What are your tips and tricks for making bread???

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Ray

They look awesome can you share the recipe?

Joe
Absolutely, Joe.

ENGLISH MUFFINS

Ray's notes: I made this recipe with King Arthur AP flour. Result was light, tender, cranny-filled English muffins. Tastes like Thomas EM but at fraction of the cost. Sooooo easy to make. I use semolina to coat the pans, but fine corn meal should work fine.

All water gives a light sour flavor. Milk where shown gives a creamier flavor.

This is an 85% hydration recipe (410 wet / 480 dry).

Total weight of ingredients: 926 grams, but there is some loss with dough sticking to bowls, hooks and utensils. My final dough weighed 916g when I was ready to part.

Divide by the number of muffins desired to get the weight of each muffin. NOTE: Anything larger than 65g per muffin gives a diameter in excess of 4 inches. 16 muffins should weigh about 57-58g each.
480g: flour
120g: water
240g: water or whole milk.
50g: egg
25g: sugar
6g: salt
5g: yeast

INGREDIENTS
For the poolish:
90g King Arthur AP flour
120g water
1g (¼ tsp) instant yeast

For the English muffin dough:
Dry ingredients:
390g (3 ¼ cups) King Arthur AP flour
or 240g AP / 120g whole wheat
6g (1 tsp) salt
4g (1 tsp) instant yeast
25g (2 Tbs) granulated sugar.

Wet Ingredients:
240g (1 cup) water or whole milk, warmed to 100F.
50g (1 large egg) room temp, lightly beaten

Semolina for dusting (or fine corn meal)

INSTRUCTIONS
Start the poolish the night before mixing the rest of the ingredients. Mix the poolish flour, water, and yeast together in a 2-3 cup bowl until glossy and the clumps disappear. Cover and allow to sit on the counter for 8-12 hours before continuing to the next step. Poolish should be bubbly before proceeding. If poolish collapses (12+ hours), the recipe will still work but will result in a tighter crumb.

When ready to start baking, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the warm milk, sugar, and poolish. Incorporate the poolish with a spoon, spatula, or whisk. It melts into the milk. Mixture will be frothy.

Add the beaten egg to the mixing bowl and incorporate with a whisk.

Slowly add the flour/salt and mix with a spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Scrap the sides as necessary.

Using the spiral dough hook attachment of the mixer, knead the dough on level 4 until it comes together as a shiny, smooth ball, cleans the sides of the bowl, and releases from the bottom of the bowl — about 4 minutes, twice as long with a C-hook. If the ball is still clinging to the sides of the bowl with the C-hook, increase the speed to medium high until the gluten develops, the dough ball forms and cleans the sides of the bowl, about another 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the top of the ball. Cover loosely with cling wrap that has also been lightly oiled on the dough side (trust me). Let rise until doubled in size, about 90 mins to two hours. Alternatively, you can allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight (and up to 3 days). Longer resting times means a more developed flavor.

Liberally dust a baking sheet with semolina or corn meal. Place a small plate on a scale and add a dusting of semolina or corn meal.

Turn the dough out onto an AP flour coated work surface. Lightly dust the dough with AP flour. Flatten gently to degas.

Use the dough scraper to cut a piece. Weigh. Add or remove dough to get within 1-3 grams of the desired weight. Then tuck and roll until smooth and flatten a little on the working surface. Place on the dusted baking sheet smooth side up.

Once all the dough is parted, cover with another upside down baking sheet for a second rise until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

Warm a large, heavy-bottomed skillet with a cover over medium heat. Add 3 or 4 muffins. They will expand. Keep them from touching.

Cover the pan and begin cooking your muffins. Each muffin will require about 3-4 minutes on first side, a minute less on second side, depending on your pan. Check it doesn't get too dark. Turn down the heat if it does.

Once both sides are cooked, insert an instant read thermometer into the balls and check for 195°F minimum.

Muffins are soft and tender on the inside, firm on the outside due to the AP flour and semolina.

Allow to cool completely. The muffins will firm up as they cool. Toast and serve.

Store extras in an airtight container. Will last 3-5 days on the counter, or more than a week in the refrigerator.
 
Dessert tonight after chili
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Going to make another batch of Eng Muffs tomorrow. I messed with the recipe today. Going to try an 18 hour poolish that is 50/50 whole wheat/AP (50g each), 120g water, and only used .25g (literally a pinch) of dry yeast. Had to use a coin scale and a silicone muffin cup to measure that little yeast. 9.5 hours in and the smell is amazing with obvious activity. I suspect it might collapse before I'm ready to use, but I'll just add more yeast to the dough (not the poolish) to make up for it.
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Going to make another batch of Eng Muffs tomorrow.
Just checking in to see how the muffins are doing?? Things are clearing off my calendar and I want to get to making some things, including these.....

Not really a fan of whole wheat, but I have some dark rye flour I may include.....
 
Thanks, HD. They turned out great, but there's still room for improvement. I made three changes total. 1-the change to the poolish mentioned above. 2-I used half milk/half water in the dough. 3-I made 16 muffins weighing 57-58g each prior to baking.

Results?
1. There was a noticeable increase in the sour taste. They were also a bit chewier, which could be from the extra gluten in the whole wheat addition to the poolish. Still noodling that fact.
2. Half milk/half water decreased the creamy flavor. Next time I'll do 100% water in the dough.
3. A 16 count gave a similar diameter but a thinner muffin. I'll go back to the 12-13 count.

Next time: keep the poolish the same; all water; go back to 65g per muffin.

Rye in the poolish would absolutely work.

Oh, and change #4. I didn't heat the milk/water to 100°F prior to adding the yeast. I used room temp water and milk straight from the fridge. Kitchen temp was 66°F. 1st rise took about 2.5 hours I wanted a slower rise and got it. That likely contributed to more flavor, too.
 
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totally understand your frustration with your bread, English muffins, and pizza dough tasting bland. It can be really disappointing when you put in the effort, and it just ends up tasting like baked flour. Let’s see if we can figure out what might be going wrong and how to fix it.

Firstly, the ingredients you're using are fine, but there are a few key factors that can significantly enhance the flavor of your bread:

  1. Fermentation Time: One of the biggest contributors to flavor is the fermentation process. Try using a longer fermentation time, such as an overnight rise in the refrigerator. This slow fermentation allows the yeast to develop more complex flavors.
  2. Water Quality: Tap water can sometimes have chlorine or other chemicals that affect the yeast. Try using filtered or bottled water to see if it makes a difference.
  3. Yeast Amount: Using too much yeast can result in a faster rise, but less flavor development. Consider using less yeast and giving your dough more time to rise.
  4. Salt: Make sure you’re adding enough salt to your dough. Salt not only enhances flavor but also helps control yeast activity. A general guideline is about 2% of the flour weight in salt.
  5. Kneading and Hydration: Ensure you are kneading the dough well to develop the gluten, which contributes to texture and chewiness. Also, check the hydration level of your dough. Wetter doughs tend to have better flavor and texture.
  6. Use a Pre-ferment: Consider incorporating a pre-ferment like a poolish or biga. This involves mixing some of the flour, water, and a small amount of yeast and letting it ferment for several hours before mixing it into your final dough. This method can significantly enhance the flavor.
Here’s a basic method to try:

Poolish (Pre-ferment)​

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • A pinch of yeast
Mix these ingredients and let it sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

Final Dough​

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of water (adjust as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast
  • 1.5 teaspoons of salt
  • Poolish from above
Mix the poolish with the final dough ingredients, knead well, and let it rise. Shape your dough and let it rise again before baking.

Lastly, temperature and humidity can also play a role. Since your house is cold and dry, you might try creating a warm, moist environment for your dough to rise. You can do this by placing it in an oven with just the light on or near a warm spot in your kitchen.

I hope these tips help, and I'm sure with a few adjustments, you’ll be baking delicious bread in no time! If you have any other questions or need further advice, feel free to ask. Happy baking!
 
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