Monday, February 27, 2012

Bread Winning - Pt. 2

Earlier today, I wrote about my first attempt at baking bread, that ended in an epic failure.

Today, I'm finally attempting again.  Wheat bread Take 2.  I will include the recipe at the bottom of the post.

Gathered up the ingredients...and this time I had bread flour!

First, I put hot water in a bowl, added the honey, and mixed it in.  I let it cool a little bit before adding the yeast.  I stirred it, covered it, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Once the yeast was ready, I added the first bit of flour, then put the starter aside to rise for an hour.  When I pulled the starter out, it looked really good.  Bubbly, smelling of beer...

I mixed the remaining flour the recipe called for, plus the salt in a separate bowl, so the two types of flour were evenly balanced from here on out.   I slowly added in the rest of the ingredients, small handfuls at a time, stirring until it was dry enough to dump on the counter and begin kneading.  I added in more flour, but after 10 minutes of kneading it didn't seem like it could take much more than a little over half of the extra flour.  This time it resembled the dough my friend made when he visited.

I split the dough, and put it in the pan, and put it in a warm place to rise for another hour.

It had doubled in size, so I figured it was time to bake.  I baked it at 425F for 30 minutes, and tapped on the crust to see if it was done.  It sounded hollow, so I took them out.  After they cooled for a few I removed them from the pans and put them on the cooling rack.

DAMN IT.  This is NOT sandwich bread.  It is not nearly tall enough.  Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu....Oh well.  At least it's pretty tasty.  Not the best bread in the world but obviously it wouldn't be, since I used a simple recipe without any extra added flavors.  Bread NOT winning.

In hindsight, I probably should have let the dough rise in a bowl after kneading, THEN punched it down and shaped it to be placed in the let it rise a little more.  I'm not sure if one hour was long enough for the second rising.  I think maybe there should have been a third rising after the shaping; I think maybe then it would have been tall enough to give me good sandwich bread.  I'm not really sure what went wrong here, but this is my 2nd attempt ever, and I'm going to keep trying until I achieve greatness!

If anyone has tips, please, don't be afraid to comment and help me out!  Maybe you can tell me what I did wrong.  I know it's not the recipe, because I've seen it done firsthand by someone with a good bit of baking experience. His bread came out amazing!

Now for the recipe I promised.  Thanks for your patience :)

Basic Poolish/Sponge Bread

ingredents for the starter:  
2 cups water
2 cups flour
4-5 tsp of yeast (2 packets)
2 tsp of sugar/honey/brown sugar

remaining ingredients:
4-6 cups flour
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp salt

Heat water to 125F, add sweetener.  Let cool to 110-115F, add yeast.  Let sit for 10 minutes.
Stir in 2 cups flour; cover and allow to sit for 1 hour. 

Gradually stir in the flour until dough is able to be kneaded.  Knead for 10 minutes or longer if needed - until the dough springs back when you poke it.  Tuck edges under rounding it out, place back in bowl.
Cover and let sit for 1 more hour (or should at least double in size.  Mine seems like it could have benefited from a longer rise time).  

Once it rises enough, deflate and put back on your working surface.  

This is enough to make 2 loaves of bread.

For round loaves, form the dough into a smooth ball, tucking the edges under.  Score the top and bake at 425F for 45 min

For pan loaves, adjust cooking time depending on your pan.

Bread winning - Pt. 1

Although I have been cooking for several years, I was never much of a baker.  Only recently has the desire to BAKE ALL THE THINGS!  arisen in me.  A couple of weeks ago I attempted to bake bread using a recipe that a good friend left with me on his last visit.  It ended up a near complete failure.  See, I did not know (rather, was told but forgot) that when baking with whole wheat flour, it's advised to cut it with 50% or more white bread flour.  If you don't, it won't rise.  I learned this the hard way.

The bread my friend had made was with 100% bread flour - something I didn't do because we never eat white bread.  Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but my husband and I have always been fans of whole wheat bread.  Better flavor, better nutrition.  So I happily picked up a bag of 100% whole wheat flour from the store, naively passing over the bright yellow "better for bread" flour.

I came home, as excited as could be, and began the preparations.  I let the starter develop for an hour, and all looked well.  I then added in the rest of the ingredients, and kneaded it for 10 minutes.  I started to get a little scared during the kneading - the dough was very tough to knead, it was splitting, and was not very "bouncy"; not the shiny smooth, sproingy ball that my friend's was.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that if I put it in the pan and let it be, it would miraculously rise.  I came back an hour later to this:

Epic Fail.

Well, shit.   If I were to bake it like that, it would have been nothing more than a delicious brick. At first, I didn't know what to do with it, and I didn't want to throw it out.  Waste is a dirty little 5-letter word.    

Then it hit me...PIZZA!  Sure, the crust would likely be a bit chewy and tough, but more manageable than trying to power through a piece of bread the density of a black hole!  I whipped out my rolling pin and began the transformation.

Dinner was quickly approaching, so I had to think fast - I didn't have any sauce on hand, but I had ingredients!  I threw together what I had, simmered it for roughly 30 minutes, pureed it a couple of ladles at a time in my little 3 cup food processor, and voila!  Pizza sauce.
2 cans diced tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic,
a big handful of chopped fresh parsley,
dried oregano, and  sugar to cut the acidity.

Ta da!  Ready for application to the bread-fail-turned-pizza experiment!
Conveniently I also had mozarella on hand, with no real plan for use.  It had a destiny all along.  Add that all together and what do ya have?  Fuckin pizza.    

I baked that sucker at 400F for I don't even remember how long, honestly.  I think  it was 20 minutes. 

Notice the bag of bread flour there?  Yeah, I sent DH to buy that
after I accepted my bread experiment was completely fucked.   Oh yeah,
I made hot wings too!!!!!!  NOM NOM NOM.

I'm proud that my first and failed attempt at bread turned into my first and and somewhat decent pizza.  Live and learn, trial and error...all that jazz.

And today, I am making my second attempt at baking bread.  Last time, I halved the recipe to yield only 1 loaf of bread (or in this case, 1 pizza) because I was afraid of screwing it up.  Good thinking...I'm glad I didn't waste my flour.  This time, I am using the full recipe.  I plan to bake 2 large pan loaves.  The timing couldn't be more perfect because my fancy new bread knife is arriving tomorrow!  

Check back later today for Part 2, to find out if my bread was another complete failure or an epic win.  I will also be posting the recipe in Part 2.      


Review: Apothic Red Winemaker's Blend

This is my first noob review, so bear with me, as I simply just enjoy wine, and am not obsessed with it.

I'm going to start off by saying that I love red wine.  My palette has a distinct preference for all things bitter, dry, sour, vinegary (just to note, vinegary should not apply to wine, and if it does, get thee a new bottle!!) - anything along those lines.  However, I am far from a wine "snob"...I could not sit here and dissect a glass of wine down to fruity vs. floral vs. chocolate vs. leather (lol leather...) notes.  If it tastes good to me, I'll drink it.  

I figured I could take a moment to share what I am drinking right now.  My usual go-to "cheap" wine is Yellow Tail Shiraz or Shiraz-Cabernet.  Cabernet Sauvignon if there is no Shiraz.  If we had a Trader Joe's where I live, I would absolutely try their $2 wine in a heartbeat, and probably love it.  To sum it up - I'm not that picky.  Spicy dry wine = good wine.  Disclaimer: Personal Opinion.

The other night, I decided to try something different.  I was browsing the Chianti section at my local booze market.  I have never tried Chianti, and spotted a nice bottle, with an attractive black and red label.

Apothic Red: Winemaker's Blend
"Apothic Red: Winemaker's Blend".  I assumed without looking closely that it was a blend of Chianti because of the shelf it was on, with other reds.  I opened it up, let it breathe for a bit.  I poured a glass and tasted it.  Not bad.  Not super super dry, how I usually like...but not too bad, either.  It had a slight sweetness to it without it being too sweet.  The first sips were more like the wine I know; then I noticed a certain "watery" taste (as stated before, I am no where near a wine expert).  Merlot!!  I don't know why but Merlot and I never got along.  I tried to like it, I really did, but it just has certain characteristics that I can't enjoy.  I know it sounds weird to relate a "watered-down" flavor with red wine, but all Merlot I've ever tried seem that way to me.  The Merlot didn't ruin it for me, though.  

I finally looked at the back label.  No Chianti!  Oh well, I'll try that some other time.  This wine was a blend of 3 reds:  Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot.  Syrah and Shiraz are pretty much identical (same grapes, different regions and winemaking processes) except for a few differences that I only know because Google just told me - Syrah tends to be less "spicy" and offer a more "smoky" flavor, while Shiraz seems to have a bit more of a "peppery" bite to it.  I like them both (although I think I like Shiraz more.)  As for the Zin, I will admit, I've never had the red variety.  The only Zinfandel I've had was of the white "Sutter Home"  variety.  Since it was a blend of the 3 it was hard to guess what the Zinfandel would taste like on its own.  I guess I will have to get a bottle to find out.  

Anyways to wrap it up, at $9.99 a bottle this wine was pretty good.  The bottle is pretty slick but I'm not sure I'll buy it again because of the Merlot factor.  If you enjoy any of those 3 wines, I recommend this blend!  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Allow me to introduce myself.

Welcome to my personal blog.

A little bit about me.  I'm 25.  My sproglet is 13 months old, and is the most precious thing in my life.  I'm married to a wonderful man, who also happens to be a soldier in the U.S. Army.  (This is NOT an Army Wife/Army Life blog...not my style.)  I drink, I swear, and I am 100% LSG.  I am an atheist, I am open-minded, and accept all for who they are;  unless you are a completely bigoted asshole.  I am not afraid of who I am, and I'm not afraid to show it.

Too much for you?  Don't let the door hit ya...

For those of you still reading, this is a place for all things crafty, fibery, colorful, and purely delicious.  I may also throw in a few random posts here and there.  I will share with you awesome links, badass music, random beautiful photos, and whatever strikes my fancy.

I love to cook, crochet, take okay photos with my $100 point-n-shoot, play with my beautiful daughter,  lose myself for hours on Ravelry or Pinterest, and just enjoy life.  I like to learn new things every day, and expand my "post apocalyptic skill set" as I like to call it.  Baking, spinning fiber, knitting, sewing are all newer skills that I'm trying to master.  I have an unhealthy obsession with all things post-apocalyptic including, you guessed it, ZOMBIES!!!!!!!  I will admit I'm lacking in the zombie-movie library, but that doesn't make me love them even less!

Okay now, I will quit rambling, and I hope you enjoy what is to come!


P.S. Check out my other blog, although it is barren: Pin to Fin - crafting from my favorite pins on Pinterest.