Monday, May 17, 2010

Baking Low Sodium Bread - Without a Bread Machine - Part 5

Even if you don’t have a bread machine, you can still make tasty low sodium bread without resorting to manual kneading. Of course, you must remember to reduce both the salt and yeast amounts accordingly and to avoid overproofing. Here are some possibilities:

Use a food processor to knead the dough. The advantage is the food processor’s versatility. You can use it for all kinds of cooking tasks including making yeast dough. In order to properly knead dough, you’ll need a fairly large machine and a powerful one. I’ve got a Cuisinart 11 cup machine. Kitchenaid also makes a nice sized one. My machine’s manual has an entire section devoted to making bread dough. When my husband was first diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I was hesitant about buying a bread machine, so I got the Cuisinart. I knew I could use it for shredding cheese and vegetables, making bread crumbs and finely chopping nuts, and also for making dough. I found it really easy to use, especially when making artisan type breads. The only disadvantage is the capacity limitations. My machine cannot handle more than 5 cups of white flour, 3 cups of whole wheat flour, or 3 ½ cups of flour in a rich sweet dough.

The steps are pretty simple. You proof the yeast by dissolving it in a small amount of liquid to which a bit of sweetening has been added; some recipes don’t even call for this extra step. Then you combine all the dry ingredients in the work bowl and process for a few seconds. The liquids are slowly added through the feed tube while the machine is running. You should add enough liquid to make the dough soft enough for the machine to knead. Process the dough for about 20-30 seconds. Check the dough’s consistency and then process for another 15-20 seconds.

The biggest worry when using a food processor to knead is the possibility of overheating the dough. Excess heat could kill the yeast. That’s why it’s important to use cool liquids, not warm ones. Also avoid over-processing the dough. If you think you should knead a bit longer, or you need to adjust hydration, it’s wise to turn off the machine and let the dough cool down before continuing. An advantage to using the heavier duty food processors is that they can handle making several batches of dough in a row.

A great resource if you’re interested in using your food processor for making bread dough is The Best Bread Ever: Great Homemade Bread Using your Food Processor by Charles Van Over. I discovered it in my local library a few years ago when I was just getting started making low sodium bread. It’s full of great recipes and wonderful techniques and hints for using your food processor. Here is an example of one of the recipes. Here’s a food processor recipe from King Arthur Flour. These recipes should give you a good idea of what making dough in your food processor entails.

Use a stand mixer to knead the dough. Probably Kitchenaid is the most well known brand of heavy duty stand mixer. It is another versatile appliance that can do much more than knead bread. Another advantage is that, depending on the model, it can handle up to 7 cups of flour at a time. Many people, like my daughter, faithfully use a heavy duty stand mixer for kneading bread dough. Most of the foremost bread experts recommend a stand mixer too. Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen are great fans. Here is a recipe for bread using a stand mixer. This should give you a general idea of the steps involved when using a mixer to knead dough. The biggest disadvantage to having a large stand mixer is finding storage space for it. Also, it’s quite heavy and not easily moved from cupboard to counter and then back again.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I’ve never owned a stand mixer. I rarely, if ever, make things like cakes or cupcakes. I use a Danish Dough Whisk for quick breads and muffins, so I’ve never felt compelled to buy a large mixer. But, as I mentioned earlier, I know many people love their stand mixers and use them regularly for all kinds of things.

Experiment with batter breads. These breads are not kneaded at all. Instead a thick batter is mixed with either a stand or hand mixer and then poured into prepared pans. You can also make these breads by hand using a Danish Dough Whisk. This page features several batter bread recipes. Probably the most famous and widely used batter bread recipe is for English Muffin Bread. The bread is easy to make and really does have the taste and texture of English muffins but without all the work. Another classic batter bread is Dilly Casserole Bread. has a well reviewed recipe for Basic White Batter Bread that could easily accommodate all kinds of flavor additions. Batter breads can also be a good introduction to yeast bread making in general. The only thing you want to watch for is overproofing. These are more delicate breads, so don’t let them rise too much or they may collapse during baking. Also, because the dough is not really shaped, the top crust will be a bit rough in texture.

Experiment with the famous artisan bread in 5 minutes a day recipe. Here’s the recipe that took the world by storm a few years ago. It’s a terrific concept and no kneading is required. Stir all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover, let rise at room temperature, and then refrigerate the dough until needed. No need for any kind of special equipment, although a Danish Dough Whisk would be helpful. Since it’s a huge mass of dough, you can break off small amounts to make rolls, small meal-sized loaves, pizza, etc. The dough lasts for over a week and the flavor is supposed to improve the longer it sits in the fridge. For more information about this bread making technique, check out this website.

I’ve used the basic recipe a few times. It’s very convenient, and I know some people love the bread. The bread is pretty good and definitely easy to make. The only downside is that the recipes make large portions of dough that must either be refrigerated or frozen, taking up valuable fridge space. However, it's easy to halve the recipes. The cookbooks have several well reviewed recipes, so it may be an option worth investigating.

Experiment with the equally famous no-knead bread recipe. This is another bread recipe that took the world by storm a few years ago. It’s also a terrific concept. An almost miniscule amount of yeast is added to about 3 cups of flour and some water. The resulting dough is very wet and left to “percolate” for over 12 hours. Then the dough is briefly shaped and plopped into a heated dutch oven, covered, and baked in a hot oven. The resulting bread is supposed to rival all other recipes for artisan bread. There are several recipes available online, and the book can be purchased or checked out from a library.

I’ve never tried this recipe because I’m a chicken. Maneuvering a heavy and hot cast iron dutch oven, trying to plop loose dough in it, and then trying to get the baked bread out—let’s just say that my weak wrists probably couldn’t manage it. I’m afraid of dropping the dutch oven or burning myself. But you might find the no knead recipes wonderful. I know others have.

Conclusion: Even without the benefit of a bread machine, you can make some fairly easy lower sodium bread recipes without relying on hand kneading. Just remember that no matter what appliance you use or what recipe you use, you still need to reduce both the salt and yeast amounts accordingly.

Next Post: Baking Low Sodium Bread - Favorite Recipes - Part 6

Baking Low Sodium Bread Series:

Part 1 – Introduction  

Part 2 – Beginning Basics

Part 3 – Getting Started

Part 4 – Keeping It Fresh

Part 5 – Without a Bread Machine

Part 6 – Favorite Bread Recipes

Part 7 – Favorite Buns and Rolls
Low Sodium Bread – Demystified


Sarah T. said...

Hi Mom!
I tried making some pita bread that required kneading the other day and it came out fine, but man my weak wrists were sore after kneading so much. But the size and price of those stand up mixers is really discouraging. Oh well. What are you gonna do.

shambo said...

What are you gonna do? Beg your mom, or better yet, your dad for a stand mixer or bread machine!

lomelindi said...

If you live in an area that has a Kroger's grocery they now have low sodium wheat bread. Only 25 mg for two slices!!! It is okay. Not the greatest bread I have ever had, but it makes a good sandwich without blowing my sodium budget. I especially like it for tuna salad (using of course the very low sodium tuna) With the bread being so low I can now have some mayonnaise in the salad!

shambo said...

Lomelindi, thanks for the information. I don't have a Kroger anywhere nearby here in Northern California, but that is certainly good news for people who do have a Kroger nearby.

Anavar said...

I replaced kitchen slat full of iodine with Himalaya salt long ago. I really don't understand why all bread must be so salted. I don't buy bread anymore, I'm making it by myself.

shambo said...

Anavar, you're right about the salt content in most grocery store breads and most other grocery store products too. Just way too much salt. There's really no need for all that oversalting. I bet your homemade bread tastes pretty good.

Anonymous said...

I like Healthy Life 100% whole wheat English muffins - only 60 mg per muffin.