PANS: A MATTER OF SIZE
It can be difficult to determine why bread doesn’t raise like you want it to. One surprising reason is that your pan may be too large.
Since I’m not a chef and learned all my cooking skills either at my mother’s elbow or through trial and error, I had no idea that some loaf pans aren’t really suitable for baking a two-pound loaf of bread. Until I started experimenting with my bread machine.
The front loaf in this photo clearly didn’t rise as high as the second because it was baked in a 9×5 loaf pan. The second was in a pan measuring 8.5×4.5.
One-and-one-half pound and two-pound loaves are typically what you bake in a bread machine. Flour amounts for these recipes are generally 4 cups or less. This produces a good-sized loaf that will easily provide at least 12 slices of bread.
If your recipe calls for 5, 6 or even 7 cups of flour, you can – and will want to – use a larger loaf pan.
Photo by Loretta Sorensen
The pans I use for my two-pound loaves are 8.5 inches long and 4.5 inches wide. For two-pound loaves, this size causes the dough to rise into a nice dome shape and gives the bread a light, soft texture.
If your don’t have an 8.5×4.5 pan and purchasing a new pan is out of the question (at least for the time being), it doesn’t mean you can’t bake bread. Just know that your loaf may not turn out exactly as you hope.
If you need to replace your loaf pan(s), you may be able to do so very inexpensively (I’m not fond of the word cheap) by searching for a new pan at a thrift store, rummage sale or clearance sale. In doing so, I recommend avoiding glass or even Corning Ware, as bread dough sticks to these surfaces very easily, even when the pan is well coated with a non-stick product.
I also don’t advise use of pans with a non-stick surface. If that surface is damaged, undesirable toxins could potentially leach into your bread.
Aluminized steel pans are my favorite type of loaf pan. They are designed with a corrugated finish to be durable and provide a virtually non-stick surface without any added chemical coating. Aluminized steel loaf pans cost more than other types of pans. However, I’ve never had to dig a loaf of bread out of my aluminized steel pans. They do need a non-stick coating each time I bake, but they work wonderfully well.
Because these pans quickly heat and hold the heat, I’ve never had a loaf of bread that was soggy in the middle because it didn’t cook thoroughly.
Since saving money is one of the main reasons most people bake bread, it makes sense not to go overboard on the cost of the pans we use. However, since my two-pound loaves of 100% organic bread costs about $1.50 to make, I’m saving a minimum of $2 to $4 per loaf each time I bake. Over a one-year period, my minimum savings is $104 ($2 x 52 weeks). That means I quickly recover the $15 cost of my bread pan, which has a lifetime guarantee.
Whichever loaf pan you choose to use – even a 9×5 size – just be aware that it will affect the final rise of your bread.
Long time journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! and regularly shares information about whole grains and bread baking. You’ll find her book on her blog site at www.bakeyourbestever.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, Our Dakota Horse Tales, and on Pinterest, and Facebook.
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