Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I gotta get better at this.

Sorry: Yesterday was just thick with clouds until late afternoon. Reminded me of my unlamented childhood in my unmissed home state. I had no 'tricity, so I had no 'pooter. These things happen.

Still, there were a couple of things I could get done, that don' need no steenking 'tricity.

Like baking bread, something I've wanted to get back into since moving into a place with an actual OVEN.

I'm going for simple, basic, easy-peasy white bread here, nothing fancy. I used to do this fairly regularly before I got my old, much-lamented breadmaker, but that was a long time ago and I'll confess I had problems.

Already starting to worry: The dough seems awfully dry after kneading, even though I added water. It's not taking that springy, amorphous shape I'm wanting. But extra kneading wasn't helping, so time to let it take its first rise and see what happens.

Meanwhile, let's cut some wood.
The weather was supposed to get nasty and stay nastier, so I figured I'd better cut and split all the logwood I cut the day before. Good haul, too: I split enough to fill the wheelbarrow about four times, which is several days' worth.

Back to the bread.

Wow, that didn't rise well at all. Ew. Punch it down, form it into loaves, let it rise again. I've only got one loaf pan, so I did it both ways.

And I found out that, unlike my previous oven, it's wise not to give the baking time a fudge factor because when this oven says 400 degrees that's really what it means.

Yeah, got a little done. Not as bad as it looks, though.

The texture is dreadful. I'm not doing the rising right. Now that I've got my 'pooter back, I need to do some research and find better ways to get the dough to rise than the cookbook says, because it's just not working for me. I want to get good at this!


Matt said...

There could be many reasons. Was the yeast relatively fresh? Did you adjust time/techniques for altitude? Was the kitchen warm enough to rise? There might be some old cookbooks with techniques from when most people cooked with wood stoves with information that might fit your situation.

As long as the bread is edible by humans or livestock, it is not a total waste.

DonkeyBuster said...

You might try doing a sponge for the first rise, letting it rise in a warmer spot (like upstairs). Also, might have added too much salt?

Do you knead 'til you get a thin 'window' when you stretch the dough between your hands?

And yeah, how old is the yeast?

Joel said...

The yeast is nearly new. There's something wrong with my technique. Hadn't though of considering altitude, though.

MamaLiberty said...

Joel, I've been making bread for 50 years. I'll send you my recipes and tricks in email.

Your first thought was the right one... you did not use enough liquid in the original mix - and it is hard to get it right after the fact.

Bread making is an art form, for sure, but it helps if you start with the right recipes. :)

MamaLiberty said...

OOps... I was sure I had your email address, but can't find it now. Send one to mamaliberty - at - and I'll get that booklet out to you right away. :)

Judy said...

I you like no-knead bread go here:

I like this recipe a lot because I can't get a kneaded loaf of bread to turn out. I have subbed whole wheat for half of the bread flour and really liked the flavor.

Harvey Morrell said...

Another no-knead bread, but one that turns out better than kneaded. I've had really good results with it. Plus, it made it into Mark Bittman's book, How to Cook Everything. All you need is time.

Anonymous said...

there are so many experts that I hesitate to add my $0.02.

True bread has but 4 ingredients:
1. flour
2. water
3. yeast
4. salt

A nice white bread is:

2 1/2 C water
6 C flour
2 packages yeast (regular not rapid rise)
1 Tablespoon Salt.

Proof yeast by adding 1 C warm water to the yeast, stirring and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Make the dough.....add the rest of the water (warm), mix the flour a handful at a time....stir want to make it light. When you have added 5 C flour, turn it out onto your counter and knead, adding the last flour and salt at this time.

Let it rise an hour and a half...until its twice the original size. Punch it down, knead lightly, let it rise again about an hour.

Punch it down again, form it into into loaves. Let it rise
another hour. Bake at 450 for 20-30 minutes if you have made little loaves, 30-45 minutes if you made big loaves.

The rising environment is must be at least 75 deg F and less than 85 F.

You can brush the loaves with some egg white and water for a nice crust.

Don't worry, it takes a whle to get it right....its a living thing, and you need to know what it needs.

Good luck....keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

What about good ol' flour tortillas, no oven needed, just a hot flat surface to cook on and you are good to go. Non refrigerated ingredients too. Well, flour lasts longer when kept cold, I'll give you that, but wrap one of those around a grilled piece of meat (don't even need utensils, just grab meat off the grille with tortilla and munch!), its a winner for the single person as you make as much as you need at the meal.

Erik said...

I recommend this reciepe, it hasen't failed me yet.

The Grey Lady said...

Did you get all squared away with your bread Joel? ML knows what she is doing in the bread department, but if you still have problems feel free to post, the bread ladies will fix ya up pas de sweat!