Monday, May 25, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
- If you have a kitchen scale, weighing your ingredients is more accurate than scooping them into measuring cups. All of the recipes in BBA list weights. Use them, if possible.
- Use filtered water for your bread, as well as for your steam pan and spray. The less "taste" your water has, the better your bread will be.
- I prefer to use SAF Instant Yeast. You can buy it in a large-ish package at a restaurant supply store and it's much cheaper than buying the little jars or packages at the grocery store. Also, you don't have to pre-soak it in water; you can add it directly to your dough.
- Buy an oven thermometer and check your oven temperature. Mine tends to be off by about 25 degrees, and that's helpful information. (If you're going to be using steam, take the thermometer out so the glass doesn't crack. Ask me how I know!)
- I usually preheat my oven to 25 degrees hotter than the recipes calls for, than turn it down after putting the bread in; this compensates for the heat lost when opening the oven door, and allows for a more even baking temperature.
- If a recipe tells you what the internal temperature of the finished loaf should be, use a meat thermometer, instant read if possible. This is a much more accurate test of doneness than time (or thumping.) Set your timer for at least 5 minutes earlier than the cooking time, and check then. Better to give it a few more minutes if it's not done than to overbake it.
- Finally, the waiting is the hardest part! But, allowing the loaf to cool really does improve the texture and slice-ability of the bread, if that's important. Then again, there's nothing like a warm slice of bread thickly spread with melty butter.....
Saturday, May 09, 2009
I've been baking bread from this book for a few years now, and recently found this group of crazy bakers who plan to try every recipe in the course of a year. I tend to make the same few recipes over and over, so this should be fun. If you've ever wondered how to bake crusty artisan breads or just expand your bread repertoire, this is an excellent book. The first section of the book explains the science of bread; how all the enzymes, gluten, time, temperature, and various ingredients work together to make bread what it is. I found it a fascinating read. When my kids are older this is going to find its place in their homeschool curriculum, complete with lots of baking of course! The recipes themselves are well written by Peter Reinhart, and are well laid out and easy to follow. And the bread... delicious! Now, if I could just get Erik to build me a stone oven in the backyard....
Does anyone else want to join me in the challenge?