And we all fall down

I’m still working away at my bread baking. It’s slowed down a bit here in the dead of summer. I’d baked a pretty good basic hearth bread (The Bread Bible pg305) and a couple of mostly successful pugliese (pg 346). Last week it was time to get back to the basic white sandwich loaf (pg 244).

I’ve gotten in the habit mixing up my sponge and letting it sit and ferment for a couple hours and then I stick it in the fridge overnight. It adds to the flavor, yes, but mostly it allows me to not be so impatient with that first rising time. The next day I pulled the sponge from the fridge and popped the bowl into the stand mixer.

Everything was going so well. At the end of the 7 minute mix with the dough hook my gluten was amazing. It was really the best gluten stretch and window I’d had the entire time I have been working on my bread. The dough is enough for 2 loaves so I popped it into a 4 quart cambro and let it rise. AND IT ROSE!! At about an hour in it had risen to the top of the cambro, just filled it up completely. I was all pleased with myself! Look at what I did! My skills must be amazing, so very very amazing! I did a stretch and fold and put it in for a second rise. A second magical rise! Like what the hell, bread?!

Its shaped rise in the loaf pans was slower and not as dramatic but it was going well. In the oven I watched it through the window. I wanted to see it form the most perfect loaves I’d ever baked.

But they didn’t. They didn’t rise. In fact they were deflating. The sadness of my heart! What the hell happened to my magical bread? Just 4 hours earlier I was some sort of doughy bread wizard. I was magic. Now this? When they were done I took them out and let them cool before I sliced in. They were what you would expect, dense. Squashed and dense. But bread is bread and butter is butter and we started eating.

I was poking at the bread, I was reading my notes (I take lots of notes when I am making bread), trying to figure out what went wrong. Then it hit me, the bread didn’t taste right, it was kind of bland. I forgot the damned salt. There was no salt to keep the yeast under control and it pretty much proofed itself to death. That’s why it had risen so fast and with so much vigor. The yeast was just free to eat and fart and eat and fart as much as it could. Lesson learned and I am glad there was an actual reason. It wasn’t some mystery to beat myself up over, just a stupid mistake.

Once we get past this current mini heat wave I am going to try it again.

This past weekend my aunt and my cousin came to visit and I made chocolate sticky rolls with the brioche dough (pg 487 and 503). It took me too long to get the dough rolled out, filled and rolled up again before cutting. Everything got soft and moodgy. The cut rolls were popflopped into the pan and promised to be ugly. I fridged them overnight and got up early to get them out and risen before baking them. I was afraid that with all the humidity and heat the day before that I’d have killed the dough and we would be left with swirly chocolate paddles. No bad luck there. They rose as expected and baked up perfectly. We had chocolate rolls and ice cream and hot chocolate for breakfast. The brioche is futzy and time consuming but if you have the time it is definitely worth it.

Failures and successes, that’s the way it goes. The project clock is ticking and I have 18 months to learn croissants so I better get going.