The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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zhi.ann

I mixed up the artisan bread master recipe as found online at several news sites. I knew the dough was supposed to be really wet, so I didn't pay much attention. I let it rest 4 hours, then stuck it in the refrigerator. Brought it out to make the next day (that's when this pic is).

dough, still wet

I shaped it into a boule (ball) on a very floured cutting board, let it sit out an hour, preheated the oven, poured in the water and slid my bread onto the back of a pizza-type pan (actually came with my microwave oven.

prepared dough

I'd forgotten to cut the X in it, but it formed a perfect one, anyway, as it rose and tore. The only part of the form I thought was strange was that it mostly rose straight up in the middle - it rose well but was more like a volcano than a half ball, for example. Had to leave it in the oven over an hour to get any brown.

After 30 minutes, the X it split itself was obvious.

after 30 minutes

Eating-wise, it came out mostly amazing - very crisp crust - but a gooey middle even though the bottom was blackened.

finished loaf 

I later found out I should have been using the top and bottom heating elements. The dough didn't rise much pre-oven, but had incredible oven spring (isn't that what it's called?) - I was afraid it would hit the top of the oven! The crumb looked good, but like I said was too gooey.

crumb 

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zhi.ann

My second attempt at using yeast!

I discovered one packet of my yeast, labeled as 18g, results in more than 35 ml (about 7 tsp or 2 1/3 Tbsp) of dry yeast. Is it okay that I store what I don't use in an airtight tupperware-type container, in a dark cabinet?

storing yeast

I started preparing for the pretzels at 8:10 pm using floyd's recipe here.

I wasn't sure how to activate my yeast, not sure whether to mix in or let it sit on top of the water, but I think it worked correctly; at first, nothing seemed to happen but after a few minutes a thickish layer of tan foamish stuff was on the top.

activating dry yeast

My brown sugar comes in hard blocks I have to chop up to make like a powder. It wasn't as fine as it could of been if I kept chopping, but after quite awhile, I put it in there. Is it okay that my brown sugar wasn't super-fine?

not too fine brown sugar

I had to add a ton of flour, probably 550 ml (2.5 cups) above the original 240 ml (1 cup).

I also didn't know how to knead until satiny. After just a minute or two, it seemed smoother than before, but as I continued kneading it quickly became rougher, and after 8 minutes of kneading and not being sure what I was looking for, I moved on. Also, despite the added flour, it still stuck to the cutting board a lot.

This may be because of the consistency being off, but I couldn't figure out how to "roll" my dough into logs. I kind of squeezed them into the logs, rolling as much as I could (not much) to make them round, and I came out with very inconsistent sizes with loops that didn't want to stick at all.

pretzel logs

I used the eggwash.

I didn't know whether to grease the baking sheet, and whether the salt was needed (I always scrape the salt off my pretzels cuz I don't like the taste). I salted one, put garlic powder on one, and left the others plain.

pretzels, pre-baking

At this point (I know better now) I thought I should only turn on the bottom, not the top, heating element for baking. After 6 minutes, my pretzels were so HUGE, they didn't really have holes anymore. Oh well.

The tops weren't browning at all (obviously since I didn't have any heat up there) but the bottoms were turning yucky black, so I took them out.

pretzels, post-baking

You know what? They tasted really good. They taste to me like breadsticks, not pretzels, but still yummy. My husband melted some butter with garlic powder mixed in, and it made a great dip. I liked the garlic powder pretzel best, and wonder whether I could brush them with the butter/garlic powder mix rather than the egg, or in addition?

pretzel inside - yum!

Looking forward to trying this again:
-with both heating elements on
-rolling the dough out thinner so the pretzels will look more like pretzels
-potentially brushing with butter/onion powder, based on people here's suggestions
-anything else people suggest for me 

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zhi.ann

This is from before I actually joined this site - actually this is the reason I joined this site.

Background:

In the States, I baked yeast bread. I had one recipe - from a craft, not a cookbook, so it used terms I was familiar with rather than the terms I more often find in baking recipes now that I'm looking around. It was a honey-whole wheat bread. I found all the ingredients in my local grocery store, used that recipe with no alterations except substituting applesauce for half the butter, and I baked it every Saturday, never with a problem.

Now, I live in rural China. I didn't bring the recipe with me. I don't have access to whole wheat. When I look at recipes, they confuse me. And yet my husband really misses bread. I am at a high altitude, but right now it's not dry at all, rather, close to 95% humidity most days. And, without air conditioning, heating, or well-sealed/insulated windows and walls, what it's like outside is a whole lot what it's like inside.

I found this recipe (I can't now for the life of me seem to find it anywhere!! I have it on a notecard) last week and tried it.

Oat-Nut Bread

830 ml flour
830 ml oats, ground to a flou
180 ml finely chopped walnuts
180 ml raisins
60 ml brown sugar
14 ml yeast (1/2 oz.; 14 grams)
10 ml salt
460 ml water
160 ml yogurt (I used vanilla unintentionally)
60 ml oil

1. Combine half the flour, all the oats, nuts, fruit, brown sugar, yeast, and salt.
2. In a saucepan heat water, yogurt, and oil over low heat, just until warm.
3. Add wet to dry ingredients, beating until smooth.
4. Add enough remaining flour for a soft dough.
5. Knead about 4 minutes, or until soft and elastic. Form to a ball.
6. Place on greased baking sheet, cover and let rest for 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight to bake in the morning (I did it overnight.)
7. Bake at 200C for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Cool on a wire rack.

Unfortunently, this didn't work out for me so well. I did step 1, step 2, step 3. In step 4, I kep adding flour until I'd added way, way more than the recipe called for, and it still was a dough I could barely handle, it was so wet and sticky. I ran out of flour, and began adding oats, hoping to save it - I ground most of them but out of desperation began throwing them in there as whole rolled oats until I could finally knead the bread. Even then, it stuck to my hands, the cutting board, etc. In step 5, I formed it to more of a blob than a ball, since it was runny, and stuck it in a covered bowl in the fridge. In the morning, it was conformed to the shape of the bowl, so I dumped it on a baking sheet, stuck it in the oven, and let it bake.

The result was a very dense bread, tasty enough to eat mostly because of the raisins, but so dense I had to eat the whole thing (my husband didn't like it at all).

dough as I took it out from the freezer 

I tried the other loaf (this was supposed to make two) leaving it out all night after having frozen the dough (based on something I'd read online, somewhere). It came out just as dense, though it rose a bit in the oven whereas the first never did.

 piece of the bread

I'm munching on the second loaf now, hoping to get rid of it so I can bake something decent.

The only other note is that I won't be doing the walnuts again, even if I do come back to this recipe, because I couldn't taste nor feel them, and they cost the equivalent of $1.50 for so little!!

Any ideas, anyone, on what I can do better? 

 

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