Timing Issues

White Bread 2 - side shot

The weather has played havoc with my timings. Things that used to reliably take an hour are taking half that time and I’m having to watch my loaves like a hawk. This time I was caught out by an over enthusiastic white tin loaf.

I make this pretty much every week and it usually takes about an hour for each stage but not this time. Once it had been shaped and popped into its tin it seemed to speed up. When I tested it after about 20 mins it was already springing back slowly – a sign that it was ready to go in the oven. But the oven wasn’t even on yet, let alone hot enough for bread. Pretty much all my recipes say you should get the oven up to temperature before the bread goes in but this wasn’t going to be possible. The best I could do was put the oven on for about 10 minutes before putting the bread in.

The oven was barely 100C when the bread went in. It wasn’t even hot enough to create steam when boiling water was added to the roasting tray (which obviously hadn’t preheated enough). I feared a bread disaster was on the way….

But look at it. It’s the best oven spring I’ve had from a tin loaf. It took about 10-15 min longer but somehow that lower starting temperate has given the bread more of a boost than it usually has.

It may be a one off but I’ll try this approach again and let you know. I’ve heard of people putting sourdough into a cold oven to proof and bake in one step but not conventional bread. Maybe it wasn’t as far gone as I feared and it just finished the process in the oven so possibly slightly under-proofing and a lower initial temperature gives better results. Let me know if you’ve had a similar experience.

White bread v2  - top

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A Short and Sweet Post

Cheese BreadRegular readers will know that I am a bit of a Dan Lepard fan and am slowly baking my way through his Guardian recipes. However I didn’t have any of his recipe books…..until now.

It started with the news that the Kindle edition of Short and Sweet is now only £3.99. Now I love my Kindle but I don’t really think it works for recipe books but I thought I’d download a sample chapter to see what was in it. As I had the link on my phone I ended up downloading it to my Kindle app. I was expecting a lot of dry text but instead what I got were glossy colour photos and links in the recipes that took you straight to the relevant techniques at the beginning of the book. I could have it on my ipad and not only would it be flour resistant, LSH would never know that I’d bought “yet another” recipe book (he is of the opinion that you can have too many recipe books….)

So download it I did. First recipe was the Easy White Loaf. In the intro Dan Lepard says that you can add up to 200g of cheese to this. So I chopped up the last of a pack of cheddar (about 150g worth) and coated it in generous amounts of paprika and chilli powder. When the loaf had finished its first rise I patted it out into a rectangle, covered it with the cheese mix and rolled up like a Swiss roll.

It looked good with a heavy swirl of cheesiness looping through it. Unfortunately it also “swirled” out of it gluing the bread firmly to the baking tray so it became a 2 man operation to prise it free (note to self – put on baking paper next time). It was worth it though and went down well with LSH – too well in fact. I left pretty much a full loaf when I went to the hairdressers. When I got back this is how much was left.

Bread - the remainders

Guess I’ll have to make it again…..

Tiger Bread (sort of…..)

Tiger Bread

Today we have another bread from the Love Baking Bread magazine. I’d meant to do this one first but I didn’t have any rice flour. On a trip to London I made a detour to a branch of Waitrose and finally managed to get some.

Depending on which supermarket you use this is known as either tiger or giraffe bread. Essentially it’s a white loaf with a crackle glaze over it. This effect is caused by brushing the loaf with a rice flour and yeast paste during the proving process. I think what happens is that whilst the dough expands and stretches, the rice paste doesn’t expand as much and instead shatters creating an animal print effect. Well that’s the theory….

Mine didn’t quite work out that way. The recipe is from The Bread Revolution by the people behind the Thoughtful Bread Company so I had high hopes. The white bread dough itself used less water then I’m used to, but it was the rice flour paste that was the strangest.

For starters the recipe made a lot of paste – it seemed like far too much for one loaf of bread and I ended up throwing a lot out. And it was very thick. The recipe describes it as being the consistency of wallpaper paste. I’m not a wallpaper paste expert (I leave that to Long Suffering Husband…) but this seemed much thicker than that – more dough than paste. So I added more water to try and thin it a bit.

Tiger Bread - with paste

I shaped the loaf, gave it a good coating of the paste and left to prove before baking.

Tiger Bread

The final result was not what I expected. It’s more of a scorched earth effect than tiger bread, with a very dark crust and jagged fissures across the surface. That’s not to say its unattractive – it is quite striking with its dramatic gashes. But it’s not the crackle pattern of tiger bread. More a dark brooding older cousin version.

Taste wise it was just like a normal white bread. I can’t say I got any interesting taste from the crust either which made me wonder if I’d been too stingy with the topping. I suspect that the consistency of the paste was the issue. Clearly I need to pay closer attention to wallpapering in future…

Monday Bread

White Bread

The bread I normally bake on Mondays is a white loaf ideal for sandwiches for the rest of the week. No fancy flavours here. No need to leave it overnight to prove – this is a bread you can make in a few hours with no pre-planning required.

Mix 450g of strong white bread flour with 50g wholemeal bread flour. Add a teaspoon of fast action yeast and a teaspoon of salt. Then mix in about 350g of water, more if you think that it needs it. Pull together in the bowl into a rough dough.

Knead using whatever method you prefer. I sometimes add a bit more water at this stage if the dough seems too dry – just dip your fingers in water and drizzle it over the dough. Once the dough is soft and stretchy (you should be able to stretch it until its nearly see through) leave to rise at room temperature.

After about 2 hours it should look like this.

White bread - after

Remove from the bowl. Flatten and shape. I use a proving basket as I like ridged pattern but the bread doesn’t need this level of support. Coat in rye flour and leave to prove. You can tell its ready if, when you press it with the pad of your finger, it returns slowly to shape. If it bounces straight back it needs longer. This will probably be about a 40-60 minutes.

Preheat your oven to its highest temperature with a roasting tin in the bottom. When your bread is ready, slash it with a knife and put it in the oven. Quickly pour boiling water into the roasting tray and bake for 10min. Turn the oven down to 220C and give it another 25-30 min until its baked. I use my probe thermometer to tell when it’s ready (I’ve never been very good a judging “hollowness”!). I take it out of the oven when its got to 200F inside (yes the F is right – it was from an American site and I find it easier to remember)

And this should be the result.white bread - crumb 2

The crumb is just right for our lunchtime sandwiches.
white bread - crumb

So there you have it – Monday Bread. What do you think?