Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two for the price of one?

It's now a week since I got back from Berwick. In spite of my optimistic attitude earlier in the week, my appetite has not yet returned, nor has my stomach settled. My doctor claims that this "might be something interesting" and has put me on a bread-and-water diet for the weekend.

This could be considered a bit of a drag, but I prefer to see it as a breadmaking opportunity. After all, I hadn't made white bread (p25) yet. Time to give it a go.

Interestingly, you start by combining the yeast with flour, sugar and salt, then adding oil and first cold, then boiling water. Most yeast-based recipes I've used begin with scattering the yeast over tepid water.

I got a bit confused when it came to converting the quantities for Surebake vs Active yeast. As I understand it, one tablespoon of Active = two of Surebake. Unfortunately, I got this conversion backwards and accidentally put in four times the required amount of yeast. I realised my error almost immediately, but continued anyway. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Having mixed the flour/yeast/water etc into a thick paste, I gradually added the rest of the flour until I had a dough, then kneaded it a bit before leaving it in a greased, covered bowl to rise.

A little later on, I checked on the dough to see how it was rising: It had overflowed the sides of the bowl and was pushing against the teatowel I'd covered it with. Probably risen enough then!

I punched down the dough and kneaded it for about five minutes. This recipe is for a single loaf of bread, but I figured that it might be best to split it into two, especially since I didn't have any deep loaf tins as specified in the recipe. So instead of splitting the dough in half, I cut it into four and filled two loaf tins. These sat covered for another half-hour or so while the dough continued to rise.

Before putting the bread in to bake, I brushed each loaf with egg wash, and sprinkled one with sesame seeds. Having learnt to be cautious about cooking times, I set the timer for 20 minutes, not 30 as shown in the recipe.

I had every expectation of a complete disaster. With quadruple yeast, how could it be anything else? So it was a huge surprise when the timer went off and I saw two perfect-looking, golden loaves of bread in the oven. I took them out and checked if they were cooked by tapping on the bottom (getting sesame seeds all over the kitchen in the process). The plain loaf seemed cooked through, but I had to put the sesame one back in the tin and return it to the oven for another five minutes or so.

Well, they looked pretty good on the outside, but I was sure they'd be full of holes in the middle. You can't make one loaf's worth of flour stretch to two and not have a holey texture... or actually you can, apparently! I cut into the plain loaf while the sesame one was still in the oven, and the texture was just fine. It tasted good too: there's nothing like fresh bread warm from the oven!

So there you have it: somehow extra yeast made extra bread without additional flour. Who would have thought? Now I'm well-supplied with bread for the rest of my bread-and-water weekend, but sadly there's far more than I can possibly eat before it goes stale!


  1. Wow! Good job! The bread looks really yum!
    I used to make bread a lot with that recipe back in flatting days.
    Sorry to hear you're on a bread and water diet though...

  2. Brilliant Robs I'll have to give it a go.c


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