...FAT (no I'm not talking about myself, despite all the bread I'm eating!) - Lesson Six
Two lovely mini loaves - August 4, 2017
I will admit I went in to this lesson confidently - I had just finished scrubbing my house from top to bottom (with my nineteen pound 6 month old daughter attached to me in her carrier), after two weeks straight of multiple sets of houseguests - and I was ready to conquer anything! This led to a bit of a blind panic towards the end of the lesson, that left me deflated (although thankfully my bread was not), but I digress - let me first explain my task.
Lesson six was set to take my previously successful mini loaves and add fat and sugar to them to help stabilize and enhance my bread. Having now made four batches of these I have the basics down, I know how long to proof (and when disaster will strike), how long to knead and bake, and even the best temperature for the water, so this should be fairly foolproof right? I did the bakers math to add 3% solid fat (crisco) and 1% sugar - and got to work.
When I took the dough out of the mixer, it was smoother and more shiny than previous doughs had been - beautiful to handle - I was feeling quite professional finishing up the kneading of this plump, glistening beauty. I plunked it down into the plastic bin to let it double, set the timer and went to make dinner... almost skipping at how easy this was, and how my house would soon smell delicious.
One hour later - divide, rest, shape, put in loaf pans, cover, set timer, walk away. Yup - I got this!
35 out of my 50 minute timer later - little peek - OH NO! Wait, what happened?! THESE ARE HUGE! Okay, don't panic, oven needs to be on NOW - it's taking FOREVER to heat up - oh no, don't fall, please don't fall, WHAT HAPPENED?! Ok, oven light is off, put them in FAST - wait, it was just cycling, it says 350F not 400F, this is a disaster.. they are already in... walk away, it is what it is.
Well, that was the family-friendly version of my verbal rant... however they came out looking lovely after reaching a good internal temperature, and when I cut in to them they were good! Springy, light, a hint of nutty flavor, all-in-all a near-perfect sandwich bread (if a bit small). I passed, but barely, and it made me want to try again with less audaciousness and more knowledge.
I learned that fat and sugar make the dough rise significantly more, and faster, and even rise further upon baking. They also add a hint of richness to the bread and improve the texture. All in all it is a fantastic addition - but now that I have some experience I will be much more sensitive to the timing in the future! Just a reminder that I am still a novice, and there is much to learn!
I did decide to go ahead and try to make a full-size loaf of this bread a few days later. I wanted something big enough to make those sandwiches and toast with - it turned out well, and I am happy with it. A bit dark on top, but that did lend to a deep nutty flavor that I thoroughly enjoyed - and it is wonderful toasted with a smear of bourbon molasses butter that I made this past weekend!
Right now I am feeding a sourdough starter (with much instruction from The Bread Whisperer) and am very intimidated by the upcoming lesson with a totally different free-form boule, so wish me luck as I stumble (humbled) onward!