The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie's Notes: Loaf Rescue Mission Accomplished!!

Jn6-35's picture

Newbie's Notes: Loaf Rescue Mission Accomplished!!

Note:  If this post contains repetions, it's because I had to re-write it because it looked like half of it disappeared when it was posted.  So I had to get back in and re-write it.

This post is for anyone who was following my saga from yesterday about the failed loaf and all that I learned from the experience.

I awoke this morning, determined to conquer the recipe again, this time armed with what I believed would be a workable plan.

I am thrilled beyond measure to report that my modifications worked beyond even what I had imagined!  

I made both procedural and proportional modifications and will describe them here so you can see what you think.


1.  First, I turned on the furnace and raised the temperature in my house to 77 degrees (our SoCal nights have been a bit cool lately).

2. Instead of cutting the cheddar cheese into chunks, I finely shredded it with a microplane.  I made sure it was cool enough so that it would scatter rather than clump (my Zo has a "rest" or warming stage so I knew that would be ok).

3. Although the recipe calls for toasting the walnuts (which I did yesterday), and although certainly, toasted walnuts are infintely more flavorful than not, I decided not to toast them today.   Walnuts are very high in oil (which makes them so delicious toasted) and can actually make a recipe oily.  Since this recipe had so many problems of that nature, I decided just for today, not to toast, although I will probably toast them next time.

4. I added both the cheese and the finely chopped walnuts with the rest of the ingredients, rather than waiting for tha "add" beep.  I suspect that the machine does not do a really adequate job of incorporating.

5. The recipe calls for the water (boiled) to be mixed with the required amount cornmeal and allowed to sit for 1/2 hour or more.   I omitted this step.  My reasoning was that this makes rather a denser "mush" and interferes with some of the yeast-freeing properties of water I read about in DiMuzio (water helps yeast to move freely within the dough).    I added the plain water (I always use bottled b/c my tap water is horrifying) and added the cornmeal with the other flours.

6. Yesterday I substituted Maple Syrup for the Molassas the recipe called for, b/c to my cook's instincts, maple syrup would pair better with the cheddar cheese and the walnuts.   However, the Maple Syrup I use is a very light, pure one and I wondered if it didn't have an equal sugar amount as the Molassas did, so I switched back to the Molassas originally called for.

7. About half-way through the knead cycle, I added just a bit of flour directly from my hands (kind of sprinkling it), then reached in there to incorporate it a bit.   I knew that a moister, denser loaf (esp. with the cornmeal and whole wheat flours) would be naturally "tacky" but I felt that this dough seemed a bit TOO tacky.



























Jn6-35's picture

For some reason, the finished post did not appear in its entireity;  I went back and re-wrote what seemed to have been lost, but that got lost, too, so maybe there is a word limit I exceeded or something.  

But to sum up what "Proportional" changes I made: 

I reduced the salt by 1/3

I reduced the whole wheat to be just 1/3 of the flour total (it was a bit more than yesterday)

I reduced the amount of butter by 1/2

I reduced the amount of cheese by 1/3

I reduced the walnuts by 1/2

I increased the amount of yeast by 1/3


The loaf turned out beautifully.   It was slow to rise, but I expected that with all the cheese, cornmeal, walnuts, etc.   It had a perfect oven spring and rose just beautifully during the early part of baking.   It emerged beautifully browned and was 200 degrees on the instant read I stuck in the bottom (I had my oven pre-heated and ready to go, just in case).

The crust was delightfully crisp, yet delicate.  The crumb was FABULOUS--moist and tender, yet light and airy at the same time (not heavy or dense).   The cheese and walnuts were beautifully incorporated and imparted their flavors subtly.   I will toast the walnuts next time.    And I still think that the maple syrup makes a better combination with the cheese and walnuts, so I will probably go back to trying that.

I am so incredibly thrilled that I was able to take all the insight into bread-making I have gained from books, from you all and from this site, and actually take a problem recipe and turn it from an abject failure into a true success.

I feel like I am on my way to being a baker of bread, and that, for me is so exciting.

Blessings and thanks to all of you who offered so much encouragement and advice! 

Now, I've got to get to work on that "practice, practice, practice!!"


dabrownman's picture

the spell check button and it is still on when you post, then you might have the entire post disappear.   It also might disappear even if the button is off.   Why I don't know but it has been like that since I joined the site nearly a year ago.  So to not be totally frustrated, I copy my post to my clip board, so that if it disappears I have a copy to easily paste back.

Glad your bake tuned out well!

Jn6-35's picture

Thanks, DaBrown,  for the tip about saving things to a clipboard.    I was so perplexed as to what happened to my text.   LOL, I tend to be wordy, so I thought it was the proverbial "cane around the neck" cutting me off, LOL.

Next time I will write it offline and copy/paste onto the site.   

LOL, and I will also try not to be so wordy, LOL.

Thanks again for all of your help and enthusiasm!