Sunday, June 13, 2010

Life Lessons from Baking Bread

I'm not sure how long I've been baking my weekly loaf of bread but it might be over a year now. I don't bake each week, but the vast majority of weeks - I do.

The thing is, once I settled on a recipe that worked I just stuck with it. Why mess with something if it ain't broken, right?

Wrong. If you're Jenn - you mess with it. (Thus the new coral background - you're right, Megan - it is coral, not pink.)

So yesterday I tried a new recipe with a slow-rising dough. It rose for almost 24 hours. Trouble is, once I tried to work with it this morning, it was like yeast soup. I wish I'd taken a picture to share with you but didn't think about it until it was already in the trashcan. Needless to say - that was three cups of flour down the drain. (Not technically, it probably would have clogged the drains permanently. No reason to make a bad situation even worse.)

By that time, it was time for church (which was to be closely followed by The Karate Kid) so I decided to "cheat" and use my bread machine, thus avoiding any worry about being home in time to monitor rising and molding before baking. I couldn't find my bread machine book but an internet search for a recipe brought up this one. As I was loading in the ingredients (minus the rye flour - I increased the amount of whole wheat), I noticed that my bread machine was getting really full and wondered if that might be a problem.

Well, it was.
I know, I know - what the....?????

It turned into some bizarre layered concoction with a cornmeal section, a white section, and a wheat section. As my husband put it - the flours failed to integrate.

Great. Now I have a racist bread machine. That's all I need.

The working theory is that, perhaps, the recipe was meant for a bigger bread machine, thus my wimpy little one couldn't properly mix the ingredients (although mine is so freakin' big that I never know where to store it). So my husband asked if I'd be willing to try ONE MORE TIME with half the ingredients. (You see, he'd noticed the 1/2 cup of honey I put in there and figured it was going to be tasty.)

"All right," I thought, "at least this weekend's bread making escapade is turning into a blog-worthy story."

So far my attitude has remained surprisingly upbeat. If I end up with three strikes, it might be a bit of a challenge for me to stay positive but I'll do my darndest to laugh it off. (I'll post a comment and update you guys on the status of the final product and my attitude after the fat lady sings. So to speak.)

In a nutshell, I've learned that I might use up a bunch of ingredients and time as I try (and fail) to create something new - but it's still a heck of a lot more satisfying to keep baking than it would be to head to HEB and buy a loaf off the shelf. I guess I'd just rather do it myself than let someone else do it for me.


JennInAustin said...

Did it work? Well....define "work." It tasted pretty good and had a nice texture but it was really small - it's as if it didn't rise enough. But at least it's tasty, legitimate bread. I think I'll be testing my bread machine in the near future with a bread machine mix from the store. If it doesn't work - no loss. I'd rather bake in the traditional manner anyway.

Megan Willome said...

The racist bread machine thing made me laugh out loud.

I loved the new "Karate Kid"--did you?

Renee said...

THAT is the funniest thing I've ever seen!

Renee said...

Ok so I don't eat bread. I know it's obviously healthier to make it yourself but does it have less carbs? Is there less calories in it?

JennInAustin said...

No way am I stopping with my bread! I love it. Even when it's a challenge. It's fun and I suppose because it's tangible, I feel as if I've accomplished something. :)

JennInAustin said...

Oh - by the way - bread update number two is that my daughter really loves the taste of this I think my next plan is to incorporate a LOT more honey and maybe even a little cornmeal into my "regular" recipe and see how that works out. I can give it a try tomorrow because today is my last day at work and I have a little time before going "back home" to my previous employer.