Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Breadmaking Revisited by Woe

I have gotten lots of questions about making the bread, and I thought I'd try to answer them all in one post.

What does "punch" the bread mean?
-It's just full of air from rising, and you kind of smash it down.

Can you go over 6 or 8 hours each time?
-Yes. Yesterday I let some rise for 10 hours (the first AND second rise) and it was just fine.

How long will the starter keep?
-If you stop the process. Stick it in the refrigerator, and it will keep for a couple of weeks, according to my MIL. Just add some REALLY warm water when you start it all back up. I took a break over the weekend, and it worked fine.

Does it need to stay in a warm place? How warm are we talking?
-I keep our house on 68 and it's done ok :)

What does it mean when you say "add to/remake" the starter?
-I have wrestled with it myself. The recipe says to take out 1 1/2 cups with each batch, and then you're adding TWO cups of warm water each time (plus the other ingredients). It doesn't take a lot of math to see that's not going to go well after a batch or two. I personally poured some out of my jar for the first few rounds and re-added exactly what the recipe calls for again (to be sure that my starter was plenty active). After a while, these are the amounts that I started adding to keep from overflow (and to keep the bread from tasting TOO yeasty--lovely word :)): 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1/2 c. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp yeast, 1 1/2 Tbl potato flakes

You know it's frustrating when great cooks (like my MIL) give you instructions like, "ohh, you know sometimes I just don't add any yeast" or "sometimes I just do 1/2 a cup of sugar and water"....VAGUE...IMPOSSIBLE for the novice!! :) Dang people with skill! I need hard numbers!

So, those are the numbers I used, but I will say that after 4 rounds or so, I could see that my bread wasn't rising enough, and I needed to go back to the original recipe. My basic advice is to dump out a little starter each time (or get a bigger mason jar might be even better) and experiment. Isn't that annoying :)

This bread dough seems really sticky. Is that ok?
-First of all, and everybody who is going to make this should read this: DON'T DO LEVEL SCOOPS OF FLOUR AND SUGAR. THEY NEED TO BE SLIGHTLY ROUNDED. The Maddox family doesn't like exacts. They like to laugh at me and my need for them. So throw ingredients in there like it's no big deal, and it turns out better. Who knew?! :)

Mrs. Linda also said that you could flour the table and knead it out to a more "normal" bread consistency if you wanted to. I, however, like the slightly more dense and moist texture that results from not kneading.

Hope that helps! If it's still clear as mud to you, then post another question and I'll add to this list :)
**Giveaway: The first person to post a comment and reveal the literary pun in my title, will get something hand-stitched for either you or your wee-un :)

15 comments:

Mert said...

I actually followed your directions, but didn't want an overwhelming amount of bread. Instead of remaking the starter, I just used what was left (it was about 1 1/2 cups) to make another three loaves.

Brooke said...

Woe is me? I feel your pain on the bread making. I've been working on pizza dough for months - I refused to let it defeat me. I finally perfected it!

kendall Boggs said...

Well Miss Priss you have become quite the crafter/baker!!! I'm loving all the things you are doing!!! Can't wait to see the whole fam at Caroline's wedding! We will be there!!
loves and hugs,
kendall

melissa richie said...

Brideshead Revisited By Waugh.

You should have known I would get it :)

At least, I think that's the reference you're making!! Did I win?!

Melissa said...

This looks soooo good! I love to bake cakes, cookies, etc. but have never tried bread before. Might need to try this! One question (and if you've already answered this in an earlier post, I apologize)...how often do you have to "feed" the starter?

Shireen said...

Woe is me. :)

Lanier said...

Only one of my very favorite books, Abby... ;) But Melissa Richie beat me to it!

Sarah said...

I just bought a breadmaker because when I made bread the REAL old-fashioned way it NEVER turned out! You are bread-gifted! Love your blog...great photos!

Ashley said...

A question from me...after the starter has been sitting for 8 hrs, do you have to stir it before you add it to the dry ingredients? It seems that the sugar/flakes have settled at the bottom and the liquid/yeast is at the top. This looks delicious!

Fittsy said...

I get credit too, assuming the answer is Brideshead, since I guessed without peeking!

R

Debbie Douglass said...

Abby you are too talented for words...so insightful and crafty...a woman of all trades!! Love the dish pattern...is that your dish? What is the pattern? I am a dish person and am always looking to buy something new.

kendallboggs said...

hey sweet girl!!! I have nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger award! Go to my blog for details on this illustrious award!!!

Sue said...

Just had to let you know that I made the bread (by your recipe) and it is delicious!!!! I have tried several recipes before but this one is indeed the best. In fact, I have my 2nd batch going now because I want to share with others. THANK YOU so much!!!

Gail said...

Tale of Two Cities! Is that it, Abby? Hope so!

Gail said...

Abby...WAIT...Could it be? "Les Miserables"? Hope so! I am still guessing! Has anyone won, yet? :O)