Thursday, December 1, 2011

the art of breadmaking

Well, if Today doesn't call itself productive, then Today gets a swift kick to the larynx. Not only was I super-on-time (read: half an hour early) for my RMT appointment this morning, but I am just finishing up not one, but two bread recipes. The first of my attempts came out of the oven awhile ago, and after some patience on my part, and the distraction of the other bread recipe, I am finally sitting down to sample batch #1; breadly indulgence at its finest.

Batch #1: 8 mini loaves. Specifically: 8 herbs-and-cheese pullapart mini loaves. If that sounds time consuming to is. From start to finish, it took me approximately 3 hours (of course, 2.5 hours of that is "down time", which in my world is Pinterest Time).

So this is pretty much a deviation from my normal blogging habits, and it's likely stemming from the fact that I've been breathing in bread fumes all day long...but I've decided to review the recipes. After all, what good is Google without actual experience? Many people I know are on budgets and make their own bread to save money, or love baking, or like comfort food in the cold of winter - for all of these reasons I am patting myself on the back for the service this must be to you.

Recipe Review #1: Tiny Pull-Apart Breads, from Petite Kitcheness  (follow link for recipe)
This afternoon's sunshine was radiant, and I was filled with soul-joy as I listened to Mozart loudly in my car on the way home from my appointment. Somewhere in the middle of my head-bops and conducting, I was inspired to make bread. When I got home I ran into my house and got all the ingredients out on the counter before I could change my mind.  Then I went to Pinterest, hoping to find a good picture (inevitable), and therefore a good recipe, and stumbled across this beauty:

what my bread would look like if I had a nicer camera...right?

If I've learned anything from the many days I spend perusing Pinterest, it's that real life isn't exactly the same as that website. I hate to bring this up, but I'm sure everyone remembers my cakes. Case in point: perfection is hard. This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my mini loaves not only resemble the original picture, they are edible. Admittedly, I find them too sweet. This bread is loaded with roasted garlic, and the flavor of the garlic somehow turns what you think would be a deep, savory bread to a light, sweet tasting bread. It's throwing me off. But I'm going to eat them anyway, warmed and draped in melting butter.

my final product

I swayed a bit from the original filling recipe, using only a selection of the herbs she did, using what I had on hand, and varying my cheeses too for the same reasons; settling on a mix of parmesan and cheddar. Maybe these variations are why it tastes funny to me. Or, it could be that food made by someone else always tastes better; this theory is usually the strongest, and if you'd like to test it out you can make this recipe and bring some to my house. My tips for when you make it: less herbs (I used almost half the amount specified and the dough was covered), and more cheese. Bread can always use more cheese. The saltiness of the cheese would, in my opinion, balance out the sweetness from the garlic.

me and Man Glass decide if we like this recipe or not.
Final thoughts? This recipe is alright but need some tweaking. At this point, it's not entirely worth the time and effort...maybe I'll revisit this one day and come up with something better. For now, this recipe's gonna drift back into Pinterest's dream world.

Recipe Review #2: Robin's Wheat Bread, from Blissfully Domestic (follow link for recipe)

Batch #2 is a standard whole wheat loaf, for sandwiches and toast (and plain old fashioned eatin'!). I found this standard recipe using the standard Google search. I halved the original recipe (which yeilds 5 full sized loaves) to end up with one full sized loaf and a pan of mini loaves. Can I just say? SO HAPPY I did that. This giant ball of dough needs to be kneaded for TWENTY MINUTES by hand; even halved it was enormous. Tip: the 20 minutes goes much faster if you crank Rihanna and pretend it's a workout.

Immediately after taking this picture, I dropped my phone in the flour.

Either the Fairies have been dancing on my counter again, or I'm making bread.

This bread is, by all counts, delicious; the final product is definitely worth the effort. The recipe uses honey instead of sugar to 'proof' (set) the yeast, and the taste at the end is quite nice; sweet, but only subtly, as bread should be. As a sidenote, I might substitute honey for sugar if I ever try Batch #1 again; my theory is that the sweetness of the dough was part of the problem (the first recipe uses sugar). Batch #2 bread is sturdy enough that it would hold a sandwich together, and it seems to cut well. As another bonus: making the full, 5 loaf recipe would mean you'd have to make it less often; the one shot deal appeals to my laziness.

1) I have a crush on my mini loaf pan...
2) My poor estimation skills show in the different loaf sizes.
But nobody cares about that really, except Martha, and she doesn't read my blog.

*swoon!* Mini bread!

we like this one.
Final thoughts: if you are looking to get a lot of bread for your buck (and time and effort), Batch #2 is the winner. Good luck, bakers!


SCMartens said...

i WISH I made all my own rustic breads. I love the idea of making exotic, fragrant bread with flowers like lavender in it. I lack the baking experience necessary to be able to pick out a really good recipe BEFORE going to all the effort, so I usually get really really frustrated with the results. Cooking is a whole different ball game- I adjust measurements and ingredients to my liking.

Mama said...

I've been wanting to comment on this for ages. I love the photos you took! They look professional, like this could all be in a cook book. And your loaves look plenty uniform, by the way. Everything looks and sounds yummy. Who needs Martha?