Thursday, March 25, 2010

Susan's Favorite Bread Baking Tips—What Are Yours?

Freshly Baked Oatmeal Toasting Bread
Freshly Baked Oatmeal Toasting Bread (recipe here)

A few months ago I spent some time updating the Ten Tips on How To Bake Better Artisan Breads at Home post that I published on Farmgirl Fare back in 2005, and it was interesting to see the little ways in which my bread baking has changed over the past several years.
I'm still following most of the tips, though I don't use my beautiful wooden bread bowls as much as I used to, preferring to let my dough rise in straight-sided plastic containers with snap-on lids instead. And I rarely bother to make steam in the oven anymore.

I've also started baking all of my pan loaves (these
Chicago Metallic commercial loaf pans are the best) on a hot baking stone to simulate the 7-foot wide ceramic hearth deck oven waiting for me in our almost finished commercial kitchen. The results are fantastic.
If you're a new bread baker looking to improve your loaves, you might take a look at the tips—which are simply things I've learned that have made my breads better.
Do you have any bread baking tips you'd like to share? We'd love to hear them!

Looking for a favorite new loaf? You'll find the index of recipes for A Year in Bread here. And if you have a beloved bread recipe, we hope you'll consider sharing it in our Friday Favorites series, which you can read more about here.
© 2010, the bread baking blog where there is no perfection, just loaves that keep getting better and better.


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Friday, March 05, 2010

Bread Baking Tips: How To Clean Up Sticky Dough from Bowls and Utensils

noKnead bread after fermenting on counter

The other day a friend of mine,
wildsheepchase, asked me if we had any tips on getting sticky dough off of utensils once you're done baking. This is a common problem; bread dough is notoriously difficult to get off of even smooth surfaces (like bowls), and small utensils can be tricky to get truly clean.

You'd think the simple answer would be to do what you were taught about cleaning up as you go: toss everything in a sink of hot, soapy water, and it'll be easy to clean up when you're done baking. You would be terribly, horribly wrong.

Hot water is the worst thing you can use on bread dough. The heat makes the bread dough even stickier, and you end up with a gloppy mess that sticks to everything. (I used to keep an old sponge around for washing bread bowls so I wouldn't feel guilty about throwing them away as often as I did.)

The easy way to wash bread dough off your bowl and utensils is this:
  1. Scrape off excess dough with a dish scraper.
  2. Fill the bowl with COOL soapy water, toss in all non-wood utensils and leave it for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain the water, grab the scraper again and get all the loose dough off. Throw it in the kitchen scraps compost bin or the trash - it will do very bad things to your drain if you let it go down.
  4. Using more cool water and a washable cloth/sponge, wash everything. Once things look clean, finish up with a bit of hot water, like the rest of your dishes. (Every so often, wash the cloth with your dish towels.)

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