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BS: adding oatmeal to bread

07 Apr 21 - 03:21 PM (#4101212)
Subject: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: leeneia

I have a recipe for cracked-wheat bread in the bread machine, and I'd like to add oatmeal to it. Cracked-wheat bread is the only bread with real fiber (not soft fiber), and oatmeal is said to reduce cholesterol.

I can't find a good recipe online. I did find one, but it was awful. I asked Quaker Oats Customer Service, but they didn't have a recipe.

Do any experienced bread makers know if I can just add oatmeal to a recipe, or do I have to change other ingredients?


07 Apr 21 - 03:42 PM (#4101216)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: JHW

Sorry I don't have an answer but thanks for the idea. I took back my new bread m/c several houses ago as it 'boiled' over. I have a massive slab of yeast and several flours awaiting another try. Last go I used a beer starter (recipe). Didn't rise but the solid bread tasted alright. Have just munched oatcakes and cheese, supper routine, have enjoyed commercial oat bread so will give it a go next time.


07 Apr 21 - 03:54 PM (#4101219)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

Hi leeneia,

We have a bread machine and I have added oatmeal to some of the loaves. It worked well and tasted good. I just added maybe half a cup to the mix. I didn't adjust the amount of flour, but I used one of the wholegrain recipes in the book which came with the machine, and used the wholegrain bread setting.

I'll dig the recipe book out and give you some more specifics.


07 Apr 21 - 03:55 PM (#4101220)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

I forgot to say that I used rolled oats not quick or instant oats.


07 Apr 21 - 04:10 PM (#4101225)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Monique

Leeneia, I found some in French 1, 2, 3. There are more but without bread machine. I haven't tried any as my organic shop sells a wonderful wholegrain bread. The last bread I made was with grated carrots and fenel seeds.


07 Apr 21 - 04:25 PM (#4101230)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

"rolled oats not quick or instant oats"

I've never tried making oat bread. I'd rather have porridge, and wheat bread or toast.
For porridge, I've always regarded rolled oats as being "quick oats", unlike something like pin-head oats, which need either soaking or, even better, long slow cooking.


07 Apr 21 - 04:41 PM (#4101234)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

Jos, here in Australia, rolled oats are whole oats rolled flat and they need slow cooking, but quick or instant oats are finely milled - I think - and don't need slow cooking.

When I was working I used to put rolled oats and a couple of other things e.g. chia seeds and psyllium, with dried fruits and a bit of milk in a cup sized container, add some boiling water and then half an hour later when I arrived at work I just topped it up with more boiling water and I had my porridge ready to eat. The oats had become porridge in the half hour. Easy!

I've tried adding psyllium to pancakes but it goes gluggy - not appetising - but I have also whizzed oats in a blender to make an oat flour and added about a cup of that to pancakes with ordinary flour and it worked well.


07 Apr 21 - 05:06 PM (#4101239)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

There are two recipes in the book for our 20 year old Breville bread machine which include oats:

Honey oats and barley bread, or sunflower and oatmeal bread.

The ingredients for the first recipe for a 1 kg (2 lb) loaf are:

Honey oats and barley bread

Water 355ml, oil 2 tablespoons, salt 2 teaspoons, honey 2 tablespoons, bread flour 2 .5 cups, wholemeal plain flour 1.5 cups, milk powder 2 tablespoons, bread improver 1 teaspoon, gluten flour 2 tablespoons, rolled oats 2 tablespoons, oat bran 1.5 tablespoons, barley bran 1.5 tablespoons, yeast 1.5 teaspoons.

Sunflower and oatmeal bread

Water 355ml, oil 2 tablespoons, salt 2 teaspoons, sugar 2 teaspoons, honey 2 tablespoons, bread flour 2 .5 cups, wholemeal plain flour 1.5 cups, milk powder 2 tablespoons, bread improver 1 teaspoon, gluten flour 2 tablespoons, oatmeal 1/2 cup, cracked sunflower seeds 1/3 cup, yeast 1.5 teaspoons.

I just found this page which defines the different forms of oats: Ode to Oatmeal : Your Guide to the Beloved Breakfast Staple

It looks like the oatmeal referred to in the second recipe is ground oats to make a coarse flour, which I'd do in a blender or food processor or coffee grinder.

I don't follow the recipes exactly so I've never added gluten flour, but maybe that's a trick for making bread which includes plain wholewheat flour and other added fibre foods. I don't know. The gluten flour is not mentioned in the other recipes in the book which just used bread flour.


07 Apr 21 - 06:00 PM (#4101254)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jon Freeman

The book for our Panasonic bread maker has an oat and bran loaf recipe. The ingredients are:

Strong White Flour 400g
Sugar 1½ tsp
Oil 2 tbsp
Salt 1¼ tsp
Bran 50g
Porridge oats 50g
Water 350ml
Yeast 1 tsp

Using the measuring spoon that comes with the machine, 1tsp = 5ml, 1tbsp = 15ml


07 Apr 21 - 07:38 PM (#4101271)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jack Campin

Recipe? You just add more oatmeal each time you make it until it starts to fail in aome way, then backtrack a bit.


07 Apr 21 - 08:10 PM (#4101278)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: keberoxu

Jack, you sound like the homemaker who retorted,
"Recipes are for cowards."


08 Apr 21 - 05:37 AM (#4101334)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: JHW

Recipes are for those who have the ingredients - ie only the writer


08 Apr 21 - 06:09 AM (#4101340)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Dave the Gnome

Nowt to do with bread making but...

No need for fine milled oats for anything. Any porridge oats can be cooked in 3 minutes in the microwave or 5 minutas in a pan. I use the former to save washing up. No need to cook at all really. Roman soldiers used to munch on a handful of dry oats for extra energy while marching. If you don't fancy that, just soak them overnight.


08 Apr 21 - 06:49 AM (#4101342)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Dave Hanson

There is no need for sugar in bread recipes.


Dave H


08 Apr 21 - 11:39 AM (#4101377)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: leeneia

Thanks for the recipes and insights, everybody. I've found a site which says that 1.5 cups oats, pulverized in the blender, equals 1 cup bread flour, so I believe I'll use my old recipe and have 1 cup bread flour, 1.5 cups "blended" oats, and one cup whole wheat flour.

I decided to check Dave's statement that there is no need for sugar in bread recipes, and I read the following:

https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/blog/2017/05/16/reduce-sugar-in-yeast-bread

This seems to be an intelligent article written by someone who actually bakes and understands science, so I believe I will try reducing the sugar in my cracked-wheat bread. It has always been a little too moist.
=============
Elsewhere, I found a different recipe with "no added sugar" which substituted skim milk for water. There's sugar in milk. And more than one person commented that they tried the recipe and would not be making it again.


09 Apr 21 - 02:29 AM (#4101475)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Dave Hanson

I bake plain white bead, sourdough, wholemeal, granary and rye, I do not use sugar in any of them, you don't need it.

It is included in some recipes but it's simply to make the yeast work faster, you don't need it.

Dave H


09 Apr 21 - 03:09 AM (#4101476)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

I do use sugar in bread - 1 teaspoon for a large loaf. That's not a lot and it doesn't make the bread taste sweet, but I use it to 'wake the yeast up' in the liquid before adding it to the flour (just like my grandmother did in the days before dried, never mind 'instant' yeast).
I have never used a bread-making machine.


09 Apr 21 - 04:20 AM (#4101478)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jon Freeman

Some instructions for bread makers suggest altering the sugar and salt levels to get a loaf to rise as required. In the troubleshooting for our Panasonic one under "My bread doesn't rise/The top of my bread is uneven", one suggestion it gives "You have used too much salt or not enough sugar".


09 Apr 21 - 04:28 AM (#4101479)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Nick

We used to have a bread making book that I bought my wife in about 1980. It fell to bits and I can't remember its name. We have baked bread ever since and it set my mother off making her own bread for most of her life from the 70's onwards as I bought it for her too

The thing I remember outside of normal bread was that we made a sunflower seed loaf and an oatmeal loaf. The oatmeal loaf was "oaty" and made great toast.

I tried the following yesterday and made a single oat loaf (I used rolled oats rather than oatmeal) and it is not bad but lacks a real oat punch but was pleasant.

1 sachet yeast
1 cup white flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (used a few more for the actual making than the recipe)
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix it up and knead. Leave to rise. Cook at 350F for 35-40 mins

Nice with cheese yesterday and made nice toast this morning


10 Apr 21 - 01:06 PM (#4101780)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Mr Red

There's sugar in milk. - that would be lactose? "A" sugar, but not sucrose. Surely commercial yeast sold for breadmaking would be bred (pun intended) to work best with sucrose.

I soak my porridge oats in hot water in the dish and leave overnight. Microwave 1:40 mins in the morning.

And North Staffordshre Oatcakes** & cheese (& bacon) are nectar of the gods. For those thinking small hard tack biscuits - think again. Savoury pancakes are nearer physically, if not culinarily. And yeast is used to prove the mix, and salt to disprove it.

**Other counties like South Yorks, Derbys, and parts of Liecs might argue ownership, but I am a Staffordshireman so there!


10 Apr 21 - 03:42 PM (#4101795)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

Nick, what about sprinkling some oats over the top of the loaf to ramp up the oat punch?


16 Apr 21 - 05:21 AM (#4102372)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Nick

Did that as well. I have a feeling that oatmeal may be oatier than rolled oats because it is finer. I could be wrong. We have tried again and it's ok and our memories may be mistaken


16 Apr 21 - 05:22 AM (#4102374)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Nick

I think I have Scottish oatcakes as a baseline of 'oatiness' and the bread is still erring on the side of 'flouriness'


16 Apr 21 - 06:03 AM (#4102376)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Raggytash

Leeneia,

I've been thinking about this. If you were to "blitz" in a food processor your rolled oats you could create a "flour"

Historically bread would be made from any grain available including some difficult to process such as oats and rye.


16 Apr 21 - 06:21 AM (#4102379)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Steve Shaw

Like Jon I use a Panasonic bread machine. I've often heard some sniffiness from purist home bakers when I mention that, but call me a cop-out merchant and I'll call you an earth mother. ;-). In fact, bread machine bread is a pretty good compromise. It's much better than any standard shop bread (and you can go all organic if you like), it's much cheaper and it quite often beats that expensive, tough, dry, crusty, gum-ripping stuff that "artisanal" bakers can churn out. A very nice one that takes seconds to assemble is a "ciabatta-style" white loaf. It's a teaspoon of yeast, 500g strong white flour (preferably organic), a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar and three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. In goes the yeast, mix up the dry stuff and tip it in, olive oil on top then 350ml cold water. Switch on, leave for a few hours and viola! Makes great butties and lovely toast, though, like real ciabatta, it can have authentic big holes in it...


16 Apr 21 - 06:40 AM (#4102382)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Raggytash

I used the bread machine for making the dough, it saves all the effort of kneading the dough and eases the aches and pains of my rheumatism.

However, I do not like my bread with a big hole in the bottom where the paddle was located so I remove it from the machine, knock it back and either shape it by plaiting or similar or place into bread tins (Penny loaves are my favourite) and re-prove before baking.


16 Apr 21 - 07:09 AM (#4102389)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

I can understand using a machine if you have rheumatism. But the kneading is almost the most enjoyable part of bread making - second only to eating it (or third, if you include smelling it).


16 Apr 21 - 10:50 AM (#4102418)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Dave the Gnome

Out of interest I saw some 'fresh' yeast going cheap in Morrisons the other day (50p for 4 blocks) I put quotes around fresh coz they were at their use by date. I figured out that if we keep them in the fridge they should be good for abit longer yet :-) Anyhow, Mrs G has baked 2 loaves with them since and they were lovely. Fresh yeast does seem to make a difference.


16 Apr 21 - 11:57 AM (#4102425)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Steve Shaw

Well I haven't got the knack, and I get flour everywhere. I was raised on Wonderloaf (don't knock it - made the best chip butties on earth) and Warburton's Toastie. We never had brown bread because my dad maintained that it was made only for people in prison to eat. That little paddle - you can minimise the issue by keeping it scrupulously clean. If the non-stick coating starts to peel off it, buy a new paddle. The buggers charged me £17.50 for one!


16 Apr 21 - 12:18 PM (#4102427)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: leeneia

I use a bread machine too.

I found a website which said that 1.42 cups of oatmeal (pulverized) equals 1 cup of flour, so I tried it. It produced a loaf about 2.5 inches high in the middle and one inch at the ends. It's okay for toast, but just this one time.

My next step will be to take an oatmeal bread recipe and see if the cracked wheat will "float" in it, like raisins. I've found a site which tells when to check the dough for stickness vs dryness.


16 Apr 21 - 12:23 PM (#4102429)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: leeneia

Another way to make bread is by following Steve on YouTube. No proofing, no kneading. Here's an example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yePMpoyXwys

It's magic, and the loaves look so sincere.


16 Apr 21 - 01:34 PM (#4102436)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

leeneia, did you take a photo of your oat bread?

Raggytash, my other solution to the holes in the bottom of the bread from the paddles is to wait until the last (short, sudden and furious) bit of kneading has finished and then take the dough out, remove the paddles and put the dough back in for the final rise and baking.

Hubby usually bakes the dough in the oven. He bought a terracotta bread pan with a lid. It looks a bit like a bread loaf sized Romertopf. That works well.

Scottish oatcakes. I'm going to give them a go, I think. I have only had the store-bought oat biscuits which are dry and crunchy. Note: in Australia "biscuits" are usually dry and crunchy, but I think in the USA "biscuits" are more like what we call scones here, which are a non-yeast based doughy, yummy treat.

On the other hand,
ANZAC biscuits are soft and gooey and rolled oats are a key ingredient. The gooeyness comes from golden syrup. We're a week away from ANZAC Day so maybe I should make some this week.


16 Apr 21 - 03:26 PM (#4102446)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

You can freeze yeast, there are plenty of websites giving advice.

Here is an example.


17 Apr 21 - 03:55 AM (#4102491)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Dave the Gnome

Mrs G used a classic Kenwood mixer with a dough book for mixing, then kneads and bakes manually. I do a lot of cooking but no baking for some reason. Must try it sometime.


17 Apr 21 - 06:28 AM (#4102505)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jon Freeman

On the paddles, we once a Russel Hobbs bread maker that had a terrible habit of embedding the paddle 1/2 way into the loaf.

I once made some focaccia bread using our Kenwood Prospero mixer and using (except I think I substituted a herb on top, ?fresh basil we had growing instead of the suggested sage?) a recipe that came with the machine. The bread was lovely and went very quickly but I didn't want to go through the twice waiting for the dough to prove and being around both times for the next step again.


17 Apr 21 - 06:51 AM (#4102508)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Raggytash

I make one bread Jon that proves 5 times, a total of 7 1/2 hours so the bread takes about 9 hours to make. It was very good though.


17 Apr 21 - 07:04 AM (#4102509)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jon Freeman

Blimey Raggy! I had no idea that processes like that existed.


17 Apr 21 - 09:25 AM (#4102515)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

I usually only prove it three times - once when making the dough, then knock it back and let it rise again, then knock it back and form into loaves, which rise before going into the oven.


17 Apr 21 - 03:00 PM (#4102547)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: leeneia

Helen, no I didn't photograph the bread. I'm not much of a photographer any more. By the way, I have learned that bread which dives down to only one-inch at the ends is called "ski-slope bread."

My experiment with the oatmeal bread recipe was a success. I'll post it later. I've learned when to open up the machine and check the dough, and I discovered that it needed one more tablespoon of flour.

The bread is very nice. I wish it could have more than one-half cup of oatmeal, but apparently not.
================
Jos, I agree. I have been keeping my big yeast supply in the freezer for many months. For daily use, I fill up a glass jar from the grocery store and keep it in the fridge.


17 Apr 21 - 03:08 PM (#4102549)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: punkfolkrocker

Adding oatmeal to bread..

..errrmmm.. porridge sandwiches...!!!???


.. actually, maybe not such a daft idea,
With savoury flavours added to the porridge...


17 Apr 21 - 03:22 PM (#4102551)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

leeneia, another healthy addition to bread is chia seeds. I sometimes add half a cup to the bread mix. Or LSA is good too, which is ground up linseed (i.e. flax seeds), sunflower seeds and almonds.


18 Apr 21 - 02:42 PM (#4102636)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Gallus Moll

Not bread, but ----I love mealy tatties, a standard from my mother's childhood in the farming community.
My personal preference is with waxy potatoes - boil tatties in their (scrubbed) skins , drain off the water, dry the pot /potatoes a little over the heat then add a fairly large knob of butter.
Put lid on pot, shake hard for a few minutes till potatoes are covered in melted butter.
Add a good handful of oatmeal (pinhead> Not flakes!) then shake pot again till all the tatties are covered in oatmeal.
Serve - yum!


20 Apr 21 - 03:54 PM (#4102830)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: JHW

Re the yeast keeping mention I bought recently a sizeable block of yeast assuming it was some sort of uht processed fresh yeast but when I opened it was millions of the tiny grains of dried yeast.
As usual the bread didn't rise but I still ate it.


20 Apr 21 - 04:42 PM (#4102834)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

A trick I use for helping the yeast to activate is to put the required amount of milk or liquid into a jug and heat it in the microwave to lukewarm only - very important not to kill the yeast. OR I use half milk and add hot (not boiling) water to make up the required amount of liquid. I add a teaspoon of honey or sugar and then the yeast and mix it up. Let it stand until it froths up and then add it to the rest of the bread ingredients.


21 Apr 21 - 04:39 PM (#4103025)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

Helen, in my life, that isn't a "trick", it's just the normal way of using yeast.


21 Apr 21 - 05:43 PM (#4103039)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Helen

Jos, I agree but my Hubby says it's not necessary. Oh well! LOL

It always works for me.


21 Apr 21 - 06:05 PM (#4103043)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

I think it is necessary if using the old-fashioned dried yeast rather than the new-fangled instant variety.
In any case, the flavour is better.


22 Apr 21 - 12:08 PM (#4103121)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: leeneia

Here's my bread-machine recipe for bread with bread flour, whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and cracked wheat. (This is where this thread started.) It's a moist loaf, and I use it for toast, mostly.

Cracked wheat consists of hard yellow grains, and I like size 2. You can get it in Mideast markets.

=========
Prepare the cracked wheat. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add 1/4 cup cracked wheat. Cover and let soak until the grains are soft and cool. I usually let it sit for a couple hours. Drain off excess water.

Make sure paddle is in bread machine. Put in the bread pan:

1 cup luke-warm water
the soaked cracked wheat
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 tablespoons honey (I substitute pancake syrup)
1 tablespoon veg oil
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1.75 cups bread flour
.75 cups whole wheat flour
1.25 teaspoons bread machine yeast.

Insert bread pan in the machine. Use 1.5-pound setting. Process on setting 1 (basic).


23 Apr 21 - 03:17 AM (#4103192)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Mr Red

Oats are beneficial to diabetics. They calls it soluble fibre. Just saying.


23 Apr 21 - 03:39 AM (#4103193)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

Is 'pancake' syrup the same as golden syrup?


23 Apr 21 - 10:43 AM (#4103236)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Mr Red

probably. Both are invert sugar. When I was at a sweet factory outside York they pointed-out that sugars differ in "quality". Beet and cane sugar ie. And even beet sugar varies. I was assuming the level of and variety of sugars other than sucrose. Weather would affect that.


24 Apr 21 - 07:22 AM (#4103313)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Raedwulf

Good Housekeeping recipe from 1979:

8 oz oatmeal (medium or rolled)
1/2 pt milk
12 oz flour
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp oil

Yeast & water to suit, naturally.

You can always give any loaf some extra fizz with herbs & spices, of course, never mind adding grated cheese, finely sliced onion, bacon bits or whatever (tomorrow's plan is to make a chocolate & (root) ginger loaf; proper chocolate (85%), so no, I won't be sweetening it). The annoying thing about this recipe (which, in its basic form, is delicious, I promise) is that I can't find oatmeal these days (in a health food shop, maybe; not in any local s/m). If I wanted to make it, I'd have to use porridge oats!


24 Apr 21 - 08:13 AM (#4103321)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Jos

Raedwulf, try looking for pinhead oatmeal online, to find a supplier.


24 Apr 21 - 04:08 PM (#4103388)
Subject: RE: BS: adding oatmeal to bread
From: Raedwulf

Having actually read the thread since posting the GH oatmeal recipe, some more comments... I do buy s/m bread (only at reduced price!). The UK s/ms do make some nice 'artisan' breads i.e. flavoured ones. And whilst sliced bread is all pretty much cardboard, it also goes in the freezer & is convenient for when you... just... can't... be bothered! ;-)

Otherwise, as far as bread goes (& flapjacks too; thread hijack! ;-) ), you can pretty do any damn thing you like. If you find you don't like, try something else next time. Otherwise, why make a bare, boring flour + yeast + water loaf? You can BUY those! ;-)

Most important ingredient - flour. Pretty much every damn recipe will tell you to use "strong bread flour". There's no reason to. SBF has more gluten which aids the rise. You can use plain white (or whatever) flour. The loaf is no less tasty; it just doesn't rise as much. You get a denser, chewier loaf. Misunderstanding what bannocks were, I made barley bannocks once. Unleavened. No yeast. Very dense, very chewy. Rather a sod to get the bread knife through, as I recall... :o But still delicious. Use whatever flour you like. It'll make a tasty loaf. If you choose not to use SBF, you'll get less rise, that's all. And fluid, be it water, milk, is always somewhat guess work. All flours have different absorbency. Even if it's SBF, it might not be SBF from the same region or miller, etc...

Yeast - I've only ever used the dried stuff. I cannot comment on whether fresh makes a better loaf. Dried makes a perfectly good loaf. I don't get through bread quickly enough (there's only me) to make fresh yeast a viable option.

Bread-makers - never used one. If, like Raggy, kneading causes pain, use one. Aside from that, I'd only say that kneading takes a few minutes, but is in no way "hard work", nor "skilled" (I can do it! ;-) ). Have a little pile of flour to the side to dust the surface / your hands with. Kneading is as much leaning on the dough as it is physical effort with the arms. Press with the heels of hands, spread the dough out a bit, turn it 90 degrees, roll it up, dust flour underneath if it's threatening to stick, dust your hands... Your dough should be slightly sticky to start but becomes less so as you knead & it proves; the flour helps you not to stick & ends up in the dough too... It's only 5+ mins for the first knead. Many recipes will tell you 10, but it's more a question of "does it feel right?", which only experience can teach you. "Knocking back" i.e. 2nd knead is 2-3 mins. And the dough is pretty unsticky by then. Never seen the point of a bread-maker. But kneading doesn't create pain for me! I'm NOT being judgemental.

Sugar. There are two different reasons why you might sweeten the dough. One is rubbish, the other isn't. If you want to make a sweet, cake-style loaf, with dried fruit perhaps, that's a fair reason to add sugar , honey, some sort of syrup, or whatever sweetener you like best. If you're following a recipe that says a tsp or tbsp of... Don't bother. The thinking there is the brewer's "starter" - give the yeast a quick start. It isn't really necessary, but makes some sort of sense if you're going to add the yeast to 1 / 3 / 5 / however many gallons of must, especially if you 'start' the yeast before you start sorting out the must. For a loaf of bread, if the recipe is saying tsp / tbsp, waste of time. The yeast will get going anyway, the extra sugars, in whatever form, make no difference to them or to the resulting loaf.

Not A Basic Loaf - Here there are two things to consider. The first I've already touched on, sort of. I might say of bread makers, "Why bother, you might just as buy a loaf". But the point of making your own bread is that you CAN make a plain white (or whatever) loaf, but you don't HAVE to. It's your loaf. Mess around. Make what you want. If you think avocado & taramasalata would make for a great loaf then never mind anyone else going "Eeeew!", try it. If it don't work, you won't repeat it; does it matter?

Which leads to the second thing. Remember what a loaf (mostly) is and what the balanced diet mostly consists of. I am NOT a believer in the balanced diet (that's a whole *other* topic!), but it's the Western standard; 40% carb, or thereabouts. That 40% consists largely of some / any / all of potato, rice, flour (including pasta, bread, etc). They're all pretty bland compared with the rest of it. We like spices & herbs because they liven up flavours! So, if you're going to take the trouble to make a loaf yourself, whether by hand or by bread-maker, why just use flour + water + yeast? You might just as well experiment... ;-)

I hope this various drivel is of interest / use to someone... ;-)