Friday, April 3, 2009


Full process automatization.

The programmable timer is a very precious function because allows to further automatize the bread making process. The SEVERIN BM3988 permits to differ the program up to 13 hours.
This means that setting the timer to 9 hours we will get the bread out of the oven after exactly 9 hours from the start of the program.
So let's say we decide to make a poolish 8 hours long.
We prepare the poolish mixing it 5 minuts as we already seen, after that we put immediately the flour  (00 type)  over the poolish and then we put salt, sugar and lard (or extra virgin olive oil).  
In Figure 6 you can see the mixing with all the ingredients put on the poolish, you can see clearly two solid lumps of lard that will melt spontaneously during the poolish maturation. From the figure you can note a useful refinement: the metallic handle has been fitted below the edge of the mould, in this way it's not an obstacle in the bread estraction phase.
We choose  standard program 1, 900g weight, dark crust and we set the timer to 11 hours.
Now start the bread machine.
In this way the start of the program (that lasts 3 hours) will be delayed of 8 hours, just the time for poolish maturation under the flour layer.
Practically we obtain the qualitative benefits of the poolish without renouncing to insert the ingredients all together at the same time.
The only required actions with this technique are the initial poolish preparation (10 minutes of work) and the loaf overturning 30 minutes before the end of the program (1 minute of work).
In pratica si ottengono i benefici qualitativi del poolish senza rinunciare al vantaggio di inserire contemporaneamente tutti gli ingredienti.

So to recap:
- for a poolish 5 hours long, set the timer to 8 hours.
- for a poolish 8 hours long, set the timer to 11 hours. 

Figure 6
All the ingredients inserted in the mold before the start of the program.

Figure 7
The loaf (750g in weight) just taken out of the bread machine. It's tall about 13cm, all this with just half a gram of dried brewer's yeast.

Some economical considerations.

Beside to obtain a high organoleptic quality product you can't understimate the economical advantage that refunds in a fiew months the cost of the bread machine.

The cost of the loaf is the following:

- 0.30€ of Manitoba flour;
- 0.12€ of flour type 00;
- 0.02€ for 0.5g of dried brewer's yeast;
- 0.05€ for salt, sugar, lard;
- 0.11€ for 0.5kWh of electrical energy (0.22€/kWh);

The total cost is 0.60€ for a loaf of 750g in weight.
The cost of the domestic bread produced with the bread machine amounts to 0.80 Euro/Kg.

Figure 8
You can easily extract the kneading blade just after the cut of the bread.


Thanks to the techniques showed in this guide, product of several months of mindful experimentation, it becomes possible to autoproduce the daily bread needed without being professional bakers obtaining a high quality product. All this at one third of the cost respects bakeries and with only 10 minutes of complessive work.
The only disadvantage to put daily on the table a bread so inviting is the risk to exceed in the consumption, so take care to the calories. 

Figure 9.
The bread just baked and cut in a half for the humidity sweat out.

Figure 10.
Particular of the alveolation.



The overturning technique.

Bread machines are all quite similar: a U shaped heating element is located at the bottom of a not sticky mold.
This conformation is a cheap solution for the manufacturer but it has a limit because produces a not uniform heat distribution inside the mold. Moreover, the bottom of the loaf is constantly in touch with the metal of the mold. The consequence is a greater heat transfer for conduction in the bottom area with overbaked crust an at the same time a underbaked crust in the top area of the loaf. 
Any action on settings to improve this situation results ineffective: if you want a well baked top crust you must accept an over baked bottom crust, no alternatives until now.
The overturning technique solves effectively this intrinsic defect of bread machines giving a thin and crisp bottom crust and a well baked top crust. Also the crumb is baked more uniformly gaining in digestiveness. Practically you need to overturn the loaf inside the mold exactly 30 minutes before the end of the program without suspend it.

To execute the overturning technique you need to find a metallic needle of 22-25cm (Figure 4):

Figure 4
The needle used for the overturning technique.

This operation requires about one minute.

30 minutes to the end of the program lift the cover of the bread maker, remove carefully the hot mold wearing a suitable glove and extract smoothly the loaf,  beating the upset mold on a chopping board.
Reinsert the mold in the bread machine and close the cover so you don't lose heat.
Lay down the loaf on a side and pierce it diagonally with the needle taking care to avoid the collision with the kneading blade inside the loaf.
Insert the loaf overturned inside the mold and close the lid (Figure 5).
Wait for the ending program acoustic signal.
Observe that when the loaf is finally baked you need only to lift it, you don't need to remove the mold again.

Figure 5
The loaf pierced with the needle and overturned inside the mold.

Hot to keep fragrance and crispiness.

As soon as the bread maker signals acoustically the end of baking extract immediately the hot loaf from the mold and cut in a half with a bread knife paying attention to not scratch the kneading blade. Lay down the two half loafs on a grid with the cut face turned up.
In this way the humidity present inside the loaf will exude from the crumb and not from the crust keeping it crisp.
(The bread machine permits to keep the bread warm for an hour after the baking. This is not good for the crust, because it becomes dampish).
After half an hour the loaf is ready to be served on table, fragrant and warm, with a thin crust also on the bottom, the crumb soft and well alveolated (Figure 7,8,9,10).
A delight for you mouth!



The poolish magic.

There are essentially two rising typology for bread: direct and indirect.
In the direct rising the brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae) and the rest of ingredients are put all together at the same time in the mold, after that the bread maker takes care of everything and after about 3 hours you get the bread done.
With indirect rising instead you need to prepare a so called pre-ferment obtained mixing water, flour and yeast, after that you leave the poolish to mature a bunch of hours.
After the maturation you can add the rest of the ingredients and only at that time you can start the bread machine program.
Although the direct method appears on paper the ideal in terms of process automatization, there are excellent reasons to choose an indirect rising methodology because the results that you can obtain (in organoleptic terms) of the final product are objectively far superior.
The so called poolish is an indirect rising method that allows to obtain an high quality of the final product paying the modest cost of a maturation waiting time of several hours of the pre-ferment. 
There are other very good indirect rising methods (biga, sourdough or natural yeast) but they have the not indifferent disadvantage to require a greater effort in term of active work to obtain the final product. 
Finally the poolish method allows to obtain the greater quality/price ratio and for this reason has been adopted in this blog.
The reasons of a greater quality of pre-fermented bread are tied to complex microbiological phenomena that happen during the poolish maturation. The quantity of yeast that is used with poolish if much lesser than the quantity needed in the direct rising because with poolish the yeast has only to accomplish the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae proliferation, a unicellular microorganism that reproduces himself with gemmation eating sugars and excreting carbon dioxide and alcohol as wastes.
The carbon dioxide produced by the yeast keeps trapped in the dough giving us a soft and well alveolated crumb in the end.
In other terms with the poolish not only we grow yeast in a colture with zero costs, but also we benefit of a series of chemical reactions of decomposition of the complex sugars contained in the flour. The end product will result more digestible and provided of flavors and scents that are peculiar of a superior quality bread.

Poolish preparation (8 hours).

Although the bread makers are generally thought to be used with direct rising, we will see how is possible to use it without contraindications with poolish indirect rising.
With the terms 'mature' poolish we intend that the poolish is in his max fermentative strength and it's ready to be mixed with the rest of ingredients.
Two variables influence sensibly the poolish maturation time: the temperature inside the mold and the amount of yeast that acts as trigger.
To prepare a poolish that matures in 8 hours at ambience temperature (23°C), put in the mold in order:

- 300g of  tepid tap water;
- 300g of Manitoba flour
- 0.5g of dried brewer's yeast;
To speed up the poolish execution put the mold directly on a electronic scales, insert water first, flour then spread the dried yeast (Figure 2 shows a dose of 0.5g of dried brewer's yeast, Figure 3 shows a dose of 1g, useful if you don't have a precision scales). 

Introduce the mold in the bread machine and mix for 5 minutes (in the SEVERIN you need only to start the default program) with the goal to obtain a homogeneous cream.
Switch off the bread maker and leave the poolish to mature inside the mold.
During maturation the poolish will grow in volume until twice the original level.
When the poolish reach the maximum level it's mature.
You can discover that there could be considerable differences respect the theoretical estimations, usually greater is the temperature and faster will be the maturation.
But don't worry to much about this, there are wide tolerances, poolish is not compromised if you leave it a couple of hours more than expected.
A poolish 8 hours long is convenient if you arrange it in the late evening to get the next day for lunchtime the bread just baked.
To get the bread for dinner you need to prepare a 5 hours poolish in the morning, doubling the yeast dose (1g).
In general a poolish maturated for a long time produces better organoleptic results respect a short time poolish. In any case never use less then 0.5g of dried yeast to avoid microbiological competition phenomena. 

The full procedure of poolish preparation described in details until now requires not more than 5 minutes of active work, essentially you need only to weigh water and flour and start/stop the program.

Figure 2
Exactly half a gram of dried brewer's yeast.

Figure 3
Exactly one gram of dried brewer's yeast.

The kneading and baking phases. 

As soon as the poolish is mature extract the mold from the bread machine and put it again on the scales to add the remaining ingredients:

- 200g of flour type 00;
- 1 teaspoon of salt (7g);
- 2 teaspoon of sugar (10g);
- 2 teaspoon of lard or extra virgin oil (12g);

It's not necessary to weigh with precision the amount of salt, sugar and lard: to speed up you can use a teaspoon as a doser without compromise the final result. Sugar (sucrose) is a direct nutrient of the yeast and helps the poolish rising. The lard donates softness to the crumb and conservability to the crust (alternatively a tablespoon of extra virgin oil produces excellent results).

Being the lard in solid form, you need to melt it in glass with a bit of warm water (we will see that thanks to the timer we can avoid this manual operation because during the poolish maturation the lard will melt by itself). 

At this point you have only to reinsert the mold in the bread machine and program it in this way:

- standard program 1 (total 3 hours: 25 minutes of kneading, 90 minutes of rising and 65 minutes of baking);
- weight 900g;
- dark crust;

Start the bread maker!

The indicated programming aims to obtain the max baking times, selecting the 900g weight we gain 5 minutes of baking more that will be precious to compensate the little loss of heat due to overturning technique that we will see later.
If you don't own the specific model SEVERIN BM3988 choose a program that has similar rising and baking times.




The scent and fragrance of fresh bread is a sensorial experience that you can't miss if you are so lucky to live near a bakery where the owner is an artist of the bread making art. Unfortunately in the last years we have seen a progressive pauperization of the average quality of the craftmade bread, the sense of taste of the young generations has been gradually addicted to artificial flavours of the bread produced with industrial methods and commercialized by big supermarkets.

With a greater frequency we see bakeries that, pressed from the competitive prices of the supermarkets,  surrended to the temptation to decrease the intrinsic quality of their product, converting to semi-industrial technique that allow to increase the margin.

So the question that arise is the following: is the domestic baking a viable alternative to resist against the high cost of living and at the same time getting a bread with superior organoleptic qualities?

If you have the constancy to carefully follow the rest of this guide you will discover that today is technically possible to get 1 Kg of domestic bread of medium/high quality with a complessive effort of about 10 minutes of work at the cost of 1 Euro, electrical energy included.


A genial invention: the bread machine.

With the classic manual baking you can obtain potentially high levels of quality. Each passage, from kneading to rising, from moulding of the loaf to baking in a oven is followed with care and diligence by the domestic baker.

This method has however a significant disadvantage: it requires time and assiduity to follow all the stages of the process. It's not acceptable that a person must invest every day of the week at least an hour of time to manufacture the bread for his family.

Luckily the situation has changed some years ago with the commercialization of a simple but ingenious household appliance: the bread machine.

Thanks to electronics the bread machine automatizes the 3 basic phases of the process (kneading, rising, baking), leaving the operator only the burden of the weigh of ingredients to insert in the mold, the selection and the start of the automatic program. 

Having the appliance is not enough to obtain a good bread with a little effort. The luck of the beginner could make you happy with the first loaf you deliver but do not be satisfied, your bread machine can give you a lot more if exploited at the best of its capabilities.

No fear, to reach the goal is easy, but you need to follow with great attention the techniques that will be described later.

On the market there are a lot of different models of bread makers. The Figure 1 shows the models chosen for the setup of this method.

Figure 1
The bread makers SEVERIN BM3988 and BIFINETT KH1172.

Technical characteristics of SEVERIN BM3988:

- Automatic bread maker 600 Watt.
- Loaf of 750g and 900g.
- 12 programs and 3 levels of crust (light,medium,dark).
- Not sticking extractable mold , dimensions L 18 cm x H 15 cm.
- Programmable timer up to 13 hours.
- Backup memory anti blackout of 15 minutes.
- Dimensions 240 mm (L) x 360 mm (P) x 310 mm (H) peso 6,5 kg
- Accessories: graduated glass e measuring cup, instructions and recipes.
- Color white.
- Warranty 2 years.
- Price 60 euro.

The differences between the models available on the market essentially pertain the dimension of the mold (and so the max capacity) and the type of available programs. Mechanically almost all the bread makers share the same scheme: a mold with central spindle on which you insert the kneading blade, heating element placed under the mold.

Different bread makers could need different times for the stages of kneading, rising and baking, unfortunately only some machines have a custom program with freely programmable times (for example Backmeister 8695, limited to 60 minutes max of baking). If you don't own a SEVERIN BM3988 identify a program with similar rising and baking times later indicated. 
The timer function is necessary to execute with success the proposed method because allows, as we will see, to further decrease manual interventions gaining max automatization of the process.

A preliminary operation to perform before penetrating in the bread preparation with a bread machine consists to lubricate with alimentary oil the spindle where you insert the kneading blade. In this way the subsequent extraction of the loaf from the mold will be rather facilitated.