Friday, May 6, 2011

I Still Bake, Part 1

Last week I looked at my own blog and noticed that there wasn't one post on cooking or baking on the whole front page.  We are eating more convenience foods of late, as I shared on Wednesday, but I do manage to bake occasionally.                                                                                                                                    
It hope it's not too tiresome to read about the constant adjustments I'm making to my bread-baking techniques, but I was intrigued by the accidentally better bread (Cartoon Bread) I'd made by forgetting my sponge for 4 hours.  After making bread my family raved about so highly, I just couldn't go back to the old way!  But since I often guesstimate as I bake, it's sometimes difficult to recreate a result exactly.                                                                                                                     
I wanted to come up with a way to schedule this new technique, so I'd know how to time it all out each time.  I really liked starting my bread and finishing it all in almost one motion, with only a 25 minute rise on the sponge and 40 minutes for the loaves.  This meant I could do a batch of bread, start to finish, in less than 2 hours.  I could actually stay focused, and, most of the time, remember I had the project underway for that amount of time.  Inserting a 4-hour rise for the sponge changes things a lot for me.                                                                                                                                                                                
I'd remembered that Grainlady on the Gardenweb Cooking Forum mentioned that she lets her bread sponge overnight, so I decided to give that a try.  My first attempt at overnight bread baking (not including the artisan bread doughs that rest in the fridge for days) used a sponge time of a few hours, then I added the rest of the flour before sticking it in the refrigerator overnight.  I'd remembered a post from The Fresh Loaf blog, that said retarding the rise by refrigerating it would enhance the flavor.  This probably only had to do with sourdough breads, but figured it couldn't hurt with sandwich bread.  Who knows?  Someone probably does, but not me.                                                                                                                                                             
The oozing dough looked a little like this
flowing down the outside of the bucket.
Lava photo from
I'm sorry I didn't think to take a picture, because the next morning I was taken a bit by surprise.  I had a horror movie type of scene with dough oozing out and down the bucket and into the fridge.  Any of that which had escaped the bucket was too dry to use, so I lost a good portion of dough to the garbage.                                  
I also had a batch of very cold dough, with which I wasn't sure what to do.... Let it warm (but for how long), then shape?  Shape it, then let it warm and rise?  Being the impatient sort, I let it sit awhile, but it was still quite cold when I shaped, then I had to keep checking the rise...  There was no way to time it and be sure of a schedule.  All in all, not the resolution I was looking for in or to get a new technique figured and scheduled.                                                                                                                                                            
Sneak Preview
This has gotten way long, so I will continue the saga tomorrow.............
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