Bread Machine Artisan Bread?

The Challenge

A bread machine cannot produce the shapes associated with rustic, country hearth, or “artisan” bread.  These loaves are shaped as round boules or oval batards (or torpedos), and baked on a deck, without a pan. A bread machine bakes a loaf in a pan. Artisan loaves tend to have firm or even crisp/crunchy crusts. There is no direct temperature control or temperature reading on a bread machine.  A bread machine create enough heat to bake a dark crust but cannot reach the temperature that bakes crunchy crusts.

A bread machine can become a mixer (and a proofing box) on a dough cycle. This saves labour. But a bread machine doesn’t have the alternative functionality that mixers offer.

The bread machine makes dough on a cycle.  A dough cycle will have an initial rest or preheat phase many machines (e.g. my Panasonic SD-YD250 has it on all dough cycles except pizza dough). Every machine will reliably mix the ingredients at a slow speed and move up to higher speed to work the dough.  There is some control of time.  For instance to avoid the more intensive mixing – just stop it when it is mixed.  And a pause after slow mixing can be made (to autolyse before more intensive mixing, or to add something), until the end of the phase. A few machines have a pause function, controlled by a button.  Most machines have a power interrupt that restarts the machine at the point in the cycle it stopped after short power outage.  This allows a pause of several minutes by unplugging the machine. The machine must be plugged back in, within the time limit or it goes back to the start of the cycle.

There are no options to slow down the mixing or change the time – just stop when you want to stop mixing, and rest or work the the dough.

Some breads use a fermented “starter” to introduce yeast and bacteria (sourdough, mother, chef, levain) or to enhance flavour (sponge, biga, poolish, pre-ferment, pate fermentee). Adding a starter during mixing means lifting the lid and/or taking out the pan, and putting it in manually.

Dough cycles have a rest phase and a rise phase allowing the dough to ferment in machine, and stop.  The user has options after on when to remove the dough after mixing, and other options:

  • the end of mixing
  • the end of the rise
  • after the end of the cycle for added bulk fermentation time
  • put the dough in the fridge to slow down fermentation
  • knock it down, knead by hand;
  • additional fermentation – a second rise before shaping the loaf

The user ultimately shapes it, let it rise and puts it into the oven in pans, on a baking sheet or in or on a ceramic sheet or apparatus (e.g. pizza stone) at whatever temperature the user wants.

The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook offers advice and several recipes/formulas at pages 196-297.  This is good advice but has to be adjusted for the machine.  For instance many machines can’t be paused

French Whole Wheat

Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook p. 206 advise a dough cycle. I used {Whole Wheat} Dough cyle. BLBMC advises a knock down, additional fermentation/rise after the dough cycle.  These steps are superflous with a machine with a long rise phase and a knockdown in the rise phase.

The steps after the dough is out of the machine are shaping a torpedo loaf, final proof, scoring the loaf and baking at 400 F for 32-48 minutes:

  • 347 g. (2.5 cups) whole wheat flour
  • .5 cup spelt flour
  • {4.3 g. (.75 tsp)} salt [BLBMC 1.5 tsp]
  • {2.8 g. (1 tsp)} instant yeast [BLBMC 4 tsp]
  • 1 5/16 cups (1.25 + 1 tbsp) buttermilk
  • .5 cup water

The loaf looks like a loaf of rye bread – it has a dark crust.  The crust is soft, as might be expected with whole wheat.  It has a sticky crumb that leaves a residue on the bread knife, like an artisan OEM product sold in the local Thifty’s over the last two years before fall 2018.  The crumb is not as darkly coloured as 100%  whole wheat recipes which use dark brown sugar or molasses and oil – and not as dense.

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 is not offered in Panasonic Canada’s online store as of late 2018, but is 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.  In the basic bake cycle, the machine
    • mixes at slow speeds for 4 minutes,
    • mixes at a faster speed for 10 minutes, with several short pauses, rests for 3 minutes, mixes at the higher speed for 3 more minutes;
  • 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.

There are no speed controls on the control panel.  The motor seems to have two speeds: off and on.  Slow mixing involves turning the power on and off in short intervals.  Fast mixing means the motor is running.   

The knead phase performs a short slow mix which escalates into a several intervals at full speed.  

The machine forms a ball of dough centered on the paddle.  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.

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.

Continue reading “Labels”

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.

Continue reading “Cookbooks”

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);
Continue reading “Salt”

Hypertension

I had a stroke in January. I was unconscious for a few days, hospitalized for a couple of weeks and off work for a few months.

I was hypertensive.

I thought I had been cooking healthy i.e. not using more salt than a recipe required etc.

My blood pressure dropped with medication during my recovery. My blood pressure got into a good range when I eliminated salt by switching to no sodium added broths and vegetables in cooking,baking bread in a bread machine on a lower salt formula for the recipes I was using and avoiding fast food, processed meats, cheese and processed (factory cooked) products.