Monday, 11 February 2013

Bread Club- the adventures and follies of making bread in a machine with allpurpose flour

Bread Club rules #1: you never talk about bread club!

Wait, that's not going to work cuz I'm definetely going to blather about it.  Whoops. Guess I just broke the cardinal rule lol!  I have made bread from scratch in the past, I think after I was playing around with experimenting with pizza dough.  Come to think of it, I was a weird kid.  What kid messes around elbow deep in flour because she was curious if there was way to make crusts thin and tasty like the one in Italy on tv travel shows? Me! This was when thick and even thicker crust pizzas dominated the restaurants and grocery stores.  It was time consuming, but really rewarding.  I was lucky to have parents that supported me in my kitchen explorations - as long as I cleaned up after and didn't burn/ruin too much food LOL!  And since then, I've been tempted for ages to pick up a bread machine maker.  Who doesn't want the convenience of having the inviting scent of warm freshly baked bread greeting you first thing in the morning at a push of a button?  I found out soon that it was definetely not as easy as pushing a button lol!  Breadmaking, especially artisan breadmaking is both a science and an art.  Peraps one day I'll try my hand at making artisan breads a Parsian would be proud of, but for now, my goal is simple: bake a decent loaf of everyday sandwich bread... with the aid of a machine so I don't have to spend hours keeping an eye on rising dough, punching/folding it back down, dividing it up, rise again and bake.  Its supposed to be easy and at a push of a button right...? Boy, was I ever wrong LOL!

Bread making attempt #1
First thing I did was to ask around and read up a bit on to how to make bread with a breadmachine (other than the instructions that came with the machine).  I was using a Breadman Bread Maker.I figured there's got to be a catch somewhere - it can't be as easy as pushing a button, and I wanted my first loaf to come out edible.  There's a clear difference of opinion between those that make bread with breadmachines in how to go about it. One side is adamant I measure, weigh and precision everything I was going to put into the machine.  The other side encouraged me to adjust, tweak and add liquid/flour if I felt the dough needed it.  I wasn't sure who was right, so I figured I'll try the "harder" tedious method of measuring out things precisely first.  So, I took a random sandwich bread recipe from a book that came with the machine.  Apparently, you can use all purpose flour for most ordinary bread recipes, however it may turn out a bit more dense... I could live with that - I can easily add things in to leaven up the loaf if I need to my second try around... although you'll have a group that swears by the specialty read machine flour.  I had a huge bag of all purpose flour sitting in my pantry.  Did I really need another bag of flour kicking around if I end up hating the bread machine?  All purpose flour it is!  The recipe only included yeast, water, flour, sugar.  I was a bit skeptical as usually you would need eggs/yogurt to add protein for soft tenderness, milk for color and flavor... but I figured, I'll follow the instructions exactly and really, the recipes from the manufacturer "should" turn out right? 

Nope!!  I had brought fresh yeast (and even tested some out first in some warm water to make sure it activated and fizzed/foamed happily), painstakingly measured out all the ingredients, put them in the order I was supposed to, waited 3.5hrs for the machine to do it magic... and ended up with an embarrassingly misshapen inedible doorstop that kind of resembled a grotesque pale larvae grub.

Yes, this was the result.  Huh.  Guess the manufacturer never factored in when baking in Canada, you need a lot more liquid as the air leaches out a lot of moisture from everything - including our flour.  And despite it telling me the purposes of eggs, milk, salt, sugar etc, I should have flipped through the rest of the recipe book - the large large majority of the recipes only contained the yeast, water, flour, sugar in simular proportions whether you're attempting French bread, sweet bread, sandwich bread etc.  Oh boy.  After a bit of incredulous laughter, groans and a swift trip to the garbage - the recipe book and the "bread" -I didn't think the poor birds would be able to chip through the thick inedible crust... I went to look for a better recipe.

Attempt #2
A few days later after eyeballing a couple recipes online, and roughly splashed things in (and put my yeast with the warm liquid as I would if I was making the dough by hand instead of last on top of the flour) and ended up adding in more milk towards the end so my dough felt springy, but slightly sticky (think of pulling your finger off a post-it note sensation)....

This one thankfully turned out more like a real loaf of bread.  I discovered you have to be careful in not having the bread super-rise... mine started to push up the bread machine lid as it was rising lol!  The hole at the bottom of the loaf is from the paddle that got stuck (supposed to fall flat) which I removed, along with part of the bottom crust.

The top crust was a bit haphazard - probably from having too many ingredients in and it trying to escape when it was rising.  And part of the side got a bit toasty as it was stuck to the handle of the loaf tub.

Interior was fluffy, with a medium crumb and varying sizes of bubbles.  I resolved to try to tweak my next attempt to have uniform small bubbles.  Big large random bubbles are great in artisan bread, but I don't like my sandwich toppings falling into my lap lol!

Attempt #3
This time around, I increased the amount of butter - I loved how it made the crust more crisp, and have a hint of buttery richness and used a combination of yogurt, milk and leftover whey from ricotta making instead of water and milk... I figured I might as well get a bit more calcium in!  Afterwards, when I was scribbling out the recipe for my friends, I realized I forgot to toss in an egg - I used super dooper thick specialty Greek yogurt, so there must have been enough protein in it to balance things out

Tah Dah! This time around, the paddle fell flat so when I popped the loaf out of the pan, a crisp crust chunk of crust ripped off with it, making a heart shaped mark on my bread loaf's bum.  Yes, I'm going to love you too.. in my tummy!

The crust had a nice light crunch with a mild butter note to it, and generally even in colour all over (big change from attempt #1 and 2!)

The soft, tender bread itself had a slight sweetness to it, while the crumb was small, fine with uniform (mainly) small bubbles.

And yes, I'm sharing the successful attempt #3 bread recipe.  'tis Bread Club after alls :)
Let me know if you have yummy bread recipes you'd like to share!  Next goal.. figure out a good raisin bread recipe :)

Butter sandwich bread recipe Makes One 1lb loaf
1) Add ingredients in order to machine **
-1/4 cup lukewarm milk (I used 2%, higher fat content milk = richer tasting bread)
-1.5 Tbsp white sugar (gives yeast some food to start fermenting!)
-1tsp instant yeast (I used 1 tsp bread machine yeast.. there was a conversion but I was too lazy)
-2/3 lukewarm water or leftover whey from cheese making (either works - whey gives a faint tangy flavor!)
-1/4 cup very very thick plain Greek yogurt or 1 egg
-1/4 cup salted butter softened -melted if fine but you have to wait for it to cool to lukewarm so you don't kill the yeast.  You can also use 1/4cup unsalted butter with a 1/4 tsp of salt
-2.5 cups all purpose flour (I put in 2 1/4 cup first, then added in the rest the dough was too sticky/soggy)
2) Set machine to 1lb loaf, 2 for crust darkness (out of 3), white bread (if machine fancy and has that cycle, usually its default), and hit start/go whatever the button is on your machine.
3) Check dough consistency about 5-10 min into the mix cycle... correct if its too dry or wet.*
4) Remove bread promptly once its done baking and let it cool for about 10minutes before slicing - it'll still be hot inside and you'll get intact slices if you have patience!
5) Dig in plain or slathered with butter, jam etc.  Mmmm!  Keeps for about 2days max in a ziplock bag.

*If you find your bread dough too dry, add 1/4 of warm milk or if its too wet, add 1/4 cup flour at a time until the dough springs back gently without being too sticky or dry - post-it note stickiness feel!


**If you are setting it to delay cycle use dehydrated eggs, milk powder (you know, cuz fresh milk and eggs really should sit out for 15hours unless you want bad diarrhea!) and place yeast last so the yeast doesn't start fermenting too early and add water equivalent!

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