Saturday, April 16, 2011

Making Bread

Since I've been reading more cooking blogs, I've been thinking more and more about tackling bread making. As Ed pointed out, people have been making bread for a very, very long time, so it shouldn't be that difficult.

Still, I didn't want to tackle anything too tricky, so I started with some foccacia bread (I figured that it didn't have to rise up as much so it would turn out better). Flipping through my Cooking Light Cookbook, I stumbled on a fig and marscapone foccacia that was "voted as a reader's top choice."

To start, I used a packet of yeast, a teaspoon of honey, and 1/2 a cup of warm water. Now, I don't have a  thermometer for water (and wasn't sure about using a meat thermometer on water), so I just warmed up the sink water to what felt like a warm shower temperature and then poured it in. Of course, after I poured it in, I refelt the water and decided I hadn't gotten it warm enough, so I dumped it and started again (good thing I had extra yeast!). This time, I got the water much warmer and then tried again.

I let it sit for 10 minutes, watching it bubble and do it's thing. Then, I added 2 T of olive oil and mixed. 

Finally, I go to start turning it into dough. I added in 2 3/4 C. flour and stirred's dough! I then turned it out onto a floured cutting board and got to knead the dough for 10 minutes. This part was pretty fun (though the 10 minutes seemed to last for a while). I kept adding flour to keep it from being sticky and soon had a ball of elastic bread dough. 

Now came the first of three waiting periods while the dough rose. For this, I put the dough in a greased bowl and put it on the stove (it's supposed to rise in a place at least 85 degrees, so this was one suggestion I read). I covered the bowl with a damp towel.

There it sat for an hour, rising nicely. Finally, I uncovered it, and revealed my delicious ball of dough!

I punched the dough down (and promptly got my hand stuck - it was stickier than I thought!), and then spread it onto a greased baking pan. 

Here is where I began failing as a baker. I spread the dough fine and covered it with the damp cloth as instructed. However, after letting it sit for about 20 minutes, I realized that the cloth was touching the bread. Deciding this wasn't good, I decided to put a piece of wax paper between the bread and the cloth. 

Turns out, this was a very poor choice. Once it was time to check the bread, I discovered that the paper had completely stuck to the paper. Using a knife, I pulled the paper off, but it left the bread looking pretty sad. I greased my hands and tried to smooth it out, which sort of helped. Then, I kept following the recipe, this time just recovering it with the towel, as directed. 45 minutes later, it was ready to top!

The marscapone was tricky to put on, as it wanted to sink down - I should have put on smaller dollops. Then, I topped it with quartered dried figs. 

Finally, it was into the oven for 23 minutes! 

Overall, I was quite please. the marscapone wasn't all that strong tasting, and it needed a bit more salt, but still, it was bread!

I'm already looking forward to my next challenge :) 

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