Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lean Dough Take II

If at first you don't succeed, try try again....

Today I chose to try, again, he Lean Dough recipe with the hope that I might actually produce a loaf or two of actual, homemade, bread.

If you read my last post, you would find that my first attempt did not go terribly well, but I was determined to get past this first recipe in the CIA text. As my son napped, I set forth on my second attempt at Lean Dough. This time I quartered the recipe!

Bread Flour: 1.25 Pounds
Instant Dry Yeast: 4.75 g
Water: 14 fl oz
Salt: 12.5 g

Everything fit nice and snug into my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer! I mixed the dough on the lowest setting (stir) for about 2 minutes, then upped the speed to 2 or 3 for a few more minutes. I stopped mixing frequently to check the gluten levels in the dough, stretching a small piece to see if I could get a thin membrane of dough. Once I achieved this, I sprayed a bowl with some PAM, placed the dough in the bowl and covered with some plastic wrap.

I allowed the dough rise for 30 minutes. During this 30 minutes, I actually found myself trying to listen to the dough to see if it was rising. I was so convinced that it was going to fail, that I was grasping at straws, trying to find a reason not to throw out the dough in defeat. Once the 30 minutes had passed, I wasn't convinced it was working, but I chose to press on regardless. I folded the dough in half, then in a quarter and allowed it to rise again for 30 more minutes, repeating once again, after another 15 minutes.

Once the dough had risen, it was time to shape divide the dough into 1 pound 'hunks'.

At this point, the dough needed to be reshaped. This is accomplished by folding the dough in half from the top down, sealing the seam with the heel of your hand, turning the dough 90 degrees and folding, again, in half and sealing the seam.

Then came the tricky part, you cup your hands around the lump of dough and move the dough in a circle on your board until you have a nice firm ball of dough with a flat bottom.

Now, we wait. Cover the dough balls, and wait for about 15 minutes.

This is the moment where I paused and called my mom to come over and show me how to shape a boule. I read the instructions in the text on shaping a boule (a large round loaf with a flat bottom); they made zero sense to me. Rather than risk another culinary disaster, I cried uncle, or rather "MOM". As luck would have it, she lives across the street from me. She brought with her, my Grandma who was visiting for a little three generations baking moment.

Mom instructed me to flatten out the dough lump with my fingertips then work from the upper corners of the flattened lump, folding them in, folding the top down over them and repeating, slowly working into a ball, sealing the seams on the bottom. Eventually, we wound up with this:
Two lovely lady lumps of dough (or boules) set upon a baking sheet with a spray of PAM and a sprinkling of corn meal. I then scored the boules three times with a paring knife and applied a light egg wash (one egg, beaten with a little water) to the tops.

I covered the boules with a towel and allowed them to sit for another hour to rise. Once the boules had about doubled in size, in they went into a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.
We wait again. I took this opportunity to spend some time with my, almost, 16 month old son. He kept saying Ga Ga...So I did what any rational parent would do, I plugged in the iPod, qued up the Lady GaGa and danced with my son while my bread was baking.
Thirty five minutes later (drum roll please)...


Not only did my house smell amazing, but I had finally succeeded in making two beautiful loaves of bread! They received the seal of approval from my husband, son and my parents! I had no idea that it was possible to make such a tasty loaf from so few ingredients!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lean Dough ~ Take I

It's a Sunday afternoon (Superbowl Sunday to be precise), I've got a pot of homemade chicken stock simmering on the stove, the house smells AMAZING! There will be chicken noodle soup tonight! My beautiful 15 month old son is taking a nap, it's time for bread...

Ah bread! How hard can it truly be to make? I'm an intelligent individual, I've been cooking for years with good results, this will be a snap right? As I've made the decision to bake my way through the CIA textbook, I started with the first recipe:

Lean Dough
5 lb Bread Flour
2/3 oz Instant Dry Yeast
53.5 fl oz Water
1.75 oz Salt

As I'm not a complete moron, I realized before I even began that I would need to reduce this recipe significantly! I am, after all, not working out of a commercial kitchen! So, I halved the recipe. 

I began by gathering my ingredients and unpacking my brand new kitchen scale:

As per the instructions, I combined my flour and yeast in one bowl, and my salt and water in my mixing bowl. 

I then added the flour/yeast mixture to my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer with my  never-been-used bread hook attachment and mixed on low for 2 minutes, then on medium for 3 minutes. Per the instructions, my dough should then be "smooth and elastic". 

...cue the sounds effect (wah wah waaaaaaaah). I overmixed. 

According to the text "when dough is overmixed it will be very sticky and wet and will have little or no elasticity. This occurs because the gluten strands have been broken down; the resulting product will not rise or bake properly".

Naturally, I did what a lot of women would do, I called my mom. I knew the dough was a lost cause, but for some reason I felt the need to share with her. My mother worked for many years in a bakery and suggested that I start out Betty Crocker's Cookbook smaller. 

I however am both empowered and encouraged; why you ask? Because I know where I went wrong! Even cutting the recipe in half wasn't enough! I should have cut it down to a quarter. If you look closely at the above picture, the volume of dough is so high, it actually went over the top of my breadhook. My mighty Kitchen Aid mixture couldn't handle the amount of ingredients I threw at it! Poor thing...

And there is it. My first attempt to bake bread, a failure, perhaps. But it is from failure that we learn to press on, and so I shall.