Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bread and Recreation

If bread is the first necessity of life, recreation is a close second.  -Edward Bellamy

Well last night we certainly turned bread-making into some serious recreation!  It started off well enough, with Jonno mixing up the dough like a good husband should.  I was busy making dinner so wasn't able to supervise directly and I'm wondering if that had any effect or if he actually got it all right.  To be fair, we make Wholemeal Bread from the Edmond's Cookbook, and all the recipes are written in paragraph form, with no breaks or delineations between steps, making it super-easy to inadvertently skip something.  Not that I've ever done that, noooo not me!  
The Baker is baking!
Poor husband, he's a little kitchenly-challenged.  He started off well, mixing the dry ingredients with a whisk, aerating as directed.  Then after he incorporated the wet ones, he continued mixing with the whisk, unbeknownst to me.  All of a sudden I hear, "Ugh, shite ya bahstahd!"  (He likes to pull out the Scottish accent every now and then, especially when he's swearing.  It makes life more fun!)  I look over and see him trying to mix everything together with the whisk, and half the batter is stick up in the middle of the wires.  "How are you supposed to mix this stuff?!"  Oh poor boy, he had such a forlorn puppy-dog look on his face, how could I not take pity on him?  It was his first loaf of bread, after all.  

We fixed up the mixing situation, and I used my innate Ukrainian sense of all things wheat-related to knead the dough into a beautifully elastic ball.  Seriously, I'm pretty sure that all Ukrainian women come out of the womb with the ability to make bread.  I wouldn't be surprised if some over-achievers were busy baking inside their mum's tum instead of kicking!  You feel a consistent pushing in there - oh yeah, that's just little Katya, refining her kneading technique!  

So, bread kneaded and needs to rise.  "Cover and leave to rise in a warm place" the recipe says.  The only warm place in our house - warm being not frostbite territory - is on or near the oil heater.  Therefore my brain says to put it in a bowl on top of the heater, coz you know, heat rises.  And oh baby, rise that sucker did.
Rising to infinity, and beyond!
It rose to completely encompass our flimsy silicon loaf pan.  It rose like the Stau-Puft Marshmallow Man.  It rose like it was going to take over the world.  That's when I thought it might be time to bake this blobtastic thing.  Well wouldn't you know it, as soon as I walked out of the lounge, permanent home of the heater, into the icy cold kitchen the whole thing deflated like whoopie cushion!  I stuck it in the oven anyway, hoping it might rise back to its former glory, but no dice.  We ended up with a wide, flat loaf, and who knows how it turned out on the inside.  I'm afraid to cut it open, I think it might eat me!

I went back and had a wee squizz at the recipe and realized I skipped one very important step - splitting the one big dough ball into two smaller dough balls to make, you know, TWO loaves of bread.  Like the recipe says.  Huh.  Two loaves.  ......Ooops! 

Then a bit later I was perusing one of my favorite magazines, Cook's Illustrated, and they had an article where they tested different rising temperatures.  Turns out that either putting your dough in the fridge for 24 hours or leaving it out in a cool area (read: my kitchen between June and October) over night.  So the lazy method works!  No need to rush the rising for only an hour, let it sit, they say!  Well in that case, I should make the best darn bread in New Zealand, because I am the queen of leaving things out over night, intentionally and not.  I'm pretty sure that's where the cats got their taste for certain human foods - snacking off last night's dinner left on the bench top!  Oh well, what doesn't kill me makes me stronger, and I've shared my milk with Spice before.  She's a very clean kitteh!  She wasn't too impressed with our monster bread though.


  1. I definitely prove mine in the fridge overnight, bread dough doesn't really like that hot proving then sudden cold. We certainly should be ok at this time of year leaving it out over night, saving that I made dough last week and it doubled easily in the fridge.

  2. Great, thanks for that!! And you would think Edmonds would know about this situation and maybe insert a little note in the recipe along the lines of "if you're baking this bread during a NZ winter, just leave that bad boy out on the kitchen counter to prove overnight".


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