11 November 2010

Con-Struan the Yeast Label Wrong

Okay, I can't believe I just made that pun.

No, wait, I can.

First off, the final product:
Loaf of Struan bread, for my toasting pleasure
Now, tell me if you can spot any problems in this photo:
Ingredients, going left-to-right, top-to-bottom: bread flour, buttermilk, oat bran, cooked brown rice, polenta-grind corn, salt, yeast, water, rolled oats, brown sugar.
Here are some problems: the honey in the recipe isn't pictured (but I did still use it), my photo composition (especially w.r.t. colors) could use some work, you can't see that the bowl on the bottom left is full of water, and the yeast pictured is "Active Dry", not "Instant" as called for by the recipe.

The last one is killer. Turns out active dry isn't quite as effective as instant yeast (research says its about 25% dead weight, so the 9g called for in the recipe should have been about 11g or 12g). Also, you are supposed to wake it up more than simply mixing it in with warm ingredients. By giving it a bath. Man, I don't want to give my yeast a bath. I just want to throw it in with some flour and make magic.

But you couldn't tell anything was going wrong at first - I mixed all the ingredients together as instructed and it formed a nice shaggy ball:
The flour on top is for kneading the dough, which I dutifully did. Then, there was the stretching and the folding, as outlined in many previous posts. After that 45 minutes of work, I was left with this beautiful specimen:
"Great work, Mikey!" I thought. Except when I checked in on the dough the next morning, I was greeted by... a ball of dough that hadn't risen the least bit. Like so:
I still had a day and a half before I planned to bake it, so I thought to give it time.

Time was not what it needed.

It needed me to read directions properly.

I talked to a coworker more versed in bread baking than I; she recommended I work in a little bit of yeast that I had woken up via bathing, and then let it rise a bit. That sounded like a lot of work, so I did something that was less work instead. The 2 hours of room temperature proofing called for by the recipe? I did that in my oven (which is gas, so it maintains a nice temperature of maybe 10-20 degrees above room temperature). That got it to perk up a bit, rising to maybe 125% of its original size. I then let it proof for another 30 minutes on the counter while the oven heated before baking.

It didn't quite save it, as you can see from the sliced picture above. It is quite dense, but nowhere near as dense as the breadtastrophe of yore. Also, I ate the heel without any peanut butter or other accoutrements and I found it delicious. Hopefully it passes the coworker test tomorrow. It certainly passes the "good lookin" test.

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