Sunday, March 8, 2009

The problem with baking bread

As much as I adore the process of baking bread I do have a couple of  problems with it.  I get antsy during the rise times and almost always find another project to work on while the bread is doing its thing.  This is great, except that I always seem to forget about the bread and allow it to rise too long.  Lately I've taken to labeling each dough as it rises with the name of the bread and a time.  When I reach that time I know that it's time to do something to the dough, and I proceed.  This also keeps me from getting my doughs confused when I'm baking multiple types or batches of bread.  Just the same, I often forget and end up with a dough that has risen too much or has risen and fallen (resulting in a more dense and less visually pleasing bread).  
Another problem I often have is planning out the bake times when I'm making several loaves.  Yesterday I ended up with five loaves of bread (three different types) that needed to bake at the same time.  I put the focaccia on top at 400 degrees and sort of crammed the honey-wheat loaves onto the bottom rack (sort of around my pizza stone).  I don't know why I spend so much time preparing the dough if at the end I'm just going to say "Okay, whatever!" and screw up the actual baking.  The focaccia turned out well (see previous post), but the honey-wheat suffered.  It baked unevenly and browned too much on the bottom.

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Honey-Wheat Sandwich Loaves

As soon as the honey-wheat came out of the oven I raised the temperature to 425 and baked the rosemary bread.  It would have been perfect, but I forgot about it and didn't hear the timer.  Oops.  Fortunately, I didn't forget about it for too long and was able to save it.  It's a bit too brown and isn't quite as moist as I would like it to be, but it's still pretty tasty. 

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Rosemary Bread (note the rosemary leaf pattern on top of the loaf.  Cutting that is one of my favorite parts of baking this particular bread.  I think it's quite pretty.)

I think it may be time for me to invest in a few egg timers so I can get the rise time right.  Also, I am going to have to do a little more planning so I can work out the bake times.  



  1. Jasper is impresed with your bread. :) I love this new blog! You are definitely your mother's daughter.


  2. Thanks Jasmine. :) Tell Jasper I'll bake some for him the next time we're around one another

  3. oh man. i stink at making bread. i use mark bittman's no knead recipe, but i haven't mastered a real one. tips?

  4. First and foremost, follow the recipe very carefully. Make sure to measure properly and add ingredients at the correct temperature. Also, trust your senses. If the recipe says the dough should be smooth and elastic after 10 minutes of kneading, but it's still lumpy and wet after 10 minutes -- keep kneading!
    Like anything else, the more you practice the better you will get.