The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Time Baker

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Liss's picture
Liss

First Time Baker

Hi! I'm new...I'm a college student on a small budget, so I figured I'd give home bread-baking a try as a means to put delicious, artisanal breads back into my reach. Well, I made my first loaf on tuesday, and it was -delicious-. I used the "My Daily Bread" recipe on this site, and my loaves had an excellent texture and flavor. However, some weird stuff happened in the process. First of all, I made the entire recipe, before realizing I had only one small sheet to bake it on. So I couldn't divy the dough up (I was afraid to let one loaf have a much longer final rise than the other), and so had a giant monster loaf, reminisent of that I Love Lucy episode. But, the amount the recipe made was perfect. My boyfriend finished the last of it yesterday night (in bed, no less--so now I am sleeping on crumbs).  Is there  any way to  divide up the dough so I can bake one first and then throw the second loaf in after the first has baked? Secondly, something bizarre happened. After pulling my huge loaf from the oven, where it had baked on an olive-oiled cookie sheet, I noticed it was baked through, but had no bottom crust. ?!?!. How does that happen???? And, lastly, though the bread was light and airy, with nice big holes in it, the crumb was a little brittle and dry (I'd prefer softer), and the crust did not have the glossy sheen of the picture (just that light golden, pasty, floury color...). So, any tips for a beginning baker, and any solutions to my questions? Thanks =)

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== Is there any way to divide up the dough so I can bake one first and then throw the second loaf in after the first has baked? ===

I often make that recipe as one loaf - my family likes the huge slices. The result is sometimes an odd shape but it tastes great anyway.

However, if you want two smaller loaves then after the rise cycle you can divide the dough, shape the two loaves, put one on the counter to proof and the other in the refrigerator where it will proof slowly. When you put the first loaf in to bake take the second one out of the refrigerator and let it warm up and finish proofing. Then you can bake it after the first one is done.

=== Secondly, something bizarre happened. After pulling my huge loaf from the oven, where it had baked on an olive-oiled cookie sheet, I noticed it was baked through, but had no bottom crust. ===

Well, the bottom crust is lighter than the top but I usually get a crust all the way around. However, I proof the loaf on a peel dusted with semolina. The olive oil you used may have been absorbed into the bottom of the loaf and softened the bottom crust.

As far as getting the glossy sheen, welcome to the club! Floyd is a bit modest in describing his skills; he seems to be able to get better results than most using the same receipes. Keep practicing though - your sheen will get better.

sPh

Floydm's picture
Floydm

On divvying the dough: Yes. Sure. Cut and shape it to whatever size and shape you'd like. You can refrigerate half of the dough and shape and bake it later, like the next day. Smaller loaves will bake quicker.

On the lack of crust on the bottom: you could try baking on a lower rack of the oven. Also, if your baking pan is one of those insulated double layer pans they don't get very hot. That is good for cookies that burn easily on the bottom, but not so good for bread. Try using a single layer sheet or a heated stone.

On the crumb: adding some oil or butter should keep the crumb moister. You can also reduce the baking time so that it is less thoroughly dried out.

On the crust: to get it darker, ferment it longer, add a little sugar, bake it at a higher temperature, or bake it longer.

I don't have the exact answer for you on any of these, but lesson two and lesson three try to explain the variables involved in baking and how you can tweak them to get the results you want.

Good luck!