So I put off baking the bread for a few months.
I've never used my dough hook before!
March 15, 2009
Name of bread: Whole Wheat with Pecans and Golden Raisins
Occasion: Catching up with the Lazy Bakers
Constituents: Half whole wheat, half white bread flour, toasted pecans, golden raisins
My bread sort of came out as a bust. I would have labeled this a complete fail but it still is fairly tasty and my roommate and I have already eaten over half of it since Sunday. If I have to be completely honest I would have to admit that my roommate and I are partial to carbs in almost any form, bread being one of our favorites. This is why neither of us bake bread, and why I keep hippie bread in the house. I have no control around good bread.
Jeffrey Hammelman's book is as chock full of information and tips as this bread is of nuts and raisins. However I found it hard to find all his information when I needed it. Perhaps if I had sat down and read the book like a novel instead of a recipe book I would have been more confident to bake. As it was, I spent time re-reading his introduction and discussions on ingredients and the proper steps of baking bread, but didn't find the information on proper water temperature until the bread was already in the oven. His step-by-step instructions on shaping bread were really helpful and easy to follow (especially for making an oblong loaf) for which I am grateful.
I also need to plan better when I want to bake bread. I had to leave for several hours right around the time the bread's first rise should have been done, so I decided to let the bread rise in the refrigerator. In hindsight I think I could have left it on the counter all day to rise, as the kitchen never really gets above 60°. When I came back home five hours later, I decided to pull the bread out and let it finish its first rise at room temperature.
I kept looking in Bread for Jeffrey Hammelman's advice on what to do with bread dough that you've retarded in the refrigerator--should I let it come back to room temperature before using? Does it matter? What about before I bake it? At what point in a bread dough's life cycle is a good time to retard dough--the first rise? The second rise? Is it okay to retard it for both rises? How long should bread be left to retard in the refrigerator? Can I pull it out after only a few hours and finish rising on the counter?
I never found any information in his book answering my questions, so I just decided to guess.
I guessed that the dough should come back up to room temperature, but it never really made it back up to the 76°F Hammelman stipulates the dough should be at. By 1 am the bread was at about 70° and just about doubled in bulk. But I was tired and exercising poor judgment, so I stuck it back in the refrigerator so that I could go to bed. I should have shaped the loaves before putting them back in the refrigerator, but I didn't figure that out until after the bread was in the oven the next day.
The next morning when I pulled it out of refrigerator, the dough had shrunk down to about the size it was after first mixing. After hours sitting in my bedroom with the heat cranked to 70° (the only place in the apartment where you can sort of control the ambient temperature) I finally gave up and shaped the bread and let it sit out on the counter for the second rise. I only have one loaf pan so I decided to make rolls out of the rest of the dough. After shaping three rolls I decided to shape the rest of the dough into an oblong loaf. Shaping dough is fun!
The second rise didn't give much spring to the dough; I think at this point it was mad at me for changing its temperature so much in the last 36 hours.
After about two or three hours, I popped my bread into the oven, almost gave myself a steam burn, and waited nervously for the bread to bake. I was pretty convinced I was going to bake a bunch of little rocks studded with raisins and nuts, but what came out were nice looking little rolls and two little oblong loaves. The bread didn't rise much in the oven, either, but it had a nice crackly crust and smelled tangy and bready. The inside was dense and chewy, much like a bagel.
A bagel, huh. I can eat that.
And I have, as did my roommate. It was good with hunks of mild cheddar, or lots of salted butter.
Oh well; not quite a bust, but not quite a success either! Let's see how I do with the Bara Brith.
To see what this bread ought to have looked like, please visit
Breadbasketcase: Whole Wheat Bread with Pecans and Raisins
Melinda (and Jeanette): Whole Wheat Bread with Sultanas and Pecans