Sunday, March 22, 2009

My First Attempt at Baking Bread

Today, I finally got around to a project I have wanted to do for quite some time: homemade bread. I used the widely praised technique from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François' Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If I had known just how easy it was to bake my own bread, I would have embarked on this project long ago. Although the rising, resting, baking times took made the recipe take much longer than five minutes from start to finish, the active time is under five minutes.

Of course, any recipe can be abridged to death with varying results; it's the taste that counts, and considering that this was my first ever attempt at bread, I was pleased with the results. This technique definitely will not make you question the intelligence of bread bakers who have been baking bread the old fashioned (read, well over five mi
nutes a day) method. The bread I made a nice crust, was not all that flavorful, and the crumb was much denser and much doughier than a great artisan bread should ever be. These shortcomings were partly my own faults: I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the white flour, and I was overly eager to cut into the bread and failed to follow the instruction to let the loaf cool completely before cutting into it.

The use of whole wheat flour most likely contributed to the dense crumb, and I should have cooked the bread a bit longer as I have read that whole wheat flour requires a longer baking time. Once the loaf finally did cool down, it was less doughy, so next time I'll restrain myself when I am tempted to try a slice of still warm bread. Nonetheless, my first attempt at bread encouraged me to give this method another try. I have enough dough in my refrigerator to make three more loaves, and I know that my subsequent bread baking attempts will be more successful than my first.

The dough before it went into the oven (I was a heavy handed with my flour "dusting"):

Out of the oven:

Sliced before it had cooled:

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