I attempted to make bread the other day.

Intended result:  A nice, airy, steaming hot, fluffy French loaf.

Result:  I made “some” bread.

What happened?  First, I’m no baker.  Second, I was interrupted in the middle of doing the initial dough mixing to go help a friend.  Third, I’m no baker, yet.

The recipe seems easy enough.  Yeast, water, sugar, flour, and salt are the sum of the ingredients.  Certainly not in equal proportions, but the fewer the ingredients the more difficult it should theoretically be to misfire on the mixing of them.  I don’t think that’s where it went amiss.

It was around 10 in the morning.  I decided to finally attempt to make a loaf of bread.  I heated some water to 110 °F, measured one cup, added 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast, and then added 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.  I stirred it all gently and then let the yeast proof for about 10 minutes.  While that was going on, I measured out 1 cup of all-purpose unbleached flour, poured it into a stainless steel mixing bowl, and then stirred in 1 teaspoon of salt.  Once the yeast proofed, I poured it into the bowl and began stirring.  This is when the interruption came.  I was asked to help a friend.  I said I needed about 20 minutes to finish up what I was doing, hoping that I could finish the mixing and kneading and then place it in the fridge until I got back.

I hurriedly (never a good thing when baking or cooking, I know) finished adding and mixing another cup of flour to the bowl until the dough started pulling away from the sides.  I then kneaded around another 3/4 cup of flour into the dough ball during a 10 minute kneading process.

I think this is where my first problem arose.  I probably over-kneaded the dough in my haste to finish.

I cleaned the bowl, poured in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, dropped the dough ball in the bowl, rolled it around to fully coat it, then placed a damp towel over the bowl and put it in the fridge.  It stayed there until about 5 that evening.  I punched down the dough ball, removed it from the bowl and allowed it to rest on the counter for 10 minutes.  I then shaped the ball into the loaf that I wanted and I let it rise for about an hour.

This is what I believe to be my second problem.  I was hastily trying to bake the bread for dinner and it probably needed to rise for at least another hour since it was cold.  It didn’t look quite right, but I rushed it anyway.  I made some slits across the top and in she went.

It cooked in the 375 °F oven (± some . . . it’s a boat oven for heaven’s sake.  It doesn’t self regulate.) for about 40 minutes.

It turned out as bread, but it was quite dense.  Edible, but not at all what I was aiming for.

Next time, I’ll take my time kneading, skip the refrigeration, and cut the single dough ball into 2 balls.  That should make everything perfecter.    

Published On: 2016 February 20

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