Monday, September 26, 2005

Adventures in Breadmaking

What a weekend! I had a blast trying my hand at the age-old craft of baking. Thanks to Daniel Leader's book, Bread Alone, I feel as though I actually have some idea of what I'm doing. I ran into some small roadblocks along the way, but overall made do with what I had available to me and ran with it!

The very first recipe in Daniel's book is a learning recipe. It seems to be designed for folks like me (that is, beginners who don't know what they're doing). While that may sound like a joke, it really is true. If you don't know anything about baking bread (which is totally different than say, baking a cake), then you will probably feel a little lost without some helpful guidance. The author seemed to know right where I was coming from and provided very helpful tips to achieve the desired results. For example, he'd say that you can test if you've kneaded enough if you pull a little bit of the dough away from the ball and it springs back.

I was tempted to try out some of Farmgirl's tips (from her 10 Tips for Better Bread), but I decided that I would just try the book's version first and see what happened. Here is my first ball of dough, proofing before baking.

I thought that it went pretty well, overall. The bottom crust was a little firmer than I would normally like, but still good. It had a very "wheaty" flavor and tasted great with the huckleberry jam that I recently received as a gift. Here are the finished loaves and some cut pieces.

The few little hiccups that I had were these: I couldn't find anyplace where you can buy a 6 quart wooden bowl for the dough; I couldn't buy the flour I needed in bulk from my local Henry's grocer; and some of the brands listed in Daniel's book are too old to find anymore. But the good thing is that if you just want to try your hand at baking and are not sure if it's for can try any of these recipes with regular bowls. I used glass and it seemed to be fine. I did record everything about this experience in a small journal to be sure that I had notes in case I bake these loaves again. The over thermometer was very helpful. My oven is gas and the knob is not as accurate as you'd like to think.

Now I'd like to try baking a bread that my family would eat more often...probably a farmhouse white like FG had posted in June. Maybe she'll send me the recipe...? :-)

I had a blast trying out a new recipe this weekend! What did you do?


michelle said...

I've been reading your blog and I really like it! You're brave to try bread - I'm so impressed with the results! I printed off all of FGs tips and Bread Alone is next on my amazon list, but I have yet to try it. previous attempts haven't turned out nearly as nice as yours! Thanks for the inspiration!

Dawn said...

Thanks for the nice comments! I didn't know if anyone besides my sister was reading. The bread is a very fun experiment...but it's definitely an exercise in patience for me. I looked at your blog, too, and it looks very nice. I will have to keep an eye out for some good recipes there!