Home Bread-Bakers v096.n050.12

converting recipes to hand

Cherie Ambrosino <Cherie_Ambrosino@cch.com>
21 Oct 96 10:23:08
 Hi - Laura was asking about converting recipes - I clip and use recipes of all 
types from the list - I used to use a machine, then baked for a year or so by 
hand and now use a kitchen-aid.  If you want to use a "machine" recipe - go 
right ahead - I just save out a little water and flour and add and adjust as 
needed - the only thing to pay attention to is the "loaf size" - there's a 
great listing in Clayton's Book of Breads about how much flour leads to what 
pan size - If you don't have the book I can post it another time [its at home] 
- I have to say that I used to use large loaf pans [sort of meat loaf size] and 
had okay success but sometimes my loaves didn't rise enough or just weren't 
high enough in general - I always thought it was my fault - but it wasn't that 
they didn't cook all the way or had a bad texture - after reading this chart I 
invested in medium loaf pans - what a difference!  I use them for everything - 
or else I use the super sandwich something or other breadpan I bought in a 
moment of weakness from King Arthur [our hero!] which is good for one long loaf 
using 4-5 cups of flour.  I'm sure the big pans would be good for a larger 
recipe but its not worth adjusting.  

 On second thought, I'll post that chart soon anyway - it sure helped me and 
its certain to help someone out there.  I don't know why it seems to make such 
a difference - the bread gods are generally so forgiving.  But it really has 
changed the consistency with which I can turn out perfect looking loaves [well 
not perfect of course but at least the right proportions!!]  I'll bring in some 
extra recipies while I'm at it - but I must say that one thing I've learned, 
particularly by trying all these methods - is that a recipe is not as important 
as just knowing what the dough needs - once you get a feel for it or the way a 
proper dough should look, its not hard to use any recipe and adjust as needed.  
Truth be told I rarely use a recipe anymore - I just keep them for ideas - the 
same way I do all my other cooking using cookbooks as reading material and 
cooking out of my imagination.  Keep trying if this sounds impossible to you - 
I was terrified of baking but once I learned the proper dough consistency I've 
never had a failure.  [Now if I could just become that competent with baking 
non-bread stuff! - the last frontier!]  Actually, I use recipes for a little 
while until I get comfortable and then I quit - for example I'm just starting 
to use sprouted grains - and that recipe book is never more than a foot away - 
until I figure out how they really affect things.  One small step at a time - 
have fun baking everybody!  Cherie