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Bad bread, bad!

June 13, 2007

Bread disaster

I’m not sure how I do these things, but yet again, I baked a loaf of bread that ended up mutilated. Oops.

I decided to bake bread this morning because the last half of the loaf I bought was run through with mold, and my current fund shortage eliminated the possibility of a trip to the market. Besides that, it’s a grey, 50 degree day here in Boston, and it seemed a good day for baking. And I even decided to try a new recipe.

I’ve avoided Margaux Sky’s Beautiful Breads and Fabulous Fillings before now because her recipes always seem to call for so many ingredients. Plus they make enough dough for four loaves of bread at a time, and using 18 cups of flour at once seems decadent to me. But this time I decided to go for it. I decided I could do the math and quarter the recipe. We had milk AND half and half AND eggs in the refrigerator, which never happens, so it seemed almost destiny. Margaux Sky’s Basic Whole Wheat Bread here I come. Except not.

Turns out the milk and the half and half and even the buttermilk I had hiding in the back of the fridge were all sour. This is what happens when I don’t clean out the refrigerator every Sunday. Alright, I thought, I’ll just substitute water for the rest of the liquid, I’ve done that before. I’m sure it will be fine.

Turns out my kitchen math skills aren’t that great, either. I didn’t use enough yeast. When I went to knock the air out of it after the first rise, I knew instantly something was wrong. It didn’t really deflate, which means, well, it didn’t really rise. Oops. But, as I do, I soldiered ahead! I gave it that second rise! I molded it into a bread pan! I stuck it in the oven! I…couldn’t…get it out of the bread pan…and the bottom half of the bread tore right straight off. Dang.

Perhaps you’ll have better luck. If it’s any encouragement, this bread tastes pretty good. I bet it’d be better with the milk and half and half. Here are my reduced measurements (with the yeast measurement corrected), and the small variations I used.

Slightly Sweet Basic Whole Wheat Bread

(adapted from Margaux Sky)

  • 1/2 T. active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 c. warm water (or, if you’re lucky, 1 1/4 c. warm water, 1/4 c. warm milk, and 1/4 c. warm half and half)
  • a bit less than 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
  • a little bit less than 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 c. plus a little extra whole wheat flour (or use a mixture of white and whole wheat, if you want it a little less dense)
  • about 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. water

Grease a nice, big bowl with some olive oil and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the yeast and the water (or the water dairy mixtures). Let it sit for about five minutes, until the yeast dissolves and gets foamy. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over very low heat. Once the yeast is proofed, add the butter, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla to the yeast mixture and stir it all together well.

In a large mixing bowl (not the greased one), blend together the flour and the salt.

Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stirring it all together with a wooden spoon or fork until it’s pretty well mixed. Flour a counter or work surface of some kind and turn the dough out onto the counter. Knead it all together, adding a bit more flour if it starts to get too sticky. Knead it for about 10 minutes, or until it starts to feel nice and elastic. You want it to stay a little moist, but it shouldn’t stick to your hands. Roll it into a nice ball and place it in the greased bowl, seam side down. Cover it with a towel or some plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour.

Punch the dough down. Hopefully it’ll deflate satisfactorily. Then grease a 9-inch bread loaf pan. Grease it really, really well. Maybe with Crisco or something. I used olive oil but that sure didn’t cut it. Put the dough in the pan, cover it again, and let it rise for another hour. About fifteen minutes before it’s done, preheat the oven to 375F.

Mix the egg and the water together well to make an egg wash. Brush it over the top of the dough lightly, then scramble up whatever you have left for breakfast. Heehee.

Bake the bread for about an hour.

You can try to remove it from the pan to check it’s hollow-soundingness. I knew I was going to have a problem when it didn’t want to come out of the pan. I stuck it back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Bad idea. It still didn’t want to come out of the pan when it was done, and when I finally did get it out, the bottom was burned. Doh.

The original recipe recommends letting it sit for 30 minutes in the pan and 30 minutes out of the pan to completely cool off before slicing. I’m not sure my loaf will be sliceable. But I’m sure it will be eatable, and probably delicious toasted with peanut butter in the morning. It just won’t win any awards for beauty. Sigh.

Mutilated bread

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2007 12:03 pm

    Well you can never judge that book by the cover, right? At least it tasted good and that’s all that matters. Not to mention, anything tastes better schmeared with peanut butter, so there you go.

    I hope you try again.. would love to hear about it!



  1. Better Bread: The Experiment Continues « The Kitchen Illiterate

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