29 January 2009

Quick follow up to earlier this month

I did end up trying a "whole wheat" bread. It was the almost-no-knead whole wheat bread from the Test Kitchen. While it does have whole wheat flour, it has twice as much white flour, along with beer and honey to keep it moist. I understand the purpose, but I really do need to figure out a whole grain bread that doesn't involve white flour, and doesn't turn out to be a brick. I think I'm going to try one with a multi-grain cereal like Bob's Red Mill (love those products).

A funny note on my whole wheat bread though...it turned out well and despite its overcooked bottom, it was very tasty. However, the funny part was that it was almost a perfect ball. It never really settled down like the white bread--probably a little too dense. I'm adjusting.

Next up will be pizza dough...more to come!

08 January 2009

My First Focaccia

Continuing the journey that is getting over my fear of working with yeast, I decided to try another bread. I had an extra russet potato hanging around and happened to remember that my recipe for focaccia bread called for one russet potato. What luck! So, Sunday afternoon, I started working on my first focaccia.

It starts with boiling the potato cut into 1-inch chunks, then grating the cooled potato on a box grater.
Then kneading the dough and potato in a stand mixer.

Kneading it by hand, forming into a smooth ball, and letting it rise in an oiled bowl.

After the first rising when it has doubled in size, it gets stretched out onto an oiled, rimmed baking sheet, covered with oiled plastic and left to rise a second time. (More oil, I'm sure you see a trend here...)

When the dough doesn't bounce back immediately after poking, it's ready to roll. Since I didn't have fresh rosemary, and did have fresh thyme and olives, I used those instead. Both ingredients were leftover from Christmas, so it was a great way to use up stuff I would've eventually thrown away instead.

And voila! Focaccia!Notes on this recipe...
  • From America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook or Family Baking Book
  • My stand mixer isn't the greatest. It works and thankfully has dough hooks, but it's not very powerful, so kneading the dough in the mixer was tricky. I ended up doing more of the kneading by hand. I'm glad I did, though, since I'm a rather inexperienced bread baker and knead (ha ha) to get used to the feel of properly balanced dough.
  • The dough didn't like to stretch out to the edges of the pan, even though I left it for a minute to relax like the recipe said, it still wouldn't fill the pan. I attribute that to my baking sheets. I need to get some of those industrial sheets for these tasks.
I have been enjoying this bread baking business quite a bit. However, so far I've only worked with white flour. I am starting my weight loss boot camp this weekend and want to learn more about doing whole grain breads. Hopefully they will be just as much fun and tasty!