Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fail breads, great brownies, and more

It's been a while since I posted, in part because it's no fun to talk about failures. Here's what's happened since I last posted:
  • I forgot to put salt into a sourdough poppy-sesame seed loaf (which I'd never made before).
  • I didn't seat the bread pan well, ruining a sourdough buckwheat loaf (which I'd successfully made before).
  • I made a pretty good rye bread from a new (to me) cookbook.
  • I successfully made super lemon ice cream and chunky raspberry sauce (which I'd made a few times before, but not recently).
  • I found a delicious brownie recipe that features coconut flour, and I made it twice.
Salt. It's the reason I started baking bread. I can't take too much sodium, and most bread has an awful lot of it. So I bake bread with about half the salt the recipes call for (halving the yeast as well), and it usually turns out.

Without salt, bread tastes anywhere from boring to downright nasty. The sourdough poppy-sesame bread tasted nasty. I can't be sure that leaving out the salt was the only reason for this bread's failure, since I'd never made the bread before (much less any recipes from Josey Baker Bread's sourdough section). Here are the problems with the bread:
  • Nasty flavor, making the bread inedible. (Lack of salt was definitely a factor. It's also possible that the poppy seeds were bad.)
  • Failure to develop gluten. The bread stayed wet, the gluten never seeming to develop. (Kneading helps gluten and this was a low-knead recipe, but so is the sesame bread that I've made successfully a few times. Salt makes gluten stickier and stronger, which is what you want in yeast-raised bread. More info: Fine Cooking's article about how to increase or limit gluten development.)
  • Failure to rise in the oven. (This might have been as least partly because I didn't preheat the baking stone for a full 45 minutes; I was in a hurry.)
Here's what the dough looked like when it was supposedly ready to shape:

Here's the outside of the cooked loaf:

Not undercooked (nor overcooked)

Here's what it looked like inside:

Enough of that. I didn't take a picture of the failed sourdough buckwheat loaf, so I'll just describe it. Imagine a tiny ball of bread around one paddle, and a big lump around the other paddle. The tiny ball was hard, the other one seemed a bit compressed, and together they were smaller than when I successfully cooked this bread before. I threw out the bread without eating it.

If I ever hear the bread machine making a racket again, I'll restart the cycle from the beginning, rather than reseating the bread pan and letting it continue.

Here's the rye bread, which was from the Raisin Pumpernickel recipe in Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine, by Linda West Eckhardt and Diana Collingwood Butts (p. 175). I took the caraway seed option instead of raisins. I probably halved the salt and yeast... I don't remember.

My first slice attempted was timid, so I sliced again
(as you can see from the curvy line at the top left)

I messed up on the baking a bit, forgetting to decrease the heat from the 400 degree preheat to a 375 degree baking heat. Strangely, the instructions say to bake it "until done...or until golden brown and done through." How are you supposed to know that a dark brown bread is golden brown? I sense cut and paste.

I shaped the dough as a free loaf, covering it for the first 20 minutes of baking. If I make this bread again, I might just use a loaf pan, since the bread crust didn't stay crisp for long. And if it comes to that, why not just bake it in the bread machine?

Here's a picture of the inside.

 Great with tomato, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil!

Changing the subject to ice cream, I made super lemon ice cream with chunky raspberry sauce, from recipes in The Perfect Scoop. I'd gotten a request for birthday ice cream the same morning. For most of the ice creams I make, this would be a problem, since I usually cook one day and then churn the next (so the custard is completely cool). I chose this recipe because it's tasty and it requires no cooking.

As usual, I used lemons from the garden.

You whir up the lemon zest with some sugar, and then you add half and half.

The raspberry sauce was also good, as always.

Ingredients for the chunky raspberry sauce

Finally, the brownie recipe. It's on the back of the Let's Do... Organic Coconut Flour package, and it's very similar to a King Arthur chocolate coconut cake recipe. Moist, deliciously chocolatey... it's a winner. It's gluten free (whatever) but definitely not low in cholesterol or fat—lots of eggs and butter.

I've made these brownies twice, both times adding chocolate chips. The brownies are OK cold, but they're great room temperature or warm. When I make them again, I'd like to try adding nuts or cocoa nibs—with or without chocolate chips.

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