Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flour + water + salt, etc. ...

Ok, you may remember that I have a semi-phobia for killing yeast, among other things, that has greatly hampered my desire to make bread. Then I found this recipe, and it is very good, both in the taste category and the alleviate-my-guilt-for-not-learning-to-make-bread-loaves category. The problem with the roll recipe is that it requires some things that may not be readily available in my food storage supplies, such as butter and eggs, so I decided to get serious and find out what kind of bread that I could make with the really basic ingredients that are staples in my food storage. Today was the day. I headed over to the Hillbilly Housewife website and tried the Beginner's Bread recipe.

One of the things that I heard that made me feel that I could gauge the water temperature so that it wouldn't be too hot, and hence destroy the oh-so-useful yeast, was that you should make the water about the same temperature that you would like to end up with when you are testing a baby's bottle on your wrist. I don't know how anyone else gauges it, but that tip has served me well so far...in fact some of the rising today went a little quicker than the recipe indicated. Of course, I am not the most patient of people, so I made sure that my kitchen was somewhat warmer than it usually is to help the rising process along.

Everything went pretty well through the initial stages--just had to add a couple of teaspoons of water to the dough before letting it rise, and it didn't take too much coaxing to get it to fit in the loaf pan in a reasonable shape. Letting it rise in the pan was really quick, and I didn't let it go an hour before putting it in the oven because it was getting big enough to make me nervous. Once it was in the oven I was afraid that it would hit the upper coils, but all was well. The cooking was kind of quick too, but the top was golden brown, so I took it out. This was when I had the biggest difficulties, because despite the shortened duration of baking time, the loaf had evidently become quite attached to the pan--to the point that it was necessary to help it out around the edges, even though it had been greased really well. Because of this "help", part of the bottom of the loaf was left in the pan. Glass half empty: the bread slices were rather short and squat rather than regulation-size. Glass half full: it was immediately evident that the bread had indeed cooked all the way through, except for a very small strip on one piece that was questionable. Pan all the way empty: the loaf is now almost a memory, except for a couple of slices.

So there's a win in the bread category, really in more ways than one--the bread was edible, and the ingredients--water, yeast, oil, salt, sugar, and flour-- couldn't be more basic. The recipe now resides in my emergency notebook, and is one answer to the question, "Now I have all this basic food storage--what do I do with it?"

Well, upward and onward. Thanks to Hillbilly Housewife for providing the recipe! I'll let you know how it works out when I make bread with flour that I've ground from my wheat storage--yeah, yet to happen. And I've been eyeing some tortilla recipes.... :)


HermitJim said...

At times bread making is an adventure! Good thing is that you can eat your mistakes!!

Nice post!

Marie said...

HermitJim--Yes, I'm glad it came out edible... :) With that recipe, I didn't really need all the extra instruction, but it would be helpful for those who are nervous or have never done any cooking before, so I liked it. Thanks for your comment!!

Anonymous said...

well sometimes you cannot eat your mistakes and they become pavers for the driveway...LOL


The Scavenger said...

LOL, you know that I love bread, even the crumbs. lol Great post, keep 'em coming.


Kristen said...

I have decided that there is an inherent mental block when it comes to bread making. It took me almost 20 years to get over mine. I use a recipe similar to Hillbilly Housewife. It does work with home ground flour, so if you don't want to try it again, you can just take my word.:-)

hsjacobus said...

Did you use a cooking spray or shortening? Shortening seems to work a little better for me in this instance.

On bad days when a loaf goes wrong I either make it into croutons, bread crumbs for chicken or bread pudding. It all works out in the end right.

I tried to find this one recipe I once read on www.flylady.com for bread. I liked how it read because it really gave me perspective. She would do a part of the bread making and then go do some chore in the house and then come back to the bread. Each chore was about the amount of time for each step. It really helped me relax about bread making. Also my neighbor really is a guru in this department and she said her Ward used to make it the night before and let it rise in the cooler over night. That too gave me perspective. It really told me just how much flexibility I had and that I could relax. It would come out as bread in the end. Your point about the temperature was right on. Better to be cooler then too hot. Too hot will kill the yeast, too cold and it will just take longer to rise.

Marie said...

Carl--I am definitely glad that this particular loaf did turn out edible---might have given me way too much opportunity to rationalize not trying again for a looooooong time... :) But if it happens like that next time, at least I know that I won't be alone in the experience, which no doubt will make me feel a little better as I pave the driveway. :)

Chris--Just working my way up the proverbial ladder--if I get proficient at this who knows? Maybe I'll try some of that sourdough starter... :)This loaf was basically demolished while still warm, so that was encouraging.

Kristen--I am glad to hear that I am not alone! It really took me too long to work up the courage to just do it, but once I did, at least I have had encouraging results--so far, anyway. :) That's good to hear about the home ground flour-- it's just another step for me to whip out the wheat and figure out just how much time/effort it takes for me to put my hand grinder to work.

HSJacobus--I used oil, which may have been my biggest mistake--it didn't stick on the sides, though, just the bottom. I'll have to try shortening or butter next time, I guess.
That is encouraging about having some slack in bread-making and still having it work out anyway. I've noticed that I would keep checking it to see if it had doubled--maybe it's like water boiling, and you're not supposed to watch it... :)

Thank you all for your comments and encouragement--I always learn a lot, and I really appreciate it.


Carla said...

Marie -
You might give Sadge's bread a try http://firesignfarm.blogspot.com/2008/03/one-hour-french-bread.html
I've never had a problem with it - except the time I tried to bake it in a regular bread pan - & it's so fast & easy, I can actually make it in the evening when I get home from work! I usually change out some of the flour (about 2 cups) with whole wheat.
I also have this linked on my website someplace... let me know if your can't find it.

Marie said...

Carla--I will have to look that one up--it sounds like the kind of recipe that I would love to have! Thanks for letting me know about it--I really appreciate it!

hsjacobus said...

Shortening really has seemed to be the better results choice for me. And yeah I agree about it being like watching water boil. It's better just to get side tracked and then come back and be pleasantly surprised that it rose:)

Marie said...

HSJacobus--I'll definitely use the shortening next time, then--I need the best results possible! :)