Saturday, October 4, 2008

Adventures in bread baking

So, sometimes when I make bread it comes out beautifully. Sometimes when I make bread I'm organized and on top of things, and paying enough attention to avoid scenes like this:

Today was, obviously, not one of those days. I was inspired by this post over at FMH to try making bread again. Actually, I was kind of thinking of making some bread anyway because it's conference weekend and the weather's absolutely beautiful. Somehow autumn always feels like bread making time. Anyway, I made the poolish according to those directions on Friday evening, shortly before watching an episode of Firefly (which Derrick was thoughtful enough to buy for me). When I got up in the morning the poolish looked beautifully bubbly--and had attracted quite a few fruit flies (I'd covered it with saran wrap so they were just hovering around the bowl). Derrick loves hearty, dense breads so he requested I use rye and whole wheat flour for the bread, which I did (2 c rye, 1 1/2 c whole wheat, and enough white to make a good dough).

Putting everything together wasn't too bad--I have a kitchen-aid mixer, so I didn't have to knead the dough by hand. Sylvia wasn't feeling so cooperative with the whole bread-making endeavor, though, and I kept splitting my attention between the dough and my daughter. Even so, I managed to make a dough that at least sort of windowpaned (with a bunch of whole-ish grains showing). At that point I turned the mixing bowl over to let the dough fall out of it, and decided to just leave that on the table to let the dough rise.

And then Derrick and I both left, Derrick to go to his shop, me to Heather Hansen's house to borrow the last two books in the Twilight series. I showed up just in time for conference to start and ended up staying for conference. All two hours. Now, if you've read the bread recipe you'll notice the first rise is supposed to be 30-40 minutes. I figured an hour would be okay because my house is cool. Of course conference is two hours long, thus leading to this lovely scene. But wasn't it cool that sustainable energy was mentioned in conference? Not in an exactly endorsing manner, but also not in a, "we shouldn't concern ourselves with such silly, temporal concerns as renewable energy" kind of way. I thought it was cool anyway.

So, I was hoping the bread dough would be reasonably resilient and just continued with the bread. I punched it down and let it rise a second time (though I was pretty sure I could have skipped that with as long as I left the first rise--and that rise was impressively fast!) and then shaped the dough into two loaves as directed. Knowing my husband is a much bigger fan of the slightly more sour breads, I left one on the counter and stuck the other in the fridge to rise overnight. Somehow all of this ate up the two hours between sessions so I put on a timer and sat back down on the couch to listen to conference. And promptly fell asleep. Derrick came in and tried to wake me when the timer went off, and I vaguely remember mumbling something about "I'll take care of it" before drifting back into la-la land. I woke up at just about the end of conference, two hours after shaping the loaves.

There really aren't too many doughs that are stretchy enough to accommodate two hours of accumulated yeast CO2, and this one is no exception. The dough had a lovely fruity smell, almost like over-ripe bananas (which may be why every fruit fly in the neighborhood was hovering around the misshapen loaf), but was in no shape to be baked. The one in the fridge was just a little past its optimal rise, though, so I warmed my oven and stood ready with a glass of water to shove that puppy in the oven. This is the final product:

It's tasty and dense, and would probably go really well with about any central European home-style meal. It is bread. The second loaf (baked shortly after removing the first from the oven) looks like this:

My husband thought it wasn't sweet enough, wanted a "hand-kneaded texture", and wasn't as keen on the rye as he thought he'd be, but I thought it turned out rather well, especially given the lack of attention it received. I expected it to be overly yeasty, yet it really wasn't. I'm definitely a fan of this recipe. Next time I'm going to try with just white flour (see if I can produce windowpaning that looks like the example given in the FMH post), and I'll try kneading it by hand. Thanks for the recipe and challenge, CWC!

One more note: cheap pans plus water plus a 500 degree oven can be very pretty, but probably aren't the best choice for this particular recipe.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Steeny, wish I could have been there. The bread looks pretty. Sylvia is getting big.