Monday, March 1, 2010

The Two Week Bread Experiment

I like bread. Now, I don't actually eat that much myself, I'm trying to go low carb. Although those efforts have been thwarted lately by our Sopranos Sunday dinners. Why does Ziti al forno have to be so danged tasty?

Anyway, I've been a bread machine jockey for a while and have tried a lot of different types over the years. I love waking up to the smell of fresh bread - just dump in the ingredients the night before and set the timer. Duncan has brown bagged many a sandwich to school on fresh made bread. But then again, there seems to be just something lacking in bread machine bread. It smells good, it tastes good, and it's easy to make, but the shape of the final result seems too industrial, too... I guess soulless is the word. And often the crust is nothing to brag about.

Then there's the other extreme. The ideal of bread making, mixing up the ingredients with your bare hands and knead, knead, knead. I've done a little of that, even with some success. But it's time so time consuming. I seldom find the energy to really do it right. This French brioche worked out nicely, and the family devoured it in no time. But I just can't devote that kind of time very often, what with my important commitments - Facebook games, Warhammer Online. Oh, and spending time with the kids. Yeah, that too.

So I came across this article about having fresh bread daily, and it seemed to be an interesting middle ground. The high points seemed to be make a big batch that'll last a couple weeks, make wetter dough than the recipes I've used in the past, and put a pan of water in the oven when baking for crisper crust.

So I decided to see how it would work out. There was some wrangling with Jill over how much she'd allow me to whip up. In the end, I mixed up enough for eight 1-pound loaves. Oops, we didn't have enough yeast. I assembled the Bread Crew and we headed to the store.

The recipe was actually very basic, just flour, salt, water and yeast.

Eight pounds is a lot of dough. Took two runs in the Kitchenaid to get it all mixed. Here's the result.

The assistants studied it carefully and proclaimed it a good start.

So now we wait. Let it rise for two hours.

One hour later...

Wow, it rose a lot!

Two hours later...

Gathered a all of about 1.5 lbs - it was very sticky. Added enough flour so it stopped being sticky and shaped it into a rough ball. Sprinkled a little cornmeal on a plate and left it to sit for 40 minutes.

Forty minutes later...

It hasn't risen much. Attempted to slice the top, allowing it to expand, it did not work well. Tried to move it to the pizza stone I was cooking it on, it stuck to the plate a little too much. Hmmm, more cornmeal next time. Also put the water pan in the oven just as I put in the bread. It needed to go in earlier so it was hot when I put the water in it. Oh well, next attempt will be better. Still looks pretty good. Almost done.

So the blob of flour...

...became this nice crusty loaf. Lets see how it tastes!

Wow. Ok, there was room for improvement in the shape, but the crust was crunchy, just perfect. Now I'm excited to see how this bread dough evolves over time.

No comments:

Post a Comment