Thursday, October 1, 2009

White Bread Comparison of Recipes

The time has come to compare the September white breads. I got all the breads out of the freezer and allowed them to come to room temperature. Then I tasted each one.

I decided that my comparison would be on crust, taste and texture.

1. White Mountain Bread: The Bread Bible

  • Crust: Soft and easy to bite
  • Taste: Slightly salty taste
  • Texture: Funny - tore not in half but in a curve. The crumb was nice and had some openness to it.

2. Basic White Bread II: The Book of Bread

  • Crust: Has character but is easy to bite through. It is a little chewy compared to the first one.
  • Taste: Nice full taste, a little sweet and really smells of the honey that is in it.
  • Texture: The slice feels moist and substantial. However, this one had huge air holes between the bread and the crust - probably because I let the loaves rise too long.
3. Sands Basic White Bread: The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook

  • Crust: A little tough and chewy. The crust has a lot of body and complements the bread taste
  • Taste: A sour-ish flavor with a bit of salt. Tastes like it would make great sandwiches
  • Texture; Moist, even crumb
4. White Bread: Variation I: The Bread Baker's Apprentice

  • Crust: Most substantial so far but not as tasty as the King Arthur crust
  • Taste: Somewhat ordinary taste but wouldn't compete with anything that was on it. Slightly sweet - uses sugar rather than honey
  • Texture: Prettiest crumb of all the recipes - tiny holes, nice feel, crust and bread married very well
5. Basic White Bread: Sunset Cookbook of Breads

  • Crust: Tough, kind of crackles as you chew through it, not very tasty--has a burnt toast feel and flavor to it.
  • Taste: Almost no taste - more like store-bought sandwich bread
  • Texture: Almost as pretty as the Reinhart bread. Tiny air holes and a feeling of good holding together in the slice.
So now I have to decide my favorite. The Jones' recipe for Basic White Bread II was my very favorite.

I think I like sweeter white breads and this one smelled of the honey in it. This recipe called for 4 T of honey - 1 T more than the other recipes. It was the most moist of the breads and felt good in my mouth.

I also really liked the feel of the crust. I didn't feel disappointed because of the air hole in the crust - I am quite sure that was not the recipe but was rather due to baker error - my leaving the loaf out rising for too long while I hiked a trail!

For sandwiches, I liked the Reinhart (Bread Baker's Apprentice) bread the best. The tiny air holes in the crumb and the feel of the bread were very good. It called for 3 1/4 T of sugar. I think if I had used honey rather than sugar, this one would have been my favorite overall. I also liked the ease of using instant yeast in this bread which none of the other recipes did.

I am very disappointed in the Sunset bread - it really brought nothing new to the table. The King Arthur bread was good, but the crust is what made me put it aside. I liked the taste of it but didn't like the feel of the crust.

Except for the Sunset recipe, I would make all of these recipes again, but I'll give 4 stars to the Book of Bread for their great white bread recipe.

So tomorrow begins the first weekend in October. This month I am baking oatmeal breads. Oatmeal seems like a great way to go into the cool fall.

Although Reinhart doesn't offer an oatmeal bread, I have found five recipes that I will use for my October comparison.

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