I’ve been on this bread making kick lately. Blame Cooks Illustrated who had a two page spread last issue on bread making tips. They recommended stand mixers over hand kneading or bread machines. I have a bread machine. It works well, but is hard to store so is put away right now. I also have a KitchenAid 6 quart mixer, well I actually have two now, but that’s another story. It gets used often and sits on the counter. I wanted to try making bread this way to see if I still needed the bread machine.
For my first few loaves, I used a bowl covered with plastic wrap for the first rise. That worked out well, but I’m a gadget junkie. We were at a restaurant supply store (a candy store for foodies) to pick up a few flour scoops and I was drawn to the Cambro section. Cambro makes tons of stuff for restaurants including plastic containers. I use the square ones to store flour. They work nicely. Cooks Illustrated recommended using a straight sided container with a lid for the first rise. Their illustration looks just like the Cambro 4 quart, so of course I had to have one. They’re not expensive, about $10 – $12. I tried to talk myself out of it, thinking that I don’t have room. (I don’t.) Gadget geek that I am, I bought it anyway. I am really glad that I did.
The dough is rising much faster and more consistently and it’s much easier to tell when it’s doubled. The lidded container creates a nice warm moist environment for the yeast to do its work. The trick of using a rubber band to mark the dough is excellent too. Some gadgets are worth the price and finding the storage space. If you bake bread a lot, try it out. You can find them at Smart & Final stores in the Western US or restaurant supply stores. King Arthur Flour has a similar one online if you can’t find one locally.