Well, things have been hectic, but I think I can finally call one loaf a success!

My sourdough starters have their own corner of the fridge, and once a week, I pull them out and feed them. I hate to throw out the starter I remove, since I worked so hard to get it to happen, so I bake when I feed. This helps keep my bread consumption down (I’ve now lost 30 pounds, and don’t want to lose momentum!) and makes the feeding a bit more special.

Having finally bought some Rye, I’ve now split my starters into “Barry White,” with AP flour and either some semolina or wheat farina (1 oz to 3 oz AP), and “Barry Rye,” who is 1 oz. Rye flour to 3 oz AP. Barry Rye definitely has a bit more tang than Barry White, but they are both yummy!

Now to get better about photographing…

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  


Wow…I never imagined how addicting seeing fermented flour in a jar could be…

This is Pinto. Pinto was a “spur of the moment,” Dr. Science-type of experiment, as I was putting together Ribs and Beans in my slow cooker. I had put the beans in water to soak overnight on Friday afternoon, but forgot to make them on Saturday, so they sat in water for about 36 hours. The water had some bubbles on the top, and I recalled reading somewhere on the ‘Net that “Udal” water, which is a type of lentil bean eaten in India, is used to make a type of sourdough for Indian breads.
I thought, “beans is beans,” and what works with one type of bean, should, theoretically, work with ANY type of bean. So I put a cup of the bean water in a jar, and whisked in a “fluffy” (not packed at all) cup of bread flour, with a tablespoon of Semolina flour (for the less-processed wild yeasts it may have), and 2 tablespoons of soy flour (because it might have “bean” yeasts that the pinto water might like to eat) into it. It was REALLY watery, and the flour kept settling to the bottom, leaving about 1/4″ of water on top, so every 3 hours or so, I would stir the whole mess up again…I didn’t feed it, because nothing much seemed to be happening…Or so I thought until I got up this morning, and saw the above image…It has no sour odor at all, just a pleasant “bean-y” smell, with a mild flour smell mixed in…So, this may not be “true” fermentation. I don’t know.

I threw out everything but 1/2 cup, and since it was still so watery (just a bit of gluten “stringiness” when I stirred), I just added in about 2-3 tablespoons of flour, with a teaspoon of semolina and a teaspoon of soy flour. Now it’s like pancake batter. It should be interesting to see what develops from it today…

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 6:41 am  Leave a Comment  

The Great Sourdough Starter Challenge

It’s been an interesting bread week. My phobia is still well justified, as I am able to screw up breads in ways unthought of…

While doing the Circuit with my Beloved Hubby Unit (BHU), I found a copy of Better Homes and Gardens’ Homemade Bread Cook Book, so I bought it and am going through the recipes, when I come across their Sourdough Breads section, and I see that they STILL use yeast, along with a cup of sourdough starter per loaf of bread! Wow. I’ve read how Michael Suas (he, the Guru of Artisan Bread, and author of “Advanced Bread and Pastry”) uses yeast with his sourdough, to varying degrees of shock/disbelief/dispute among Sourdough bakers. This encourages me greatly, as I have a pound (yes, a full pound) of Instant Yeast from Sam’s Club that I don’t want to waste, but that the use of sourdough would negate the need for.

So, I have decided to try and grow a sourdough culture to add my own “unique flavor” to my semi-inedible lumps of baked dough…Today is day 4, and things appear to be “doing something…” I will be updating this as the day goes by…

Published in: on May 22, 2009 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  

The water crust is fabulous. Too fabulous, almost.
It certainly heats faster than regular baking. Burnt the first loaf, just barely avoided burning the top of the second loaf…The inside was still soggy, though…

Why the recipes call for so much water, when you can’t bake it out in a reasonable amount of time is beyond me…

So, while at the Flea Market this weekend, I bought an Oster Bread Machine…WITH its Original Manual. $12, talked down from $15. Yes, it’s admitting defeat, but I have beaten my head against this wall for long enough, now, that I simply want to make some decent, NON-SOGGY bread, and I don’t have the patience to reduce the recipe by a tablespoon at a time to work it out.

My Beloved Hubby Unit (BHU) made the first loaf, as I was hesitant to “cheat.” I thought I had pointed out the “Basic White Bread” recipe out to him, but on the facing page was the French Bread recipe, and somehow, that was the loaf he made. He didn’t start until about 6 pm, and went to bed before it was done. I ate the bottom heel, and could not believe how good that bread came out. His FIRST attempt, and he hits it out of the ballpark…Poop.

Published in: on May 19, 2009 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Well, another day, another bread adventure…

As I await the arrival of Bread Science, I decided to throw caution to the winds, and go techno…My mom had a WelBilt Dough Machine, which I bought her in the mid-1990s to help her make pasta dough. It has an “automatic” and a programmable yeast bread cycle, so I figured I have nothing to lose by letting a machine knead my dough, since I know that if I touch it, it’s doomed anyways…

I also came across a recipe for Cuban Bread, which is supposedly like French or Italian bread, but the baking technique makes it unique. You put the dough in a cold oven, with a pan of boiling water on the rack beneath it, and let it rise the last 10 minutes in the steamy oven. You then turn the oven to 400 and bake for 45 minutes to an hour…

The loaf DEFINITELY rose more than it ever has with my feeble efforts thusfar, so much so, that I had to pull a cast iron pan to bake it in, as I didn’t want to disturb it by putting it in my bread cassarole dish…I’ve just turned the oven on after the 10 minute steam bath, so am looking forward to 2 hours from now (1 to bake, and 1 to cool…) It looks like an Artisan-type bread. Hopefully it will turn out and taste like one…maybe not soggy…(keeps fingers crossed)…

Published in: on May 16, 2009 at 11:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Becoming bread-obsessive is not necessarily a bad thing…I find that I don’t worry about my diet quite as much, becuase by the time I DO bake a loaf, I’ve de-constructed and re-constructed it in my head so many times, I’ve eaten it at least 3 times…

Not that this has helped me overcome my questions and confusions. Only actual practice and experimentation help that, but BOY is it hard…

Bread science. I’m reading more and more about it, and the more I know, the more confused I get…the Wild Yeast blog has a wonderful giveaway of the book titled “Bread Science” by Emily Buehler…I entered, although I don’t have much hope of winning, but this book was worth the effort, and I may just buy it anyway…

In the actual Baking of Bread dept., I have baked another 3-4 loaves since my last post, but have been more and more unhappy with them. The crust is too chewy, and the damn crumb too moist, although the bubbles are just right, and the taste is GOOOOOOOD. Further reading and reading and reading has convinced me that the chewy crust is from too high a temperature, and the moist crumb from too short a baking time, although I am at an hour for a 1.5 pound loaf now…I even did a batch of rolls, which I baked along with a loaf and a mini-loaf, all at the same time…They came out cute as the dickens, but the crust was almost 1/4″ thick, and too chewy to enjoy…

The squirrels in our yard are excellent disposals, though. They are QUITE well fed and plump…lol!

The last loaf was better, because I lowered the temperature to 450, but after an hour, although the crust was very nice, the interior was beyond soggy…STILL need to bake it longer…I know it’s not the stupid oven, because the oven thermometer shows the temperature pretty close to what I set it (after all these years, I can guess the numbers between the notches pretty well!).

I LOVE my covered casserole dish for baking, but want to play with my roll pans some more. First I have to get a consistently good loaf. Well, actually, I first need to get a SUCCESSFUL loaf, with the right combo of crust, crumb, and flavor. So far, 2 out of 3 is the best I can get, with soggy crumb being my bane…

I think I MAY have finally solved the issue and question of time and gluten development…The crust is chewier the less time the dough has to rise and rest before baking. The tenderer crust seems to be the result of the long time for the no-kneads that rise over many hours. The ever-dreaded kneading probably performs this for short rising periods, but I’m just not ready to face that prospect. It’s a big enough thrill at present for me to even fold my dough, letter style…so, for the present, I am abandoning the “cassarole” bread recipes. They are just too under-developed. Back to Bittman’s recipe, again. But with a bit of CI added…

Published in: on May 14, 2009 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Adding to My Implements of Bread and Destruction…

On Saturdays, the BHU takes me on “the Circuit” of our local Thrift Stores. You never know when a small gem will show up into your life. Since my current realm of interest is cast iron, and bread baking, I keep my eyes peeled for something, not sure what, but I’ll know it when I see it.

Today, I was lucky enough to find a Wagner Ware corn pan in good condition, and a good electric knife, as well as a decent bread knife. That is a separate blog yap in itself…I also found a nice cooling rack, and a fabulous little mortar and pestle.

This past week has been hectic, with the change of ISPs to QWEST, which required rewiring my PC area. Things are still being put back together, with the camera docking station now high on today’s list. Then I can catch up a little bit…

~Kizzle

Published in: on May 2, 2009 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

When is Cornbread not Cornbread?

Cornbread.
Think about it. Taste it in your mind.

Grainy, mealy, chewy, odd, sandy stuff…Not necessarily all that appetizing, and somewhat limited in accompanying dishes.

Now give it a makeover.
Instead of hard, grainy cornmeal, substitute cooked, and fluffed Yellow Corn Grits.
Instead of a dense flour and baking powder suspension for the corn goodness, substitute fine semolina flour and bread machine flour in a 50/50 mix, with a packet of yeast and 5 oz. of the “King of Beers” as the leavening agent…

And this is what you get. (picture coming!)

It still suffers from “Somewhat Soggy Syndrome,” but that is a detriment I’m willing to suffer as I continue to work out the kinks for my “mix it, forget it, bake it” system of bread baking. I tried over the weekend to knead another loaf of the Winter Warlock, to which I had added some raw, hulled sunflower seeds. And, at the mention of the word “knead,” the dough went flat as a rock and heavy as one, too. I made my first loaf of “Almost no-knead” with Budweiser, dumped straight into the pan, with no second rise, and it came out quite well. No pics, because I was disgusted by it’s ugly brother, who was brutally hacked into chunks and thrown out for the squirrels, who pronounced it yummy, no matter its density or weight. I just hope none of them went swimming afterwards…lol!

~Kizzle

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Beer Bread, Round 2

Haven’t heard back from the mailman about his mini-loaf, but the big loaf is almost gone. The heel will make a very petit French toast for breakfast.

I’ve started another batch, but have discovered that 4 am is not necessarily the best time to be throwing ingredients into a bowl. My hand slipped while measuring the vinegar, so it’s a bit more than a tablespoon…So I then thought to compensate by in creasing the beer to water ratio a bit, in case it’s too sour…(Dur. Isn’t sourdough bread SOUR?), so instead of eliminating the spoonful of sugar, I kept it, and then thought to add a teaspoon of italian herbs for “interest,” since I read an article about someone raving over a bread with italian herbs in it…So now I have an Oatmeal Stout Sweet and Sour Italian Herb load in the bowl…Should be an interesting loaf, to say the least…lol!

Update: Well, the herbs are basically unnoticeable (I didn’t put an awful lot in, maybe a half tablespoon), but the overall loaf is one of the best yet. The BHU is already wanting me to start another, so I am using the last of the WW left in the bottle, and have started another loaf with 4 oz. of the “King of Beers,” and actual light lager…

~Kizzle

This is what I mean about recipe tweaking…

First Rising

First No-Knead loaf, sliced

First No-Knead loaf, sliced

Well, here I am. Writing of my trials and tribulations, my hopes and dreams, my failures and successes.

All about bread…Or at least baked creations of a bread-type nature. Who knows where the future will lead?

To give you an idea of just how “wet behind the ears” I am as a bread baker, my 4th loaf, evah (a Cooks Illustrated “Almost No-Knead” loaf with 3 oz. of an Oatmeal Stout beer for flavoring), is currently on the kitchen table, completing its first rise. Now, I’m soon to be 52 years old, and 3 of 4 loaves of bread have only come into existence by my hand within the past fortnight. The remaining loaf, the one that caused a 20-year exodus from all things yeast risen and home baked, was a sad creature from a fraudulently encouraging newspaper article that stipulated the use of a rolling pin during the kneading process. That poor abused loaf, the root of this blog’s name, came out of the oven an inedible, semi-flat, tough as stucco, lump that almost bent my bread knife as I tried to slice it. The personal sense of shame and embarassment at not even being able to craft a “simple” loaf of bread, which my local grocery store cranked out by the truckload on a daily basis, was enough to scare me off. Let THEM beat the hell out of stiff, sticky, dough, and make it so I can eat it. It wasn’t worth the time, effort, electricity, and resulting tears for the alien clod I ended up with…

Fast forward to early April, 2009. While searching on the web for cast iron muffin recipes to use with a vintage iron pan I had bought from E-Bay, I came across the NYT article about No-Knead Bread. Intrigued, I clicked on the link, and before I knew it, I was at the store buying flour and yeast…

My no-knead load came out okay. No giant holes, a bit heavy, and a bit bland with just the flour and salt, but it was STILL a “for realsie” loaf of bread that could be eaten without a chisel or dental damage…No kneading, and my rolling pin never even came into the kitchen from the closet where it has been banished for lo, these many years…

Now the damn has broken. If making bread can truly be THIS easy, and still be edible, I want to learn MORE. I want to learn to make rolls that crunch on the outside, but are melt-in-your-mouth fluffy on the inside, without the tons of butter that the french use for croissants and the like. I want to learn to make a fluffy cornbread that can be eaten, instead of used for ballast when consumed with chili. I want to make a loaf of bread like my Beloved Momma made when I was little, with a crisp, crunchy outside, and a fragrant, holey, inside that looks nothing like what passes for bread from the store…

Of course, good bread baking IS an art, and one that can take a lifetime to master. I don’t have the time or the patience for that. I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel any more than you have to in order to get it to fit your particular axle. So I am scouring the Web, picking up any tips and techniques I can, and trying to come to some sort of consensus of how to easily bake a good loaf of bread. Since mankind has been baking bread in one form or another since the Neolithic Period (the last period of the Stone Age), the techniques must be out there, I just have to re-discover them for myself, hopefully with a minimum of Trial and Error disasters.

We will see…

~Kizzle

Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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