Posts in Category: Tips

Be Sure to Flip Your Waffles

Today I was testing a new variation on the Lemon Milk Waffles recipe, using egg white substitute (Meringue Powder) in place of an egg. I figured the lack of egg yolk would result in a lighter waffle, as the yolk turns brown during baking. Here are two waffles, one showing the top, the other the bottom. The lack of egg yolk created more contrast than I usually see.

There are two types of waffle makers: a flip and a traditional. These waffles were created with the traditional maker. The waffle top is not brown on the edges, as the batter did not touch the top plate. On a flip maker as you turn the plates over after closing, both top and bottom plates get batter. The result is a prettier waffle.

What surprised me was how pretty the bottom side was on a non-flip waffle.

Moral of the story: flip your waffles before serving..

Waffle Makers

Types of Waffle Makers

  • Iron – Two cast iron plates in a scissor like format with 2 handles. The batter is poured between the two plates, closed and heated over a fire. This is the old fashion way to make waffles and useful when camping.
  • Traditional – Waffles are 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) thick and usually round.
  • Belgian – Waffles are one inch (2.5 cm) thick. The greater depth is popular. This is the most common waffle maker. All three in the picture above are Belgian waffle makers.
  • Waffle Cones – This waffles for making waffle ice cream cones. They are thin and pliable when first removed. The waffle is then formed into a cone or bowl and left to cool and harden.

Ripe Test

Dough rising times change with the recipe, room temperature and humidity. I list times in the recipes but they are guidelines only. In my case I do all of my rising in an oven equipped with a Proof setting. This keeps the oven at 95F (35C). Some days the dough is just slow. The “Ripe Test” tells if the dough is ready.

Ripe Test – Ferment

After the ferment (first rise), gently stick two fingers deep into the dough. Remove. If the holes remain in the dough it is “ripe” and ready for the punch down and forming. The fingers should go in easily.

Ripe Test – Proof

After the proof you do not want to damage the look of the dough. Gently touch the side of the dough with your finger tips. If the indentation remains, the loaf is ready to proceed.

In the proof test photos I actually pressed in a bit too much. I wanted the dent to be clearly visible. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Favourite Bread Recipe Websites

I spend a lot of time researching bread recipes. Slowly I have found websites that have consistently good bread recipes. Commercial sites for yeast and flour makers are some of my favs. In no particular order, here is my list.

  • King Arthur Flour – All recipes have volume (cups) and grams. I like most bakers work in grams.
  • Fleishmann’s Breadworld – Lots of beginner recipes here as well as more advanced.
  • Robin Hood Flour – Living in Canada, Robin Hood is the most commonly available commercial flour I use.
  • The Kitchn is a cooking/baking site but there are some nice breads in here.
  • Allrecipes.com – General food but some nice bread gems here.
  • Food.com – General food site. Great variety.
  • The Fresh Loaf – News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Baking Pans

I am a big fan of bread pans. They serve several purposes. They give the bread a defined shape, and make it easier to handle. A big benefit to me is supporting the loaf. I live in outside of Toronto in Canada. Canada is the 7th largest producer of wheat in the world and most of it is hard wheat. This means our all purpose flour has a higher percentage of protein than many other countries. A 5 kg (11 lb) bag of Robin Hood Bread Flour costs about the same as a 10 kg (22 lb) bag of Robin Hood All Purpose Original. Most of my baking is working on recipes so I go through a lot of flour.

When you make bread with all purpose flour the dough does not hold its shape as well. The dough tends to relax and spread more. By using a pan to provide structure I can use all purpose flour to reduce my costs.

Here are a collection of my favourite pans.


 

Classic Bread Loaf Pans

Wilton - 8.5x4.5x2.5 loaf - 1.3 L - 5 ½ cups (1 pound loaf)
Wilton - 9x5x2.5 loaf - 1.7 L - 7 cups (1½ pound loaf)

These are the main stay of bread baking. Wilton and USA Pan are the brands of loaf pans I mostly use. The USA Pan's no stick works very well.

wilton-9-25x5-25x2-75-loaf-side-4x3

Wilton 9.25x5.25.2.75 pan

Wilton Excelle Elite 4-Cup Mini Loaf Pan

Quad Mini Loaf Pan

Quad 5.75x3x2.75 loaf pan - 1.8L - 7.6 cups (total)

Quad mini-loaves are nice for single people. I freeze two mini-loaves in a bag. A quad mini-pan is just over the size of a 9 inch pan so you can use with a 1 1/2 pound (680 g) recipe.

Shorten the baking time as the distance from sides to the centre of the loaf is smaller.

Hearth Bread Pan

USA Pan 12x5.5x2.25 Hearth Bread Pan - 2.4L - 10.1 cups

This hearth pan is for larger artisan style loaves. I like it as the structure helps support the form of a traditional load while using a lower cost flour such as all purpose.

USA Pan 12x5.5x2.25 Hearth Bread Pan

wilton-16x4-5x3-5-loaf-pan-4x3

Wilton 16x4.5x3.5 Extra-Long Loaf Pan

Extra-Long Loaf Pan

Wilton 16x4.5x3.5 Extra-Long Loaf Pan


 

Pullman Loaf Pan

USA Pan 4x4x9 Pullman - 2.2L - 9 ¼ cups
USA Pan 4x4x13 Pullman - 3.2L - 13 ½ cups

The pullman pan was originally invented for baking bread on the pullman car of a train. The pan has a lid which is closed during baking. The resulting loaf has very little crust and when cut is almost square. The proper name is Pain de Mie. "Pain" in French means "bread", and "la mie" refers to the soft part of bread, called the crumb.

The size is just larger than a slice of cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich. The bread was also excellent for French toast. The challenge of designing a recipe for a pullman pan is the volume has to be correct. Too little and you end up with a gap as the top. Too much and the dough oozes out the ends. My grandkids love a loaf of pullman bread.

9 and 13 inch Pullman Pans

Just need to close the lid and bake

Just need to close the lid and bake

Pain de Mie loaf

Pain de Mie loaf

Too much dough and this is what comes out the ends

Too much dough and this is what comes out the ends


 

wilton-9x1-25-pie-pan-side-4x3

Wilton - 9x1.25 round pie pan

Pie Pans

Wilton - 9x1.25 round pie pan - 1 L - 4 ½ cups

Pie pans are nice as they don't give a pan look to the resulting loaf. The slope of the side is gradual enough to be missed. Pie pans are what got me into using non-bread pans. A one pound loaf fits nicely in one.

Cake Pan

Cake Pan Loaf

Cake Pan Loaf

Wilton - 8x1.5 round cake - 1.1 L - 4 ½ cups (1 pound loaf)

Cake pans give a mushroom look to the loaf, a giant muffin.

wilton-8x1-5-inch-cake-pan-side-4x3

Wilton - 8x1.5 round cake

wilton-9-75x3-38-inch-fluted-tube-pan-side-4-3

Wilton 9.75x3.38 Fluted Tube Pan

Fluted Tube Pan

Sliced and ready to serve. YUM

Sliced and ready to serve. YUM

Wilton 9.75x3.38 Fluted Tube Pan - 2.7 L - 11 ½ cups

This pan is just plain fun. I was cutting a round loaf for a party into smaller pieces and found it a challenge. I thought, what about using a bundt pan? The volume is larger but this stout beer bread is only a 1.5 pound loaf. I will be releasing the recipe for that bread soon.

And there you have it, some of my loaf pans.

Finishing the Crust – glazes, washes and toppings

I baked three loaves of beer bread. Same recipe the only difference was how I treated the dough ball then how I baked it.


When the dough is placed in a hot oven, it puffs up in the first few minutes. This is called oven spring. If the dough skin dries too quickly the rise may be hindered. Two ways to permit the maximum rise are washes and scoring.

Washing with a glaze

A wash is applied to the dough before baking. A wash helps keep the skin of the dough pliable is the early bake. It may also smooth or colour the crust as well as add flavour. Some washes also provide the glue if you want to add seeds to the crust. Once the final proof is complete, the finish of the crust is determined. Glazes affect the look, taste and crunch of the crust. Some are classics such as washing a Challah with egg and topping with sesame seeds. But it is really up to you, the baker, as to how you will finish the loaf. Here is a list of glazes to choose from.

1. Water – crispy crust

Water may be brushed on or spritzed. Water keeps the dough skin from forming the crust, enabling the dough to expand. It also smooths out the crust, creating a more refined appearance. Apply just before baking.

2. Olive Oil – smooth chewy crust

One of my favourite glazes. Just spread as you drizzle. Apply just before baking.

3. Flour – rustic and chewy crust

Dust the dough with some flour. This will encourage the crust to form more quickly, resulting in a more rustic appearance with a chewier crust. Apply just before baking.

4. Melted Butter – soft chew and look

Spread 1/2 TBSP on the top to give a velvety appearance and a softer chew. Apply just before baking.

5. Egg – Shiny and brown. Attach toppings

Mix the egg with 1/2 TBSP water and a pinch of salt. Whip and strain to remove clumps of egg white. Wash with the egg mixture and add your toppings. Injected steam during the baking will remove the shine. Apply just before baking.

  • Egg yolk – gives the brown colour
  • Egg white – gives the shine
  • Whole egg – brown colour and shine
  • Egg with milk – darker brown
  • Egg with cream – even darker brown

6. Cornstarch – Shiny, hard crust. Attach toppings

  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 6 TBSP water

Whisk the cornstarch with 2 TBSP of the water.
Bring the remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil and whisk the cornstarch mixture into it
Simmer for about 30 seconds or until thickened and translucent.
Cool to room temperature.
Apply just before baking. Can be applied just after baking also.

7. Honey – Sticky sweet. Attach toppings. Applied after baking

All of the previous glazes are applied before baking. Honey is applied, just after the loaf is removed from the oven. You can attach toppings. The honey will soak into the crust but hold the toppings on.

Toppings

Here are some possible toppings.

  • Basil
  • Caraway seed
  • Garlic flakes
  • Rolled oat flakes
  • Onion
  • Oregano
  • Poppy seed
  • Sesame seed
  • Rolled oats

Scoring

Scoring is cutting slashes in the skin of the dough. This gives a route for the expanding dough to escape. If there was not a wash, the drying crust will open to permit the interior to escape creating the classic artisan look.

Below is a potato bread with an olive oil wash, deep scoring and baked on a stone.

Spreading Seeds and Cornmeal

Use salt and grated cheese shakers for seeds and corn meal.

Use salt and grated cheese shakers for seeds and corn meal.


I love using common low cost kitchen items to make tasks easier. I found when I applied seeds on a dough or spread some cornmeal on a peel I was wasting too much. The answer was salt shakers. These generic restaurant/diner version are low cost. I filled them with small seeds like poppy and celery. The problem was that sesame seeds were too big. The solution was graded cheese shakers. I have my row of shakers handy and find I am getting a nicer spread of them as well as wasting hardly any.

What is a Timeline?

One of the unique features of On Bread Alone is what I call a recipe timeline. Bread recipes differ from cooking recipes in that for yeast breads there are ferment and proof times. I look at a bread recipe timing from two points of view:

  1. How much time will I be active – measuring, mixing, forming, …
  2. How much time will I be inactive, ie waiting – ferment, proofing, preheating the oven and baking

The recipes list active and inactive times and a resulting total time. A timeline clock is a representation of this. Here are some examples

Sponge Method Challah

Timeline 3:40

Timeline 3:40

Sponge Method Challah has many active and inactive steps. The active steps are red pie shapes, the inactive times white. The steps include Active-Mix sponge, inactive-ferment, Active-Mix and knead dough, Inactive-proof, Active-Form braid, Inactive-Proof, Active-Wash and seed, Inactive-Bake, Active-Remove loaf.

The total time is 3:40 but only 40 minutes of that is active while you wait for 3 hours.

Beer Soda Bread

Timeline 0:55

Timeline 0:55

Beer Soda Bread is the exact opposite. Mix the ingredients and bake.

Oven Temperature Guide

Oven temperatures are quoted in different ways around the world. The metric scale uses degrees in Celsius (°C), Imperial scale uses degrees Fahrenheit (°F) and sometimes in the UK and France gas mark.

Electric Gas Mark Electric (Convection)

°F

°C

°F

°C

230

110

¼

200

90

250

120

½

210

100

285

140

1

250

120

300

150

2

270

130

320

160

3

285

140

350

180

4

320

160

375

190

5

340

170

400

200

6

360

180

425

220

7

400

200

450

230

8

410

210

475

240

9

425

220