Thursday, May 17, 2007

Conquering My Fear of Yeast..Cranberry Pecan Bread

I don't like working with yeast. I don't know why. I think maybe its the whole proofing stage, and the hot water, and the general term "yeast" and the possibility that my bread may never rise because I have inadequate yeast. I don't know, but I'm going to try and conquer it. I started with this recipe because it looked pretty simple, whisk, mix, knead, blap de bloo done. Let me just tell you, when I looked at the directions quickly I thought that they said to knead the dough 10 times, au contraire monfrair, it said knead the dough for ten fucking minutes. My little arms had hit lactic acid build up by minute five, kneading, kneading is hard work, and I don't care to do it again. So after endless kneading of the dough I was then instructed to fold in the raisins and pecans, which together measured about 1 1/2 cups. I couldn't get half the stuff in there, every time I added some, turned the bread over and then tried to knead it in, the raisin and pecans would fall out of the dough ball. I finally resorted to making little holes with my fingers and then pushing the pecans in one hole, and then the raisins in another and repeating that process over and over again until I thought I have "inserted" enough.

The picture above is what the dough ball looked like before I let it sit to double in size, which thank Christ it did, after all that kneading and elbow grease I probably would have just thrown it out the window if it didn't rise. After baking and getting the tell tale hollow sounding thump on the bottom that lets you know the bread is done I was disappointed in the final outcome because it was so extremely dense. Like, brick dense, like people with soft teeth should probably skip this bread kind of dense. What did I do wrong, why do all of my breads come out weighing a ton and take 75 chews to get one bite down? Can someone tell me the secret to lighter bread?

Recipe: makes one loaf
2 3/4 c lour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
scant 1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. sift flour and salt into a bowl, cut in the butter with a knife, then stir in the yeast.
2. gradually add 3/4 cup tepid water to the flour mixture, stirring with a spoon at first, then gathering the dough together with your hands.
3. turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
4. knead the raisins and walnuts into the dough until they are evenly distributed. shape into a rough oval, place on lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap. let rise in warm place for 1-2 hours, until doubled in bulk. preheat oven to 425F.
5. uncover the loaf and bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 375 and bake for 20-25 more minutes.
6. transfer to a wire rack, brush with melted butter and cover with a dish towel. cool before slicing.

Rating = Damn Good


Patricia Scarpin said...

JB, I bake bread all the time but I'm not smart enough to know why they work. :S

I have to tell you that I tend to choose recipes that call for mixing yeast + liquid (water, milk and sometimes both) first, then after a while, adding the other ingredients. I once made a bread recipe that was similar to the one you have here (except for the raisins) and I wasn't please with the result either. I was hoping for a tender and soft bread as the ones I usually get and it was even a bit hard. I ended up tossing it.

I also think that the amount of yeast is too little for the amount of flour (I'm using the recipes I've made as a comparison).

wheresmymind said...

C' are a bad ass chick...what do you mean your arms were tired? Besides...why don't you use your kitchenaid+dough hook??