The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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scubabbl

It's been a while... I have not written anything for a while, or baked anything for a while. It was a combination of work, and also a certain level of frustration with making bread by hand.

At first, what I made turned out pretty decent. But over time, the dough I made stopped rising, or was too dry, or had some other problem. Combine that with my frustrations with kneading dough, and I had the perfect storm of feeling of not wanting to bake anything... I think that last point, kneading dough, is where I large amount of my frustration was. I simply wasn't good at it. It never worked the way I read it should. I know some people would say, just keep practicing, you'll get it. Call me impatient, but I didn't want to have 100 failures before I had a success.

I think of it similar to body boarding vs. surfing. Yes, when you surf, you have much better control. I can ride a wave much better, you can go faster, in general, you can be a better wave man than a body board. But with a body board, you can get out there and start cracking on waves right away. I mean, after about 2 years of body boarding on and off, I drove up to the north shore (on Oahu), and was ripping on waves that were 10 to 12 feet, while my surfing friend, who has been surfing for a long time, was missing wave after wave... The point to all this is, I went and bought my kitchen body board.

My New Mixer

I made the most wonderful bread I've made ever with this last night. It took a 1/10th of the time and made about a 1/100th of the mess. With all due respect to those who made bread by hand, you have mad skills, but you're crazy. Mixers kick major rear. Also, I love my mixer. Did I mention that? All of a sudden, I'm having fun making bread again! Sweet.... oh maybe I'll make sticky buns next...

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scubabbl

I made a basic loaf of white bread and finally figured out my problem. I've been using way to little flour while kneading. This last time, I used a lot of flour and the dough turned out wonderful. I think I finally taken a step forward in my skills.

But, like I said, if it's not one thing, it's another. When I put my loaf in to bake, I acidentally turned off the oven. 30 minutes later, the top had collapsed and it was not in good shape. Doh! (pun intended?) I set the oven for 400 degrees and the timer for 15 minutes and prayed. It actually turned out really soft and tasty. I guess that was to make up for how silly it looked.

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scubabbl

So, I made cornbread. Well, sort of. I made Reinhart's cornbread. It's not exactly what I was expecting for cornbread so I was a little disapointed, not to say it wasn't good, but I don't really consider it very good "cornbread".

Why you ask? Bacon. The bacon dominates the flavors. So much so that the corn is more of a side kick to the bacon flavor. Also, I guess I'm not a very big fan of buttermilk. Milk that smells like sour cream actually made me gag a little when I first opened it. I almost dumped it down the drain, thinking it had gone bad. But then a little research told me it is supposed to smell like that.

Next time, no bacon and whole milk to soak the polenta. I guess that's how it goes. Get a good starting point and mix to suit your tastes.

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scubabbl

I made wheat bread on Sunday. After my mild successes, I guess I was bound to get served a good lesson.

Weight is more important that volume. That finally hit home when I measured out the flour only to find 1 1/2 cups on Reinhart's flour is equal to 1 cup of my wheat flour. I was following his recipe blindly and ended up with an unsalvagable mess. Or at least, I thought it would be to much effort to salvage. Started over. Much better the second time.

I also learned, I absolutely suck at kneeding dough. I'm going to have to try a different method. The French fold, the streach and fold, or maybe I could try using the dough setting on my bread machine. Or, I buy a mixer.

Has anyone had any success making just the dough in a bread machine? Can I mix it by hand and then throw it in the bread machine to slap it around a bit? Or would I really just have better success with one of the folding methods?

In the end, the bread did turn out pretty tasty. I still need to work on shaping and also understanding how much dough needs to go in my bread pan.

Coming soon... Cornbread!

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scubabbl

Having a young son is hard on an budding bread maker. So, I've relegated myself to some late night baking. I just pulled this loaf out at 1am. It's just a basic loaf of white bread variation 2 (i.e. liquid milk instead of powdered) from my new newly purchased copy of "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".

Late night bread bakingLate night bread baking 2

 

 

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