The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

absolute noobie

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cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

absolute noobie

I have never baked a loaf of bread in my life. I am 53 years old. My mom still makes delicious Irish soda bread. But it is my brother who lives in Costa Rica that has inspired me to finally bake some bread. I am the type of person who would never be satisfied just baking a loaf of plain white bread every weekend. I tend to max out everything I do (I started running a few years ago to get in shape and lost 42 pounds inside of 6 months). Then I started drinking beer and stopped running only to find that the 42 pounds came back with a vengeance. DUH! Anyway, I am going to bake my first loaf of bread tomorrow. Something about the concept absolutely fascinates me and I can't wait to get started. I work from home and my schedule is very flexible so I foresee no problems. I plan to post my progress for anyone that might be interested but mostly for my own amusement. {_;)>

Comments

browndog's picture
browndog

hey, cabbagehead, we're always interested around here! That's what makes it fun whether you bake bricks, beauties, or some of each. Good luck.

Susan's picture
Susan

You might want to start running again as an adjunct to your breadmaking. I've certainly packed on a few pounds from my breadmaking addiction. We'll be waiting for your progress reports!

Susan from San Diego

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Baking is a blast. Have fun!

kjknits's picture
kjknits

I don't seem to gain weight from eating lean breads (I ate almost a whole loaf of ciabatta one day and never saw any resulting pudge in the week to follow), but the enriched ones?  Watch out, because breadbaking can really show on the scale! =)

We are waiting to hear how your first loaves came out, btw.

 Katie in SC

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

Thank you Katie. I have already decided that I'm going to start running again in September and therefore I will be able to indulge without guilt (mmm.... warm bread with butter and strawberry jam!!) 

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

I've just checked my loaf after one hour and it doesn't seem to be rising at all. Could it be too dry? Shouldn't it have shown some life by now? Am I supposed to cover it with a damp cloth or does it matter? Well, I'll leave it for at least another 30 minutes and hope for the best.

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Is it a panned loaf, cabbagehead?  I cover mine with a piece of plastic wrap, sprayed with olive oil.  I just sort of lay the wrap over the pan.  Also, did the recipe instruct you to let it rise once before shaping it into loaves?  A first rise usually takes an hour and a half or so (for a regular direct dough using commercial active dry or instant yeast), during which time the yeast builds up an army.  The second rise takes less time, in my experience between 30-40 minutes.  I don't know if any of that helps, but I'm trying...

Katie in SC 

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

It is not a "panned" loaf. It is a semi-round ball approximately 5 inches in diameter with no distinctive personality at all. The recipe did indeed instruct me to let it rise, if it is willing do do so, for 90 minutes before kneading it again. I am using Fleischmann's commercial active dry yeast. The army you speak of appears to be nothing more than a small platoon of reluctant soldiers. I think I will let it sit for another 30 minutes or so before punching it again (out of frustration?)

 

Thanks 

Susan's picture
Susan

There's only one sure way to kill yeast that I know of, and that's heat. Either your water was too hot or, in your zeal to bake bread, you put the dough to rise in a place that is far too warm. Or the yeast was outdated, but we know you didn't do that!

I hope it's begun to rise by now. Keep us informed.

Susan from San Diego

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

This is amazing. People (good freinds and close relatives) showed less concern at the birth of our first child.

 Anyway, I don't think I killed the yeast. I used room temperature water and left the dough on the counter where it is now looking at me as if it expects me to do something. I will continue to exercise patience and resist the temptation to beat it some more into submission.

I would like to attach an image of my lump of dough (calling it a loaf at this point would seem a tad generous). Can someone tell me how I would determine the URL of an image that has been uploaded from my camera to my computer?

Susan's picture
Susan

Photo Posting

Make sure your photos are the right size.

Susan from San Diego

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

Thank you Susan for this advice however it raises more questions than it answers:

-    what is the right size?

-    when the web app asks for a URL, what should I tell it re: the location of my photo? 

Susan's picture
Susan

In my answer above? That should give you the info you need. If you still are having problems after reading that, keep asking!

Take a deeeeep breath!

Susan from San Diego

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

I clicked on the icon called "insert/edit image" which is a picture of a tree.

Susan's picture
Susan

Click here

and you will have information that you need in order to upload photos.

Susan from San Diego

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

 teaspoon used for reference (with permission)lump of dough: teaspoon used for reference (with permission)

ok so how's this? 

Susan's picture
Susan

Your dough, however, looks a bit dry to me. Would you post your recipe so we can take a look. Just the list of ingredients should do it.

Susan from San Diego

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

Like I said, it's a very basic recipe.

3 cups of flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons yeast

1 1/8 cup water

I had to had a little bit more water because it was not forming into a ball. Maybe I didn't add enough. On the bright side, I just checked my lump again and it seems to have risen a little more. I have pre-heated my oven to 375 degrees and if I end up with a loaf of bread, great. If not, I have gained a lot of experience and I calculate it cost me about a dollar. 

kjknits's picture
kjknits

One thing I notice is a lack of surface tension in that lump of dough. It's not quite as important in the first rise as it is in final shaping, but it still helps the dough rise better. I always shape the dough into a ball with the ends tucked down underneath it for the first rise, because it gives the dough a smooth surface on the top, and allows for a nice rise. It also makes it easier to tell if it has risen (and so does placing the dough ball in an oiled bowl or container for the first rise).

The dough is only 37% hydration, which is quite low, but then again, that's the same hydration as my typical sandwich bread (2 C water, 1/4 C melted butter to 6 cups flour). So I don't know if that is the problem.

How did you knead it, and for how long? Do you know about using the windowpane test to check for gluten development? Just another idea. The gluten development is critical to rising--if it's not there, the bread won't rise either.

ETA:  Also, if it isn't covered, it might develop a dry crust, which would also impede rising. 

Katie in SC

Susan's picture
Susan

As I said, I don't often do commercial yeast. Is there a simple yeasted bread on the site that you could recommend for Cabbagehead?

Susan from San Diego

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

Hi Susan and Kaite. I should mention tha this is where I got this recipe in the first place. It seemed to be the most basic and idiot-proof. Until now that is. My dough has been in the oven for about a half hour and is resolutely refusing to get any bigger. There are many things I can try for next time however and I remain undaunted. Eventually I would like to install a gas fired, natural stone oven in my back yard just for baking bread. Like I said at the beginning, I tend to take things to their extreme.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

It definitely looks on the dry side. Your flour may have been packed pretty tight, so an extra quarter or half cup of water would be better. You'll get a feel for it.

The final loaf looks great for a first try though. Looking forward to seeing what you turn out now that you have "the bug."

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

Yes, I believe that to be a consensus - the dough was too dry. However, the crust was crusty without being hard and the bread itself very tasty.  It was little dense with very little air  but the fact that everything has been eaten in one meal other than one end must mean something right?

I'll make another loaf or two on the weekend and experiment a little.

This is fun! 

kjknits's picture
kjknits

That's great to hear!  We have another breadhead in the house! =)

Katie in SC 

kjknits's picture
kjknits

For what it's worth, I add my photos by clicking on that camera icon at the top of the "post new comment" box.  It gives you a button to upload the photo, then you can click on "insert" on the next window that comes up.  I also use photos in the 650 x 490 pixel size range.  Hope that helps!  And, tell that blob of dough to quit looking at you!

Katie in SC 

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

Welcome, I too am fairly new to all of this.  The loaf you created was the one from this web sites Lesson 1 I believe.  Which was my very first loaf as well, as is still to date one of my favorites.

I noticed you used Active Dry yeast and I do not know if that was some of your issue.  When using yeast I only use Instant Yeast so I really do not know the iniatial characteristics of how Active Dry  should be introduced whether it is to be put in the dough mix dry, or if it has to be activated first in water.  But I would be interested to see if Instant yeast performed any better for you.

Just a thought. 

Welcome again, and have a great day.

Tattooed Tonka

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

Thank you Tonka for joining in making me feel welcome. Your point about the different kinds of yeast is a good one which I have not considered. I thought that yeast is yeast although I did follow the directions on the package which instructed me to simply add it to the flour/salt/water mixture. Anyway, I'll pick up some instant yeast for my next loaf and let you know how that does.

 

Thanks again. 

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I wanted to look this up just to refresh some things in my own melon as well.  Here is what i got for ya.

In Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer she states-

Active Dry Yeast is the most familiar to home bakers.  It is commonly available in 1/4oz. three envelope strips and must be rehydrated before use in 105'F to 110'F water for 5 to 10 minutes. (Lately many writers have said this step is unimportant, but that is only because most recipes contain such an overabundance of yeast that it doesnt really matter.  I prefer to use the minumum amount and handle the yeast carefully to draw out its maximum potential.)  Active dry yeast produces the least amount of carbon dioxide per yeast cell, and its the slowest and most cumbersome type of yeast to use.

In the Bread Bakers Apprentice by Reinhart he states

Why Instant Yeast- The reasons I prefer instant yeast are simple.  Its more concentrated than fresh or active dry yeast, it has a longer shelf life, and it can be added to the flour instead of hydrating it first. 

He also states- There are 25% more living yeast cells per teaspoon than in an equal amount of active dry yeast, and three times (300%) more living cells than in an equal amount of fresh compressed yeast.

I hope this may help you a little.

TT

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

Wow, that is very interesting information indeed. So I should have hydrated the yeast first after all. I'm surprised I got it to rise to the extent that it did. It just goes to show you that baking bread is even easier than most of us imagine.

I've learned more about baking bread in two days than probably any other subject in my life to this point. It will be a fascinating hobby and all the more enjoyable for good people such as yourself to share my victories and failures with.

May your dough always rise and all of your disappointments be small ones. 

Cabbage 

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I too am a bit of a "Go all the way, or dont bother tryin" type of person.  When I get into something, I REALLY get into it.  And this has been no exception.  I am on a constant search of knowledge.  And love to try to create new stuff along the way...

These folks here help in a great deal, be it in giving advise on solving a problem.  Or just to give words of encouragment.  Its like a Big Baking Support Group......

Look forward to seeing some of your future works. 

TT

browndog's picture
browndog

The man's a bread-bakin' fool, cabbagehead! :D Anyhow, I just thought I'd add that I only ever use active dry yeast, I bake plenty and a cup of bulk yeast in the fridge never goes bad for me, I have no idea how long that would actually take to happen. I buy yeast every few months. Indeed it's prudent to proof it first, but it's a simple step. As a home baker I can't imagine you'd ever find it lacking. If price and availability aren't an issue, instant yeast seems ubiquitous in the recipes and that would be the only reason I personally would feel compelled to choose it over ady.

Raffi's picture
Raffi

Mmmm - seems I've helped unlease a flour tiger. This is a great group, even though I haven't started a blog of my own, I'm a little more shy than my (much) older brother, I've spent many happy hours reading through the blogs and posts here.

No doubt you'll be teaching me a thing or two, as usual, in no time. But I concur that your dough looks a little dry.

Raffi

cabbagehead's picture
cabbagehead

Why is it always easier to take criticism from a complete stranger than a family member? Seriously, though it's great to know you're a member at this site and we can share our bread-making adventures together.

The two loaves I baked today turned out great (didn't take pictures though). One was 100% whole wheat with a touch of sugar to help the yeast. I just took it over to our new neighbours who are just in the process of moving in. Wow, what a way to be an instant hero!

I called Janice at work today and the first thing I said was "We better buy some more flour". lol