Lean Bread Machine Bread

Some baking recipe books are aimed at readers who want to make a specific type of bread, or have sections of recipes for artisinal baking, rustic bread, hearth or country bread.

Most “country”, “rustic” or “hearth” loaves are attempts to create a historical style with modern ingredients. Pure wheat white flour started to be milled when agricultural and technical innovations during the industrialization of Europe made it possible. One change – rye or other grain growing with wheat was not harvested or sorted out and not milled.

French Bread made with white bread flour is lean – perhaps with butter for a bit of butterfat. It takes work and time. There are wet doughs (hydration over 70%) for some loaves e.g. baguettes; and drier doughs (under 60% hydration).

Many “country”, “rustic” or “hearth” loaves are lean. A lean bread is flour, water, yeast and salt. (Sandwich bread is enriched with sugar or milk. Milk has fats and sugars, in solution. Sugar makes the dough more extensible, which helps the dough to flow and rise. However, sugar or milk change the crust and crumb.) Some lean loaves may be enriched with milk or sugar.

Salt interacts with amino acids making up the gluten proteins, and affects the elasticity of dough. Less salt means a less elastic and tenacious dough. Salt also inhibits the yeast and the fermentation. The latter effect is addressed by the rule of thumb1A rule of thumb that may have to be adjusted. of proportional reduction by weight. For 50% salt, I reduce both salt and yeast in a recipe by 50%.

Industrial scale baking does not dedicate time to rise dough and shape individual loaves. Industrial baking was challenged to mass produce rustic breads. Storebought “rustic” bread is available, but usually inferior to an artisan baked loaf or a home baked loaf. Bread machines have tried to overcome the challenges of making this kind of bread:

  • shaped distinctively,
  • baked on a deck (hot surface) rather than in pans, or
  • scored to control the way the crust ruptures as the loaf continues to spring in the oven.
  • using the bread machine in a dough program to make dough, or starters or sponges;
  • enriched recipes for a basic baking program or a “French” or “European” program. Panasonic had sugar in its recipe for French Bread in the Panasonic manual. The BLBMC has sugar in the Peasant Bread recipe;
  • recipes for custom programs

Scoring a loaf is not a bread machine practice. It is a manual operation at a specific time at the end of “bench rest” before baking. It is possible but less common with loavea baked in baking pans. In a bread machine bake programs some rupture of the crust may be expected unless the user has intervened.

Bread machine recipes have to be customized for machines. I adapt “standard” recipes, mainly from the Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (“BLBMC“) and from the bread machine chapter of Beth Hensperger’s Bread Bible. I worked out my approach to yeast and low sodium in baking in a Panasonic SD-YD250 for medium (1.5 lb.) loaves June, July and August, 2018.

I adjusted yeast for BLBMC recipes baked in a Panasonic SD-YD250 machine when I realized that BLBMC recipes did not work in that machine.  The BLBMC recipes worked in the Panasonic with the salt proportional change, and an additional the adaptation to yeast quantity for the Panasonic. When I started to bake in a Zojirushi BB-PAC20, I changed my method of writing recipes in tables, and updated tables.

I use a Zojirushi custom progam for lean white bread. The differences between basic bake, French/European, and the custom program. Times (Panasonic medium loaf, Zojirushi default) in minutes. Baking temp. not tested or published by manufacturers.

MachineProgramRestMix/kneadRiseRise 1Rise 2Rise 3Bake
Panasonic SD-YD250 Basic301511050
Zorjirushi BB-PAC20Basic311935204060
Panasonic SD-YD250 French401017555
Zorjirushi BB-PAC20 Custom

Zojirushi’s recipe for Crusty French Bread is a lean Bread. It requires a longer rise, and baking period than the basic bake program affords. It works as medium loaf in a large pan and as a small loaf. BLBMC Peasant Bread is mildly enriched country/rustic white bread.

BLBMC Chuck Williams’s Country French has 33% whole wheat.  Beth Hensperger adapted a recipe by Chuck Williams (of Williams-Sonoma) for the La Cloche device. It is similar to a hearth bread she calls Pain de Campagne in her Bread Bible (2000), which is made with a starter and sponge made with whole wheat flour. It is in the style of Pain de campagne, but with whole wheat (not rye) flour.  The whole wheat version loaf has a firm crust and a reasonably open crumb. It flows enough to work as a medium loaf in a large pan. (but getting the yeast right took some experiments.) I have also tried it with rye, with a little less water.





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