Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bake, Baby, Bake

It took me three tries.  In fact, whether or not the third time worked was going to play heavily on whether there would be another try.  I know, I know... Thomas Edison and his hundreds of ways to NOT make a light bulk, but I am not one of those people who can have hundreds of ways to not make wheat bread.  Seriously, I wasn't inventing something, here, just trying to do something at home that thousands of other people have been able to do successfully.

My first attempt was a solid mass that never (EVER) rose.  It just sat there in its dough state, laughing at me.  It was supposed to be enough to bake two loaves, but it never amounted to that much dough.  I baked it anyway.... and it turned out to be an inedible (and ugly) brick.  Pure.  Absolute.  Failure.  It would have been a good door-stop, though.  Or an anti-theft device, if I had used it to fall from above if anyone broke into my house.  I'm pretty sure it would have knocked them unconscious.

My second attempt made more headway.  I think.  I used my grandma's recipe.  I did get two loaves out of it.  But alas, I still got bread that didn't taste very good or rise properly or make me happy in any other way.  Apparently it is also not making the birds happy because I don't think they've touched it.  But I really, truly did try.  I believe my problem was the timing of adding the salt, which may have killed the yeast.  Someone else suggested that it may be that I used powdered milk rather than fresh or canned milk.  A third person suggested that it was my general use of recipes as a list of suggestions rather than rules... but aside from the salt and butter being introduced at the wrong time (I read a line early in the recipe), I really had followed the recipe.  The last possible suggestion I received was regarding how much yeast I used.  I was told that wheat bread recipes typically call for more yeast than white bread recipes do.

That brings us to my third attempt.  This is what you need to know.  I ground my own wheat flour.  In my previous attempts, I used the white flour that I buy at from home each year and bring back with me... but after two failed attempts I bought cheap white flour at the local store instead.  I also bought shortening instead of using butter since the recipe actually says shortening.  So I scalded my milk, which was half powdered milk and half canned milk.  This was as much a concession to the person who told me powdered milk wouldn't work as me having only enough powdered milk to make half of what the recipe required.  I let it cool completely before I added the (local!) honey.  I doubled the yeast... forgive me, but I couldn't withstand another lousy bread experience.  IT HAD TO RISE.  I followed every other instruction, to the letter.  I even greased my bread pans with shortening like my grandma had done when I was a kid.  And it rose.  And it baked well  This is what came out of the oven:

They aren't precisely the most beautiful loaves ever created, but... look at them, they rose!

They were a bit crumbly, as far as bread is concerned.  But they were better than simply edible, they were good.  That, my friends, is sheer happiness.  After so much effort, I really really wanted bread that was more healthy for me and that wasn't lousy.  So hooray for wheat bread!  Now I feel free to make continued attempts and maybe tweak it here and there... like trying to make it vegan or multi-grain.  Wahoo!

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