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Q and A: How to mix bread dough with out a mixer.

Today’s kitchen question was emailed to me by Al Mercado from New York City.

Q.

Dear Tuddypum,

I would really like to begin baking fresh  bread at home. My Grandfather used to bake bread from scratch and my memory of him making the dough, letting it rise, and pulling perfectly shaped loaves from the oven has always stayed with me. When I would visit my grandparents, their house was always filled with the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread.

Here’s my question. How can I make my dough without having a stand up mixer? Every recipe I come across says to add the ingredients into a electric mixing bowl using a dough hook. This is how my Grandfather did as well. He had a very old one that seemed to work really well. The mixers are still in production and I’ve priced them out. They range anywhere from $199.00 – $350.00. That’s an investment that I cannot make at this time. Maybe one day. Do you have any tips or advice? Also, my wife has a gluten allergy. Can you provide a recipe for bread that does not contain gluten?  Thanks.

A.

Al, I feel your pain buddy. It’s too bad that your Grandfathers’ mixer didn’t get passed down to you. I know the brand you are speaking of. The newer models perform as well today as they did back when your Grandfather used his. I feel it is a worthy goal and I hope that sometime so you will be using one. I suggest that you check around at the thrift stores or even at a pawn shop. Believe it or not, I’ve seen them in both places, but they sell quickly.

In the mean time, you’re going to have to be creative. If you’re not a creative person, that’s ok because you have me to help and I’m as creative as they come. I can have you eating a sandwich made with slices of your own bread by sundown and it will only cost you .75 cents at your local hardware store. Oh, I forgot you said that you live in NYC so unless you are within walking distance, you should add some cab fare into the price.

In order for this to work well, you need to use a cordless or electric power drill. If not, go knock on some doors. Don’t tell anyone what you’re going to use it for and I advise you to do this in private unless you want people to think you’re as crazy as I am.

At the hardware store, go to the isle with all the hooks. Find yourself an “S” shaped bicycle hook used for overhead bike storage. Buy the red, rubber coated kind.

Viola, handheld mixer with a dough hook. Brilliant work Big Al!

Here is a basic recipe for baking gluten-free white bread.

Mise en place:

3/4 cup potato flour

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour or chickpea (heaping)

Approximately 1 cup of rice flower.

1tsp. kosher salt

1tsp. of agave honey or use regular

1tsp. gluten free baking powder

1tsp. xanthan gum

1tbls. active dry yeast

2tbls. olive oil

1 1/3 cups of slightly warmed water or you can use milk if there isn’t a lactose allergy as well.

Cooking spray for the bread pan

EQUIPMENT:

Power Drill – Cover the drill with a large Zip-lock or other plastic bag for sanitary purposes. Punch a hole through the bag, insert your improvised hook and chuck it down tightly. Make sure the bag does not wrap around the drill and please exercise caution. Use this method of your own free will.

Bike hook

4×8” bread loaf pan

2 Large mixing bowls

Flour sifter or fine mesh strainer

Rubber Spatula

Cooling rack. If you don’t have one, take one of your oven racks out before preheating and place atop a baking sheet.

Wet kitchen towel

Get set big Al. Here we go!

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

After you’ve gathered all of your ingredients together, place your mixing bowl onto a wet towel and wrap the bottom. This will hold the bowl in place.

Sift all of the dry ingredients together into the bowl.  You can repeat this step if you wish, but it is not needed. Use a spoon to stir the dry ingredients to ensure that the yeast is evenly distributed.

Add the olive oil and using the wooden spoon again, slowly incorporate while adding the lukewarm milk or water a little bit at a time. I want you to use the spoon first because if you insert the hook before the mixture has started to adhere, you will have a really big mess in your kitchen.

Insert the bike hook and pulse the drill at first. The dough will begin to ball up after about a minute. Now you can increase the duration of your pulses working your way up to a constant low speed. Don’t use the drill in the dough like you would with a concrete screw. The bowl will end up in the living room. This may take you up to 10 minutes using this method. if you get tired, stop for a minute. Remember to use the rubber spatula to occasionally scrape the sides of the bowl.

After aerating the dough, transfer the dough into the second mixing bowl. Spray one side of a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover the bowl loosely. Set the bowl on a counter nearest the pre-heating oven. Let rise 30-40 minutes.

The dough will have risen considerably. DO NOT punch it down. Spoon the dough into your greased loaf pan and pat it down a bit with the back of the spoon. You can brush a small amount of beaten egg on top if you wish.

Put into the oven for 45-50 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and thump the bottom. A hollow sound means it’s done. If it doesn’t sound hollow, put the loaf back into the pan and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. When you know it’s right, leave it on the rack to cool.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really simple. Thanks for the email, Al. – Tpum.

Yeast bread dough, ready for proving

Gluten Free Bread Dough, ready for proofing

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