Q and A

How do I get my loaf to spring upwards and not spread sideway?

If you hold a knife with good butter on it over the top of the loaf and sing ‘Food Glorious Food’ at the top of your voice, your loaf may well decide to spring upwards to see what is going on. On the other hand, if your singing voice is poor, it might just slope off sideways to get away from you. Bread in Victorian times was very variable in quality, mainly due to this.

What is the best bread to take on a picnic? 

One that doesn’t mind ants.

I followed the recipe you suggested, only I substituted rapeseed oil for butter, and splenda for the sugar, ran out of bread flour so I used wholemeal flour and decided to make the bread free form instead of a tin. Can you help me understand why my brioche doesn’t look like yours?

Brioche is heavily influenced by the lunar cycle. Thus a bread started when the moon is gibbous will look more rounded than a bread started when the moon is new.

Why does my dough stick to my banneton and all over my fingers?

It is advisable to remove your fingers from the banneton before putting the dough in.

Why does my bread crust go soft?

Following Tai Chi teachings, it is better to yield than to meet force with force, thus a bread with a soft crust is simply applying principles of central equilibrium and deep relaxation.

What should I do if I lose my razor blade while preparing bread?

You could play Russian Bladette, this would make breakfast a far more exciting business than usual.

If I find weevils in my flour do I need to throw it away?

Extra protein in a loaf is always healthy.

Why are you being so silly?

Happy Baking!

All  pictures (apart from my great grandfather)  from Wikipedia.

35 thoughts on “Q and A

  1. jan trounce

    Oh dear, Joanna, at least your Great Grandfather looks a sensible sort – though he does appear to be having a conversation with himself, but wait, I detect a twitch at the corner of his moustache. I do believe he too liked a good giggle:) I do wish I had a DanishDuh Hook! Is this the Dales Dough Do weekend ? oh, you have to go, Joanna, I loved the photos from the last one.

  2. gina

    happy month! what a lovely way to begin the 1st day of our hot sunny july over here! you make my day jo! :) i love to read such amusing witty guidelines! i wish i had more of it…!!!!! my love for all of you!

  3. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    This post was going to be my contribution to the Q and A session at BB5, see note in sidebar, but as I couldn’t go, it ended up here instead. For all our sakes let’s hope that our sourdoughs never develop minds of their own and start talking back…. ;)

  4. MiskMask

    Sourdoughs have given way to spelt in tins this weekend for me. I just made a monster loaf of spelt that contains a generous amount of hand-shmooshed-up pumpkin and sunflower seeds, plus sesame and linseed. I was hoping that it would be a dark Danish rye colour but it’s more a medium rye colour. BUT, Peder says “det smager godt” so I reckon this tweaked recipe should be written up and saved. ;)

  5. heidi

    Thank you! I’ve been in the dumps and this made me smile.
    Then chuckle!
    You are my hero!
    Love you-

  6. Misk Cooks

    Is it necessary for my dough to do a second rise or prove or whatever that second performance is called? I know it’s bread, so what’s there to prove?

  7. Joanna Post author

    The QI Stephen Fryish sort of answer would be something on the lines of : the expression ‘to prove’ the dough, comes from when yeast wasn’t that reliable and therefore the expansion of the dough would ‘prove’ that the yeast was working.

    All I can say is that commercial bread production is dedicated to making bread as fast as possible from mix to being slapped on the shelves, that bread rarely proves for very long, read up about the Chorleywood method of production to find out more. Ask yourself if you like your longer proved bread better than the stuff you buy in the supermarket…

    My tuppenceworth on the subject is that I am very fond of fermented and naturally processed foods of all sorts, I find sourdough breads and overnight yeasted breads nearly always more digestible and tastier than the shop stuff. I think that is because the yeasts (whether commercial or sourdough) have had longer to transform the complex carbohydrates and proteins in the flour, partially breaking them down and making them more digestible in the process. The flavours released by the process, the acids and other byproducts of this activity make the bread taste good to my way of thinking and, the acids help to preserve the bread and prevent mould formation. There is also some evidence( that might be of interest if you are baking for someone with diabetes) that long fermented breads have a lower GI, because more of the sugars in the flour are converted by the yeasts and the lactobacteria (the latter if you are using sourdough).

    To sum up. It isn’t necessary for your dough to do a second rise in order to make bread, but chances are you will have a more evenly developed crumb if you allow the dough to develop a good structure plus a better flavour and shelf life if you do. Some flatbreads only have one rise and there are all sorts of variations and approaches to the different style of bread making. Some use an overnight sponge, which essentially preferments a portion of the flour, rye sourdoughs often use a large quantity of pre-fermented ryeflour and then are mixed quite warm and then poured into a tin, and left to rise once and then baked. Many variations. The ciabatta that I made the other day following Celia’s recipe only has one rise, but it is a very long one!

    Experiment with your regular bread recipe and see if it makes a difference. Try reducing the amount of yeast you use and increasing the time and vice versa…. Gosh, this is almost a post in itself….. ;)

    1. Misk Cooks

      … and such a splendid post at that! Yes, actually, Joanna, I think that reply should be a post of its own. It’s packed full of information that I found very useful, and I’m sure that a lot of new bakers would also find useful. Thanks!

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