Monday, February 20, 2012

Holy Mackerel, Andy!

Okay, so here's Round Four in the on-going soap opera, "Teach Joel How to Bake Bread"

I've been using a recipe for white bread found in an old Good Housekeeping cookbook, and slavish adherence to measured portions has not been my friend. In the previous three cases, the dough came out way, way too dry. This time I went crazy with the warm milk: The book calls for 2.75 cups, and I used 3.5 cups plus the liquid in the proofed yeast.

The result was bread dough that actually behaved like bread dough - a much better texture than before. I also took precautions against low temperatures, cranking up the wood stove until I was down to a t-shirt, rising the dough in the warmed oven with a pot of hot water to help maintain warmth and humidity.

Before the first rise...

Holy Mackerel, Andy! After the first rise.

I punched down the risen dough, divided it in two, and put it back in the (re-warmed) oven for its second rise...
Yike. I've a feeling I just used up all my yeast's good karma.

Into the oven for baking...

Well, they look better. In this case, I apparently had some uneven temperature in the oven, because one of these loaves could have cooked a little longer.

This time I ended up with loaves that were plenty wide and not high at all. Probably things would have worked out better if I had some bread pans - I do have one, and wish I'd used it yesterday as a "control loaf." As I feared, the bread barely rose at all during baking so it may not have made any difference.

Texture is far better than before, but still denser than I want. I'll keep working on it.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried cutting down slightly (20% maybe) on yeast and/or sugar?

It's the high altitude that's doing you in, Joel. The decreased air pressure causes the bread to rise too fast. Limiting yeast and the sugars it feeds on will help.

Good luck and thanks for letting your loyal readers share your learning experiences.

Jim said...

I'm just about to stir up biscuits from the newest batch of home-made bisquick. This time the shortening is butter and lard -- real lard, not Crisco-type concoctions. Possible AAR to follow.

Anonymous said...

Nice....Getting better for sure.

Try cutting some slashes in the loaf just before you pop it in the oven.....It'll expand more evenly. Maybe an X or a series of diagonal slashes (maybe 3?).

Also. Using sugar and such is a sure thing to get rapid, reliable rising. It is quite possible to get a great rise and fine texture and crumb just using the big 4 ingredients ...water, yeast, flour and salt. The yeast eats the flour. The salt tends to control the growth of the yeast. Using sugar is a bit like using meth....

Good are doing well, grasshopper.


Anonymous said...

Success! I create excellent Hockey Puck Bread. Two different pans will affect the browning in two different ways.

Mad Scientist Bread of the Southwest. Betcha' there's a market.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, in addition to cutting back yeast and sugar, you're right to increase the amount of liquid. Maybe not quite as much as you did. But you're on the right track.