Monday, August 18, 2014

Breadventures: A total loss and a partial save

Full of confidence after the success of my first loaf of bread, I tried setting up the machine to cook a loaf overnight. The result: complete failure.

Baked flour with yeast on top. Mmm mmm.

Toward the bottom was something vaguely resembling bread.

It's possible that the machine was to blame, but I suspect it was just that the recipe was too big. Next time I want to cook a loaf overnight, I'll try to make sure that it's a recipe that I've successfully used before.

Not to be put off, I tried another recipe: maple walnut bread. However, I still hadn't learned my lesson about the recipes being too large. I'd thought that maybe because this was a machine-kneaded, oven-cooked recipe, that the machine could deal with it. Silly me. This recipe had twice as much dough as a regular recipe of bread, so of course the machine couldn't deal with it.

After resetting the machine 2 or 3 times and poking the mix with a spatula, I finally got a mostly mixed dough. In a flash of smarts, I took out the dough and threw out half of it. I returned it to the machine for one last mix and its first rise, adding walnuts midway through the mixing.

The recipe had called for adding a cup of walnuts and perhaps a half cup of raisins. Since we'd already chopped the walnuts, I added all of them and left out the raisins. At this point, the dough had been kneaded so much, it was impossible to incorporate the walnuts, so they mostly ended up on the outside.

So there I was, with a weird, nut-covered dough. I punched it down and put it in a pan to rise again. And then I baked it.

The result? Delicious! It looked terrible (sadly, I took no pictures), but it had a wonderful, crunchy crust and excellent flavor.

I've since gone through the book and written, in pencil, the half-amounts for every ingredient of every recipe that I'd like to try.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cinnamon raisin bread

Cinnamon raisin bread ice cream?

Nope! I'm branching out and reviewing recipes that aren't ice cream. It turns out you can't make tons of ice cream without you and your family gaining weight, so I'm taking a little break from weekly ice cream making. Bread is perhaps not a weight loss food, but it can't be as bad as ice cream.

Also, my parents gave me their old bread machine. I love bread but haven't been able to eat much of it since I started a low-sodium diet (which helps with an inner ear problem). Salt-free bread tastes bad to me, and it's hard—not impossible, but hard—to find regular bread that isn't high in sodium.

My bread adventures (let's call them breadventures) will start out featuring a Zojirushi BBCC-S15 bread maker and recipes from The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Baking Book by Donald Gazzaniga.

An oldie but a goodie

The book is a godsend but has a couple of problems. First, its recipes are for a 2-pound loaf, and my bread machine only makes up to 1.5-pound loaves. (I didn't realize this and ended up with bread baked onto the viewing window.) Second, I couldn't find any recipes that I could set up to cook overnight, given the basic ingredients I have. Many of the recipes require adding fruits or nuts partway through, or they use the bread machine only for kneading, not for baking.

Despite these problems, the cinnamon raisin bread was a success! The loaf had a great texture and crust—even though it languished in the machine for a few hours after baking—and it was tasty. When fresh it was good even untoasted. It was also great as a base for cinnamon toast, and should be perfect for bread pudding.

I'll make it again but try halving the recipe. I also might try using proportionately more raisins and perhaps cinnamon.

I'm not sure how much yeast to use when halving the recipe. The author says that salt inhibits yeast action (so I can't rely on regular bread recipes) and that smaller loaves rise more effectively, but then he gives an example of halving where the yeast is 2/3 of the full amount. Also, I found a site that says that cinnamon can inhibit yeast action, so if I add more cinnamon, I might have to use more yeast. Whatever. I think I'll just halve the cinnamon and yeast, and then adjust the recipe next time (if necessary).

This was not a low gluten recipe, by the way. It called for bread flour (high in protein/gluten) and additional "vital wheat gluten", which was probably what made the crust and texture so great. Obviously I don't mind eating dairy and sugar and gluten. Cutting out sodium is more than enough deprivation for me, thank you very much.

Stay tuned for more breadventures...