Mmmmm…Bread!

I’ve picked up a new skill:

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Regular reader and fellow GroovyGreen contributor Beo recommended the book “Bread Alone” in the comments section of my sustainable library post, and I picked it up a few weeks back. This is my first attempt at making bread of any sort, let alone from scratch. It’s the Country Hearth Loaf recipe from page 64.

I learned a fair bit while making the loaf:

  • I didn’t put enough flour in the dough before trying to knead it and ended up with a sticky mess until I wised up and added more flour.
  • I also figured out that for scoring the loaves, a regular kitchen knife just doesn’t do the trick. I’ll have to save one of my razor blades after it’s become too dull to shave with anymore and try that.
  • My oven has some hot spots, and the crust got a bit dark in certain spots. Next time I’ll bake it for less time before inspecting it and rotate the loaves more often.
  • Finally, I tried to move the loaves into the oven without the benefit of a peel, and thus excessive manhandling resulted in my nice round loaves turning into the deformed blobs you now see. I’ll look at either the silicone baking mats or perhaps getting an actual peel.

All in all, it was a great experience. The crust, as I mentioned before, got a little overdone, but the bread itself was nice and chewy with a great wheat/nut flavor. We had my wife’s parents over for a dinner of home-made turkey noodle soup and bread, and they loved both of them.

Cut Loaf

Thanks again, Beo!

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5 Responses to Mmmmm…Bread!

  1. Beo says:

    Bart,

    That bread looks awesome! I have a batch rising on the counter right now (Sunday and Tuesday are baking days). If that is your first attempt you are off to a fantastic start!

    Frankly I have not really progressed much past the learning recipe-though I add ground flax seed and cracked wheat to most batches. His baguettes are divine though.

    Typically on Tuesday I when I shape the loaves I take half and make two pizza crusts with it-just roll it flat and only let it rise for an hour instead of two. Less if you want a thinner crust. A whole wheat crust is much better than it sounds!

    Congrats to the new boulanger!

  2. Good job! I was going to do that today but woke up this morning and put it off until next weekend. Now I have the benefit of learning from you.

    I think AB used scissors once on a Good Eats show to score his bread on the top. Maybe you want to try that.

    And I think in the same episode I saw him use a pizza stone to bake the bread on. He put the stone in the oven to warm up before he put the bread on it I believe.

  3. Bart says:

    Thanks, gents. It was a lot of fun to do it, and while it took a fair bit of time from start to finish, it was mostly waiting to let the yeasties do their thing. I had always been terrified of baking, but this has me feeling a lot better about things.

    I used a pizza stone for the loaves as well. Preheated them in the oven, and the bottoms of the crusts turned out fine. You’re supposed to mount the rack in the center of the oven, but since I have 8 slots for the racks, I guessed and put it on #5, which meant the bottom performed well, but the top got toasty. I’ll try #4 next time.

    I love baguette bread, so that will definitely be on the list. We seem to buy 4-6 loaves of it a month. The sourdough levain bread will also be a candidate.

    For what it’s worth, I used a 3-1 mixture of Gold Medal white flour (the cheap stuff you get in the supermarket) and King Arthur Whole Wheat flour. I’ll eventually look for some higher-quality white flour and see what kind of difference that makes.

  4. By the way, found the recipe from the show.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_30263,00.html?rsrc=search

    I am seriously envious of your butcher block. Very, very nice.

  5. Bart says:

    Heh… that’s actually our kitchen table… if I used it as a butcher block, you’d be seeing my face on a milk carton soon afterward. 🙂

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