Thursday, August 24, 2017

Failure is not an option

After I had attended the one-day class on water and milk kefir bread, I was itching to make the water kefir boule at home. Many times, making the same thing at home resulted in very different results. I know that from experience.

I fermented my water kefir for 3 whole days. See how powerful it was on the third day?

My water kefir starter looked fine, maybe not as stretchy as in school.

My dough was manageable, nothing went wrong.

My water kefir boule even had the oven spring. Certainly it didn't rise as much as in school but it rose.

Once the bread had cooled down, I cut a slice and my heart immediately sank. It was dense. None of the open crumb was present. And the worst part - the bottom looked under baked. I ate some and I want to say the taste has improved tremendously from my last home made water kefir bread. There is no more weird taste so I'm thankful for that.

I didn't have the heart to ask hubs to eat the bread. Instead I dug out the soft bread and gave him the crust to eat. The crust did turn out very well! I think secretly hubs just wants to eat bread crust. I have already begun another water kefir starter to take another stab at making the tasty bread I made at the school. The one thing I know which wasn't so right was this: after mixing the dough via a machine a fair amount of time, I could not achieve the same stretchy windowpane which I could at the school. This time around, I want to be more patient.

In late June, Mom of Momshoo gifted me with some sourdough starter. I didn't have much time due to my pastry classes but I managed to bake one sourdough boule. I forgot which recipe I used, probably a very basic one.
The result was shall I say not too bad compared to my previous disasters. At least there was oven spring! I didn't know when's the right time to use the starter so I kinda did it randomly. The bread tasted a bit tangy but it was edible. Overall still not a success as I could see the texture of the crumb was not exactly right.

This week, in between my sewing and photographing of bag pattern steps, I made a few sourdough. A few! Ha ha. I'm always working on one thing or another so I set my timer to keep track. Sometimes a timer goes off and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do!

I got this book from the library and I wanted to try loaf bread using sourdough. The first recipe Soft White Bread almost made me cry. The dough was soupy. After hours and hours, it was still soupy. I left it in the fridge overnight and it was still soupy. So I threw it away. It's so much easier to bake soft white bread using commercial yeast but I so want to conquer the sourdough mountain. I tried again, this time using the Muscovado Sugar and Light Wheat Bread recipe. I've never used muscovado sugar before. It looks like fine brown sugar. Again after hours and hours, very soupy. I don't know why! I didn't even bother putting it in the fridge and simply junked it.

Third time's the charm? I tried Pain Au Levain. This time success. Sort of. But nothing to shout about.

This was my sourdough starter. It smelled nice and was frothy. It looked right to me but honestly I don't have a clue.
I tried to compensate for the usual under baking but the crust got a bit charred.

Crumb shot - not too dense and yep, some under baked parts. Taste wise - a huge improvement. No weird taste and I couldn't even detect any tangy. And amazingly the bread tasted better over time. Having said all that, the texture is still not great. I couldn't follow the book's method of using a covered pot to bake the bread because my oven is very small and I tried putting in my clay pot but the fit is tight. So I used my baking stone instead. I do believe baking stone works just as well.

The last sourdough recipe I made was from this book Modern Baker. I tried the basic sourdough recipe and it turned out very different.

The dough was very, very soft and sticky and extremely hard to handle. I couldn't even shape it. I just rolled it around with a scraper. After putting it in the fridge over night, it grew to this size.

I wanted to compensate for the under baking and put it in the oven a bit longer but I forgot to cover the top and didn't set the timer so it got pretty charred. The crumb? I still see some under baking and the taste is just okay. I don't think I have the skills to handle such soft dough yet. Maybe in 2 year's time?

Overall, I liked the taste of Pain Au Levain best. I'm preparing another sourdough starter to give it another try. I do get quite tired of so many bread baking failure. But I haven't gotten discouraged yet. Failure is not an option. I'm going to die trying.


Bethany said...

I think they all look delicious. But I could sit and eat bread with butter or cheese all day long, so I might not be the best judge....

Jane McLellan said...

Good for you! You'll have sourdough perfect one of these days. I'm still trying to perfect rusks. My husband has very exact ideas about how they should be. Sometimes I think yes, I have it, but the next batch is not necessarily right. It involves making bread, cutting it into pieces and then drying it out overnight. A lot of scope for things to go wrong! Your persistence inspires me.

Projects By Jane said...

@Jane McLellan, rusks sounds interesting. I wiki it. I don't think I've eaten it before. Seems like there are different kinds of rusks all over the world and I've never even heard of it before!

Ely said...

I have never heard of rusks before either. To google I went.

Interesting chronicle of your bread making journey as usual. The no knead bread trend was very popular here for awhile. People generally used a dutch oven, or covered dome pot for this method, probably to encourage steam. I don't know if this was ever covered in your classes, but a lot of professional bread makers will incorporate steam (or if you're at home squirt water) into the oven while bread is baking. I found a link that will give you more info:

Sourdough starters are so moody, no? Like having a child because of the constant feeding and monitoring and weighing...

I was also going to ask, do you use/have an oven thermometer? This is definitely a need since you're investing so much into bread making!!

Looking forward to your next post!!

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Ely, at school, the ovens have steam function. At home I use a tray of ice cubes and I spray the sides of the oven. I used to pour hot water onto a tray in the oven instead of ice cubes. Then I got scalded... I've tried spraying the side walls without the ice cubes and it works just as well. Thanks for the link. I'm a fan of the perfect loaf but I've not read this post before.

I have an oven thermometer. After using it I realised my oven is always 20 deg C cooler than what the dial says so I have made the adjustment. I'm pretty confident oven temp is not an issue.

Wait till you read the next post!

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