Monday, October 11, 2010

I made bread!

I made my first two loaves of bread the other day, and they turned out ok--not great, but ok. I purposely bought too much yeast (also, I had two coupons) so I'd be forced to try again. Also, I forgot to add salt, but it still tastes ok.

I used the potato bread recipe from The Frugal Girl because one of my biggest hangups when it comes to bread baking is the fact that fresh bread just goes stale so quickly. She said that potato bread seems to stay good longer, so I thought that that would be a good kind of loaf to start with. I may have done something else wrong besides not adding salt, because it just didn't ever really taste that fresh. It was crumbly from the start, but I guess in a good way.

Two issues that I'm having right now:
  1. My loaves were short and wide rather than tall and loaf-like. I have one loaf pan that is metal, and the other is silicon. What I've notices with the silicon one, even when making lentil loaf, is that everything just comes out wide. You heap in more ingredients trying to get a nice tall loaf, and the pan itself just expands until you're stuck with wide bread/lentil loaf. That works ok for the lentil loaf, but not very good if I want to eventually make sandwiches.
  2. I mixed the yeast with the warm water and let it sit, then started stirring in flour. do I just heap in five cups of flour, and then mix it around, or do I stir and add? I feel like I got my hands in the mess too quickly because it was really sticky, but as I don't know any better, that may have been exactly right.
My loaves certainly didn't look like Frugal Girl's--she clearly has magic baking powers.
So, one point for finally ripping that band-aid off and making the attempt, but zero points for the bread itself. I'm ready to accept that the silicon loaf pan is crap and perhaps buy another metal one, but I feel like that's a waste if I don't totally love the bread I'm making. How many tries does it take to get it right?


  1. Everyone has different levels of luck with bread their first time out. The most important thing I can tell you is to follow the directions exactly. After you feel comfortable with the recipe and the process, then you can change it up, but start by following the directions.

    It does take practice to get your bread shaped correctly. I've never heard any trouble with a silicon pan, but I've never baked with one, so I can't answer that question. Your size/shape problem may be related to the size of your pan versus the size of the pan used in the recipe. Kristen doesn't say what size pan she uses; I'm assuming it's an 8x4. I almost always use a 9x5 so when I use an 9x5 pan for an 8x4 recipe, the loaves turn out different than the pictures. You could always email her and ask her what size her pans are.

    Lastly, and sorry this is so super long, your question about adding the flour. In this recipe, I would add about half of the flour, stir to combine, then add another cup, stir, and then add whatever's left to meet the minimum flour requirement. Once it's all combined, see how sticky it is. If it's way way too sticky to handle, mix in more flour by 1/2 cupfuls and testing to get the right consistency. You need to do this every time, because the weather will effect how much flour you need.

    Does that make sense?

  2. Elizabeth's advice is good about the flour...that's how I do it, just a bit at a time.

    If your bread is crumbly, that's probably because your gluten is not developed properly. Try mixing it more thoroughly before you start to knead, and try kneading more thoroughly (I have a post up on that on my blog...just search for it).

    I think silicone baking pans are crap, and you'd probably enjoy baking much more with a decent pan (your lentil loaf will benefit too!). lol Buy an 8x4 inch pan and you'll thank yourself! :)