Sunday, December 13, 2015

Same ingredients, a fraction of the height

What a difference a day makes.

I made another loaf of the North English brown ale bread, with the same proportions as before, but this time it turned out completely flat. I thought it'd be horrible, but it was actually tasty and chewy—a completely different texture from before.

The loaf on the left (and slice on the right) is the flat version of
the loaf on the right. The darker color is no surprise, since I
cooked the grain in the water, turning the water dark brown.

Here's all I can recall doing differently:
  1. Instead of putting the oil and honey in first, with the water and spent grain, I put them in last.
  2. A few hours before loading the ingredients into the bread machine's pan, I microwaved the water and spent grain together for 2 minutes to cook the grain a little more.
  3. I used olive oil instead of canola oil.
  4. I took the bread out 35 minutes after it was done instead of right after.
That's all I can remember. I suspect #1 is the cause—perhaps because the delay in mixing in the honey somehow made the yeast too active or not active enough. Another possibility is that the heavier oil and honey weighed down the flour and let moisture or salt get to the yeast sooner than it should have, or maybe later and the bread over proofed and sank. A thin skin of dough along the side of the bread pan might support the overproof theory.

Here's why I put the oil and honey in later than before:
  • That's the order the Zojirushi instructions recommend.
  • It's easier to pour in the honey after the oil, since I measure them in the same container.
  • I thought olive oil might be more susceptible to off flavors (from being mixed with water for a few hours) than canola oil.
I'm going to make another loaf soon from frozen spent grain, doing everything more or less the same except no delay timer, and the oil and honey and salt will go in before the flour. Why add the salt then? I want it to be more evenly distributed, and I suspect that when it's left until last, it's not. Also, I want to reduce the odds that the salt will touch the yeast before the bread is kneaded.

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