under any of its names, is the choice for bread machines.  Ms Hensperger prefers SAF instant yeast to the point that she says it is more potent. She suggests two alternatives for each recipe:

  1. SAF instant dried yeast (SAF Red),
  2. 25% – 33% more bread machine yeast than SAF instant dry yeast.  For instance, for Dakota Bread, BLBMC says 2 tsp SAF or 2.5 tsp bread machine*.

SAF makes a good product but its superiority may be debated. (*Ms. Hensperger has moved away from this  approach. In a version of the recipe for Dakota Bread in 2015 on her blog she said 2 tsp “bread machine yeast”).

The range of views about  the amount of yeast:

  1. For a 1.5 lb. loaf, Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook calls for 2 tsp instant dry yeast  or more and 1-1.5 tsp. salt for 3 cups of flour. This  is in the range of recipes in other books at the time, and of many recipes published on the web. It is .67 tsp instant dry yeast, or more, per cup of flour. This is 1.9 g. yeast per about 140 g. of wheat flour; the B% is 1.4%;
  2. Manufacturers of instant, rapid/quick rise and bread machine yeasts recommend .5 tsp yeast for each cup of flour for bread machines: Red Star Quick-Rise; Bakipan Fast Action and Bread Machine; SAF Gourmet Perfect Rise and  Bread Machine. Fleishmann’s  recipes on its web pages imply the same amounts of its instant Quick-Rise (Rapid-Rise) or its Bread Machine product, or more. This is 1.4 g. yeast per about 140 g. of wheat flour; the B% is 1%;
  3. Panasonic suggests .33 tsp of dry yeast per cup of flour.

Ms. Hensperger covers conversion from volume to weight for flour but not for yeast and salt.

Several online converters report: 1 cup, (48 tsp (US)) instant dry yeast = 136 grams; 1 tsp = 2.8 g. My average for 15 samples of 1 tsp of SAF Red was 2.8 g. It was worth testing.  It possible to test because instant yeast has a sandy texture and doesn’t pack down like flour;

Salt can be measured by volume with measuring spoons, but should be used carefully with level measurements. It is better to go by weight. The conversion rate is 1 teaspoon of table salt to 5.7 grams – the teaspoon that the recipe writer will have assumed.  Table salt is not all the same – some is pretty finely ground and more dense.

It is a useful book. It has worthwhile sections on bread machine operation and (pp. 38-39) on common failures. It has sections, sidebars, and detail sections on bread making and bread machine topics. The table of contents and the index don’t locate all of them.

  • p. 12 flour, and
    • pp. 46-47 white flour from wheat,
    • pp. 62-63 whole wheat and non-wheat grain flour,
    • p. 125 proteins in flour,
    • pp. 106-107 whole wheat flour,
    • pp. 133-135 rye flour.
    • p. 140 diy milling of whole grain flour,
    • pp. 150-152 non-wheat specialty flour,
    • p. 193 organic flour
  • pp. 13-14 yeast;
  • p. 13, p. 59 vital wheat gluten;
  • p. 15, p. 290 Salt
    • is not used as a seasoning or flavour agent;
    • should not be exposed to the water and the yeast before the machine mixes the ingredients;
    • can be reduced if yeast is reduced by the same proportion.
  • p. 15 ingredient measurement;
  • p. 18 converting volume to weight for flour and sugar;
  • pp. 69-72 6 “sampler” recipes for one pound loaves;
  • p. 76 eggs;
  • p. 168 dough enhancers;
  • pp. 170, 172 gluten free ingredients;
  • pp. 182-183 baking with whole grains, and preparing whole grain;
  • pp. 197-198 using the machine to mix and knead dough for baking in an oven, and using artisanal baking methods:
    • starters and pre-ferments,
    • shaping loaves
    • baking stones, tiles and ceramic containers (and cloches);
  • p. 233 olive oil;
  • p. 354 the shapes of bread machine pans.

Bread Machines

Bread machines came on the market about 1986, and became popular outside Japan by the late 1990s.  My first bread machine was a Black & Decker B1561. I replaced it with a Panasonic  SD-YD250 in 2016.

Bread baked at home, whether in a machine or a conventional oven can be better than many retail offerings available in grocery markets.  A home baker can bake for dietary goals e.g. low sodium.  Lacking preservatives, home baked loaves have a shorter shelf life.

A professional baker works with technology with hundred of kilograms of flour and water, with some control over parts of the process – how long to mix, rest, bake and control over temperature. A home baker works at a smaller scale, with control of time and oven controls, and may have machines to mix dough or store it while it rises.  A home baker may put the loaves in bread pans or shape the dough by hand before baking it in the oven. A home baker needs space, several vessels or machines to mix and rest dough, baking pans and an oven.  A bread machine ends with a loaf of bread and one pan to clean.

A bread machine has a heating element, a motor, and a pan that is both mixing bowl and baking pan mounted to the frame. The bowl has a paddle shaped mixing device (it may be called a dough hook or kneader) connected to the power train by a shaft in sealed bearings at the bottom of the pan.

Bread machines have their own language. A one pound loaf would be regular in a bakery, and 1.5 pounds would be large. Bread machine manufacturers and recipe writers refer to the baked loaf as small (1 lb.), medium (1.5 lb.), large (2 lb.) and extra large (2.5 lb.). Manufacturers and retail sellers use the terms to describe the volume capacity of the pan.  Typically, a small loaf made of wheat flour would have 2 cups of flour; a medium loaf 3 cups, and a large loaf 4 cups.

The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2000) calls bread machine pans tall, vertical rectangle, and horizontal.  The tall pan has one paddle in the middle at the bottom, and may be square or oval.  A machine that makes small and medium loaves will have a “tall” pan.  A machine that makes large loaves is probably vertical rectangle or horizontal.  A machine that make extra large loaves – e.g. Panasonic 250 or 2500 models; Breville Custom Loaf XL – is probably vertical rectangle

Preparation of ingredients and loading the machine calls for attention.  Panasonic suggests meauring flour by weight and fluid down to the fluid ounce.  Beth Hensperger in the Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook, consistently with other baking books, list ingredients by volume but suggests weighing ingredients.

In bread machines, as in industrial bakeries, the product depends on the recipe, the process and accurate measurement.

A user selects a baking program or “cycle”. A basic cycle could be from 3 to 4 hours, depending on the machine. Some reviewers say a long cycle is a drawback – for customers looking for fast results. But a long cycle may bake a better loaf more consistently.

Most cycles assume and require the use of high protein wheat flour and yeast to biologically ferment dough. High protein white flour (bread flour or Canadian All Purpose flour) and regular grind whole wheat flour (coarse ground is available) are similar in density, weight, starch and protein but form gluten, ferment, rise and bake differently. Whole wheat flour has bran and wheat germ. In traditional baking, it has to be mixed longer to distribute fluid and ensure hydration. There are different approaches to kneading, with some favouring less and others more. The BLBMC and some sources assume that a whole wheat bake cycle involves a longer kneading time and a longer rise. A longer kneading time may not be the case for all machines. For instance, in the Panasonic the SD-YD250 the whole wheat cycles have shorter kneading times that the basic cycles.

Most bread machines have cycles for basic baking (white flour) and whole wheat baking, and dough cycles that omit the final baking phase. Many machines have a cycle manufacturers call Bake (Rapid), Turbo, Quick Bake, Rapid, etc. for fast fermentation. Most machines have a cycle that bakes or mixes and bakes batter.  This may be called “bake cake” but is appropriate for bread leavened with baking powder or baking soda.

The machine will count down minutes and seconds to the conclusion of the cycle in the timer display, but the display will probably not provide other indications of the machine’s progress. Many bread machines appear to sit and do nothing for a half hour or an hour after being started in a rest phase. Some machines may use the heating element for a few seconds at a time, to create a warm temperature, to warm the ingredients to a common temperature.

The first active phase is mixing and/or “kneading”, about 20-30 minutes or more. The ingredients have to be mixed into dough and then worked to develop gluten. A home baker will conceptualize mixing as a separate step from kneading.  A home baker working manually will mix flour, water and other ingredients in bowl and put the dough on a surface and knead it – . stretching it, folding it on itself, pushing it and repeating the motion for several minutes. A professional baker will probably use a mechanical mixer; many home bakers may have one. A mechanical mixer or stand mixer uses mixing arms, a paddle or a spiral dough hook in a circular or elleptical motion. A mixer is controlled manually, and has a range of speeds.  With a stand mixer, the baker uses a slow speed to mix the ingredients and then mixes at a higher speed to knead. The machine has changes from rapid short pulses to longer runs, broken by short pauses. The BLBMC calls initial slow mixing Knead 1 and mix/knead Knead 2. The initial mix is only a couple minutes long. There may be a pause between these parts of the phase. The machine will not identify these steps on the machine display.

This is a critical point. If the user has not loaded the machine properly, the dough will be wrong after the initial mix. It has to be wet – enough, but not too wet.  A dry dough will not, knead, flow and rise.  A wet dough may collapse. The machine user may not see the problem; an inexperienced baker would not recognize it even if the lid was open and the use was watching. A dough may be saved by the addition of water or flour during the initial mix and before the knead/mix starts – or ruined by an excessive or untimely intervention. Ideally, the machine should be paused and then allowed to return to mixing. Stopping and restarting the machine will go back to the start of the initial rest. It will eventually get back to mixing, but time will be lost, gluten will have started to form, and some fermentation will have occurred.

Some machines have a pause function on the panel; some can be paused by pulling the plug and using the power interrupt. The machine will resume where it stopped – if it has that feature!

The designers will have set the program for what they regard as optimum handling of white flour in the “basic” cycles and whole wheat flour in the whole wheat cycles. Some machine allow users to create custom settings (e.g. the Breville BBM800XL and a few Zojirushi models).  

A shallow dive into bread baking books confirms that professional bakers with industrial mixers may use 10-15 minutes of “intensive mixing” – the mechanical mixing of yeasted white flour dough dominant in professional bakeries for French loaves until Raymond Calvel devised the hybid style in the 1960s. Intensive mixing develops gluten in white flour rapidly. Home bakers with stand mixers use slower speeds due to limitations of machinery (see the stand mixer review by America’s Test Kitchen in print and YouTube) or to use a hybrid, modified or improved mixing method.

The dough ferments in the rise phase.  The gluten relaxes and flows to fill the pan and take the shape of the pan. The yeast ferments the starch which produces gas that is trapped in little gluten balloons, which makes the dough rise. A baker divides dough and puts in oven pans. Two hours in a bread machine is short compared to the rise/rests in some artisinal baking techniques, but compares to the combined times for bulk fermentation and proofing in making bread in many bakeries.

The heating element is switched on for a bake phase in a bake cycle; there are dough cycles that stop after mixing or rising.  The dough springs into space above the dough when the baking element is turned on. The machine powers the element. The designer expects the machine to reach the right temperature with that element heating the air inside that space – there is no direct temperature control setting in most machines.

Bread machines produce good results with white flour and whole wheat flour – baked loaves, and pizza and flatbread doughs.

Labels

The idea of a low sodium diet is to consume less salt. There are many sources of information. Sources may  promote a fad or a personal theory. Buyer beware. These resources are scientific and fact based:

Salt can be avoided or reduced. A product label will identify sodium in almost anything that has been packaged.

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Measure, Conversion, B%

Bread recipes for the home baker usually list ingredients measured by volume: cups, tablespoons etc.  A recipe for a 1 lb. loaf of bread typically requires 2 cups of white bread flour or whole wheat flour. 

A cup may mean the amount that fits in the cup used by the recipe writer and tester. Usually, recipes refer to a standard measuring cup, but standards are different.  A US cup is .87 of an Imperial (U.K., many other English speaking countries) cup.  An Imperial cup is 1.2 US cups.  A metric cup is a quarter liter (250 millilitres) which is .88 Imperial cups or 1.06 US cups.

The amount of flour in a cup also depends on how the cup is scooped or filled.

Measuring by weight is more exact – but converting volume to weight is fuzzy. The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook suggests 1 cup of bread flour or whole wheat flour converts at 5 oz.  Panasonic suggests, in its bread machine recipes, measuring bread flour and whole wheat flour by weight at the conversion rate of 1 cup = 4.9 oz.  There is a range of uncertainty in how the weigh of cup of flour:

  • 4.875 (4 and 7/8) oz. = 138 g.
  • 4.9 oz. = 139 g.
  • 5 oz. = 141 g.

Reinhart (The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and other books) say 4.5 oz.; he measures differently.  4 and 7/8 oz. (4.875) or 4.9 reconciles to recipes in BLBMC and other recipes that use flour as scooped into a measuring cup.  The volume to mass conversion for other flours varies. Millers have conversions for their products – e.g.  King Arthur. There are generic conversion calculators and tables but these have to used with care.

The point is to be consistent in measuring. I weigh white bread flour (Canadian All Purpose) and whole wheat flour at 139 g. per cup in a recipe. Scales in ounces go down to 1/8 oz, but not necessarily to decimal fractions.  Metric kitchen scales go to the nearest gram. That is close enough for measuring a cup of flour.

Books for home bakers may refer to baker percentage (B%), a method of managing the production of bread. For instance Peter Reinhardt devotes pages 40-45 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice to this topic. It is a tool taught to professional bakers, and addressed in culinary texts such as Daniel T. DiMuzio’s Bread Baking; An Artisan’s Perspective. For the baker-manager, it is a calculation to scale inputs up or down to  create 2, 10, 100 or 1,000 consistent loaves of bread. The assumptions are consistency of ingredients, equipment, energy, working space, and time.  For managing production, every ingredient is put into the formula.  The formula can be used to build dashboard indicator of the use of a bakery.  It is as precise as it needs to be, for how it is used. B% is explained:

Flour has plant proteins and starch. Water and protein make dough sticky and stretchy. Starch feeds yeast – some is fermented. Starch is the carbohydrate in bread – the thing that makes it food. Flour is the ground product of grains, including flour and meal. All flour is counted to determine Total flour weight, even when flours differ in density and protein content. It is conventional to express the relative amounts of flour as a percentage of the total flour weight (e.g. 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat; or 90% bread flour and 10% rye flour). It is conventional to count all dry ingredients – which works better for a bakery manager than for a home baker.

The weight of every other ingredient is expressed as a percentage of the Total flour weight. The fluid percentage is called the hydration rate, a scale of how wet, sticky and messy the dough is. Conventionally, only the main fluid counts for the hydration rate. Water or milk.

Milk is nearly all water. Butter has water. Maple syrup, honey and other syrups have some water. Eggs have water. ingredients that contain water are not necessarily counted directly – it involves conversions and extra math. Wet ingredients that containe water may be noted to see if a dough has a higher real hydration rate than a simple calculation implies.

A cup of water is 236.6 grams (in the metric system one milliliter of water is one gram). (An Imperial cup of water reliably converts to 284 grams. A Canadian cup is 224 grams. A metric cup of water is 250 grams.)  Engineers may deal with variation of the density of water with temperature, Bakers are not as precise.

A cup of fluid cow’s milk is 244-245 grams according to USDA averages. Whole milk should be 3.25% butter fat. Reduced fat milk products: 2%, 1% and non-fat (or skim) milk. In grams, the water/total weights, per cup:

  • Skim 223/245
  • 1% 219/244
  • 2% 218/244
  • Whole 215/244
  • Buttermilk (whole) 215/245

1 + 1/4 cups of skim milk has 1 + 3/16 cups (1 cup + 3 tbsp) of water.

The home baker’s trick is reduce water in a recipe by 1/4 cup for 1 cup of honey, when honey is used to replace sugar). The average for honey in the US and Canada is 17 g water per 100 g of honey. A typical pure maple syrup for sale in the US or Canada is 32 grams of water per 100 grams of syrup. A large egg, in the Canadian egg grading system is about 57 g.  A large egg contributes 40 g. to hydration – nearly 3/16 of a cup of water.

Water can be calculated by referring the USDA Food Composition Databases. For a Canadian product, the Canadian Nutrient File may have the value. Using the databases takes some practice. not all of the water reported in the data is released from the source ingredient and incorporated into dough. It may be necessary, if the dough is just too dry, to use a teaspoon or two more water to get the hydration right for 2 cups of flour in bread machine.

Yeast means, normally, one of the strains of yeast commercially grown and distributed as a leaving agent. Salt is a chemical control on yeast. B% descriptions of a recipe may have 2% salt and 1% yeast. For 2-3 cups of flour,  this means fractions of an ounce of salt and yeast. These ingredients seem to standard commodities – close enough that the brand does not matter for calculating for conversion from a recipe teaspoon to weight:

Table salt 1 tsp = 5.7; but some table salts are fine-grained and more dense

Instant dry yeast 1 tsp = 2.8 g. 

Bread

Bread is high in sodium, as an effect of the baking process.  The master formula for bread is to grind dried grain into a paste or flour, add water and yeast, let the stuff ferment and throw it on a hot surface until it dries out and stops fermenting.

Salt controls yeast which affects fermentation. Fermentation affects flavour but it also affects rise, which affects the size of the loaf and the production line; it also has a chemical effect on the taste buds (Lallamand Baking Update, Volume 2, No. 6). A few bread styles, such as Tuscan bread, are made without salt.  Salt is part of the process for most bread sold by grocery stores and bakeries large and small.

Archeologists have found evidence that the Nafufians, hunter gatherers in Jordan were making bread with wild cereal (grain) 12,500 BCE.   Baking uses the products of many technologies. Flour is the product of grinding and milling cereal.  Flour mixed with water makes dough which is baked.  Dough can be fermented or leavened. Yeast consumes starches in the flour – it ferments, creating gas, which is trapped in gluten in the dough, which makes the bread rise. Bakerpedia explains:

When yeasted dough ferments rises and increases in volume, and flavor is developed.  Yeast converts starch  in flour into sugar, carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol. CO2  gas  is trapped by gluten proteins in the flour which causes dough to rise. Fermentation results in a light and airy crumb.

The yeast propogates.  Propogation and fermentation accelerate until the living yeast cells run out of starch, or are killed off by high temperature. If gas production goes on too long, the air cells in the dough rupture. An overproofed loaf is a lump of wet flour.  In oven baking, the dough rises in 2 or 3 stages: bulk fermentation, and intermediate and final proof. Dough is knocked or “punched” down to release gas at the end of the bulk fermentation and again when the loaf is shaped. The dough rises again in the baking pan and springs when yeast warm up the pan goes in the hot oven – before the heat kills the yeast.

Gluten “is a composite of storage proteins … found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, related species and hybrids …  Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.”  When flour and water are mixed (kneading is a continuation of mixing) the water interacts with proteins in the flour to form strands of gluten that make the dough sticky and stretchy.  Gluten relaxes in time which lets the dough flow and rise. As we read at Bakerpedia:

Consisting of mainly gliadin and glutenin, wheat gluten is unique among cereal proteins based on its ability to form a cohesive and viscoelastic mass. This rheological property makes it a dynamic material that is able to grow and keep the gasses within the dough during extended fermentation periods. The viscoelastic nature also provides the oven spring (increase in height due to the expansion of gasses) that we see in the oven.

Wheat flour has the necessary proteins to form gluten.  Added gluten is wheat flour processed to contain this proteins, used as a dough enhancer. (Wheat gluten also is the main ingredient of the vegan food Seitan).    Commercial bakers know, referring again to Bakerpedia:

Excessive use of wheat gluten would result in drier doughs that have a hard time with pan flow, and a higher than normal oven spring.

Mark Kurlansky’s excellent book Salt: a World History (2002) tells of the use of salt to bake bread in Egypt (3,000 BCE),  The production of salt may have started about 8,000 years ago.

Salt is a standard and necessary ingredient in most formulas and recipes. The right ratio of flour to salt and yeast means a loaf that will rise on time, and not overproof or balloon.

Professional bakers and some home bakers express ingredient lists or recipes as formulas expressed in baker’s percentage (B%). Bakers use consistent processes to manufacture a consistent product. A formula with salt needs more yeast to ferment and rise properly.  Reducing salt changes the process. Professional bakers may use 2 pounds of salt and .77 pound of instant dry yeast per 100 pounds of flour.  The B% for salt is 2%; instant yeast is .77%. This works out to .3 ounces = 8.5 grams = 8,500 mg. salt per 3 cups (15 ounces) of flour.  A normal loaf of bread has 3,400 milligrams of sodium per loaf – several hundred milligams per slice or serving.

Salt can be reduced , with a reduction in the amount of yeast. A few books and some internet pages unwisely suggest eliminating salt and but list the same amount of yeast that would be used if there was salt in the recipe!  Every reduction in salt in a bread formula has to be balanced with a reduction of yeast.  The accepted method is reducing yeast by the same percentage as salt. Please Don’t Pass the Salt has recipes for yeasted breads and a note on the general adjustment for yeasted bread recipes.

Artisan bread baking writers suggest that adjusting the salt in formulas leads to unsatifactory results  – e.g. Peter Reinhart, Artisan Bread Every Day (Ten Speed Press, 2009) at p. 15 suggests not reducing by more than 10%.  This approach warns the aspiring baker that salt is important to baking what consumers and food critics regard as good bread. This approach does not help much for someone avoiding sodium.  It is easy to get to 50%. It is possible to go further if final proofing can be extended to let the dough ferment and rise longer. Conversely, working in the kitchen, a baker may detect and arrest an active fermentation by knocking down the dough or getting the loaf in the oven.

Home bakers work with small amounts of salt and yeast. Measurement by weight is desireable, in theory.  Few home bakers have scales precise enough. And what is the conversion?

For table salt: 1 tsp = 5.7 grams (round to 6 grams) or .20 oz.  There is some confusing information in some modern culinary publications.

  • America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated The Science of Good Cooking (2012) lists several brands of kosher salt and sea salt and compares them to table salt, suggesting that Morton’s brand is the standard for table salt at 1 tsp = 7.15 g.
  • Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (Ten Speed Press, 2001) says on p. 28 that 1 tsp of table salt = .25 oz which converts to 7 grams. 

Some fine crystal table salt on the market in the US weighs 7 grams per teaspoon.  A recipe or bread formula ought to read as referring to conventional table salt. The size of the salt crystals affects solubility, which can affect the distribution of salt in the dough, and effect of salt on yeast.   Density, as such, doesn’t matter when adding salt by weight.  Home bakers can normally read a recipe in terms of level teaspoons of table salt, and should adjust when using coarser (eg. kosher salt, some sea salt), or finely ground salt measured by volume. 

Most sources say for instant dry yeast: 1 tsp  = 2.8 grams = .10 oz. .   Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (Ten Speed Press, 2001) says on p. 28 that 1 tsp instant dry yeast = .11 oz which converts to 3.1 grams.

Commercial bakers use chemical leaveners for some bread.  Home bakers use baking powder and baking soda for corn bread, soda bread, cakes and other baking.  Baking powder is baking soda mixed with cream of tartar. Kraft Foods Magic Baking Powder does not provide Food Facts on the labels of small jars in Canada.  The published information is that 1 tsp has 300 mg. of sodium.  Substitutions for baking powder involve 1/4 tsp of baking soda plus some acid (e.g. vinegar, cream of tartar) for each tsp baking powder.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  It has 1,259 mg. of sodium per teaspoon, which explains the food facts for baking powder.

The science of substitution for baking soda and baking powder is to use potassium bicarbonate, or to use natural bubbles, if possible e.g. whipped egg whites. Potassium bicarbonate is the key ingredient of Featheweight, but is not a grocery product.  It is available as a supplement but has a list of side effects and do not use if taking medication warnings.

There is a no sodium baking powder on the market, called Featherweight. Please Don’t Pass the Salt has recipes for quick breads, and suggestions on low sodium “baking mixes”

Cookbooks

Dietary and culinary theories abounded – and still persist, that salt is adds flavour and should be used in cooking nutritious and tasty food. Salt has been added to food as necessary preservative e.g. ham, sausage, olives, cheese, soy and other sauces. It has become a normal practice to put some salt into any dish, or the water to prepare boiled ingredients.

Some culinary books say that consumers can avoid the wrong processed ingredients and avoid processed foods. That’s true, but that advice may be accompanied by advising home cooks to use salt, as suggested in a recipe, in preparing meals.  Also to brine certain foods to make them cook better. The writers, presenters, and publishers of the  Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen family are an example. This sends contradictory messages about processed food, prepared food, home cooking and eating to satisfy taste and psychological needs:

  • It supports home cooking and food preparation with less reliance on processed ingredients
  • It appears to encourage safe and wise use of salt
  • It is a rationale for trying a salted item for one’s own pleasure or as  comfort food, which is also a rationale for departing from a program.

Recipes from some sources include nutrition facts.  General recipe books generally do not provide this kind of information.   General recipes may involve processed ingredients; these are worthless in a low-sodium diet unless a no sodium alternative can be substituted.

Some culinary books recommend measuring salt by weight, because it is more precise and because of the variations in the densities of salt (oarse, kosher, table, sea salt etc).  Table salt is not uniform.  Recipes assume table salt, at 6 grams per teaspoon. Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen published the weight of a specific brand of iodized table salt (Morton Iodized Salt) in The Science of Good Cooking (2012) at p. 113 as over 7 grams. The extra gram of salt is 400 mg. of sodium.

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Salt

Salt (sodium chloride) is a chemical agent used to cook or process food. Saltiness is regarded as one of 5 main tastes. (Scientists have not, as of 2018, identified a distinctive taste receptor for salt.)  Sodium is an essential nutrient, but consuming more sodium than the minimum has no health benefits. Excessive sodium is a health risk. The upper limits for sodium intake, in milligrams, per day:

These numbers are not stated in ranges for body type, or weight.  The limits are stated as a single high number and a second lower number for persons diagnosed with hypertension, or defined by age or other statistical risks. The 2,300 milligram figure is the sodium in about a teaspoon (the unit of volume) of salt. Exceeding the upper limit is risky and harmful.

Food products high in sodium:

  • Bread;
  • Sandwich spreads, condiments and salad dressings;
  • Processed meat, cold cuts, charcuterie;
  • Cheese;
  • crackers,
  • pickles, olives,.
  • Processed (flaked/puffed or shaped and toasted) breakfast cereal;
  • Tomato juice, vegetable juice and tomato-clam (some very high);
  • Processed spaghetti sauces and tomato sauces (very high);
  • Pizza – bread topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever else (most very high);
  • Canned soups (monstrously high);
  • Soy sauce, hoisin sauce and fish sauce (monstrously high);
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Email 2018

I used Outlook 2010 and Outlook  2013 as my desktop email client because they were nearly free. Employees of my employer got the Office Suites for a nominal charge. (my employer rolled back to Word 2010, and Outlook 2010 connected to its MS Exchange server). The programs did what I needed. I had a server account at my ISP. Outlook connected with the server using POP3, a version of Post Office Protocol.  I began to consider letting go of my ISP after giving up the cable box and cable TV. This may mean I give up email account and address when I give up the Cable ISP service, and go with a new service. This meant thinking about a new email address on a webmail service, and a new email client.

Outlook was a message user agent (client) for Microsoft Exchange Server using proprietary MAPI protocols. It still is. In the enterprize enviroment a client connects to the enterprize email server which stores messages and connects to the Internet.  Outlook has the capability to manage local copies of messages in a PST file (a dedicated database), which lets it function as a standalone internet email client. Outlook 2013 did not easily support, contrary to MS Outlook 2013 Support articles and publicity about Hotmail Connector and Exchange Active Sync, connecting to an Outlook.com account. This is ironic after MS “improved” Outlook, creating a lock-in effect for its Hotmail/Outlook.com services and more of a walled garden or closed platform approach to services.

Outlook 2013 does not easily support IMAP. The capability may be there. For instance, there are resources that explain making an IMAP connection in Outlook, which may work or may have been outdated by changes in Windows and the Office Suite. Searching for ways to adapt Outlook 2013 is frustrating and time consuming. This makes using Outlook with webmail platforms other than Hotmail/Outlook difficult.

Outlook 2013 has already started  its spiral into obsolesence.  Newer versions have been web/cloud based (software as a service), which leaves MS with a stream of income as long as consumers will stay with MS as rentier. Staying with Outlook as client means subscribing, which will not be cheap, and being locked in.

There are desktop email clients that support IMAP, and downloading and local storage of messages.  IMAP is a robust standard, even if Microsoft deprecates it. It works with webmail, although it is a conceptual leap from POP, and requires some management. Time to move on.