Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making Bread!

If you read this blog regularly you know that I'm a big fan of 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' and 'Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day', both by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  I first started baking bread with these books, attracted to them because it was 'five minutes a day', no kneading required, healthy and artisan.  It really is quite a simple process for most of their breads:  you mix your ingredients in the container you will store the dough in, let it rise, refrigerate and then, on baking day, grab a chunk and let it rise before putting it in the oven.  The recipes are largely for hand-formed artisan style round loaves and have become our daily bread.  However, they don't make a great sandwich!  Farmer Man has had a hankering for a proper sandwich!

Now, the artisan breads can be baked in a loaf pan for the shape but it just wasn't what Farmer Man was craving.  I had seen a recipe on one of my favorite blogs FarmGirlFare for an Easy Farmhouse White loaf.  'Easy' sounds attractive and I've always had such good luck with the recipes I've tried from this blog that I though I'd give it a go!  The thing about making bread is that you've got to be around for three or four (or more!) hours and you've got to be mindful (or have a loud timer).  The thing for the newbie bread maker is the learning curve with terms and descriptions.  Just what does it mean that the dough 'springs back' when you poke it?  But it's like that with so many things: you've just got to do it one time and it all becomes much clearer!

So, first rising went on quite a while.  The recipe said sixty to seventy five minutes and two hours later I'm thinking 'maybe' it's doubled.  I carry on with the kneading and the rest of the directions and get it in the pans.  Sixty to seventy five minutes later is hasn't come any where near filling the pans like the picture on the blog!  Two hours later, the loaf pans still aren't anywhere near full!  It's getting close to bedtime so I decide to go ahead and bake.  The bread comes out and is very tasty but short and dense, quite dense. And I had what was decribed as 'exploding' sides, an indication of too much energy left in the yeast.  Just so happens the next day I was heading to the winter indoor Farmers Market downtown to trade in my empty honey bucket for a full one with Mann Apiaries.  Georgine Mann makes a ton of bread all season long for the markets so I asked her about my lack of rising.  In discussion, we decided that it is probably because our house is quite cool this time of year.  She recommended that the next time I try, use quite warm water with the yeast and preheat the oven for one minute and then use the oven for the rising.  I'll keep you posted and, and by the way, the bread is delicious!

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