Practically a Failure

Baked the two loafs of bread that came from the dough that I made last weekend. If you recall, I accidentally doubled the amount of salt in my recipe, hence I ended up doubling the recipe to catch up. After dividing the dough into four portions I froze two of them, baked two of them and called it a success.

Last weeks bread was tasty. This Friday I thawed the frozen dough for a day in the fridge, then on the counter until I could get home and work on it. When I got home I folded and shaped the dough into two globes, and put them into proofing baskets.


I had never used baskets before but it certainly simplifies the experience. Previously I would let the dough rise in some very large crockery bowls that I own, they take up a great deal of room and are very good heat sinks. However, I didn’t have trouble rising the bread this way. These baskets went into  a spare bedroom with a space heater running. My thought was that if the bread were to rise in a decent amount of time that I needed the extra heat to help out.

Four hours later I went and the bread seemed to have risen, but I didn’t take a second picture to verify that, or even to look at my previous picture to see how much the bread had risen. I poked at the dough and it seemed to bounce back slowly. Now I know that it didn’t bounce back slowly enough.

I am still not certain what went wrong, but something went wrong. I but bran on the ‘bottom’ of the bread that I was looking at, dumped it out onto a bread peel and popped it into my 450 degree oven on a baking stone for 40 minutes. It did not brown like my last week’s effort. I did not get ‘ears’ on the loaf that indicate a good crust and crumb. When I cut the loaf it was damp, dense, and had gigantic bubbles at the top, near the crust. It had a very sour flavor, it tasted fine, but it could only be eaten if cut into very thin slices. It was edible but ugly.

So this bread came from the same dough batch that was a success last week. For the purposes of troubleshooting it means that this one was different in that it was one week in the freezer, then proofed in baskets for just four hours, whereas last week’s bread took about 8 hours to properly rise on the counter. I don’t know if more time would have helped, since I achieved a bread with gigantic air holes in it. That would indicate the gluten structure had not properly formed. Perhaps I should have folded the dough for the four hours, and then baked it after letting it rise overnight. That is probably what I did wrong. I think I baked this bread without a proper first rise period. Now that I think of it I separated this out and froze half before I folded the bread. That makes the most sense.

I think in future I will not try a bunch of new things on bread I intend to impress my friends with. That is probably a good policy for most things in life. Use the tried and true for company.

I did not take pictures of the finished loaves. The finished bread had pretty proofing basket rings on it. That was the best thing. It smelled good. Probably only I knew what it should look like inside, that it should have had uniform bubbles top to bottom, that it should be light and chewy. I did my best and nothing is a failure that you can learn from, but this felt like ‘not a victory’.

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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