Tuesday, February 7, 2012

White Loaves. There's a First Time for Everything.

So here's the thing. I've always thought making bread is a bit intimidating. What with the yeast, the perfect water temperature, the kneading and rising, and the kneading and the rising. Seriously. Something is going to go wrong. But I figured, I'm in this group, if everyone else can do it then so can I. I read the recipe. I read the Baking Basics on all the different variations of yeast and flour. I buy the loaf pans and the King Arthur flour and the "active dry yeast" as opposed to the quick rise version. Wow, for something that is basically just flour and water this is already complicated.

This morning, I'm doing my thing in the kitchen and I'm on the first directions under Mixing and Kneading. I mix my yeast with my 107.4 degree water and sugar and it tells me to wait 5 minutes until the yeast is creamy. What the heck does creamy yeast look like? After 5 minutes the yeast looks no different then it did before. Should I wait for something more magic? Bubbling, hissing, what? I have no idea. I soldier on thinking this is probably never going to rise... my yeast mixture is not creamy.

My next problem is that I am supposed to keep kneading until my dough is "smooth and elastic." Can someone explain to me what that means? How smooth? Like a baby's butt? How elastic? Like a rubber band? My dough is not like a baby's butt or a rubber band. My Kitchen Aid is finally get some use, though, so at least it is happy!

I can't tell you how excited I am after the First Rise and my ball of dough actually does double.

Loved the patting into rectangles part and the folding and the plumping. Now were having some fun. I plop the dough into my lovely new loaf pans. Ok, so it's California and it's not that cold here, but there is still no place in my house that is 80 degrees. 80 degrees? I need 80 degrees for the next rising. It's cloudy and rainy. No rays of sunshine anywhere. Should I turn on the heater and put the dough on the vent? I decide to preheat the oven a bit and use that. Yes, I am a complete yahoo here.

I go away for an hour and wa-la, my dough is bursting out of the pan in the perfect bread loaf shape! Woohoo. I can make bread. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

I call my friend Dona (who is also in TWD) and brag away about how lovely my loaves are and that the rising actually worked, etc. We decide that we should take some pictures to put on our blog. So I remove my lovely loaves from where they are rising in the oven and plunk them on the counter (plunk is the operative word here) so I can take a lovely photo. I can't say I was gentle. I was NOT gently, ok. My loaves promptly fell just like the cake does when you aren't gentle. My bubble just burst.

I could not bake my fallen loaves right away because I now had to schlep kids around to activities. I'm thinking I'm kind of hosed anyway, but I put the loaves back in their rising place and leave. When I come back, the dough has drooped over the sides of the loaf pan.  It's an un-risen, ooey, gooey mess.

Hey, after all this work I have to bake the darn things, right. I cut off the droopy, ooey, gooey part and stick them in the oven. Let's just say they did not look pretty. But according to my family who loves me even when I'm grumpy because my homemade bread is a failure, it is pretty good.

I can only get better, right?!

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