I know I know, two posts in one day after being MIA for so long really doesn’t give a good impression for my dedication to this blog. However, since it is holidays, I think I can be forgiven for not paying attention to my blog as I should have.
After the rant on that earlier post, I realized I badly wanted to talk about bread baking and it simply wouldn’t be appropriate for the post titled “Box Mixes….Ugh“.
Anyway, as I mentioned in my earlier post, so far my bread has only failed once and it is due to the weather. Temperature during the rising of the bread is VERY important. Seriously important. I live in Malaysia, with fairly constant weather and temperature all year round. And yet, what works one sunny day does not work the next rainy day.
The bread I baked on that cold, rainy day ended up being extremely tough, chewy and dense instead of the soft, light and fluffy bread we had the first time I make the exact same bread. The culprit turned out to be the ambient temperature. You may ask how may I be so sure? Well, I am sure because after second rise, I freeze 2/3 of the dough and baked the remaining portion which was thrown out. Later on, on a bright, sunny day, I took out half of the frozen dough and proceeded to gave it the third rise and bake it as instructed. Cue one yummy loaf of fluffy bread. Luckily I did not throw out the frozen dough as my mother suggested.
The next time I wanted to bake on a rainy day, I was chagrined, until I remember a tip from one of the numerous websites I visited prior to baking. (Please credit yourself if you see this, sorry). The tip is about how to get a rise even on cold days. To tell the truth, I had put it out of my mine, because Malaysia? Is not known for being cold.
In any case, the tip says to put a pan of hot water into the oven and put the dough in to proof. I admit to be slightly dubious; I was afraid I might accidentally kill the yeast. However, I do not need to worry. The dough rise beautifully and evenly. I got the bread I wanted with a fine-grain texture. (By the way, I found that the hot water should be right at the edge of boiling before being tipped into the pan for a better result. For some reason, the crust of the bread is also more crisp.)
Oh, and one more thing, I ‘killed’ my hand-mixer after my third time baking bread. Apparently bread dough is too tough for the mixer to handle. I started to hand knead the dough and get a pleasant surprise; hand-kneaded dough tended to have finer grain. Maybe because of us having a better feel when we hand-knead? It is hard work though, and is almost a workout in itself.
That’s it for tonight (I think). Tomorrow I want to try to make sourdough starter. Hopefully by next week I will have tasted my first sourdough bread. Stephanie, want some?
PS: One quick note, I really hate recipes that is essentially bread machine recipe yet do not announce it on the title. I have wasted quite a lot of time on this sort of recipe and it really grates on me (possibly because I don’t have a bread machine and I am jealous).