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Making lovely, healthy bread

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Calathea, Sep 12, 2015.

  1. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

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    I bought a bread machine a year ago, and it is the best thing ever! I quickly got into making sourdough and haven't looked back since. Apparently sourdough has all sorts of health benefits, including being really good for stabilising blood sugar, and I certainly feel much better on it. There was a study where sourdough made with white flour was far better for blood sugar than yeasted bread made with wholemeal flour. Also I think there may be probiotic action going on? I have one slice for breakfast, and occasionally another slice later in the day, so I'm not eating a huge amount of it.

    Anyway, this is a bread for the bread enthusiasts. What do you put in your bread? Do you find it a good way to smuggle in particularly healthy foods?

    I tend to use brown flour as a base, and sometimes replace up to a quarter of that (if you include the sourdough starter) with sesame seeds, oats, rye flour, kamut flour or wholemeal flour. If I'm using wholemeal flour, actually I think that's more than a quarter, but I also put in a fair chunk of barley flour to make it moister. These don't rise quite as well, but they're still pretty good. Oats and barley are meant to be great for blood sugar, I believe.

    Right now I am experimenting with putting in half a teaspoon of chia seeds, soaked in a tablespoon of boiling water, as that's meant to help make the bread moist. I've just fed the starter with half brown flour and half rye flour too, as it appreciates that from time to time.

    In terms of additions, I did try various sweet things like dried fruit, but found it a bit too limiting in terms of what you could do with the bread later. (Saffron bread is divine, mind you, with a lovely brioche-like texture, and that's only sweetened with a bit more sugar/syrup than usual. But I wouldn't personally eat it with houmous.) So usually I add in nuts or seeds. Walnuts are yummy and give the bread a lovely mauve colour. Brazil nuts don't really excite me, but if you want to get selenium, a brazil nut a day (in fact, half a brazil nut a day, I think) is enough, so you don't need many in the bread. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, briefly dry-roasted, are fantastic in bread, I'm going through a big phase of those. That'll be nice quantities of vitamin E, I think? And some extra minerals?

    For the oil and sugar, I'm currently using olive oil and date syrup. They probably don't really make any difference to how healthy it is, the quantity you end up using.

    The lovely thing about making bread with a bread machine is that it's minimal effort, I'm usually well enough to manage it, and you get fantastic results. Great effort-to-reward ratio there. And the smell when it's cooking is lovely! I got hooked as soon as I started, it's just so much better than horrible supermarket bread.

    Has anyone else played with heirloom flours, like the kamut I mentioned?

    I'm not actually gluten-free, but out of curiosity, has anyone managed to make a decent gluten-free loaf?
     
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  2. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    I have wanted to get a bread machine for a long time. There's nothing like the smell of baking bread.

    My problem is I am a household of one, two if you count the cat, and don't need that amount of bread at one time. Can you freeze bread?

    Your recipies sound yummy! My favorite bread is cinnamon raisin.

    Barb
     
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  3. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

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    I'm not sure, but look for compact bread machines. If you're in the UK, get the Lakeland Compact.

    Cinnamon raisin bagels are something we have a definite fondness for in this household. My partner puts the oddest things on them, though. When it gets to the point of pickled gherkins, I tease him about being pregnant.
     
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  4. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    I had no idea there are compact bread machines. I will have to look. I am in the States but I would think there would be something comparable.

    Thanks!!

    Barb
     
  5. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards "Gibberish"

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    Bread machines are amazing. They ought to be just awful gadgets but they do make fantastic bread. They seem to prove something (I now realise there is a pun in there). I would go for a Panasonic. I have made bread almost every day since we got one five years ago. It is one of the jobs I am allowed to do but it has such huge scope for experimentation I actually remember to do it. I have about six flour boxes and each day I decide what sort of mix would be good. And I haven't even started on croissants and stuff. My basic recommendation is to get a big bag of combicorn mix from a local baker. (And it worth paying for good flour like Allinson's. The supermarket own brands can be seriously boring.) I don't even know if combicorn has gluten but as a 10-20% component it does something to the mix you can't get other ways. Panasonic has three sizes of loaf recipe. The smallest one is quite a small loaf. I do the middle one. The big one comes out a funny shape so I don't do it.

    I don't have ME but my bread machine is seriously therapeutic. Having a slice of warm bread made from real stuff you put in yourself is worth a lot.

    (Disclaimer: I do not have shares in Panasonic, unfortunately.)
     
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  6. PatJ

    PatJ Forum Support Assistant

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    Fresh bread freezes well. It's helpful to slice it, add wax paper between the slices so they come apart easily when the bread is frozen, then bag it and freeze it. Always wait until bread is fully cool before slicing, as it's still cooking even when it comes out of the bread machine or oven. Sourdough bread (especially sourdough rye) can often benefit from sitting for a day before eating to let the flavor develop more and for moisture to even out in the loaf.

    When you want a slice of bread you can remove one from the freezer and either let it thaw, or put it in a toaster to defrost (it takes a little experimenting to get a soft but not toasted slice.)
     
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  7. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards "Gibberish"

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    I once heard a really interesting talk on the radio on bread. Apparently the reason why it goes stale is not so much due to drying, it is mostly because the gluten crystallises very slowly. And if you warm the bread up again in the oven, as we all know, it seems to de-stale in the middle because the gluten melts again. The clever thing is that if you freeze it once it has aired and cooled (about three hours) the gluten does not crystallise, only the water does. If you then warm it up (I agree a toaster is good) then you have perfect fresh bread even a month later - but make sure it has not dried through evaporation in the freezer leaving ice on the inside of the bag because of the door being opened and closed too often.
     
  8. Never Give Up

    Never Give Up Collecting improvements, until there's a cure.

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    My 2 favorite combos are:

    1. white and oat flours with flax meal and an add in of toasted sunflower seeds, and
    2. Basic white bread with add ins of grated orange peel, chopped dates and nuts, and raisins.
     
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  9. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

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    Yes, I realised afterwards that you can just use an ordinary machine and go for the smaller loaf setting. Of course, when you have a small kitchen and you are never going to use the larger sizes, compact bread machines are a real blessing then. Mine sits on the worktop and is tucked out of the way apart from when I'm putting the ingredients in and later getting the bread out. There's two of us, but I'm the main one eating the bread, my partner doesn't tend to eat breakfast and doesn't really snack on bread often. Sometimes the last bit has got a bit stale, depending on how well that loaf came out, but generally I'm getting through all of it fine, even at a rate of a slice or two a day. I start toasting it about two days after it's made, before that I just eat it as it is.

    Panasonic seem to be the brand for bread machines, everyone says that. That said, I doubt the cheaper ones are a bad thing, provided they're a known brand. I got the Lakeland one because it's the only compact one in the UK and I have a small kitchen. I was worried it would be one of those gadgets you never end up using, but I use it twice a week and it works very nicely. They're pretty simple devices, thankfully.

    The experimental bread is out of the machine, and it has a lovely rise to it! Here's what's in it:

    150ml sourdough starter
    105ml water
    1/2 tsp chia seeds, soaked with 1 tbsp boiling water for half an hour or so
    1 tbsp olive oil
    30g sesame seeds
    225g brown flour
    1 1/2 tbsp date syrup
    3/4 tsp salt (you can buy a teaspoon set with a 3/4 tsp one, and I recommend it)
    Perhaps 50g total of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, toasted

    Feed the sourdough starter with 1/2 cup flour (I did half rye flour, half brown flour this time) and 1/2 cup water, then cover and return to the fridge.

    Put the bread on the gluten-free setting, which sourdough seems to appreciate (longer rise, less kneading, I think).

    I did the pumpkin and sunflower seeds by eye, as you can be pretty vague with those and it doesn't matter. You get a fantastic smell while they're roasting, and I love seeing the pumpkin seeds pop in teh pan. The sesame seeds, on the other hand, were counted as part of the flour because they are so small. When I use oats, they're counted as part of the flour too. The chia seeds are the experimental bit, it's so long since I tried them before.

    Here's my basic recipe:

    150ml sourdough starter
    Water - 90ml for white bread, 100ml for brown bread, 110ml for half brown half wholemeal bread
    1 tbsp oil
    255g flour (up to 80g of which can be another type of flour such as rye or kamut, or something like oats)
    1 1/2 tbsp sugar or syrup (originally 1 tbsp, but it rises better this way)
    3/4 tsp salt
    Add extra nuts or seeds to taste, I think up to about 50g but you're doing it by eye after a while

    Bread made with toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds is seriously yummy with Marmite.

    I rather liked poppy seeds in bread but my partner hated it, they got caught in his teeth.

    It's great to see all the other bakers here! And we never need to worry about people being snobby about bread machines in this forum, either.

    Never Give Up, lovely sounding recipes you have there.

    Jonathan Edwards, ooh, science!

    Pyrex do a range of Kitchen Labs beakers which are glass with nice clear markings every 5ml, they're perfect for measuring the liquids for bread. I started off using cups for the flour but quickly realised that people are right to do the dry ingredients by weight.

    I've heard that sourdough can sometimes be tolerated by folks who don't otherwise get on with gluten, though I've not tested it. One of these days I am going to give a loaf to my support worker who has diabetes, and she will do careful testing to work out whether it works for her, as she's interested in getting a bread machine. I definitely notice that I feel more satisfied from sourdough bread, and I get more solid energy from it. The sourdough starter had a bit of a hissyfit a few months back, and while it was recovering we were back on yeasted bread. It was so weird now that I'm used to sourdough!
     
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  10. PatJ

    PatJ Forum Support Assistant

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    This article gives some basic information about starch retrogradation (bread staling). This one gives lots of detailed scientific information on the same subject.
     
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  11. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

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    Told you it looked nice! That's it on top of the trivet and in front of the bread machine. There are four different types of seeds in there, I think that might be a first for me.
     

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  12. PatJ

    PatJ Forum Support Assistant

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    Here's some info on sourdough:
    Top ten reasons to eat sourdough bread
    Some basic information on sourdough and health benefits.

    The science of sourdough and its health benefits
    This one is impressive. The author tested her blood sugar at different times to see how sourdough influenced blood sugar values. She also talks about the drawbacks of baker's yeast, and how modern wheat strains can lead to gluten intolerance.

    Sourdough can often be tolerated by people with gluten sensitivity, but even better is sourdough using an heirloom grain such as spelt.

    Many brown flours (even when they say "whole grain") leave out the germ because it starts to go rancid almost immediately--not good for shelf life. But the germ is where the most nutritious parts of the grain are located. So if you want the most nutrition you can use a grain mill to get fresh flour just before baking.
     
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  13. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

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    Yeah, that's totally not going to happen. But if I can manage to get the bread to rise well and not be too dry, I may start using more wholewheat flour in there. Would I be better off using a mix of white and wholewheat flour instead of brown, then?

    Spelt never really did anything for me. Kamut has quite a nice flavour, and it comes out a pretty pale yellow, even though it's a wholegrain. When I make rye bread, the rye flour (1/4 - 1/3 of the total, the rest is brown wheat flour) is wholegrain.

    Thanks for the articles. I wonder how much it applies to sourdough made in a bread machine, where it doesn't have such a lengthy process? There is certainly enough sourdough activity going on for it to raise the bread.
     
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  14. panckage

    panckage Senior Member

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    I've tried several different gluten free bread recipes claiming to be the 'greatest ever' but all that I have tried so far tend to be mediocre, heavy and taste largely the same. I have tried a couple of store bought brands that taste just like bread, albeit crumbly.

    I would like to hear from someone who has legitimately made good gluten free bread as well ;)
     
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  15. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    I haaaave! But it's not bread, it's 'bread'.

    Okay, bear with me here.

    This bread contains NO GRAIN FLOUR of any kind - it's all seeds and nuts. Seriously. No eggs and no milk, either. But I swear it's good.

    I was trying to describe to a friend, and I said that it's the texture of a banana bread or a walnut bread? But not sweet like those: savory. The original recipe is called 'Adventure Bread' if you would like to go searching. I am going to blog about it very soon.

    -J
     
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  16. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    Calathea, that looks gorgeous! *steals a virtual piece*

    -J
     
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  17. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    Waaaaaay jealous. Not in my diet.

    Enjoy some for me!
     
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  18. Valentijn

    Valentijn Senior Member

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    I bake bread in a machine when I'm feeling better. But it's gluten free and usually vegan to avoid various food intolerances :p I use coconut milk instead of water/milk + oil, and maple syrup as my bit of sugar. Egg replacers are great for baking, and I use soaked chia seeds and xanthum gum to provide the "glutinous" texture in the absence of actual gluten.

    The trick to making gluten-free taste good is to use at least 3 flours and 2 starches. Usually I do one full cup of millet because it's pretty neutral in flavor, 1/2 cup each of 2+ other flours (teff, rice, almond, quinoa, buckwheat, oat, corn, garbanzo), and 1/4-1/2 cup each of 2+ starches (potato, tapioca, arrowroot).

    And my Panasonic bread maker has a nice gluten-free setting which handles all the mixing and baking :love:

    If I want to make Frisian Sugar Bread, I do mostly millet flour and add some cinnamon, then push sugar cubes into the loaf after it's done mixing. It's like cinnamon rolls in yeast-bread form :p

    And my favorite naughty bread is Pumpkin bread, with puree from a can of Libby's or from a proper Sugar Pie pumpkin. Though I don't use the bread maker for that, since it's a quick bread, not a yeast bread. Also with some chia seed and xanthum to hold it together, but less of them since it doesn't need to hold together as well as a yeast bread does. And pumpkin pie spicing of course! Dutch people who have tried this one have liked it a lot, since the spicing is similar to what is used in some Dutch cookies, but the squash sold here is incredibly nasty :cautious: So they typically haven't had any pumpkin-based dessert foods before.
     
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  19. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

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    I had heard that vegan gluten free bread is pretty much impossible, so it's great to learn that it can be done. I remember rice flour tasting really odd to me in stuff that year I tried going gluten free, sort of powdery. The Adventure Bread seems halfway between conventional bread and a nut loaf, is that right? I don't actually have anyone gluten free to cook for at the moment, though my partner's father is diabetic so I might try to work out a really diabetic-friendly bread.

    I tried throwing in some coconut flour and sorghum flour once. Total disaster. I had no idea how much water they need. That's the only one that didn't turn into a loaf. I've kept the flours for adding in when making biscuits, as I do those by hand.
     
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  20. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

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    I'm still trying to work out what this Combicorn stuff is. A mixture of seeds and oats, it seems? I saw somewhere that it can be used at up to 50% of the total mix, which is a lot for those sorts of ingredients. Granted, sourdough in a bread machine doesn't rise as well as yeasted bread or sourdough made by hand. It's interesting that it apparently lowers the GI a lot. I know oats are meant to be good in this respect.

    There was an article someone linked to above which talked about using heirloom wheat flours for sourdough, but it was a pretty involved three-day process for making a single loaf of bread, and none of us here are going to do that! Is anyone using the heirloom wheats, and if so, how are you getting along with them? I ended up buying a four pack of kamut flour from Amazon a while ago, so I should use that more often. It might be a nice replacement for wholewheat flour, actually, as the taste is very mild and you don't end up with seriously craggy bread. I'm geting quite fond of rye flour in the bread mix as well. The annoying thing about using oats, rye flour, kamut flour, spelt flour or what have you is that they all reduce how much gluten is in the bread and how well it will rise, so you can only really use one at a time. Anyway, I do default to all brown flour fairly often, but I should try to make a point of using a good chunk of one of the other flours so that it has the extra nutrition and so forth, and also just because it's tasty. The sourdough starter appears to enjoy noshing on rye flour from time to time.
     

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