Monday, January 31, 2011

My First Bread Baking Experience

Okay, so maybe this is my second or third attempt, depending on how you define 'bread'. For Thanksgiving, I successfully made dinner rolls from scratch. For New Year's, I successfully made pizza dough from scratch. This, however, feels like a whole new arena.

I've spent more than two precious hours burning good baking daylight skimming through message boards, recipe websites and watching video after video of how-to's with tons of different recipes and methods. From ten-minute miracle French bread to rise-overnight-bake-it-a-dutch-oven complexities, I was starting to stress out. Wait... Can I take that four-ingredient recipe and bake in this way instead? Is it OK to substitute this for that? Why does this video point down and directly at his giant pot belly and end up with burnt tops? Why bother? Ugh!

So, I decided to pick the simplest looking one. Few ingredients. She uses the same mixer I have. It doesn't take 24 hours to rise. It makes two loaves. The video isn't great, but it shows exactly what I need to know, and there's a written recipe on her blog to review as well. Ok. I can DO this. (to see the recipe I tried to follow, click here.)

  • Put together the mixer: check.
  • Pull out ingredients: check.
  • Get out all my stupid little prep bowls to look fancy and professional: check.
Step 1: Measure ingredients so I don't screw it up.
  • Flour: 5.25 cups. check. Well, shit. There's too much flour to fit into my prep bowl, so lets skip those little bastards and go straight into the mixing bowl. Step 1 becomes Step 2: Add ingredients to mixer.
  • Salt: 3 Tbsp. check.
  • Sugar: Shit! I measured the salt instead of the sugar... ugh.
    • Scoop out as much salt as I can, taking a little flour with it. I should have stuck with the prep bowls!!
    • Insert proper amount of sugar, plus a little extra to try to make up for a ton of salt :(
  • Yeast: well, I'm not using exactly the same kind of yeast as she is so I better mix it with water first... check.
  • Oil: check.
  • Water and yeast mixture: Check.
Step 2: Add ingredients to mixer.

Step 3: Mix 1 minute, check consistency. Ultimately mix five minutes.
  • If its too dry, add a little water. She's in SoCal and admits to always using extra water, so should I! Check.
  • Mix some more. Too wet. Add a little flour.
  • Mix some more. Too wet. Scrape sides. Add a little flour.
  • Mix some more. Too wet. Add a little flour. I swear I just added a smidge of water!
  • Mix some more. Too wet. Add a little flour. Just let it mix for god's sake.
Step 4: Pull out nice ball of dough and knead a couple of times. Do not knead on flour.
  • Scrape out ball of blob onto un-floured surface. Smash it around for a little bit. Wash blob off of hands. Get angry and pull out the flour.
  • Sprinkle the blob with flour, coat my hands with flour, try to unstick said blob from surface and flour the bum. Roll it around and try to work in extra flour.
  • Its still a f*king blob. A sticky, bastardy blob.
Step 5: Cut dough in half, shape two loaves and move to greased cookie sheet.
  • How the hell am I supposed to cut a blob in half? Sharpen knife. Cut in half.
  • Roll each half in more flour and try to shape. Move to individual cookie sheets.
Step 6: Cover and let rise 25 minutes: Check.
  • Laugh at two blobs, they're multiplying!, and begin writing this blog entry to share with the world.
Step 7: Uncover, slice tops, spritz with water, and bake.
  • Uncover: check. Take a picture. they didn't really rise. Half an inch maybe. This long one looks like a turd. Roll it in more flour and reshape it.
  • Maybe if I let them sit another 20mnutes they'll rise more...

Step 7 plus 20 extra minutes: Well, they rose a little more. F it. I'm gonna bake it.
  • The turd stuck to the towel, so now its a turd with a mohawk. 

  • Try to slice them, but I guess my knife isn't great, even after I sharpened it. Gives the tops of the loaves character...

  • Put into the oven with a bowl of water to create steam, rather than spritzing them with water and making more blobby blob.
Step 8: Bake 25 minutes. Cool. Slice. Eat. Enjoy.
  • The turd exploded on one side. Not terribly. The mohawk resided. Guess it was a fauxhawk. Ba da bum....nice and golden on top – should actually be a decent bread.
  • the boule was more par baked than golden, so I took it out and flicked a bunch of water on the top and put it back in for 7 more minutes. Looks pretty good!
  • Neither were as tall or risey as I expected, but not bad for my first try with a blob incident.
The taste test: A little salty (d'oh!), dense and chewy with a little crunch in the crust. But on the whole, not a bad bread! Go me!

Plus butter: Yum!

Please believe me when I say that the blob folly had nothing to do with the recipe or the method. It was completely user error. I fully intend to try this recipe again and again with variations to see what I can come up with. I am also going to explore La Fuji Mama's blog a little more and see what other wonderful recipes I can mess up ;)

Next time... with rosemary and olive oil!!