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[personal profile] pseydtonne
I have made two loaves with the new bread maker. It's the same brand as my old one, but I had new variables that did not exist in the mid-Nineties.

The big oddity has been tiny: salt. Back in 1995 we really only had Morton's table salt (especially in college or at my parents' house). Now I have sea salt in my cupboard... and strangely nothing else. When I used it to make our first white loaf (the test loaf), it may have been too coarse or the coarseness kept the teaspoon from filling properly. The result was a delicious, fluffy, squee-inducing loaf that rose so high that it looked like a snow-out of the lid window.

Another of our wedding gifts was a set of salt and pepper grinders. Thus I accepted the salt grinder's default setting of very small, ground two teaspoons and added them to the pile of non-flour dry objects for a wheat loaf. Perhaps this went too far the other way: the salt was like flour, so the yeast probably came across it too soon in the first rise. As a result we had a dense and low bread: it felt like cutting soda bread, and it was yummy but... solid. Bread knives gave up repeatedly.

This is a strange minutia with a large effect. Salt inhibits rising, but it should not be picking fights with the yeast. It's about understanding an ancient dance, just as I hope to learn the secrets of making sourdough starter.

I found a bread maker recipe book from 1996 and started reviewing the well-tested recipes. Almost by accident I picked up buttermilk powder last night, and I always have maple syrup even in Los Angeles thanks to Trader Joe's. Thus this afternoon I started a buttermilk and maple syrup white loaf. No matter the results, it's about learning and enjoying: Sienna and I get to reflect on our results and learn together while we burn through spreads of all types.

Date: 2012-10-31 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Spend the money on the Morton's table salt. Different salts are needed for different cooking apps.

Date: 2012-11-01 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, but playing with other salts to see what happens also sounds fun.

Date: 2012-11-01 05:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's been educational about the salt. It's true. I may still need to get boring salt for other cooking, but not for this. I am low on flour, though.

When this started, i just didn't want to go to the liquor store at midnight to buy salt. Now that I've learned about the vector, I can't wait to learn its effects.

By the way, today's loaf came out lovely. The maple syrup and buttermilk powder give more of a cracker consistency to the crust, but the insides are tender and ball nicely. It went very well with the pumpkin curry soup that Sienna made for dinner.

Date: 2012-11-01 01:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So would it make any difference if you dissolved whatever salt you're using into the liquid before adding that? Or could it be as you suggest merely a difference in the mass of salt used?
Whatever, ordinary table salt is cheap.
Also, if you're into experimenting with different bread flavors compatible with bread machines, it is possible to buy a powder concentrate that simulates sourdough's taste without requiring a sourdough starter - if you happen to like that flavor, I think I found mine at a Whole Foods store.

Date: 2012-11-01 05:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There probably is a sourdough powder. However I'm not looking for the taste of sourdough: I want to taste the local air culture in my bread.

Making a sourdough culture is like making your own yogurt. You find out what yeast is in the air and whether it makes a good bread. You have something that isn't standardized, that isn't Fleischmann's nationwide yeast powder. It could be weird and need a longer rise, so you wind up using French loaf settings.

I build my own computers. Soon I shall cull my yeast from the air. Then I'll cackle a lot and rub my hands.

Date: 2012-11-02 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Also, the kind of bread it makes will change with time as the starter ages. It also tends to get sourer.

Date: 2012-11-01 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I suspect the problem w/the finer grind of salt isn't the grind per se, but the volume of salt, since salt does hinder rising. Perhaps try 1/2 to 3/4 as much of the finely ground salt as compared to the coarser grind? (I may have to try something like that w/my own bread machine; my problem is that the dough usually rises well, but then tends to fall somewhat once the baking element kicks in. It's still tasty bread, mind you, but it would be nice if the loaves stayed as high as they rose. (If I bake the dough in the oven, it turns out fine, so it's got to be the machine, but there have been the rare occasions where the bread just works...)

Date: 2012-11-02 07:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm still using the oatmeal bread recipe I concocted several years ago:

The recipe as written there is actually an early draft that vastly understates the amount of water required to do it right. Really you want to put in more like 1 1/4 cups, and then scrape the crud off the walls and add a tablespoon or two of additional water during the first kneading cycle.

The water required will be on the higher side if you add a tablespoon of extra gluten, which I sometimes do for a more consistent loaf (though sometimes I prefer the more homespun appearance you get without it). It's not exactly fire-and-forget.

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