Monday, May 19, 2008

Grandma VanDoren's White Bread (Part II)

Following my success with yeast, I was so curious about how bread made with Bread Flour might taste, that I had to sneak to the basement supermarket before running up to the fourth level of the mall to meet C. We made just in time to watch Iron Man. I digress.... (pretty good movie if you are feeling brainless too!)

Ok, this time, I decided to try making a white bread to see if the taste of chewy white might be more pronounced, even though it is homemade.

I got another recipe off Allrecipes. It seemed relatively simple and for sooth, it was pretty hassle-free. The only problem though, was that it required the gradual adding of flour after the initial proofing stage. This was waaaay harder than adding everything in at once and kneading all the kinks out. The resulting dough wasn't very smooth and if you pulled it in all directions, it could be pulled apart with some persuasion.

In a fit of pique, I decided to stop kneading and left the dough in a dark corner to reflect upon its mistakes (otherwise known as first fermentation).

After an hour, it seemed to have calmed down slightly and seemed more smooth instead of its earlier lumpy sulky self. I gave it another knead and tried to form a smooth looking log but that proved harder than I had thought.

In the end, I just dumped it into my pan, re-wrapped the saran wrap over it and left it there to rise a little more (although this wasnt stated in the recipe).

I wasn't too pleased with the results though, it tasted like the local baguettes available in our local ma & pa bakeries. But overall... I'm just superbly pleased that I can finally declare that bread making isn't something that's beyond me. Woot! Given enough time, I might even attempt Julia Child's Batard... loads of time...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Yeast? (Part I)

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

It has been some time since I deemed it fit to step into the kitchen once again. This is getting to be a norm since I have spent most of February and/or March of the past 3 years, in Europe. The time from when I am back in town to when I step into the kitchen is spent in winter withdrawals and missing the many bread meals I've had.

The biggest reason I dislike making any sort of bread in Singapore is because I live in the tropics and humidity and heat and the texture of flours stored in this weather is a real killer. The other reason is that I don't care much for the smell of the yeast even after baking.

Having done a little reading on DARING BAKERS Feb 2008 challenge of French Bread by Julia Child and Obachan's Simple Whole Wheat Bread from ALLRECIPES, I found myself in a quandary.

The video of French Bread by Julia Child and Danielle Forestier showed a kneading process where I had to slap the dough 850 times. Hell... after 100 times, I won't be able to tell if I am slapping dough or my dog against the counter. That being said, I don't think Ms Forestier was kidding about slapping the dough 850 times.

With a relayed recipe of Julia Child's French Bread, from The Sour Dough, there is a fermentation process of at least 7-9hours with a final origami-like folding of the dough before shaping and a second fermentation.

I decided at close to 9pm that I would attempt Obachan's Simple White Bread from Allrecipes. Trying to decide on the proofing method of the different types of yeast, the conversation from Active Dry Yeast and Instant Dry Yeast and the difference between Baker's Yeast and Instant Dry Yeast (in my case, it seems to be the same) made me wanna take up a hobby like Cardiac Surgery. The explanations available online were relatively comprehensive but what I wanted to know was if the Instant Dry Yeast required the same proofing method or if I should just add the tepid liquid into the main dough without proofing, and move onto the next step. Arrrggghh!

I then discovered I didn't have Bread Flour but so set was I in making this bread that I decided go ahead with my new pack of Unbleached All Purpose Flour from Gold Medal. I went in knowing full well that my bread might not turn out well because the protein content in AP flour was 12% at best and regular Bread Flour has a protein content of between 13% - 14%. I figured what the heck, it's just 1%, let's try it anyway.

This is what emerged after almost 2 hours of double fermentation, several loving punches and almost 40 minutes in the oven at 175 celsius:

After my first bite of piping hot bread... I wanted to kiss the floors and thank the kitchen fairies! There was absolutely no smell of yeast! The next bite made me want to do the bread dance of joy at 1am in the morning because it doesn't taste cake-like (Thank you Bread fairy!).

I love that it resembles a decent loaf of bread and the texture is a tad chewy with an added flavour from the whole wheat flour. The added swirl on top on Pic 1 is my fancy origami attempt because I dislike breads with smooth dome tops. I can't really taste the honey though I suspect the real reason for the honey is to feed the yeast.

I can't wait to try it tomorrow after it has had time to cool down. I need to know how the crust will behave even with its light brushing of butter.

Conclusion: I must try this with actual bread flour to taste the difference between the two but this is definitely a bread I will be adding to my repertoire regularly. Thanks for the blog Obachan!