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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The First Attempt

Do you remember how I mentioned that I was going to make bread?
Well I did and it was somewhat successful.

Here is the recipe I used, because I didn't have any bread flour or rapid rise yeast for some of the other recipes I wanted to try.

This came from my Kitchen Aid mixer tips/cookbook. Who would have known?

I followed the directions as they were written, although I do think something went wrong. My bread, as you can see (in the image below) does not have the nice rounded top like it should.

I let it rise in a oiled, covered bowl. Then as I was instructed, I rolled it, shaped it, and put it in the loaf pan to rise again. When the second huffing and puffing was done, I removed it's insulation of plastic wrap, and the dough fell.

Just. like. that.

It was all pretty and full like it should be, but then it deflated like a bed sheet being fluffed and released onto the mattress.

What a let down.

It could be that I didn't let the yeast activate long enough. It was fully dissolved, and the recipe did not say "let the yeast sit and froth for 5 minutes", like some of the others do. I don't know what happened.

Did two rising times expend all of the built up gasses?

Oh well.

At least it tastes great... as I'm currently eating two yummy slices.

The good thing is, that I'm not afraid to try again. I've had recipes fail before, but instead of saying I'll never cook again, I usually want to figure out what went wrong.

Cookies for example. Simple chocolate chip cookies, that I have made many, many times when I was growing up and still, even now.

Either it's my flour, or the fact that it's much more humid here. My sweet mother-in-law suggested that I sift my flour, then use a combination of shortening with my butter.

That actually helped.

The cookies tasted more like they should, instead of having an overwhelming flour taste. You know what I mean? They have always been decent, but you could taste the flour. It was almost like I added too much. I know to spoon the flour when measuring, instead of scooping and packing it down.

I like to cook and bake, so why does it seem like I'm just starting to learn? Granted, I'm not an expert, and I'm always learning. How else could I improve? I know how to cook - most things - and I'll try a recipe at least once.

Maybe I need to get a couple books from Alton Brown. I heart his show, and how he explains why things work the way they do. They actually make sense... so, maybe I need to find something from him about baking bread and cookies.

Like this? Source.

In my "cooking career", I have only burnt a couple of things (since J and I have been married), which is lucky for him both of us.

One burning episode would be the green beans that I was steaming. How did she burn green beans, you might ask? Well, I had the heat up too high *hello!*, the water evaporated away as steam. Before I realized this, the beans were dry cooking in the bottom of the pan. By-the-way, that doesn't smell very nice. Somewhat like roasted or grilled beans, which isn't bad, but then add the burnt smell.

The second item to char was Jambalaya. I was simmering it, and again the water was soaked up by the rice quicker than anticipated, and the heat ended up being a bit too high.

I'm learning to watch my gas stove closer. When a recipe says medium or simmer, I keep it a little bit lower.

Sigh. Do you see a pattern forming?

Nah, after four years of marriage that's not too bad. I'm blessed to have a husband who likes pretty much everything I cook, and he told me that he's blessed that I can actually cook.

I have some pretty large shoes to fill, in regard to J's mother and my mother. I'm still flopping around in them and learning.

Don't get me started about having J's parents over for the weekend, and how I feel like a basket case when cooking for them. Actually, that one time - I was really nervous for no reason. We had a great time like usual, and my big dinner (not really all that big) was a success.

What have you learned about cooking and baking? Are there any tips or tricks you've learned over time? Can you think of what might have caused my bread to fall like it did?

4 thoughtful comments:

glee said...

Congrats on trying to bake bread! It is a noble effort! I used to bake bread a lot when my bread maker worked and my booklet shows several causes for the bread to fall. Among those are: oven door opened during baking, not enough water, too much flour, too much, not enough, or no yeast (?), not enough sugar, wrong type of flour, yeast touched water before kneading, old yeast, wrong type of yeast, or temperature of water either too cold or too hot.

Pick one.

Bread baking takes practice. That never made sense to me, but it does take practice. Also, invest in some bread flour and make sure your yeast is fresh and that your water is the correct temperature. Try different recipes since some of them turn out differently.

The great thing is that you get to eat the failures and the successes and they all seem to taste great!

Good luck!

Ann(ie) said...

Hey good going girlie. I suck at cooking and baking of all kinds, but I can watch the food channel for hours in fascination and then I write down things I'd like hubby to make me. ;)

mommiebear2 said...

Ditto on what Annie said! I do that exact same thing, Im always sending recipes to Bryan so he can make it for me. As for tips, you dont want tips from this no cooking fool.

Marcia said...

Way to go for at least trying bread. I've never made real bread (with yeast and rising and all that), but I have a very easy and yummy recipe for beer bread if you want to try it sometime.

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