Tag Archives: yeast bread

Bread Challenge: Maple-Walnut Oat Bread

I am really enjoying my bread challenge.  Each loaf of bread I make is better than the one before and I am learning a lot!

This week’s bread was called “Maple-Walnut Oat Bread” and it came from King Arthur Flour’s book Whole Grain Baking.


I focused on two things while making this bread:  kneading it enough and letting it rise enough once it got in the pan.


One of the most difficult things for me in learning how to bake bread has been knowing when I have kneaded the dough enough.  Recipes say things like “knead until smooth and elastic”, but what does that really mean?  My sister told me about the “window test”, in which you stretch a little piece of the dough between your fingers and if it makes a thin sheet without breaking then you can stop kneading.  I tried this and it seems to have helped.  I found this link which talks about kneading and shows a nice picture of the window test.

I really think I got the dough kneaded enough this time (or at least very close!).  Not only could I stretch the dough thin fairly well (a little tricky with the walnuts), but I could see the strands of gluten starting to form.


Another problem I have had making bread is I don’t feel the bread is quite tall enough.  I suspect I haven’t been letting it rise quite high enough for the final rise.  I have also been getting “lumpy” tops, rather than smooth.

This is the first loaf I baked. You can see that the top is a little lumpy.

This time I made two changes during the final rise.  Normally I let my dough rise in the laundry room on top of the dryer.  It’s a nice, warm little spot.  I was starting to suspect that the act of carrying the pan of risen dough back to the kitchen was causing it to fall a bit, resulting in my lumpy loaves.  So this time I did the initial rise in the laundry room, but did the final rise in the kitchen.

The other change I made was to let it rise a little higher in the pan.  The recipe said to let it rise so it crowned an inch and a half above the pan.  I actually took out a ruler and waited until it got high enough.

Nicely risen and ready to bake!

Other Adjustments

I also made my now-usual altitude adjustments:  I added an extra tablespoon of water, and let the dough rise a second time before shaping it for the final rise.  I remembered to use my bread improver this time too!


This is definitely my best loaf so far!  I know I say that each time, but really it just means I’m learning and improving.  The flavor is wonderful!  And it has a nice soft texture that is perfect for sandwiches and toasting.  I finally got a nice smooth top, rather than a lumpy one.

I am looking forward to continuing my bread challenge and continued bread improvement!  If you are interested in making Maple-Walnut Oat Bread for yourself, you can find the recipe here on King Arthur Flour’s site.

Nice smooth top.



Filed under Cooking

Bread Challenge: White Loaves

For my next challenge bread, I made the White Loaves from Baking with Julia.  The Tuesdays with Dorie group made these a few weeks ago and all the loaves I saw looked wonderful.  It seemed like a good recipe to try.

My mom and sister also made the same bread the same week I did.  Our results were mixed.

I made a few changes to the recipe.  Some of my changes were to adjust for altitude and some of them were for added nutrition and taste.  Here are my changes:

  1. I substituted white whole wheat flour for half the bread flour.
  2. I used 8 teaspoons of KAF Whole Grain Bread Improver.
  3. I let the dough sit for about 30 minutes after the initial mix but before kneading to allow the whole wheat flour to absorb more liquid.
  4. I added an extra 2 tablespoons water to account for my dry climate and higher altitude.
  5. After the first rise I punched down the dough and let it rise a second time before shaping and doing the final rise.


This is the best loaf bread I have made so far!  The texture was good – nice and “springy” to the touch, for lack of a better word.  The bread was great toasted and it also made a nice turkey sandwich.  I really  liked the flavor added by the white whole wheat flour.  My bread did not rise as high as many of the TWD loaves I saw, perhaps because of the whole wheat flour I used.

Yummy Turkey Sandwich

My mom liked her bread but didn’t love it.  It was a little chewy and yeasty.  But she was very pleased with her results since she hadn’t made a loaf of bread in years.

Mom's bread. The bread on the left was baked in a taller glass pan and the one on the right was in a wider metal pan.

My sister thought her bread was fine untoasted, but great toasted.  She didn’t care for the crust – it wasn’t what she thought it should be.  She and I both worried about our mixers; they got really hot while mixing!  The dough for two loaves was a little too much for our mixers to handle, and we both stopped the kneading process before we should have because we didn’t want to hurt our mixers.

My sister's bread. She only has one bread pan, so she made the second loaf a boule.

All-in-all, I consider our loaves to be a success!  Did you make any bread in the last week?  If so, put a link in the comments and I will check it out!



Filed under Cooking