Home Bread-Bakers v006.n006.3

Re: bread moisture, bread storage, gluten

schapin@mitre.org (Susan Chapin)
Tue, 31 Jan 95 08:11:52 EST
>The breadmaker I purchased for Christmas for my parents is a big success.
>They use it every day.  The only complaint they have is that the bread is
>dry.  Does anyone out there know what they can add to moisten it.  They
>stick to the directions faithfully and don't want to upset the apple cart,
>but should they add more water, or what?  Any help would be appreciated.

Try adding oil (canola oil is good), to 2 TB.  Try replacing 1/4 cup flour
with uncooked rolled oats.

They don't need to stick so closely to the directions -- they may have a
poor loaf or two as they experiment, but if they are baking every day they
can afford a failure once in a while.  The critical factor is the
flour/liquid ratio -- if it kneads correctly (and they should know by now
what correct kneading looks like) it will be OK.  If it is too liquid
(doesn't form a ball) add flour one TB at a time.  If it is too dry (spins
around without folding) add liquid 1 TB at a time.  It is OK to use a
rubber spatula to help mix in the added stuff (yes, it is OK to lift the
lid during kneading).

>        I have questions about storing bread and flour.  Currently I
>store baked bread in aplastic bag, after it has cooled.  But I notice that
>this makes the crispy crust go away and leaves us with just a chewy
>crust.  I don't like this, and would prefer a way to keep the bread from
>getting stale and crispy, but keep the crust nice and crispy.

I am using a breadbox (two 5-sided cubes of clear acrylic that slide into
each other) that has a three holes on each end.  Nothing will keep the
crust truly crispy, but this box keeps it a lot better than does a plastic
bag, which I used to use.  I also remember that we used to freshen French
bread by putting it into a paper bag, moistening the bag by sprinkling a
little water on it, and heating it in the oven for a while (a short while
that did not cause the bag to catch fire!)

>        About flour: I know some flour one should keep in the fridge.  I
>keep my whole wheat flour and rye flour there.  How about other kinds of
>flour, like semolina flour.  What criteria should I use in deciding whether
>to keep the flour in the fridge or not.

Keep all whole grain flours in the fridge.  I keep all my flour in the
fridge.  When I prepare a bread, I put the dry ingredients excluding the
yeast in a plastic mixing bowl, stir to blend, and heat in the microwave
for a short time on half power, until the flour is slightly warm.  The
yeasties love the warm flour, and I don't have to wait for the refrigerated
flour to come to room temperature.

>I have looked all over and cannot find gluten. When i ask people always
>say "what the hell is gluten?" or "do you mean Elmer's Gluten?"
>What kind of places carry it and in what form does it come?

Try health food stores.  I find "vital wheat gluten" by two or three
manufacturers in several of the health food stores in Northern Virginia.

        - susan
        (schapin@mitre.org) (I represent only myself;
        none of the opinions expressed above are endorsed by my employer.)