Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bread From Scratch


Baking bread is another use for Dutch ovens, and one of the reasons why I wanted to get one. As I've mentioned before, I've very little baking experience, but I do like good bread a lot. I'm not too familiar with all that goes into to the making of different breads, but people seem to loathe kneading dough since no-knead bread made such a splash once popularized. So that's what I was looking at to start off with. I ended up going for the "Almost No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread" recipe that Cook's Illustrated has. It's "almost no-knead" because they only knead it 10-15 times between the first and second rise, I guess to develop the gluten a little bit and apparently "strengthen the dough" a little. Does it rise more this way?

first rise

second rise, in frying pan for shape, though it didn't expand so far as to really need it.


Well, all in all it turned out not bad. It was flavorful and substantial, and had a nice crust that was crisp with some heft. Really, though, I didn't know what to expect or to be looking for, so it could be that things were supposed to turn out differently.

At the least, I can say that their recipe was pretty far off for the baking time, for me. CI's recipe called for 30 minutes baking with the lid on and then 20-30 minutes with the lid off, until the crust was a deep brown. Well, at 30 minutes, my crust was already a deep brown. I was concerned, so I turned off the heat at the 40 minute mark (10 minutes into the second, lid-off phase), and then took the bread out at 50 minutes. The results are above, a very deep brown--about a Burnt Sienna color, going by standard paint colors. This was too far, though, which I know because the bottom was burnt. So maybe the crust would have been a little more toward crisp on a scale of crisp to hard. Oh, I also switched the ratio from 2:1 all-purpose:whole wheat to 1:2, instead. Would that have affected the baking? Anyway, I cut off the bottom of the slices and it tasted good. 

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