Friday, March 16, 2012

bread: disaster in the making

Today's soundtrack:
Mass in Eb+ by Hummel

I've developed this rather odd habit over breakfast.  While watching Jeremy Kyle (oh, go on and judge me), I leaf through my copy of The Joy of Cooking.  Since moving to the UK, I've been trying to take advantage of different produce and attempting different recipes.  This is only partly because of a severe pieorgi (or pedaheh, for the Prairie folk) deficiency at the local Co-op.  So far I've turned out some fairly successful curries, unwittingly made béchamel sauce, and have mastered both shepherd and cottage pie.  Needless to say, I've turned into a bit of a cook, which Miguel regards as nothing short of a miracle.  He delights in reminding me that when we first met, I believed that Kraft Dinner with ketchup was a great culinary event.  Sure, I still make a homemade version of mac and cheese, only now it comes with a béchamel sauce.  It's a kind of culinary improvement.

In light of all this, I decided the other week that I should try to make bread.  I took a quick look at the recipe and decided that it wasn't all that dissimilar to scones, which I'd eventually mastered after a few botched attempts.  Full of confidence, I grabbed some ingredients, threw them together, and made bread.

Ah, hubris.

There are subtle differences between cooking and baking that I didn't fully understand until the Great Bread Disaster of 2012, the main difference being that unlike cooking, baking requires exact measurements.

I didn't appreciate this until I began to knead my bread and ended up with a wicked case of dough hands.  I then ran about the kitchen, searching for kitchen paper, unable to open any cabinets or doors because of the aforementioned dough hands.  I finally gave up and threw my hands under some water, losing a substantial part of the dough to the bin.

Undeterred, I set my timers and waited for the dough to rise.  And waited.  And waited.  And was rather disappointed with it's anemic version of rising.  "Ah," I said to myself self, "this is because we're so close to the sea.  It must be a humidity thing.  All will be well."

Ah, hubris.

After punching down the dough..  or perhaps it was more of a gentle swatting..  and waiting for the second, even less uneventful rise, I plopped the concoction on a piece of wax paper, put it all on a pan, and fired it in the oven.

And then I found out what happens to wax paper in a hot oven.

So after the smoke cleared, I flipped over my still-stubbornly-attempting-to-rise loaf, ripped off the paper, which in turn managed to take even more of the dough away, and threw it all back in the oven.  Half an hour, doughy hands, and a smokey kitchen later, I had a loaf of bread that could probably be used as a discus.

But bread is bread, and since it was still technically edible, the Spaniard stuck in and quite enjoyed himself.

Today is Bread Redemption Day.  This time, I carefully measured all the ingredients.  This time, I kneaded the dough by hand, yet didn't end up with the terrifying dough hands.  This time, I've not poked the dough every five minutes whilst it rises.  And oh, it is rising (please insert your Easter and/or Confederacy jokes here).

Then again, hubris.


  1. LOL! I've been there with the wax paper (rather than parchment paper) in the oven! I'm sure loaf #2 was a wonder. (and not waxy-burny-discus-y) There's nothing like homemade bread. :-)

  2. Sounds like the war of Gluten Agression! :) Hehehe. Good for you. I've got baking bread on my to-do list... Of course, I don't know when I'll get around to it!

  3. Ah yes, wax paper. I've done that one before. I've also screwed up bread in a bread machine. I've concluded that yeast breads are not my cup of tea :) Tried making Irish soda bread yet? What with it being St. Paddy's and all?