P & Q: White Loaves

What do we need to know to make excellent bread?  What do you need to know to help you out?

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120 thoughts on “P & Q: White Loaves

    • I hadn’t baked bread in over 15 years. I baked the bread last night. I forgot what it was like to have that wonderful aroma permeating my house. The bread came out great so I left it on the counter to cool and dropped like a log into my bed. I awoke refreshed and ready to put my loaves away. When I tried to store my loaf in a gallon zip lock bag, it wouldn’t fit. So I cut off a slice and slathered it with butter and took a bite. Oh My God I thought I had died and gone to Heaven!!!!! My trusty Beagle Clancy was whining for a sample and I reluctantly gave him a morsel. I swear he moaned also!! Life is good! Forget Marie Antoinette! I say let them eat BREAD!!

      • You’re so funny, Melanie! Bread is also one of my malamute’s favorite treats (she’s so spoiled). Actually, Marie supposedly said “Let them eat brioche!”, but it got translated into cake here, probably because more Americans could relate to a sweet cake, rather than a rich sweet bread. Can’t wait until we make that!

  1. Erin- My advice would be to jump right in. Read the recipe once or twice all the way through before you start. Then, just do it. If you need support along the way, my twitter is @superslush. If I am around, I will help you in any way that I can. :)

  2. I baked it yesterday as well and its the first time I can say I made successful white loaves. I really enjoyed making it and may make it again today or tomorrow with a cinnamon swirl.

      • I steeped orange peel in milk, which I am going to sub for the water and then add a cinnamon swirl. No idea if the orange will come through, but I am going to give it a go.

      • LW~How did the orange flavor turn out? I like orange with cinnamon too. I put the zest of an orange into my dough, then used the juice with powdered sugar to make a flat icing to drizzle over the outside of the loaf after it cooled. It made delicious toast for several breakfasts! And this is the best time of year for fresh citrus! Orange you glad you thought of it?

  3. I did a test run the other night and though my forearms were killing me by the end of all the kneading, it came out really well! I am going to try another go at it this weekend, seeing as how the boyfriend inhaled most of the first batch ;)

  4. I loved the recipe too. Great rise. I love baking bread in the winter- so easy to double in size when you stick the dough near a radiator! I did a cheese swirl in the second loaf. Oh and it makes great French toast (the white loaf not cheese loaf that is)

  5. Just got the book and posted my 1st blog. Now I am off to bake the bread. How in the world do you make a cinnamon swirl? It sounds heavenly! You guys are amazing. You make it look and sound so easy. I will be the one with all the questions, I am a total rookie!

    • Cinnamon swirls can be pretty free-form. Basically, at that step where you’re rolling up the loaf, brush the rectangle of dough with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, and whatever else you like (nuts, raisins) before rolling up. You could roll a bit more tightly to get a more spiralled swirl. And this is exactly the kind of bread that would take well to such treatment.

      I made it the other day, and though I was surprised that it only had one rise before shaping and proofing, found it simple and good. Could have proofed a little longer for optimum looks, I think, but the crumb was soft and not dense.

      • Thank you so much Katya for your tip on the cinnamon swirl. It was perfect timing since I had just finished the 1st rising and so was able to try it out with one of the loaves. Not sure I did enough cinnamon filing but will see how it turns out. Fun to try new things!

      • thanks for the tip on how to do cinnamon swirl. when i get the book, i am definitely going to do that with one of the loaves!!!

  6. My apartment is a tad drafty, so, I use my oven for the rising. I turn it onto the lowest setting, then turn it off. Bread rises perfectly (almost) every time.

    • you can also use your microwave for rising bread. I put my bowl in, and leave the door closed, but open enough so the light stays on. I get a beautiful rise

  7. Both loaves are out of the oven, one plain, one with cinnamon (thanks, Laurie!). The trick, now, is not to eat them both right away. Probably should do a slice-and-freeze.

  8. looking forward to baking these when the book arrives.
    I baked a white loaf from Beard on Bread just yesterday. delicious. my kids can’t get enough.

  9. I baked mine yesterday. The aroma was absolutely wonderful!! Easy and tastes great. I am new to the group – are we allowed to post it to our personal blogs before the 7th?

  10. I can’t wait to make this! I do have a question–I don’t have a stand-up mixer, so can I use my food processor with the dough blade instead?

    Thanks!

    • Ooh, I would not use the FP, besides that the full recipe would be too much for it. I would just knead it by hand. That’s just my opinion though. I do make a pizza dough recipe in the FP, but it only kneads for 1-2 minutes. This one goes for 10 minutes.

    • I did use my fp. I have a 13 c. cuisinart and it was just fine. I used cold butter and cold water because the fp heats stuff up. I dumped everything in, blended until I had a ball and then let it run for about 45 seconds. It was fabulous!

      • Thanks for the responses!

        Katrina, you’re right, the Cuisinart would be too full with the whole recipe, so I was going to do half.

        Jules, it sounds like the Cuisinart would work just fine with half, so thanks for chiming in. I’ll use cold water and butter, too. :)

  11. Made my first loaf yesterday. Very tasty white bread. I’m so glad I stopped by here this morning. The cinnamon swirl idea sounds fun. I think I’ll try another loaf next week with that variation. I used instant yeast for mine. I didn’t cut back on the yeast and it worked fine. I proofed my loaf in the oven w/ just the light on.

  12. I am new to this. I heard the interview on NPR and here I am. I have ordered my book, and I have a blog. I have a couple newbie questions….Do you bake at any point prior to the recipe date on the schedule? and only post comments regarding the baking on the scheduled recipe Tuesdays? I’m not sure I understand the layout of the schedule. From the posts, it looks like people are already baking the first recipe.

    • Hi Jackie. Yes, you can bake any time prior to the posting date. We only ask that you hold off on posting until the due date. We have the P & Q section so people can ask questions and share what did or didn’t work for them. On the day that we all post (Feb 7 for the white bread), there will be a LYL: Leave Your Link post where you leave your blog link so we can all come visit and see how your baking went.

  13. I just signed up and am really excited. I have a question. If I make a recipe with a small variation (because I forgot to buy an ingredient or the technique I used was different) does that still count? Should I disclose any variations in my post?

    • Let us know about the variations only because one of us might want to try it! You never have to exactly follow a recipe. We just don’t know what the results will be. Though that is part of the fun…

  14. I made the bread yesterday. I did a cinnamon swirl and it did take longer to rise because I rolled it, nor did it rise as high as the plain. My kitchen aid could not handle the kneading… not sure why. Had to hand knead it, and it was a workout! :)Put it back in the KA when I added the butter and let it beat for 3-4 minutes more to incorporate the butter. I also slathered butter on the top when it came out of the oven. We all loved this bread. Perfect texture and density for sandwiches. Really enjoyed it!

  15. Made two loaves today! One regular and one with cinnamon swirl, they are both excellent (of course, I am a little biased because they were my first ever bread from scratch!). I tried to use my handmixer with the dough hooks… yeah, the dough actually started to go up into the holes for the hooks, so everything came out and by hand it was. Totally a workout, but kinda a stress reducer. Next time, I am going to try a savory cheese one and maybe an apple.

  16. Does anybody know about freezing? I want to make the dough tonight but not bake it until tomorrow morning for breakfast. Should I let the dough rise both times, leave it in the bread pan, wrap w plastic wrap, and then refrigerate overnight? Or should I just stay up night and bake it?

    • I would let the dough do the second rise in the least cold place of the refrigerator over night and then just put it in the oven in the morning, but I’ve never done it with this bread so I’m not entirely sure that will work!

    • you can let it rise for the 1st time, then put it in the pans to bake and cover. then put in the fridge.
      take it out at least 1 hour before you want to bake it.
      it will be fine. and delicious.

      • I ended up baking it, cooling it, then storing it in brown bag for breakfast the next day. Good to know for the future. Thanks!

  17. I’m glad to be back. The recipe is easy and delicious. Reading all the comments I may have to make it again with a cinnamon swirl. I made a regular loaf and round loaf.

  18. This is a great white bread recipe. My suggestion for those new at bread baking is to use “bread” flour and not AP flour…it makes a big difference, although AP will be good, the bread flour makes the bread great. Thought I’d pass that along since my neighbor just asked me if the flour would make a real difference…YES!

      • There’s also a good description of flour differences in BWJ page 12. The protein difference between bread flour and UNBLEACHED all purpose is pretty small, so in most cases, you can use either one. I’d go with whichever is easiest to get and freshest in your local market. If gluten development is critical, as in the case of chewy bagels, then you might want to hunt down the bread flour, or even high gluten flour. But you probably won’t notice the difference for most breads if you use UNbleached all purpose. However, you may not get as good a rise from BLEACHED all purpose flour, as it develops less gluten. So do read the labels on the flour bags. I’m also trying to use more whole grain flours in my baking, so I try to just keep one type of white flour (the UN-AP) on hand. But it’s fun to experiment and see what happens. It’s just flour!

  19. I just got the cookbook in the mail, and I can’t wait to get started. I must have read through this recipe three times so far! I’m so excited to learn how to be a good baker by following these recipes and all of your blogs! I dont have a stand mixer,so I guess I’ll be getting a forearm workout. Do you think I should invest in one for the other recipes in this book?

    • My KitchenAid mixer is just about the most used baking utensil in my kitchen. I think it is totally worth it. I do, however, have the room to store it, which can be a problem. I would highly encourage the purchase, but I’m also not the one buying it. ;-)

      • I agree. When I first got my KitchenAId mixer I was not sure how much I would use it for, but I knew it would last forever, so I got it.

        Now I easily use it every 2 days or so, and I can’t imagine cooking/baking without it! It really is an extra set of hands =)

        If anybody is thinking of getting one, you can usually hold off for sales. I got a 5qt KitchenAid Stand Mixer for $140 at Sears.com using a couple different coupons during a sale =)

    • I used ours this morning for the dough and it was the first time I really put it to an extended, vigorous test! I am thrilled to know I have the power to make bread doughs with it. I am very excited to take on more “kneading” now.

  20. I made my loaves yesterday and the crust was delicious but the crumb was denser than I imagined. Is that due to proofing? Maybe I didn’t proof it long enough? I did the poke test and my poked stayed. Not sure what I did wrong. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Jen,
      The original white loaves recipe was drier than I like to make bread. I actually used almost a cup less of all purpose flour, but that’s an adjustment for baking at high altitude too. Also, there can be a lot of variation in flours; BWJ page xi mentioned they used King Arthur flour (and Land O Lakes butter) for filming the TV series. Bread flour absorbs more liquid than all purpose, and measuring by volume (cups) is inherently inconsistent (and not through any fault of yours!). If your bread seemed dry besides dense, I would suspect too much flour/not enough liquid. If it was dense because it fell during baking, then it was probably over proofed. Hope this helps!

  21. Hi All!
    I’m new to TWD/BWJ but happy to be here. I used to teach pastry/baking at a Boulder, Colorado culinary school. Had to take a break last year when I got a cancer diagnosis. Am almost done now with my medical treatments, and look forward to baking therapy at home with all of you while I recover. Since I have some extra time right now, and miss teaching a lot, I went ahead and posted a basic bread making tutorial from my own experience. Feel free to comment, and I hope it is helpful, especially to newbie bread bakers. Here’s a link to my site, http://cookteachgrow.wordpress.com/
    Oh yeah, since I live near the Mile High City, my future results may reflect the need for some altitude adjustment.
    Cheers All!

      • Thanks, Cindy. You’ll see a couple of suggestions I gave to BakerAnne for the white loaves recipe. She lives at high altitude in New Mexico. Where are you?

  22. We just tried the bread and we all agree that it is fantastic! Especially considering it was a) my first try, and b) I let it rise for an hour and a half the first time instead of 45 minutes….I forgot that I had turned the page to look at the rest of the instructions, and the recipe for whole wheat bread is on the opposite page, and by coincidence, the rising time is located in the same spot for that recipe! I look forward to making more, and trying it with the cinnamon swirl!

  23. I bought all my ingredients this morning at the grocery store! Excited to test out this recipe tomorrow…definitely adding a little cinnamon swirl. I’ve never made bread before so wish me luck :)

  24. My loaves are rising now….I did something crazy! I slathered peanut butter all over the second loaf!!! I have know idea what will happen. It’s a peanut butter swirl. I figure it will save the kids (and husband) the extra spreading time :) I will update on the success or failure on this one….

    • Okay. Peanut butter is not recommended. It gets too dry and falls out of the bread when sliced. It will still be devoured, but it won’t be made again. Oh well. It was fun trying something different just for the fun of it!

  25. Mine are rising right now. Probably will do a cinnamon sugar swirl in one of the loaves later.
    Do not have a stand mixer and 10 minutes seemed like a long time to knead the bread (plus I was sorta pooped with all the stiring I had to do to incorporate the flour with the yeast and water) that I used the dan lepard way of kneading. Hope it turns out ok!

    • To: Hand Kneaders
      Best way to learn! Smarkies, thanks for the reference to Dan Lepard. I didn’t know of him, but use a lot of his method in how I knead now. I’ll bet you’ll get great results. I also use some of Richard Bertinet’s hand kneading technique. I posted some text and pictures on hand vs. machine vs. No kneading. Kinda nerdy, but go to http://cookteachgrow.wordpress.com/ ‘s post on “need to knead?” if you’re interested.

      • Thanks for the post, Piebird! I was tempted to take the dough out of the mixer when it came together to knead, but since it’s my very first mixer I wanted to see what it could do. But your comparisons are inspiring me to try it by hand next time.

  26. Yay!
    I got my book yesterday as an EARLY 30th birthday present, so that i would be able to make the bread on time :)
    My bread is currently hanging out on the counter rising. I only did half a recipe because i had just the right amount of bread flour for 1 loaf. I can’t wait to see how this turns out and after flipping through the book I am excited for all the recipes :)

  27. Hi everyone,

    I will be ordering my book today. I can’t wait to actually get baking! For those of you who have already started, I have a question. I was wondering what size loaf pans you used for the bread. I am just trying to figure out if I need to order anything other than the book before I get going.

    Happy Baking (and Eating)!

      • yes, the recipe specifies two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pans. i only have one, so i’ll either just do a half recipe, or a full recipe and bake one loaf in my 9×5 and see what happens…i assume it will just be shorter & longer.

      • Thank you Steph and Geared to Cook! That is a huge help. My book arrives tomorrow but I will be stopping by the store today. I’ve been meaning to buy smaller loaf pans for a while and this is just the excuse I needed.

      • The 9×5 loaf will be flatter than the 8.5x 4.5. I have both size pans and went ahead and used them. I will probably go get a second 8.5 pan for the future.

  28. I love that there is a P & Q section – it’s so helpful to hear about everyone’s experiences. My book arrives tomorrow – I absolutely cannot wait. I plan to bake a white loaf and a chocolate loaf (using butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips in the center) – my brother-in-law makes chocolate bread that is better than a chocolate croissant! I will let you all know how it turns out!

  29. Did my loafs today and not bad for the first time….one
    loaf raised better then the other but both tasted good…making it one more time before the post….great day to make bread snowed all morning….

    Kelly

    • Funny, I had the same result — one loaf was a wee bit taller than the other. I wonder if it’s because I didn’t divide the dough evenly. I’m such a geek that I might bring out the scale next time. But then again, it didn’t affect the taste so we’ll see!

      • I thought about the scales too…but both tasted good…took some work today and everyone likeed it…so I think all in all its a good start….

  30. I am wondering what else we will be baking and have just the white loaves and choc. tartlets on the recipe schedule. Is there a full schedule and calendar some where to view?

  31. I made my loaves on Saturday and they turned out wonderful! Great flavor and the bread toasts beautifully. I used 8-1/2×4-1/2 loaf pans but didn’t get the 4″ height. Missed it by about an inch. My bread flour, although stored in a tightly sealed container, was purchased more than six months ago (I don’t think I’ll have this problem going forward!) and I used bread machine yeast because that was what I had. I’m going to have another go at it today with just purchased active dry yeast and bread flour to see if I can get the 4″ rise. Looks like we’re off to a great start. I have been reading my book and studying the first chapter carefully. Can’t wait for croissant and broche dough. Happy Baking

    • Hi Lynnette, probably wasn’t the bread flour. If stored in a cool, dry place, white (refined) flours last for a loooong time as the wheat germ (which contains oil) was removed in the milling process. That’s the part that gets rancid and why whole grain flours need to be kept in the refrigerator or freezer if you don’t use them up quickly. If it was still “in date”, the bread machine yeast should have been fine too. Things that tend to cause “tight” small loaves from an ingredient standpoint are: a dry stiff dough (don’t use the total amount of flour in the recipe), using a high portion of whole grain flour (the bran cuts the gluten strands and absorbs more water), even forgetting the salt (weaker gluten and over proofing usually result, besides bland bread). Unfortunately as far as method, many things can cause a small dense loaf: under/over-mixing, under/over-proofing, low oven temperature, not scoring the top, etc, etc. Of course, that’s what make bread making the adventure that it is. Have fun!

    • Hi BakerAnne,
      I also live at 5000′ (Boulder, CO). In general, for bread baking, you may need to increase liquids. This is because water boils at a lower temperature (about 200 instead of 212 degrees) so more moisture evaporates during baking which results in dry breads, cakes, etc. For this particular recipe, just use less than the full amount of flour since you have a range to work with. Try to make what may feel like a wet bread dough to you. In general, you can usually decrease the yeast a little since you get more leavening action with our lower air pressure, but that can with tricky if a recipe calls for a very small amount of yeast. I usually don’t worry about that. I do some blogging about baking at http://cookteachgrow.wordpress.com and did some postings on bread making after starting with TWD. Happy Baking! (I lived in Albuquerque for a couple of years, and love New Mexico!)

    • Thanks, Piebird. Funny, I went to school in Boulder, CO & loved it!! I will follow your advice and let you know how it all goes. Unfortunately, my book has yet to arrive :(

      • Hi Baker Anne,
        I just did a Google search and found the recipe online here and it looks correct http://www.cookstalk.info/yeast_bread_white_loaves.htm
        I used about 1 cup less of flour and mixed in a large Kitchenaid mixer. Now you can bake this weekend! We’re supposed to get record snow here tonight and tomorrow, so I’m sure I’ll be baking something! ;)

  32. My book just arrived. Wow. A lot of recipes. :)))

    Re white loaves as the dough contains honey will it be a sweet? I saw some of you said cinnamon swirls. But is it working with cheese or tomato swirls or any toher salty filling? Or this is more of a dessert?

    Thx.

    Emese from Hungary

    • This recipe has you proof your yeast with a small amount of sugar, which is not really needed. You can leave it out if you don’t want the sugar. I actually increased it when I made cinnamon loaves, and then used honey for a batch that had a little whole wheat. Honey is supposedly twice as sweet as sugar. I just wanted the honey flavor. Welcome to Hungary!

  33. My lovely dough did not ‘come back together’ as I beat in the butter … it was a shaggy, slippery mess … but no matter. The loaves rose beautifully and the bread is delicious. (I think salt is the key.)

    • Thank you Audrey for mentioning that. I was just about to ask you all if anyone had concerns during the butter step. Mine was also a slippery mess, on it’s first rise now…

      • It can take several minutes to beat in the butter at the end of making this dough (kudos to you hand kneaders again). Be sure your butter is very soft, and only add a small amount after the previous one is kneaded into the dough. This is just like making brioche, so it’s good practice for a future project!? :) Another workaround is to melt the butter and add it along with the 2 cups of water at the beginning. Give the liquids a quick stir, then add the first measure of flour. I did it this way and avoided the slippery butter step. Your dough might come out a little less chewy, more tender this way since the fat gets in the way of strong gluten development. Still a nice bread.

  34. I made my loaves today and it turned out beautiful. I used saf-instant yeast and for the flour, I used 3/1/2 cup of unbleached AP flour and 3 1/2 cup Durum Whole flour.
    I used my mixer in the beginning but as the dough came together my mixer cannot handle it.. so I kneaded it by hand for 10 minutes. I made the other loaf with cinnamon.
    Maybe next time I will make it with Gruyere and walnut!!
    Happy Baking !!

  35. Pingback: White Loaves « galettista

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