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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Adventures In Baking Bread

Simple living in a large metropolitan city has seemed, at times, a near impossibility.  For example, trying to eat organic, local food has been a source of great frustration.  I don't have a backyard so I can't grow my own vegetables.  True farmers markets are few and far between and tend to be at odd hours like between 3 and 7 pm on a Tuesday which makes them inaccessible to anyone holding a full time job.  Even trying to be more frugal with the grocery budget has been a difficult task as I find that groceries are at least 30% higher than out in the suburbs.  However, I persevered and thought to myself, "Why not start this seemingly impossible journey with teaching myself that most basic of life skills, baking bread? After all, every journey starts with one step."  Now, I will never be one of those people who springs out of bed at 4 am every day and bakes a loaf of bread.  But I was willing to get up at 7 am and bake bread once a week.  I used the No Knead recipe which I found on the Down To Earth blog.

The great thing about this recipe is that you prepare the dough the evening before and let it rise over night.   I think the name of the recipe is a bit misleading because there is some kneading involved. Now, you are advised to flour your hands and the board lightly but I can attest that you actually need a lot of flour and to dust the board regularly otherwise you will have a sticky, gluey mess all over your hands.

I did slash the top but I don't think it was deep enough because, somehow, magically, while in the oven, the dough decided to thumb its glutinous nose at me and mend itself back together again.  Monsieur assures me that, for my very first loaf, it was a passable attempt but he is being very, very kind.  There is no doubt that, if used to conk someone on the head, it could be classed as a dangerous weapon.  I am not sure if it was because of the lack of a slash on the top preventing it from rising or the finicky nature of my oven that never gets very hot.  Well, Rome wasn't built in a day so....I tried again, only this time with rye flour.  I mixed the dough and the next morning peeked in the bowl expecting to see a giant mushroom cloud of risen dough.  And...nothing.  It was a soggy lumpy mess.

Ugh!!  Why?? Why?? Is rye, by its very nature, too fibrous to do anything except sink wilfully towards the earth?  In an effort not to waste the dough, I mixed in a cup of white flour and hoped for the best.  Luckily, in 2 hours, it had risen considerably.  I toasted some almonds and added it to the top of the dough ball.  This time, I made sure to make deep slashes to the top.

 Well, this is looking more like a homemade loaf!

I used a toasted slice for my version of a beef brisket sandwich.

The Down To Earth recipe is a variation of a recipe from the New York Times which calls for the dough to rise twice and be kneaded twice.  The rye loaf was still on the heavy side so, next time I will try the New York Times recipe and knead it twice to see if that produces a lighter loaf. I guess this blog post is more of an anti-post that shows all the stumbles and not just picture perfect, Pinterest-worthy triumphs.  My main takeaway from this is to persevere and not give up.  If any of you have any tips or suggestions, this budding baker would love to hear from you!

I am linking up with Natasha in Oz.


SixBalloons said...

I have an easy recipe on my blog! I like the idea of slowly oetting it rise in a cool area, like even in a fridge. It is more forgiving that way.

Angelina B. said...

Bread is hard to make.yours looks pretty with those almonds on top! Don't give up as we all know there's nothing like freshly baked bread!

Moses said...

'Every journey starts with the first step'. Love it. Love your blog...keep writing!!

Natasha In Oz said...

I am so sorry but I have no tips! I am not good at baking at all.

Thanks for sharing your post at the #sundaysdownunder link up. I'm so thrilled you joined in!

Best wishes,
Natasha in Oz

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