Monday, March 12, 2012

Plugged it in, Turned it on... Nothin'

We were in a customary state:  Breadless.  It was early, so I was confident I'd have bread done by lunchtime, and started adding ingredients to my bread mixer bowl.  I usually mill the flour first, but got out of order that morning, which shouldn't have made any difference.


....that when I turned on the switch on my beloved-for-10+ years WhisperMill to grind the flour, nothing happened!  I thought maybe the GFCI had been tripped, but it hadn't.  I tried another outlet that I knew was on another circuit, just to be sure.  Still nothin'.

I'd noticed that the exit tube was left too full of flour, indicating it'd had a clogging problem when last used.  I remembered running out the door to a doctor appointment after filling and starting the machine for Princess Eager.  Clogs happen, but not often.  She'd never used it, so wouldn't have recognized the change in motor sound or known the steps to take.  I'd burnt up a motor that way when the machine was just a year or two old, but the company who manufactured her was still in existence, and replaced it for free.  I'd been afraid this would happen again, ever since they went out of business.

But what to do with mixer bowl already partly full of 6 eggs, butter, water, yeast, and vital wheat gluten?  It was too much to throw away and we still needed bread.  I just bought some all-purpose flour, but couldn't accept the idea of making a whole batch of bread with it.  

I checked my freezer supply of already milled flour, and found I had 4 cups of hard white wheat and quite a bit of soft white wheat flour.

First, I used the microwave, very briefly, to bring them to room temperature, so I wouldn't have the problems I described in Won't Be Doing That Again.  But soft wheat is meant for pastry, cookies, and quick breads... not yeast breads that require more gluten.  To try to make up for the soft wheat's lack of gluten, I added more vital wheat gluten... Just guessing, I added about 3/4 cup to the 1/2 cup already in the bowl.  In retrospect, there is probably a way I could have checked the amount of gluten in each and done a calculation that would have been more sure, but I was in mourning for my grain mill and not thinking quite clearly!

After the dough had done its raising, I was happy that it seemed pliable and stretchy, as if it had the good gluten development it needed.  
When I shaped it, though, I noticed that the loaf tops were not as smooth, and the surface had what seemed to be minor tears.  They didn't get too much more serious as the loaves were raising, but 
I decided to slice the tops, hoping it would decrease any unsightly tearing as they baked. 

That seemed to be a good call.  Or maybe they would've been fine without.  In any case, they looked like 'normal' bread coming out of the oven.  The inside texture looked good.                                                                                                                                                                 
They've been a little more delicate and crumbly to cut and handle for sandwiches, but I was relieved to have a usable result to tide us over the next few days.

Now, what to do about a mill... Something we need every couple of days?!  Stay tuned for that part of my saga.

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