Your questions answered: Bread issues, bulk ingredients, and flour types

Joyce left a comment about her difficulties with making homemade bread:

I would love to make our bread, but I just can't seem to make it work out. I have made countless, awful loaves of bread. Usually the problem is that it tastes and smells like raw yeast after baking. I have a mill and all the best ingredients, and yet...

I have literally tried dozens of recipes and combinations of ingredients, but my bread is never edible. I'm feeling a bit defeated right now. I tried again last week and again the loaf was horrible and heavy.

Does anyone here know what causes the strong yeasty smell in homemade bread? Besides being too much yeast, does that smell come from a rise time that's too short? A baking time that's too short?

Joyce, have you tried my homemade wheat bread recipe? It turns out consistently great for me (and many others).

If you're using 100% whole wheat flour, I really recommend getting a few of the dough conditioners (see the additional notes in the recipe) as they will make a fabulous texture to the bread. The dough conditioners we use are all natural ingredients that develop a good texture and feed the yeast -- they're not preservatives or anything. ;)

Staci also emailed me these questions:

Your posts on the grain mill have inspired me to want one of my own.  I have several questions:  How do you get your grain and yeast for such a good price?  I live in Tallahassee, FL, and the wheat berries are $.99 a pound and the yeast comes in the expensive packets.  

Also, what type of flour do you use to make cakes?

We purchase our wheat in 50-lb bags. These bags can usually be ordered through a bulk food store, a health food store, or a local co-op.

Dry yeast can be found in 1-2 lb packages at bulk food stores, health food stores, Sam's club, through a co-op, or through a restaurant supply store.

There are a variety of flours, specially formulated for various foods, but I only use two kinds: whole wheat flour made from hard wheat berries (good for yeast breads) and whole wheat flour made from soft wheat berries (good for quick breads).

The flour made from soft wheat berries is known as "pastry flour" and makes wonderful muffins, quick breads, cake donuts, crumb topping for apple crisp, pie crust, cookies, cake, etc. 

While it is possible to use regular wheat flour (made from hard wheat) in quick breads, using pastry flour in yeast breads doesn't work very well at all, since the soft wheat is lower in gluten and yeast breads need gluten to develop a good texture.

I'd love to hear what types of flours you keep on hand! What do you use the most? And is there really an amazing difference in the end products?

We were pleasantly surprised the first time we used whole wheat pastry flour (made from soft wheat). Our muffins were so delicious!! Having the right, high-quality ingredients makes it so easy to eat healthfully!

Comments

I get my bread and all-purpose flours in 25 lb. bags from Sam's and keep them in my deep freeze. I refill smaller containers that hold about 5 lb. each as needed. I buy yeast in 1 lb. packages and store it in the refrigerator.

I keep bread, whole wheat, cake, all-purpose, self-rising, buckwheat, and cornmeal on hand most of the time. I've never tried dough conditioners or pastry flour.

I find that bread flour really does make a difference in my loaves, with its higher gluten, and do not use anything else for yeast breads. I recommend checking out the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book at the library for tips on handling whole grains and general baking techniques. I've learned a lot of good things from it. :-)

Here is a link that helps troubleshoot baking bread problems:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/bread-troubleshooting.html

It says, for this problem:

The Bread Smells &Tastes Of Yeast

* Rising periods too long
* Rising place is too warm

Here are some really great questions and answers from The Family Homestead: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/faqbreadbaking.htm

And here is a step by step tutorial with pictures, that teaches you how to make honey wheat bread...it's delicious, and easy!

Hope this helps!! Once you bake that first perfect loaf, you will be hooked.

I had also heard that too long of a rising period would cause the overly yeasty taste. I make this recipe: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/breadmaking101.htm Prior to this I had no experience with breadmaking whatsoever, yet it always turns out great!

As for flours and baking supplies, I also buy bulk quantities. I've found the best way for me to get them is to have my local health food store order the bigger bags (usually 25, but they can also get 50). I also recently found www.bulkfoods.com, but have not purchased from them yet...their shipping is reasonable, though. We keep on hand soft white wheat berries for quick bread recipes, and hard white winter wheat for breadmaking. I also buy large bags of organic non-GMO popcorn to use both for eating popcorn and to grind into cornmeal. The large container of yeast from Sam's is the best buy in my area. Oh, and I bought 25 lbs of ECJC recently as well.

Due to some health problems, I have now gone gluten-free for a time to see if I tell a difference in health and how I feel. So as of last week, we also now have tapioca flour, teff flour, potato flour AND potato starch, almond meal/flour, coconut flour, brown rice flour, millet flour, oat flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, and buckwheat flours.

I like to use "Cornell" bread recipe--50/50 unbleached white and whole wheat. I work in other "stuff" some rye flour, more milk powder and more soy flour, oatmeal, 7 grain cereal, nuts or seeds--you name it. My kids like it best baked as large rolls [I use my "jumbo" muffin pan].This is really helpful if you have fussy eaters [or toddlers] It's good with a little butter or peanut butter for a good snack. Here's a link to one article about it.

Lisa
http://hopewellmomschoolreborn.blogspot.com/

I am new to the whole making bread thing and your blog too which I love! And I would like to give it a shot because it is so much yummier than store bought. So I was wondering Tammy if you had an easy recipe and step-by-step instructions to help a novice out? I am great in the kitchen but bread is on of those things I have never tried and makes me slightly nervous as well.

Thanks a new fan
*Shay*

I used to get that yeast smell and taste all the time! I don't anymore, and I'm not sure what made the improvement, but I think it has something to do with rising times that are too LONG. Also, putting the bread into a preheated oven, instead of letting the oven temp. rise after you put the bread in, seems to help.

Oh - I think putting less sugar in the bread helps, as well. I used to use a recipe that called for 1/2 cup of sugar for 2 loaves, I think, but now use about 1/4 cup of sugar for the same amount. No yeasty smell or taste. You would think the sugar would cover up the bad taste, but maybe it actually causes it, by making the yeast grow too fast.

I have also had the same problem finding yeast that comes in bulk sizes. The only yeast I can find at our local grocery stores are the ones in the little packets. I have had better success finding larger sizes on the internet. Try just typing "bulk yeast" in a search engine and it should bring up several options.

-Brittany

I know this is a real no-brainer for most people who make bread, but I made a silly mistake when starting out: I wasn't kneading enough! For some reason, I just assumed that it wasn't necessary to knead as long as people said, so I only gave it a few squeezes before popping it in the pan. Big mistake, obviously. My bread was often very yeasty tasting and didn't rise correctly. Only after ruining several loaves did I realize my error. I feel silly admitting it, and don't meant to imply that other people would make the same mistake, but it can't hurt to throw that out there, since I've dealt with it myself. And now I'll go hide my face in shame, ha ha!

By the way, Tammy, I love stopping by your blog almost every day. Keep those stories and pictures coming!

Oh, I have done the not-enough-kneading thing too! And served it to company!!!!!!

See, my mom never had a real recipe for her bread, she just added flour and kept kneading until it was perfect. Well, I figured that fi I just added the flour all at once, as soon as the dough was not sticky I could stop kneading!

So, I essentially made no-knead challah, and it tasted horrible!!! I served two big loaves to guests. Yuck!

Since then, I have never forgotten the importance of kneading the dough. ;) 

I wonder if she has hard water? For some reason, that tends to affect the taste of the bread. The denseness could also be from overkneading...

~~~~
http://lilirishlass.blogspot.com

We buy yeast in a large container at Costco. It keeps in the fridge for a year or more. We keep rye flour, spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, unbleached white flour (for dusting pans and for pie crusts), rice flour, quinoa flour, soy flour, and cornmeal(organic). For the most part we use spelt flour, which we buy in 25 lb bags from www.azurestandard.com. We occasionally use whole wheat. I like how spelt rises and tastes much better than whole wheat. It gives us a much moister product. I substitute it 100% for the white flour called for in recipes for quick breads and yeast breakds. We also add some gluten flour, especially when using whole wheat.

Do you always use whole wheat or have you made bread with white flour? My mom taught me how to make bread when I was really young and I was always making whole grain bread. I loved using pastry flour or golden wheat because it seemed to turn out way better than the red wheat (or whatever the standard stuff is), but it was a real treat when I got to bake bread out of white flour. Now, comparatively speaking, that stuff is EASY! I couldn't ruin white bread if I tried. And, if you're at all new to bread-making, it might help to just try it the less healthy way at first. :-P That's just my thought, off the cuff. Once you learn to perfect that, you can start adding in some whole wheat flour and gradually increasing the ratio of whole wheat to white as you add the dough enhancers Tammy recommends.

My mom converted to using spelt and somehow manages to get the bread to turn out well, still. I can't figure out spelt, quite honestly. I'm sure if I used some special ingredients, I might be able to make it happen, but my standard bread-making procedures are extremely frustrating because the spelt seems to be so low in gluten. :-P Maybe someday...

In the meantime, to be honest, I hardly ever bake bread...unless it is special bread with white flour. LOL!

Pamela

Do you use your grain mill for anything besides wheat? I see one person uses it to make cornmeal from popcorn. I'd be interested to hear how well that works in baking. I tried to grind groats to make a version of "steel cut oats" for porridge, but it wouldn't grind coarse enough and the porridge was gross.

In response to the person who asked about the grain mill, besides wheat and corn (I mentioned that in my earlier comment), I've ground brown rice and millet to make flours. We have a Nutrimill which does not do a "cereal" grind, but is great for flours. You also cannot grind rolled oats in it, but you can grind oat groats.

There are only two of us here, so I keep 5 lbs. of unbleached white flour in a big glass "cookie" jar and 5 lbs. of whole wheat flour, ditto. I usually mix them half and half for quick breads and the like. We don't make yeast bread. Usually I have a jar of stoneground cornmeal in the fridge, but I haven't replaced it since we moved.

I've been making bread for quite some time now. It raises nicely, tastes great, and has a nice light texture. The problem is that the loaves are always lopsided. They'll look perfect when I place them in the pan, but when they come out of the oven one side is always about and inch or so highter than the other. I've tried moving the oven racks, placing the pans differently, turning the pans around halfway through baking. Nothing helps. When I shape the loaves I fold them into thirds like you would fold a letter to be mailed. Is that the problem? The lopsidedness is always on the side with the flap. What if I tried rolling the loaves up jellyroll style? Would that help? Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks. By the way, I really love this site.

My 40 year old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook has info at the beginning of the bread section that tells how to shape loaves for baking. The directions say to roll the dough for a loaf out to a rectangle 7 x 15, and then roll the short side, sealing by pressing against the bottom of the roll when you turn it each time. You press out a couple of inches on each end as a flap that you tuck under the loaf to make the heels nice and smooth. I am new to yeast bread baking, but have had good success, first with the whole wheat recipe on Tammy's Kitchen and now with rye bread, which we really enjoy. I use 2 1/2 C rye flour with a package of yeast and water, molasses, minimal sugar, salt, and butter and then add whole wheat pastry flour, some vital wheat gluten flour and spelt flour and caraway seeds and the result has been consistently good. I also use a bit of ground ginger, not a lot, but a shake or two. Kneading it for at least 10-15 minutes while working in the amount of flour in the recipe and letting the dough rise in a prewarmed oven work for me. I think using fresh ingredients make for success, as my mother tried to make whole wheat bread that turned out brick heavy when I was in college 45 years ago. She was a good cook, but I think old flour must have been the problem. Not many people were baking whole wheat bread in our small town back then. Don't give up, keep trying until you succeed!
Kathryn B

My daughter is trying different recipes of homemade bread trying to find one that we can make sandwiches and not have the bread crumble apart. Her dad takes sandwiches to work and they just fall apart. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

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