The Triumphs At Our Sides

I have loved many people and objects in my life. I’m full of love (but don’t worry, also I am an asshole, so it all evens out) but I have to just give a shout out to Stan. Stan is my stand mixer, he’s been with me for nigh on 20 years now. He’s a work horse, he’s strong and faithful and he gets all the shit done.

Stan

He mixes dough, makes meringues, and beats cookie dough into submission. Also also also, he can roll and cut my pasta and grinds meat for sausages and burgers and soon will stuff said sausages into casings for me. I love him.

In conjunction with his fraternal twin, the food processor, shit in my kitchen gets done.

But back to bread! I’ve been steadily moving forward. I’ve taken some classes on Craftsy in the past, mostly yarn related things but I went over to see what they had for baking classes. Boom! The King Arthur Flour Essentials of Baking Bread! I was just about to sign up for the in-person class at the King Arthur facility, but this is cheaper AND I don’t have to put on pants or use my words with people. I managed to catch it on sale for $19.99. It’s definitely basic bread baking but I learned some new techniques and I found that mostly I’ve been doing things correctly.

Basic Hearth Bread

The Basic Hearth Bread again (pg 305 The Bread Bible). I keep working on it, not just to make it better but to use it to really understand the dough. I experiment with proofing times, kneading and folding, shaping, and baking methods.

Basic Hearth Bread

I discovered one baking method that I am going to keep forever. Basically stick the dough boule in the dutch oven on parchment paper, score, spritz well with water, cover and put in a COLD oven. Turn on the oven and only when it hits pre-heated temps do you start the timer.

Basic Hearth Bread

It has worked perfectly. I’ve found it works best if you leave the cover on the whole time. It produces and good shiny crust with lots of chew. The crumb is still a bit tight but it’s no longer super dense or doughy. Good, substantial bread that you just shove in your face!

The next experiment we do the same thing but without the dutch oven. Just straight up on the baking sheet.

The Raisin Pecan bread (pg 405) is pretty delicious. I used maybe 2/3 the raisins and pecans it called for and still I felt it was ‘overstuffed’.

The other bread I keep working on is the Basic Soft White Sandwich Loaf (pg 244). The recipe produces 2 loaves so this last time I decided on one loaf and 8 burger buns.

Cute little buns

I have cute little buns! Working on better shaping techniques. Made my spicy fried chicken sandwiches and these buns were perfect for that. Spicy fried chicken sandwiches is something else I am working on perfecting but it’s not bread so I’ll post it separately, some other time.

As for my loaf…

Misshapen loaf

Yeah, I need to be more mindful of the dough. I did my stretch and fold halfway through and it felt uneven but I figured it would work itself out. It still felt uneven when I went to shape it, but I had faith in the dough. The thing about dough is that it doesn’t need your faith, it’s just going to do its own thing. And it did. Lesson learned, be more mindful.

Heading down to Louisiana for a couple of weeks, I’m trying to figure out if I can fit the Instant Pot, the stand mixer and the food processor in the road brick. Maybe if I hold all the luggage on my lap I can get it all in. Also bringing my knives, half my spice drawer, the espresso machine and my coffee mug. When I return home I will start sausage making in earnest.

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