How do I make the very best homemade bread?
- Use a low-maintenance technique so that you're inclined to bake more often.
- Plan ahead to give your bread time to develop a mind-blowing amount of flavor.
- Use a high-quality, high-protein flour that develops good gluten and noticeable oven spring.
- If you don't use a mixer, knead the dough just a little bit after mixing.
- Let the dough rise for 18+ hours to give the yeast time to convert the flour's starches to simpler sugars.
- Use an independent oven thermometer to ensure accurate baking temperature.
- Your bread is still baking when it comes out of the oven, so if you can stand the suspense, let it cool for at least two hours. Four hours are even better, but six hours are optimal for setting the crust.
- Cut it with a sharp bread knife. Replace when dulled.
- Enjoy your premium bread with premium butter, olive oil, etc.
What's the point of this product?
Our goal is to teach anyone - yes, even the Average Joe - how to make great bread at home very easily. We include the techniques, supplies, and enough ingredients for three loaves to get you going immediately. If you want to quickly learn how to easily bake world-class, homemade bread for your friends and family, Average Joe will teach you.
Aren't similar techniques available elsewhere?
Yep. But if you want to actually bake bread, rather than get lost in a 250-page cookbook or troll the Web endlessly, the Average Joe cookbook will get you baking (multiple recipes!) in 25 pages. I've spent a lot of time streamlining the process; I encourage you to capitalize on that.
FYI, here's one of my favorite Customer Comments: "I am an experienced bread baker, using the no-knead method. I have to say that your method and products yielded my best loaf of truly great bread ever! - Deb C."
Isn't this a little expensive for bread?
Compared to what? A $150 bread machine that makes cardboard? A $25 cookbook + a $50-200 Dutch oven / stock pot + $15 ingredients + hours of your time to acquire the stuff, read the book, and figure it out over several weeks, if not months? When compared to that, $39 for supplies and techniques that you will learn in a flash and use for a lifetime sounds like a bargain to me.
Do you sell the cookbook separately?
Sorry, we don't. Why not? Because the ingredients (which we include in each Kit) make a huge difference to the result. If we sold the cookbook separately, lots of people would use whatever ingredients they have in their pantry and/or purchase the cheapest stuff they could find. They'd be disappointed in the result, which would reflect badly (and unfairly) on Average Joe.
Quick story... A friend of mine sweetly gave me 25-pound bag of flour she'd bought at Big Warehouse Club for $8. "Look how many loaves you can make for $8!" she crowed. I was skeptical, but I tried it. Result? Baked rock (both in texture and flavor). I don't want that to happen to any of my customers, so I insist on selling the cookbook with the best ingredients.
How long does it take to make a loaf – start to finish?
Five minutes to mix, 18-24 hours to rise, three minutes to shape and finish, one hour to bake. So over, say, 20 hours, your total hands-on time is less than 10 minutes. You touch the dough only when you mix it and shape it; most of the time, you just ignore it.
How many loaves will a Kit make?
Each edition - whether Gift, Cook's, or Refill - contains enough ingredients for three loaves.
How can I get more bread dust?
You can either make it yourself (see FAQ # 2 in the cookbook) or purchase a Refill Edition.
Can I make sourdough bread with Average Joe?
Sure can, but you'll need your own starter. We love sourdough, too, but including a wet starter in our Kits would limit their shelf life to about a week.
Why is my bottom crust so hard?
Either your oven rack is too close to the oven's heat source (trying moving the rack up one or two slots), and/or use more bread dust.
You might also want to verify your oven's temperature with an independent oven thermometer. A couple of years ago, I got a brand-spanking new gas oven, and it ran 60 degrees hot!
Can I bake gluten-free bread with Average Joe products?
When I first started experimenting with gluten-free bread, I thought, "How hard can it be? It's just bread." Was I ever wrong! My failed attempts at a good, gluten-free loaf have convinced me that wheat flour is a miracle.
For those unfortunate souls who are intolerant of or allergic to it, I encourage you to look elsewhere. Gluten-free dough typically requires a bread pan (our bread is considered free-form), and we just can't (and may never be able to) produce the flavor and texture profiles we demand.
Do I have to use the Average Joe Bread Pot?
Nope. The pot we sell is the same sturdy 5.75-quart, enamel-coated steel vessel that we've used in commercial production. You don't need an exact replica of it; you just need something about the same size that can withstand heat and time in the oven (phenolic handles and glass lids are the usual suspects).
If you use cast-iron, stainless steel, stoneware, or clay, you'll need to preheat the pot for 30 minutes. But if you want something inexpensive that doesn't require pre-heating, cleans up easily, is lightweight, and works like a charm, you can't beat the one we sell.
Can I make whole wheat bread with the Kits?
Sure, you can use up to 100% whole wheat flour. The oil, germ, and bran will naturally result in a much denser and heavier loaf, so you might bump up the yeast to 1/2 or 1 tsp. But the crust will still be great!
What do I need to adjust for other flours?
The amount of salt should stay constant, but the water volume may vary slightly. Not only do different flours absorb water at different rates, but the same flour can absorb water at different rates depending on ambient moisture (think bone-dry winter air vs. humid summer air). And because there are no standards on how much a given cup of flour should weigh, your best option is to stick with the given measurements and adjust to your preferences and the season.
How does altitude affect Average Joe bread?
As far as we know, it doesn't. Several customers have reported that no adjustments were required.
Can I really do this?
Of course you can! We'll get you baking the best bread you've ever eaten in no time!