Lessons in breadmaking

About a month ago,  via Steamy Kitchen, I (belatedly) discovered the fabulous peasant bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  No knead bread so easy a four-year-old can make it? Sign me up!

After experimenting with a few versions, due to my love of rye I made the Pete Bakes! version my go-to, and bought the book online. (It’s still in the mail, but should be here any day for more delicious bready goodness.) Delicious bread was had.

Until today! I was in a hurry this afternoon, wanting to get the dough made before the sun escaped from the sky. With Canberra’s cold weather (and water), I knew I’d need a bit of warmth in the water and so boiled a little while I was mixing the flours. To make it lukewarm instead of boiling, I topped up the rest of the jug with cold water, but didn’t think to test it first. Alas, dear reader, the water was still reasonably hot!  To make things worse, I’d thought I’d save time by adding the salt to the water with the yeast. Two major mistakes. The result, that I’m sure keen bakers will have picked up already, is that my poor yeast did not survive. The bread steadfastly refused to rise, even when placed in a warm room.

I now had a large volume of less-than-ideal bread dough, and a diagnosis (courtesy of WikiHow): overheated, salted yeast. I could continue winging it, or I could do the sensible thing: ask the internet for help. Instinct said I should add another dose of yeast dissolved in water, with some flour in proportion to the water. But instinct hadn’t quite worked out earlier. Since the internet had provided me with the recipe, surely it could provide a solution.

eHow advised me that while the instinct of adding more yeast, water and flour was correct, I should also add sugar to help things along. This time I followed instructions, ensured that the yeast was active by waiting for a foam to rise on the water/sugar/yeast mix, then let things run their course.  The bread dough went to rest in my lovely warm lounge room, and puffed up right away. Success!

Image

Don’t be fooled, it’s a giant bowl!

Of course, the proof of the pudding (or bread, in this case) is in the eating, so I’ll have to bake & eat it to truly be successful. Photos to come!

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