Finally......Bread

Before I start in on the bread making escapades I would like to thank Magic of Spice for becoming a follower of my blog!

Finally......bread.

Have you labeled yourself a misfit when it comes to the bread making department? Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel after you have wasted a day (and more dollars) in a failed bread experiment? Fear no longer, my doughy-distressed comrades….I have the bread recipe for you....courtesy of the Wandering Coyote :-)

I am a big fan of the Coyote who hosts the blog ReTorte and so I hate to disappoint her with my “epic fails” in the bread making department. She has been so helpful, so patient, when explaining the bread making process. That is why I waited until I could post a success story !

Behold - The No Knead bread, Coyote detailed the No Knead bread on her post HERE. (This is also a Mark Bittman recipe from November 2006)




I would be willing to bet there are many of you out there who are reading this and shaking your head over my inability to conquer a simple loaf of bread. Just like some folks are good at math (I suck at that too), some are talented with sewing (I inherited my great grandmother’s talent, she once had a sewing machine needle pierce her finger) and some can write well enough to get published (Go Janel !! )

Uh-oh…I’m starting to sound like the poster child for an Ameri-can’t……..



But there are lots of things I can do. And there are things that I can do relatively well after practice. Betcha lots of folks fall in that category! As a general rule, I think practice makes everything better. Here is what I accomplished after practice. It was not too doughy, not too chewy....you can tell I'm not Amish because I am bragging on myself - this turned out very nicely. Great texture.




Here are lessons I learned along the rocky road to a great loaf of bread. It's important to share this so you'll know what NOT to do; this will benefit any bread making misfits such as myself.

This loaf was too wet…because if your dough has too much water…add some flour. I didn’t do that here…….clearly………





NEXT TRY:
Again I experienced some trouble. Not a lot….but part of it was using the wrong yeast. No Knead bread was not difficult to toss together, I just had to plan out the 18 hours rising time so I would be home from work in time to tackle stage 2 of the process.

Measuring out the ingredients at 11 PM was not a huge chore. As a matter of fact, you could pre-measure the dry ingredients and be ready to add the water later. Unfortunately, the day I planned to start this bread I discovered the only yeast on hand was Rapid Rise Highly Active yeast. Unbeknownst to me, this was also the wrong yeast for this particular recipe!

THIS is the yeast I should have used.




Later I looked more closely at the recipe and saw it called for instant yeast. I didn't know instant yeast and bread machine yeast is the same thing. Learn something new all the time "-)

Well, I was ready to try it out and used the active dry anyway, which meant I had to heat the water.…….it smelled fermented by the next day…not too awfully strong but…..but you could smell it. It was also too wet but I thought it was too late to add flour.



I baked it in a cast iron 5 quart pot and it came out OK. We ate some with soup the next day. The crust was more like chicken skin that had a crisp crust. It was tasty, but crunchy. The inside was a tad chewy. Well ok…really chewy. Your jaws will have a workout unless you allow your soup broth to saturate the bread.



Next experiment (this was something like the third time on that particular recipe, me all the while peppering Wandering Coyote with questions) – I used the instant yeast.

Let me state a few things about this recipe - if you are looking at the one from the link, the Mark Bittman column from 2006.......don't use the cotton towels and don't use a dutch oven the size he mentions. He calls for a 6 to 8 quart size. I think an 8 quart would be way too large. Make a flat loaf.
My Le Creuset is a 5 1/2 quart but it has the phenolic knob which means, you can not use in temperatures over 375 F.

After much searching in local shops for a KitchenAide 3 1/2 quart dutch oven (it will take the 450 F temperature) I concluded that I'd have to order it online. No KitchenAide pot ( the size I wanted) to be found. Anywhere. But I can't order the pot now..........so we went with a Lodge cast iron dutch oven and which will take temperatures to 500 F.

It's a heavy mother though...and it's 5 quart capacity. AND it can't be used on the stove top (I have a ceramic glass surfaced Jenn Air stove) so it's great for the oven...but can't go from stove top to oven like the Le Creuset. Oh...how I wish I had an oven that was electric but a gas stove top. Wouldn't that be cool? That would be a dream.

I got side tracked....OK, so this Lodge is a good pot and made a pretty loaf of bread but I think I'd like to go for a taller loaf and not have the dough spread out on the 5 quart size. That's my goal......

Bottom line - I had success after many attempts, many failures. Some were epic and inedible. Some were just extra chewy. So....for anyone else having bread making issues, don't give up! The right combination of ingredients, measurements, equipment must be in order and when you find that combo...you'll feel a swell of pride at the end result.

Thank you to the Wandering Coyote!



18 comments:

Janel said...

Aww, thanks for the shout-out. You're so sweet!

I've only tried no-knead bread once, but I should really try it again. I kind of enjoy the science experiment aspect of it. :)

girlichef said...

Wow, awesome job!! It looks deeeeelicious ;)

Pierce said...

Janel - You area good writer Janel, I love popping in and seeing your work. The bread took many experiments but finally...I can do it!

Girlichef - You are an unpublished novelist just waitin' to happen. Your last post about the peanut butter was awesome...mmmmmmmmmm.
Thanks for comment on the bread!

Kim said...

Just look at that loaf of bread you made! It's gorgeous. Baking bread is really rewarding, isn't it?

Mary said...

The loaf you are featuring looks fabulous. There is a lesson in perseverance here. Or is it stubbornness?
Your explanations will help others avoid the pitfalls you encountered. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Pierce said...

Kim - I know! I was amazed that I finally got it..whew! Now I can tackle other bread recipes. My sister-in-law sent me some good one.

Mary - Thank you so much. It was a lesson of sorts. Funny you say stubbornness. My Nana used to say "it was easier to change the mind of a stone than a Dalton"...and yeah, I am descended from Daltons :-)

Joanne said...

Practice DEFINITELY makes perfect when it comes to bread. My first few loaves - bad stuff. Now I'm slowly getting used to working with it...you get a feel for it I think. The loaf looks gorgeous! Great texture.

Velva said...

I am a bread making misfit! I shy away from baking bread and baking in general. I finally took on hamburger rolls and was quite pleased. This no-knead bread is something I ned to take on too. Thanks for the inspiration.

Laura in Paris said...

I have never baked bread .. and admire all those who do. Congratulations, your loaf looks beautiful!

Drick said...

I too the misfit - I am a poor bread maker so this is a fitting post and recipe...thanks for sharing it and congrats on the loaf, even if...

Pierce said...

Joanne - I am loving the idea of branching out with recipes - it's so rewarding when it works!

Velva - Oh do try the no knead recipe. It worked with that bread machine yeast. Never thought about trying hamburger buns. Cool!

Laura - Oh, I know why you don't make bread! You are within walking distance of what, seven great Parisian bakeries? Yikes, I would love to have bakeries so close. Thanks for the nice comment :-)

Drick - Go for it man! I tried and tried. If I can do it, anyone can with practice.

Wandering Coyote said...

Hi Pierce, sorry it's taken me so long to get over here!

Well, this loaf is supposed to be wet. And remember that you live in a humid environment, and that always affects the moisture content of bread doughs. But it looks great and I'm glad you got a decent pot in the end, because that is key.

I cannot take all the credit for this recipe as I did get it from somewhere else...

Bread-baking is trial and error! I'm so glad you stuck with it and had a good result after some failures! It's all about the process, baby!

Go you!

Pierce said...

WC - Hey, it has been great going through the process (in hindsight)and I am definitely learning. I believe I will check the Bread Bible out of the library and see if it's going to one I will order.

Yes, we do have an awfully humid environment here. Swamp land is more like it! Thanks for your help and have fun with the wedding :-)

Carla and Michael said...

I too hahve been wanting to start branching out; making fresh homemade pasta and bread. Great job. I'll be trying this as soon as I get moved into the "large" kitchen in our new home.
Thanks.

The Food Hunter said...

It sure looks great and such an accomplishment.

Pierce said...

Carla and Michael - I sure look forward to seeing your new kitchen!

Food Hunter - Thank you so much. Brad has always been a difficult process to master so, I was quite pleased. thanks for your nice comment.

Watson Family said...

Oh... bread... how I love thee! I have always wanted to be a bread baker, but have always thought it was "tricky". I might have to try this one! Looks so yummy!

Pierce said...

Watson - Do try this one. I have had success, finally, and will keep at this recipe.

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