Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Made Bread

I haven't been on in ages. But maybe that's a good thing. It means I have more to tell.

My garden this year has turned out to be kind of small. I have 2 Calendulas, 1 Parsley, 8 (0r was it 9?) onions, a plant that is either a melon of some kind or Armenian Cucumber, and a huge patch of beans. Yesterday I also planted nine mint starts. They're not exactly edible mint (they're eau de parfum kinda thing), but my reasons for planting them were a) mint is invasive so it should crowd out the other, prickly, thorny, sticker-y weeds; b) to till under at the end of the growing season to compost during winter and improve the soil; c) to add more green to my patch of ground.

We haven't had a full day of sun since March/April -ish. The temperature never hits above the late seventies. I'm not complaining. It's more pleasant to weed with rain sprinkling on your head than the sun beating down on your back and making you sweat for it.

It's very strange, though. We usually never have temperatures under 90-95 -ish.

I made bread for the first time on my own the other day. As usually occurs with my cooking, my family loved it and gobbled it down, but I was more picky. It had a nice taste, but it was too heavy and I'm pretty sure yeast hates me. I nearly never get it to rise right. The only time I ever got it to work like it should was with a Swedish sweetbread I made one Christmas season; Swedish Kardemummakrans (the main problem with the Swedish bread is how fast it get stale. It has to be eaten within a day or two of baking).

I think the main problem with my bread I just made was in the rising. It calls for letting it rise once and then putting it into the loaf pans to let it rise one more time before baking. I was thinking I would try either letting it rise longer or else having it rise twice before I put it into the pans to rise. The other thing is, it called for hot water to mix with the flour before adding the yeast, and I use boiling water. So maybe cooler water, as well. I also plan on using that trick where you put a wet dishtowel over the bowl of dough while it rises.

This is the recipe I used:

Whole-Wheat Bread

  • 3 Tablespoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 5 cups hot water
  • 7 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup creamed honey
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 6 cups whole wheat flour
  1. In small bowl dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine hot water and 7 cups whole wheat flour. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon (or mixer) until smooth. Add 4 cups whole-wheat flour. Mix well. Let stand for 15 minutes; then turn dough out onto a floured board and knead in 1 to 2 cups wheat flour--enough to form a smiith, elastic dough.
  2. Put dough into a greased bowl; cover. Let stand in a warm place for at least 30 minutes or until double in bulk. Turn onto a greased board and divide into 4 equal portions. FOrm loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Let rise until double in bulk. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Bake 15 minutes longer if you like your bread crusty.
I have also found the camera cord for the better (read: twice as many megapixels) camera. Now I can start posting pictures! :)

ETA: The texture and flavor (aside from the heaviness) is quite good. The bread is soft just like the store bought stuff and I have had no such problems with it being too crumbly. If I can get the rising part right, this recipe's a keeper.


Sandy@American Way Farm said...

Hey Gemini - Thanks for leaving all the great comments on my blog. I like this post about the bread. I tried and tried for years to make a decent loaf of bread. It would taste really good coming right out of the oven but after it cooled it would have doubled as a lethal weapon if you threw it at someone. A friend of mine, who was a baker, showed me how to work with the yeast, and gave me some tips. Now the bread that comes out of my kitchen is to die for! Keep at it, you'll get it figured out.

alcopoppy said...

Just a head's up-- when working with yeast, never ever use boiling water. If it's much warmer than your skin temperature, you're going to kill the yeast. Try using warm but not hot water and I'm sure your bread will be even more of a success.