Thursday, April 17, 2008

Experimenting with my new oven

We recently moved into our new home and I am finally getting to a point where I feel like I can do something other than unpack.

We got this Jenn-Air Dual Fuel double oven free standing range as one of our new appliances for the house and I have just briefly flipped thru the instruction booklet. I was very eager to use one of the features....proofing. I have always been interested in bread making. Never really had the time to get into it and while we lived at the rental the absence of space held me back even more. Now that my youngest will play independently for a few minutes, I took the opportunity to delve into the bread baking world. And is it ever its own world. This site I really like. It has some really great tutorials. I am on lesson 2. In fact, it is rising right now in the oven, hopefully into a nicely shaped bread.

This will be attempt number 2. The first time it just didnt rise very well. The bread was quite dense. It was fine to eat, but for sure had room for improvement. This time I actually used my mixer to knead the dough instead of kneading it by hand. I wanted to see if that would make a difference or not. Maybe this will tell me if I need to life some weights or what? Maybe last time I just didnt knead it strongly enuf!

Okay, so this is what happened. The bread rose really well for the first rise, then I shaped it and let it rise again....did well....then I baked it and it seemed to fall flat. Any comments? Suggestions? The bread had a really good flavor this time. It was really smooth and had a hint of sweet to it. It for sure didnt brown as much as the bread in the lesson 2 appeared to.


Jason said...

Your symptoms (not browned enough, not rising enough) seem to suggest that your oven wasn't hot enough (or didn't stay hot enough). Do you have a pizza stone or something similar to stick in there? Letting it preheat longer and having more thermal mass will help with heat issues. Also make sure that you aren't letting your oven do automatic "recipe conversion" if you're using the convection feature. I've had issues with that, since it will lower the actual temperature by 25 degrees without you noticing, and it never seems to follow the 25/25 rule.

I'm pretty lazy when it comes to bread baking. Another great bread recipe is part of the new "no knead" trend. I've tried this recipe from the New York Times a few times and I've been very happy with the results.

frugalmom said...

jason: Thanks for the tips. I would hope that my oven was heating properly since it is brand new, but I am gonna stick my thermometer in there next time to check it out. I do have a pizza stone. Do I actually bake the bread on there or just use it as a heat conductor? I read about that temp decreasing thing. This time I used my smaller top oven to bake the bread which doesnt have the convection feature. So, that rules that issue out. I will keep plugging along. Thanks for the recipe, too!

Jason said...

For most bread recipes, baking on the stone will give you a great bottom crust. Depending on shape, etc. it may be too thick & crunchy. My wife, in particular, loves crusty bread.

Oh, and the other thing that could be happening that's preventing your "oven spring" is your dough may not be wet enough. The proofing is all about yeast, but a lot of the extra rise you get when baking bread is due to water expansion.

You may also want to make sure you aren't over-proofing, and also make sure you're shaping the loaves right. See this article/blog for reference to somebody else's experience.

Christy said...

This happens to my bread all the time! I wish I could figure it out. I'm still experimenting with bread, I actually bought some new yeast just in case that was it.

Country Girl said...

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I was inspired by their daily fresh bread ritual so as the author suggested I pulled out my barely used bread machine and tried it out again. The first loaf came out real bad so with the second loaf I bought good flour made especially for bread making and bought the yeast made especially for the bread machine and it came out perfect! I know it is cheating using that but it is easy to put together in comparison.

Anonymous said...

Some good ideas here about your bread, but I think the one you should investigate first is overproofing.

If the yeast feeds too long, it will literally "eat up" all its food (sugars and starches) and die. Then when you bake, the dead yeast won't be able to go into their superfrenzy of activity (which creates "ovenspring") and your bread won't brown because the yeast has depleted all the sugars and starches.

Another thing that is very important is to not toy with your recipe in terms of sugar and/or salt.

Too much sugar can cause your yeast to "engorge themselves" and quickly die. (Avoiding this requires a sponge mixing process.)

Salt inhibits yeast activity. Adding extra salt to a recipe can kill your yeast. Yet removing salt from a recipe can allow your yeast to overfeed and die. It's a fine balance!

Good luck with your next batch!