Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Huge Flop

Today is Tuesday.

On most Tuesdays, at our house, I make supper. Right now I have some bread dough rising. The end result should yield a 1lb. loaf.

I'm trying a new recipe that involves a very long rising time, no kneading, and baking in a dutch oven. If it turns out well I may share the recipe on here.

I've just been browsing through an old file on our computer titled "cooking." I found several pictures of past bread-making attempts. I couldn't help laughing.

I guess it was four or five years ago I first asked Dad to teach me how to make bread. He gave me several good lessons, and from then on it was trial and error.....with a decided emphasis on error.

My continual flops kept my family laughing. I tried different flours, different kneading times, different recipes, different baking temps., ......everything. Most results were edible, but I didn't want just edible. I wanted high, fluffy loaves, with silky texture, golden brown crusts, loaves that sliced easily, buttery wheaty flavor ...the perfect loaf. I kept making short, squat loaves that were a little on the dark side, crumbled when sliced, and tasted just....plain.

Finally, one day....I put extra tender love and care into a batch of dough, determined to succeed. I carefully shaped each loaf...and slid them into the oven. I patrolled the kitchen, forbidding anyone to slam doors or stomp and make my bread fall.

Peering through the oven door........I SAW THEM! Rising high, like human lungs inflating with air, only much prettier. The golden color was perfect.

I was so excited. I could hardly wait for them to cool. I danced around the table in delight, and called for each of my family members to come look.

The loaves were cool enough to cut, just in time for lunch. With much fanfare, I sliced the first golden crust......

They were filled with air!

And lined with gooky dough.

I couldn't believe it. Another flop! And the worst one yet!

My sister and I sat there and ate the crust, which, incidentally, tasted marvelous. But I couldn't get over the feeling of slicing through the top crust and hitting air.

Today I feel like I've mastered the skill of turning out bread loaves. They may not always be high and golden. They may rise too long and taste yeasty. But most of the time they taste yummy, look passable (or even lovely!), and most importantly, if something is wrong, I know what caused it.

But I've never figured out what caused my hollow loaves.

....I think I'll go check my bread dough.


Amber said...

I'm so sorry that your bread didn't work out.
I have had the same problem with making bread too. I noticed that you bake your bread in metal bread pans. My bread always had holes untill I started using Pyrex glass loaf pans. I haven't had a problem since.
I think that if you knock on the top of the baking loaf it has a certain sound when it's done, but I really don't know what the sound is. I think it's hollow sounding but I really can't say for sure.
Oh also try baking the bread half the time, then the last half with foil covering it. This really helps with it baking inside and not getting to brown on the outside.
Your bread is really beatiful.

I hope this helps.

Claire said...

Hey, Am. I think I know what caused your hollow bread. If my mother doesn't knead it enough, or doesn't roll and/or pat it tight enough before putting it in the loaf pan, there will be air bubbles still inside the dough, resulting in air pockets. This happened to her several times in a row and made her very upset, because it just HAS to come out right. I'm sure you know, after spending so much time on something, it's irritating when it doesn't turn out right. She finally figured it out though, and rarely does it happen to her now. Also, the results of your bread can lean heavily on the weather.