Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lean White Wheat Bread Dough

Don't let the title fool you.  This isn't "lean" in a healthy fitness sort of way.  It's just a yeast dough that does not contain fats or sugar.  So I decided that since this was the first section, indeed the very first recipe, I'd give it a try.  Why not?  Bread making is a big thing in bakeries, right?  You walk in and smell the doughs and the fresh bread baking in the oven.  You can see all of the loaves on display with their rich colors and aromas.  Yes, bread was definitely the way to start.  So I looked at the recipe,

then I got out my ingredients--5 pounds (lbs) bread flour, 2/3 ounce (oz) instant dry yeast (NOT the same as Active or Rapid Rise), 53 1/2 fluid ounces (fl oz) water, and 1 3/4 oz salt--and I got started.

First I put the flour and the salt into my mixing bowl with the bread hook attachment and turned it on speed 2.  After a few seconds, I guessed that the salt was mixed in and added the yeast, and lastly I added the water.  I turned the mixer back on to speed 2 and watched, prepared to be amazed at my own skill.

You might have noticed that the recipe called for 5 pounds of bread flour.  Not cups, not tablespoons.  POUNDS.  That's an entire bag, ladies and gentlemen.  I'm here to tell you that anything short of an industrial size stand mixer or a VERY determined and strong person will not work.  I have a Kitchen Aid Pro600 series mixer. 

After adding the yeast and the water, I let the mixer go for about 2 minutes--the length of time the recipe said I should wait before bumping the speed from low to medium.  Now, if you own a Kitchen Aid, even a Pro series, then you know that the Instruction manual and the dough hook were both COVERED in warnings about not using the dough hook past speed 2, no matter what the recipe called for.  I figured, okay this will be fine, it'll take just a touch longer without the medium speed, but I got this.  So after 5 minutes at speed 2 this is what my dough looked like:

Rather soupy, no?  That's okay.  The first step is supposed to look like this.  Once the flour becomes incorporated, the appearance and consistency changes.  So I watched, I cleaned, I did a few other things, though I don't remember what, because mostly I hovered and worried.  It kept looking like this.  I stopped the mixer from time to time and used my flat icing spatula to lift the dough and scrape the bottom.  The first few times I did this, I noticed a tiny change in the consistency of the dough, but eventually there was nothing left to scrape.  The flour was incorporated.  So... I decided to take a piece of advice from other bread recipes (*coughs*bread machine recipes*coughs*) I've used before.  I added more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

This got me really excited, because after each tablespoon, the appearance of the dough changed.  After half a cup (8 tbsp), the consistency started to change as well.  I was still scraping the bottom and sides, hoping against hope that I'd make this work.  Alas, it was not to be so.  After an hour of mixing and adding no less than another cup of flour (possibly more; somewhere along the line I stopped counting), the dough still hadn't reached the clean up stage.  Basically, it's stage 2, in which the dough incorporates the flour into it and cleans the sides of the bowl of any remaining ingredients as it mixes.  By this time, the gluten was starting to break down and the dough was climbing the hook.  I was starting to worry that it was going to get into things it shouldn't like some sort of '50's B horror movie villain.  My fiance came in and took a look.

We both agreed that it was time to stop, clean up and try again next week.  That's our plan, after all.  If we don't get one recipe to work the first time, we keep trying until we do.  So Day One of teaching myself to bake didn't yield an edible result, but it did teach me something: I'm not super girl, and my mixer is not invincible.  There were noises coming from that poor thing that made me wince and quickly slap the power level to OFF.  When we finally cleaned up, I put my hand on the top of the mixer and it was hot.  The poor dear worked extra hard that day.

It made me wonder if the recipe really was just too much for the motor to handle.  That's how I arrived at the conclusion that I'd simply have to do math where these recipes were concerned... *Shudders*

So next week, the recipe will be cut down and I'll try again.

No comments:

Post a Comment