Looks Like Rain. Nevertheless, We Persisted

Sue and I continue to lead a charmed existence where our Friday morning walks and rain are concerned. It was raining sideways most of the day on Thursday, and I decided to text Sue to put her on notice that I would rather take possession of the weenie award than walk this morning. We decided to see how the weather played out and then make a decision this morning. Well, I'm happy to say the wind died down, but it was raining when I left the house. Still, it cleared up and gave us some sunshine for the two hours we were outside, except for one little spate of rain that lasted only a few minutes. Even then, the sun continued to shine. I promised you a selfie of us in our pink pussycat hats, and so here you go.

Purrsonally, I think we look ameowzing! Our shadow selves came along too. On cloudy days, they shy away from walking with us.

The FatMumSlim photo-a-day prompt for today is "The view from here," and so I was on the hunt for something to fit the theme. It explains this photo:

And this one:

But not this one...you know I just like barns.

Also, I like cattails. These are actually growing in a drainage ditch, overflowing with water from the six inches of rain we've had the past week.

Here's another shot of the lake that's grown up in all of that wet weather.

Here's another attempt at "The view from here."

And when I took that shot, we were almost back to our cars. You can see the storm brewing off in the distance, and it started raining (hailing, in fact) just after I got home. Like I said, we're charmed. I'm sure of it.

Okay, so I've been a bread-baking fool ("fool" being the operative word in this sentence) for the past couple of days. You already know how my efforts at apprentice bread-baking have gone. I'm going to say I'm at about a 50:50 success to failure ratio, which isn't that great. For today's effort, I've been trying the Sourdough Beer Bread recipe recently published on the Breadtopia website. And I don't know a thing about beers, but the Breadtopia guy used a "milk stout," whatever that is. I couldn't find anything in my grocery store labeled as a "milk" stout, and so I chose this "oatmeal stout". It's brewed by a company in Eugene, which I considered a plus.

Besides, oatmeal is good in bread right? And then I read the label:

And, well, "divine" and "vanilla, coffee, chocolate . . . decadent and delicious" all sounded pretty good to me. And for sure, I want to "perpetuate better living," and so this seemed like a good choice. It's a dark beer, and it made a very dark and wet dough.

As for my efforts at bread-baking to date, I've been blaming my kitchen for being too chilly, and blah, blah, blah. Recently, I had a "bread doh!" moment (like that?) and realized that perhaps it had nothing to do with cool temperatures. I'm thinking specifically of this sad loaf of sourdough I baked a while back. 

I wanted to make sure it had risen to Mt. Everest heights, and so I gave it a proofing time that was extra long by leaving it overnight. When I looked at it the next day, it had risen all right. In fact, it was just slightly concave in appearance. I started thinking it had risen past the point of good taste, and then fallen in on itself. (Mt. Mazama turned Crater Lake comes to mind.)

So my "doh!" moment came just a couple of days ago when I realized that it is possible to overproof bread dough. What that means is that the yeast has given its all. For the bread to rise, the yeast needs to produce gas. If it's completely spent and worn out (poor little things), the bread will not rise...nor will there be any "oven spring"...nor will there be anything other than a bread dough pancake when you're all finished. (Please see Exhibit A above.)

Well, yesterday, I planned very poorly, and I had this whole overproofing thing on my mind, and I realized that my bread dough was going to be ready to bake at around 2:00 a.m. And since I'm trying not to overproof it, I didn't want to make the same mistake of letting it sit overnight. So, with that in mind, I got this great idea to put it in the refrigerator at some time to get around this, um, scheduling problem. Only, then, I had no idea how this was best accomplished. 

Using all the resources available to me (books, Facebook bread-savvy friends, Google), I decided to give it its bulk proofing time until about 9:00 p.m. (which amounted to about 7 of the 12 hours it needed), and then put it into the refrigerator. When I got up this morning, I took it out of the refrigerator and let it rise while Sue and I walked. When I got home, I shaped it and gave it its final proofing time. It was supposed to be an hour, but mine took two hours to show any signs of life. I'll skip the part about the gnashing of teeth to say that I took it out of the oven just now, and....

Bee-utiful! Even if I do say so myself. And I do. I have to wait an hour to cut into it, and so I don't know what it looks like on the inside yet, or how it will taste. I'll report back tomorrow.

While all of this has been going on, I've also mixed up another batch of dough for brioche. I couldn't give a rat's pitooey about the brioche. It's the French toast I'm after. I shared the previous three loaves with the kids. These three will be mine, all mine. It takes about half a loaf to make French toast for the two of us, and so I see plenty of French toast opportunities in our future. It's going to be a good couple of months.

So there you have it. Now, I think I'll take a nap. All this walking and baking and persisting have me plum tuckered out.

16 comments from clever and witty friends:

liniecat said...

You need your own tv or radio show and maybe even your own, alternative cooking show on tv.
I'm so cheesed off with the celebrity chefs on UK tv making perfect this, that or the other and yet,
here's you with your trials and tribulations - and outstanding successes too!
SO much more interesting and downright fun lol
AND with cats!!

gpc said...

Love it -- your shadow selves are looking positively feline, just as they should! And yes, of COURSE you like cat tails. No surprises there. You're right about your bread -- just gorgeous, and I am guessing it tasted as good as it looks. I do love your views, inside and out.

Ioleen Kimmel said...

That's one beautiful looking loaf of bread. I'm betting it will taste wonderful. Love the pictures from your walk. Enjoy your weekend.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

You two could pass for sisters! Love the hats. I have a thing for trees, so that last photo just kind of melds all you took into one view. It so reminds me of the farm waiting for Spring - life to sprout from all things. AND the BREAD - well done my girl!!

WoolenSails said...

That is such beautiful scenery, I always walk more when I am somewhere new or somewhere with sights to see.


Angie in SoCal said...

What a great post - was smiling all the way. Love your selfie. And your bread adventures - oh, my! That last loaf looks exceptional. Even the "sad loaf" have beautiful color to it. Waiting to hear your report on that last loaf.

Brown Family said...

Pretty pictures of the area.

Kate said...

Love the picture of you and Sue in your new walking assessories. Very fun. I really do envy you the scenery, it's very pretty.

My Guy says thanks for highlighting the Breadtopia site. It's one he didn't know about. The resident beer and bread expert said that the oatmeal stout was a good choice as a substitute. The thing about a milk stout is that it's a sweeter beer, resulting in a sweeter loaf. (They add lactose to the beer, the yeast can't eat that, so you get a sweeter beer and not a stronger beer) If you want a good milk stout for next time, look for Left Hand Brewing company's milk stout. My Guy likes it for drinking, he's never cooked with it.

Dana Gaffney said...

I've been thinking about making a throw with the words "nevertheless, she persisted", they just keep giving us such great lines. Love the hats and the scenery.

Wendy Tuma said...

Oh yum, your bread looks delicious! Can't wait to hear about how it tastes. Fun to see a pic of you and your walking buddy, as well as a little tour of your walking route. Enjoy that bread with lotsa buttah.

Beth said...

Perfect quote, and you look fabulous (meowvelous?) in your hats!

Really, isn't that the best quote ever, in so many ways? I'm mulling the ways in which I can make it into a mini quilt and hang it on the wall of my sewing room.

Thanks for the day-brightener.

Rebecca said...

Love the Bread Dugh moment...I have had a few.
Got a question for you.... Do you have it figured out how to bake your marvelous bread while on the road?

suzanprincess said...

Oh, please, do try the brioche bread warm and fresh from the oven--French toast can wait until the bread stales a bit.
When I first tried the fresh, still slightly warm brioche rolls at a French bakery near my work I thought I had achieved Nirvana! They didn't need adornment with anything, even butter. I'm now too far from that special bakery so must try making my own.

I admire your resolve to make it consecutively through the bread book; I've never found the will power to do that instead of picking and choosing the most tempting offerings, and not getting around to the rest of them.

Dar said...

WOW, the bread is beautiful and I know will taste great. How could it not with such a perfect finish, You and Sue look smashing in your pussycat hats. Perfect to brighten up your walk, and if you get lost, those will stand out like a beacon to help find you. Great pictures of the views along the way.

quiltzyx said...

Excellent pussycat selfie you two! And glad your shadow selves came out of hiding too!!
The shot of the cattle with the mossy fence post - the top of the post looks like a little fairy or hobbit village. Very cool! I love it when you take us along on your walks. :)
Mmmmm, warm bread sounds really good right now. Of course, I'm at work in the cold basement, waiting for the phones to ring so no chance to have some at this moment. Thanks for sharing all your trials, tribulations & triumphs in baking!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Wearing my Persisted shirt and Pussycat Hat for the reading of this exquisite blog. Yay for us, all of us who continue despite odds stacked against us and pay scales lower, onward we persist cuz we have to. Thanks, Barb, for getting that and understanding on a deeper level.