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The bread experiment

September 30, 2010
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I decided some time last week that I wanted to try my hand at making bread. I have fond memories of eating my grandma’s homemade bread with some of her fresh strawberry preserves, and I wanted to see if I could recreate that bread.

Well, as I discovered, it isn’t that easy.

I used the whole wheat bread recipe from my BH&G red plaid cookbook. I’d tried looking some up online, but they all needed wheat germ or some other ingredient that I didn’t have or didn’t think I could find in our small town. The recipe in BH&G seemed fairly straightforward and easy. And I figured if I completely messed it up, I was only out a few cups of flour and a packet of yeast.

It started out well enough: mix 2c flour and a packet of yeast. Heat 1 3/4 c water, 3T butter and 1/3 c packed brown sugar in a saucepan until it reached 120 degrees. Okay, I can manage that. Then the directions said to mix the flour with the water mix for 30 seconds on low and then 3 min on high.

Now, I love my KitchenAid mixer, but I’m still getting used to it. Probably my only complaint (and something I’d read online when researching them) was that the paddle/whisk/etc… doesn’t always mix well at the bottom of the bowl. And it doesn’t. I had to constantly stop and scrape down the sides/bottom. So my mixing may not have gone as well as it could have. But I finished it and already it was starting to smell warm and yeasty (those two adjectives combined are really only pleasant when referring to bread).

The next step was to mix the rest of the flour in with the dough and then knead it. I think I made two mistakes here. One, I mixed the wheat flour with the rest of the regular flour and tried to mix it all in – I should have kept the wheat separate and mixed in the rest of the regular flour at the end – and then I overkneaded it.

My first clue was when it hadn’t doubled in size after almost 80 minutes of raising. I let it sit in the oven for another 20 minutes after that, and decided that was good enough. I punched down the dough, let it sit for the prescribed 10 minutes and then split it into two pans and let it rise again. Again, it didn’t double after an hour, but decided to bake it anyway.

It smelled wonderful and looked okay – just small. If I would have cut into smaller pieces and made rolls, they would have been just about perfect crusty dinner rolls.

Finished bread, fresh out of the oven.

Close up of one of the loaves.

Sliced. It has a nice, albeit somewhat dense, texture.

So not a complete failure for my first attempt at making bread. It must not be too bad, the kiddo has had three pieces by himself, the kidlet had one and even my dad had a piece (though he “complained” the crust was too hard and he didn’t have any strawberry jam to put on it. Hmph.).

I’ll try again in a few weeks and make some changes to what I think I did wrong. If anything, it’ll be good soup-dipping bread.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Emma permalink
    September 30, 2010 7:45 pm

    K,

    Have you heard of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes? It’s super-ridiculously-easy and you get a masterpiece every time.

    One their site, you can watch a few videos of them cooking and demonstrating.
    http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?page_id=63

    The master recipe is on this site:
    http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/cookbook/2009/artisan-bread/boule.html#axzz113zf3Hhr

    My local library carries the book, I imagine yours would too. But, all you need to know about it…are in those two links I gave you above.

    (PS: If you do try, I just cook it in a plain airbake cookie sheet…I can’t make myself buy the Williams-Sonoma stone that they recommend.)

    Emma

  2. Kristyn permalink
    October 1, 2010 2:29 pm

    Hmm, at least in the later years I think Grandma’s homemade bread was from frozen dough. 😉 May want to try that, too. I can’t remember if I saw it in the freezer or what–I may be dreaming but maybe ask Mom if she knows.

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