Analysis of my first few breads or Why o why don´t you rise already?
Ok, so i got struck with the baking bug about a week ago and since then i´m obsessing about figuring out how to bake my own bread...
so far i produced together with my wife 4 lovely, tasty bricks of bread, what went wrong?
story goes as such...
first bread was made utilizing the formula from lesson one on this here website, measurements were way off since i don´t have proper measuring tools (ie cups and spoons) so this was very much freestyle bread you might say. i stuck some sesame and flex seeds in there also.
now... the process is quite probably were i failed (in the same way that we failed the other two loaves) that is to say, failing to realize just how much more time i need to account for cold weather and cold temps (just so happened that my adventure starts at the coldest time of year with temps close to 0ºC !!!)
i used old expired yeast mixed first in hot water, i either killed of what was left of the yeast and if not it was meant to go inside the flour anyway and not the kind mixed into water. next i kneaded on the cold marble and set aside to rise in a warmer room... which wasn´t quite warm enough.. after about three hours of just standing there without doing nothing i decided it was too late stuck it in the fridge and decided to consult this forum to see what can be done the next morning.
next morning i took it out and figured i should put more yeast, thinking the reason was the hot water that killed of the yeast i mixed the yeast again with a little tepid water and kneaded that into the dough... it was left for about 3 more hours until i attempted to fold it (again on the cold marble ·"$&"·%$") even though it wasn´t showing signs of rising and then set it aside for a few hours more and finally gave up after about 5 hours of no activity, stuck it in the oven (my stinky gas oven that goes up to gas level 6 (before knowing anything about gas levels i might add) i thought it should go on maximum... managed to burn the bread on top of everything...
it did show a little oven rise and the taste was too salty but otherwise good (inside...) i munched on it a little before throwing it away.
next day i went and bought fresh ingredients and tried the basic lesson one recipe with only slight changes (a little less salt and a little less water) again nothing was happening after about 3 hours and then we gave it one hour more in the mold before sticking it in the small electric oven for about 50 minuets on 190º C it came out a lovely brick, edible but ummm.... not quite there yet...
i spent the next few days reading more and more about bread, starting to garner a little more respect for what seemed something indeed very simple.
for our next try i came up with the following formula:
375g white wheat flour (100%)
with 65% hydration makes 244 grams water
7.5 g salt 2%
7.5 g instant yeast 2%
and 4%/8% flex and sesame seeds which are 15/30 grams respectively
we made two separate loaves, mixed stuff together using an electronic scale (which is very precise but only goes up to 200 grams) and let it rest for a few minuets before kneading. this time adding the yeast into the mix before the water. the 2% salt was a big difference from 2 teaspoons salt, it turned out about a 1/4 of the amount i put the first time! this dough looked more promising and felt better, but again we were kneading it on the cold cold marble and the ambient temps in the house weren´t hot enough to do anything much... and so we waited 3 hours again (all the time thinking according to the lesson that 2 hours would be the maximum... he fails to mention anything about cold temperature!!!) nothing much was happening and we put it in the mold and waited a couple hours more... nada... even the second loaf which enjoyed an extra hour and a half on top of that (total 7.5 hours!) didn´t seem impressed and simply sat there... i avoided making stretch and folds since i assumed it has to double at least before starting with that.
these two showed more oven rise however (from which i gather that the yeast was indeed active, but too cold) and have a few big holes in them... still... they turned out heavy lumps of bread (what i imagine Terry Pratchett might call Dwarf Bread)
that day i got a few privet massages from MiniOven who´s been a great help and with her aid i am finally convinced that what is wrong are indeed simply the cold temps, i have to say that a simple mention of that in the lesson might have saved me a lot of time though on the other hand it forced me to research more and more, to the point that i read all the relevant parts in the book ¨Baking Artisan Bread 10 Expert Formulas for Baking Better Bread at Home¨ by Ciril Hints and much more over here... the book has been a great help to put a few things straight.
so conclusions thus far are:
- find a way to correctly proof the dough in higher temps (maybe a warmed container)
- change the formula to promote rise times (ie up the hydration and add a bit of extra yeast)
- use tepid water instead of cold water
- knead on warmer surface (ie not on freezing cold marble!!!)
- patience is key!
- utilize preferments (maybe a biga or at least leave to rest about 30m before kneading)
now i wish i could eat all this bread TODAY so i´d have to make the next one already :O)
so my revised recipe and method is linked here and i will keep updating until i get it (it´s just under there in the comments so the link is really for convinience sake :O)