Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Epic Fail (x2) at Bread Baking

I'm a reasonably stubborn person. Perhaps tenacious is a nicer term? Either way, when I decide I really want to do something, I make it happen. What I really, really want is make bread! Chewy, soaks up warm olive oil, covered in rosemary and salt focaccia bread... and I have managed to completely fail at two separate batches of dough. Pretty epic failures. It's a very good thing that flour is fairly cheap, because I've used up 3/4 of a bag of flour and still don't have any edible bread.

I think the problem has something to do with the yeast, though I know that the yeast was fresh because I bought it on my way home each night, and two different brands of yeast. I followed the directions perfectly each time, two different recipes that were highly reviewed by lots of people saying how great and easy it was. If anyone has recommendations, I'm all ears!! It's very disheartening fail at something two days in a row, especially when I was counting on it as part of my dinner.

Until I get this right, I'm not going to post the entire recipes, but here are the instructions as they pertained to the yeast and pictures of my disasters, in case that helps people help me figure out where I went wrong!

The first recipe said to dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water and let sit 10 minutes until bubbly. After watching it for 20 minutes, mine never bubbled, but separated back into yeast sediment and water. The dough never rose later, obviously, so I ended up with a very solid loaf of pseudo-cooked dough.

Tonight's adventure had different directions for the yeast, which made me hopeful that I would avoid the previous night's problem. I mixed yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with lukewarm water in a large bowl and mixed in the flour slowly with a spoon. I then covered the dough and let it do its thing for around 2 hours, all per the recipe. The dough didn't really seem to rise, but I went ahead with it anyway because I was hoping it would work anyway. It did not. This recipe said to split the dough into three batches for baking, so the end product was thinner and cooked more evenly, making it slightly more edible but still not the desired product.

For both of the above recipes, I just opened up the yeast packets and used them as such, either adding them to water or to the dry mixture. Seriously, any suggestions?

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