If you've ever considered making your own bread, now is a better time than ever. Hence the reason to post this long almost article.
I started making my own bread a while back as I was sick of buying cake bread and I lived to far away from the artisan bakers around town.
After almost a year away from Kunming I return to find that Metro now sells bread making machines and all the ingredients to make bread. Not only do the sell Gold Medal US brand bread flower, there is now also a local bread flower available that is never out of stock and is cheaper.
Bread making tips.
The recipe in the book that comes with your bread maker will need tweaking a little, regarding water and yeast content.
Kunming is dry and this affects the water content of the flour. Kunming is also at high altitude and this affects the amount of yeast you use. You need to adjust these separately until you get good results.
Too little water and the load in gnarly. Too much water and the loaf rises too much and then collapses leaving a crater in your bread. However, too much yeast also makes the bread rise too much and then collapse giving cratered bread.
Things I have discovered about ingredients in Metro.
There are two types of Angel brand yeast (big pack) in Metro, one has added sugar. This could affect yeast rising. The same goes for milk powder, which if added extends the life of your loaf, one has added lactose.
There is a local flour in Metro (next to the bread flour) and the English part of the label says 'Wheat Dietary Fibre'. This seems to be flour with added whole wheat. I have used this for bread with no problems.
I only use half the yeast in the recipe, using the full amount gave me crater bread, this may be due to altitude.
I use bread improver (mantou improver) which contains ascorbic acid, needed if you want to use a 100% whole wheat flour.
A word on Bread Makers
Prices vary a lot. My brother taught me that big ugly and cheap bread makers work just as well as expensive. You just need to tinker with the recipe.
I will also start a separate thread on Bread Recipes. I hope people add to it.
Thanks for all the info. I too suffer from good bread withdrawal and over dozens of times using my bread machine, I have come up with the perfect recipe for making rolls (or buns!). The Gold Medal Bread Flour is an excellent product and makes foolproof buns every time.
Question-Since I'm heading to Metro in the near future, is the 'Wheat Dietary Fibre' flour bread flour, that is high gluten, or is it whole wheat?
I posted it on my blog: wp.me/p1l0ky-j9, but you do need a vpn to climb the greatfirewall. Alas, I digress. When I have time, I will repost it on gokunming.
I don't know if it is high gluten, but the bread comes out OK.
Perhaps I can get my Chinese wife to have a closer look at the packaging to what she can glean.
One thing about using the Mantou improver, as it contains ascorbic acid it gets around the problem of needing to add extra gluten to whole wheat four
I know what you mean about buns. Compared to loaves they are more reliable.
Do you use you bread maker to cook the buns, or just to make the dough? I want to buy a separate oven for making rolls, baguettes, and pizza.
there's a good documentary i saw called "How to Cook Your Life" about a guy who was a monk (buddhist?) living in the mountains in europe somewhere. and he felt that the art of bread-making has been lost and replaced with this plastic crap in supermarkets, so he decided to try to restore it. he was teaching people how to make bread. and it did seem like the folks were having a great time kneading and sifting and waiting for the dough to rise.
I can fully associate with the idea, and kneading dough by hand can be very therapeutic.
But with the busy lives most of us lead, a bread making machine is the next best thing. Just chuck everything in the machine and walk away.
I realise now that the thread topic title should be
'Consider making your own bread, it's easy.'
I use what I call 'My Easy Bake Oven', which is the biggest and highest temperature oven I could buy years ago. Perhaps they have hotter ovens now.
I can't do 'kneading' so I use my bread maker to make the dough, which by the way comes out beautiful, and then roll the dough into a bun shape, actually a knot shape. A little more labour intensive but more reliable, as you said.
Then I freeze them in ziplock baggies and take one out one at a time for breakkie almost every day!
There are many online videos teaching how to make bread and you don't need a bread machine. But you need to let it sit for 24 hours. Called no-knead bread I think.
Ref your question "... 'Wheat Dietary Fibre' flour bread flour, that is high gluten, or is it whole wheat?
It is a blend of flours, it is high gluten, and contains a minimum 3% dietary fibre.
When you cook the bread it is somewhat brown. I would guess at least 1/3 whole-wheat flour, but that is a guess
Well, I bought the flour you suggested and made the same recipe as I always do using half Western flour and half with the Chinese brand of Wheat Dietary Fibre flour from Metro.. The rolls turned out slightly flatter than normal however more light than before. The colour was the same. The dough probably needs more flour; it had less flexibility although it did rise very well. I will try again next week and let you know how it goes.
We agree breadmaking is a fun and magical process. However if you can't be bothered with the ten minutes kneading, don't want to buy a breadmaker or oven don't despair. We're lucky in Kunming to have three cafes, As You Like It, French Cafe and Slice of Heaven making really good artisan bread.