Bread 101

Due to a fiasco of bread making, I have been encouraged to blog about my adventures thus far.
Here goes:

I've always wanted to be a great cook. In my mind, I thought, "All you do is follow the recipe, how hard could it be?" Little did I know, it CAN be hard. Over Thanksgiving, Jeremy's sister made sourdough bread with herb butter. DELICIOUS! She went on about how "easy" it was and that I should make it. Right then, I knew I had a genius idea for saving money and giving a unique gift this Christmas. She gave me her recipes and a few tips and I was off to Millington to bake my heart out.

My Kitchen has looked like this all week- Sorry Jeremy!
Below is the famous "starter"





I began with the starter (hence the name). Yeast, sugar, water, and potato flakes (weird, huh?)  I had to stir it each day and of course I forgot about 2 out of 5 days to do so. It sat on top of the refrigerator all week as I waited for the BIG DAY to make my first batch of bread.  The long awaited morning of day 5 came, and I of course forgot to "feed" the starter. I got home from work and realized my mistake, and immediate fed it ("feeding" it always confused me, but it is a live organism). My timetable was ALL messed up. Who has time for this stuff? If you don't have a job, its ideal! You really do have to schedule your week around it. You are supposed to 1. Feed it day 5 MORNING, 2. Mix the Ingredients that NIGHT, and 3. Bake the next MORNING (day 6). Well, that didn't quite work out. I had to be at the hospital at 6:30am the next morning (day 6). SO, being the naive, amateur that I am, I went ahead and pushed it back a bit. As you can imagine, it was a TOTAL FLOP. The Bread was hard as a rock- a brick if you will. I regret not taking a picture of it!  After a few 4 letter words and telling Jeremy that I quit, I threw it away and went to bed very let down.

After some counseling from Jeremy's sister and Bread help sites online, I got back on the horse for Trail #2.
And it wasn't much better. I decided to make 2 batches of starter so I could make MORE bread. (you can only make 2 loaves at a time with each Starter, and I have lots of friends!) I successfully got my timetable right and made it over the weekend. I failed to note that the dough will "double in size" overnight when it rises. I put one batch in a huge bowl, and the other in a medium bowl. (I don't have a lot of HUGE bowls- but now I do!) Jeremy woke me up Saturday morning with the horrific news that my bread dough had overflowed up over the smaller bowl and all over the counter. I was SO frustrated, I threw it all away (it was dried, crusty, and non-bakable ). I was so sad I didn't take a pic, because it was actually really FUNNY looking back. I made my FIRST loaf of bread successfully and gave it to my sister. I gave it a "B-". She obviously "Said" it was great (what an encourager).

Trial #3 was a mystery, but MUCH better! One bowl of dough rose beautifully, but the other didn't AT ALL? Jeremy was convinced I wasn't paying attention when I was mixing the ingredients, which would not be the first time thats happened, but I REALLY thought I did it right! It's not that hard? Anyway, maybe that Starter Batch was a dud?

Throughout this adventure, I have not only realized that there are a million different ways to make Sourdough starter and Sourdough bread, but there are people out there that take their bread-making skills very seriously. For example- sourdoughhome.com and www.breadtopia.com. I had no idea that something that seems so simple could be so difficult. There's like another whole language for bread making: Oven spring, proofing, sponge, wrinkler, hooch, kneading, punching, testing, feeding. What? These websites will say stuff like, "just wait until your starter has a rich yeast smell." What does that mean? How rich is too rich? Just tell me how long I need to wait!

My goal: to be a great bread maker and push through wanting to give up because I've ruined A LOT of bread! I've given up the dream of giving all my friends bread for Christmas. They'll just have to settle for an ornament, and maybe by the New Year they'll be lucky enough to eat my perfect loaf of bread!

Trail #4 and #5 - Success! One of the loaves each batch broke when I was putting it on the cooling rack. Those were eaten by Jeremy and I :) I think I've gained 5 pounds from all the "mess up" bread. Pictures below of Trail #5.

Mixing ingredients at 11:00pm


My baby sifter. I got a good arm work out after 6 cups of flour


Pre-risen dough. This goes in an "oiled bowl" to rise overnight



Yay! it rose!


Kneed a bit. Tip- don't use flour to keep from sticking to your hands while kneeding. Use OIL. Who knew? I ruined a loaf because I KEPT adding flour so it wouldn't stick. Result: tough bread.



Now, we wait for the "second rise." The recipe says, "Let rise in 80-85 degree non-drafty area" Where is that? Do I set my thermostat to 80? So through some googling, I found that you can boil water and put it in the oven to help it rise.  Nothing's easy around here!





Wait until its doubled in size. I guess this looks good? 


Here we go!


Almost done



Dang it!! I tried to salvage it!



hmm..  I guess we'll keep this one


Success!



This has been my diet for the past few days.



The End!

1 comment

  1. Sorry I am so late in commenting on this post. Bread can be so hard!!!!

    I tried to do some research on making my own starter several months ago, and there was too much information to "sift" through, so I gave up!

    Will you share your starter recipe? I put out a facebook call a few wks ago for some starter, but no one bit, so I'll have to do my own. Your finished product looks SO PRETTY!

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