Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 7: What I Knead to know to Bake Yeast Bread (from scratch)

Ok, yesterday I tried something that I've never done before, I baked bread from scratch.  I am usually pretty good in the baking department...until I tried this bread.  It wasn't a complete disaster but it wasn't perfect the first time around.  But I reminded myself that nothing I do usually is perfect the first time around so I researched my problems and will try again soon. 

I wanted to make french bread for our French Dip sandwiches.  I usually use the french bread from the bakery at Publix, but since I went shopping a few days before we were going to make the sandwiches, the bread just wouldn't stay glorious for that long.  So, I found a recipe online and started my journey into the bread making world.  I followed the instructions and everything seemed to be going smoothly until I went to pull the bread out of the oven.  The loaves were very heavy and didn't seem to have risen much (I noticed that before I ever stuck them in the oven).  But, they tested done, so I removed them and very impatiently waited until it wasn't too hot to cut. 

We wasn't bad, very dense, but not bad.  It had a nice crust from the egg white wash.  So, back to the computer I go to research why they were so dense. 
Recipe: Mix dough and let rise until doubled...did that
Recipe: Punch dough, divide and let set 10 minutes...did that
Recipe: Roll out, roll up, and let set for 35-40 minutes (until nearly doubled)...did that (only they didn't first hint)

Upon my research, I found that my dough probably needed more air, so I should hold it up when I am kneading it or it needed to rise more.  So next time (which won't be too far down the road, and yes, it's a separate line item on my project list), I am going to make sure the loaves rise more before I bake them. 

I really need to get better at taking pictures during the different stages of my project.  But at least I have some.

This is actually step #4.  This is after mixing the dough, letting it rise, separating it in 2 and letting it set.  You roll out the 2 sections into large rectangles and roll up, using water to seal the edge.

Rolled dough loaves (they should have been on cornmeal, but I didn't have any).  Here is one of the places I messed up.  They were supposed to sit for another 35-40 minutes to nearly double.  I should have stuck them back outside (where it was a little warmer) for them to rise...oops).
  After the loaves "rise" you score them with a knife, brush egg white/water wash on the top and bake for 20 minutes.  Brush again and bake for another 15-20 minutes.  Remove when they test done and let them cool on a wire rack.
Now I said that not letting the loaves rise enough was one of my's the other one, so simple.  I didn't put all the salt in.  I don't mind dense bread, but the recipe called for 1 1/2 tsp salt, and I'm pretty sure I only put the 1/2 in. 

But, it wasn't a complete disaster!  Better luck next time!!!

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