Baking and Breaking Bread

Are you old enough to remember when "bread" referred to money? Maybe that was just a southern California thing...where I went to high school. Anyway, if bread really was money, I could set us up in retirement after yesterday's baking extravaganza. It actually spanned two days.

As you know, the first try at the no-knead bread was a failure. Yesterday I started over again, but I really had my mouth fixed for bread yesterday, and so I used the barm I've been keeping alive for the past couple of weeks and put together a bread dough for Rustic Sourdough Bread from the King Arthur Flour website. They have their own starter recipe, but it worked just fine using the one I had on hand.

Possibly I was already working on this when I wrote yesterday's post. I can't remember. (Mind like a steel trap.) When I got back to it, it had risen nicely.

From there, I formed it into soft loaves and let it rise for another hour. It was at this point that I decided to invest in some bannetons. Forming loaves on a baking sheet like this seems to allow them to spread out and not rise much. I'd like a little more height to my loaves. The bannetons are covered baskets...a little more rustic than using loaf pans...and I think I'll get better results.

So, finally, they were ready for baking, and they turned out beautifully. This is a good recipe. It's the second time I've made it (using different starters), and it's worked out fine both times.

While I was waiting for it to cool, I got to work making a Christmas ornament for Sue. I used the tutorial written for Katrina's Tutorials. While I was looking for the written tutorial, I found this YouTube video showing you how to do it. You start with two contrasting fabrics. I like this ribbon candy fabric. I can't see ribbon candy without thinking of my grandfather.

You cut both fabrics into circles. I used this Tupperware lid and with my smallest rotary cutter, I could cut straight around the lid without marking it.

Presto, chango, and you have yourself a Christmas ornament. Pretty easy, but be careful to keep everything centered. Mine ended up just a little wonky. Anyway...watch the video. Super simple, and pretty quick.

And it's good that it was quick because I could barely wait to cut into the bread. The crumb is nice, and it tasted good. Still, I was hoping for a more holey sourdough crumb. 

I've done some reading online, and I've learned that kneading with an electric mixer gives a more dense crumb because the kneading is more vigorous. This time around, I stopped when the dough started to climb the dough hook. It was better than my first loaf, but still not what I was after.

In the meantime, I also had a new start on the no-knead-baked-in-a-Dutch-oven bread. This starter worked way better than the first. I doubled the amount of instant yeast from 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon and used a little more water for better distribution. After about 7 hours, it had nearly tripled in volume.

And there was plenty of bubbling action going on. I let that sit on the counter overnight. When I got up this morning, it hadn't risen any more, and in fact, the center had collapsed a little bit. This is to be expected when the dough is full of air. Sometimes it can't support itself and so it caves in.

So, this morning, I shaped it into a loaf for its second rise, and then went for a walk with Sue. The Christmas ornament and one of the loaves of bread were for her. She gave me some yummy cookies and a card. Mike and I made short work of the cookies.

We were halfway expecting rain for our walk, but none came. Along the way, we paused to admire this view. "Pastoral" is the word that comes to mind.

Farther on, we paused to talk with our friends, the cows. They weren't much interested in conversation, except for this one. She said not a word, but eyed us carefully.

When we reached our cars and headed for home, I called Mike and had him turn on the oven. It just needed a few minutes more after I arrived home, and then I flipped this loaf into the preheated Dutch oven. You might think I'd learn to avoid this, but I still managed to flip cornmeal all over the kitchen in the process. One of these days I'll think about it before I do it. It baked with the lid on for 30 minutes, and then needed 10 minutes more without the lid. When it came out, it smelled so good.

And there's that holey crumb I was hoping for. No-knead...that made a difference. I might have to guts up and knead by hand if I'm going to get the crumb I want consistently.

So today I'm cooking. And tomorrow I'm cooking. And Christmas Day, I'm relaxing. This will be my last blog post before Monday morning.

Whatever your plans, I hope you have a safe and happy holiday and a Merry Christmas. Sadie, Smitty and I will be right back here on Monday morning, and no doubt, we'll have lots to tell you.

17 comments from clever and witty friends:

Kaisievic said...

Barbara, your bread looks absolutely amazing! Congratulations. Good luck with today's baking and it sounds like you deserve a rest on Christmas Day, tomorrow, so I wish you a relaxing day and a very Merry Christmas.

gpc said...

Oh yeah, baby, bread and dough both meant money, and you seem to be rolling in it. Bread and dough, at least. It looks amazing. I'm sure the cow was just speechless with admiration, as am I.

Ann said...

Merry Christmas! Have a great weekend.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Oh, fresh bread - I can smell it way over here!! Merry Christmas to the Stanbro family

Betty said...

Merry Christmas from Alabama where we will be in the 70's with a chance of rain. Hope Smitty and Sadie get lots of great purresents! Greyson and Vincent are just hoping the rain stays away so they can chase squirrels.

Shari said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Brown Family said...

Merry Christmas. Enjoy your family and your rest! and the bread!

Debbie said...

Merry Christmas, and happy bread eating/baking:)

Marisol Vallespín Sánchez said...

Feliz Navidad!!

Wendy Tuma said...

Well, I'll go out on a limb here and ask the question (realizing I am dating myself by doing so) -- are you listening to Bread while you're baking bread? Hehe. Just curious. Wendy at piecefulthoughts@gmail.com

SJSM said...

Have a wonderful day with your family on Christmas Day. Dough and bread was a slang term for money wherever I lived as a younger person, and I lived in various places in the world at that stage in life.

I have my starter in the refrigerator for the last week. I will feed it today and look to bake something in the next few days. Today I will finish making the peppermint patties to give to our letter carrier and some neighbors. They are so easy and so good. Here is a link if the idea interests you. http://butterwithasideofbread.com/2016/10/homemade-peppermint-patties/


Susan said...

Oh yeah, I remember bread being use to mean money. I still hear that occasionally. That bread looks so yummy. I can almost smell and taste it. Have a wonderful time with family and relaxing.

Janarama said...

Merry Christmas to you and your entire family.

quiltzyx said...

Your bread does truly look delicious! If only we had smell-and-taste-o-Vision!!

Dar said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family too. Your breads all look beautiful and smell good all the way into the Midwest.

Kate said...

Both breads look great. Hope you are having a very Merry Christmas.

Teresa in Music City said...

Your bread-baking posts make me nostalgic for the days when my babies were young and I made fresh yeast dough every week. Most of it became loaves, but some was always made into dinner and clover rolls, while a small portion was always reserved for Sunday morning cinnamon rolls! My mouth waters at the thought!!! These days I avoid yeast as much as I can, but happily no allergies to your gorgeous baked creations!