27 February 2009

(Mis)Adventures in Baking Bread, also known as that ^#%#@@!!! Breadmaker.

It has been a bit of a rough week around Casa de la Maison. BabyA has been sick with a cold, and not surprisingly, cranky as all get out. The good news is that she seems to be past the worst of it. There was much less snot and crankiness today, and she seems to be able to nurse again, thank GAWD. I seriously cannot say how thankful I am for a healthy baby.

In other news, my *&(*&%&^$$%^&#$!!!!!!!!!!! breadmaker. My mom purchased us a breadmaker last weekend, and I've have yet to get a normal loaf out of the damn thing. I wish I had taken pictures of each loaf as I went, but that didn't occur to me until it was too late, so this picture of my most recent loaf will have to scar your psyche stimulate your imaginations.

Note the caldera-like crater in the top of the loaf. This is due, I believe, to an overabundance of yeast in the recipe, which causes the bread to over-rise. And by over-rise, I mean rise so much that it pushes up the lid of the breadmaker like a whole-wheat balloon, punctures the loaf, and then collapses back in on itself, all while leaving a rim of bread flopping over the top of the pan which subsequently burns and leaves the top of the loaf a doughy, under-cooked mess. GRRRRRAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!

Seriously, I wish I could show you pictures of the first loaf of lovely Cracked Wheat Sandwich Loaf pushing up the lid of the breadmaker and leaking halfway down the sides of the f)(*(&%^$^%%^(^'n machine. (I think a picture of the look on my face when I came downstairs and discovered this state of affairs might afford you a few laughs, but I didn't get one of those either). This was the loaf where I used 1 1/2 x the called-for amount of yeast, on the advice of my mother, who said we live at a higher altitude, and therefore I would likely need more yeast, and her boss had baked a perfect loaf by doubling the amount of yeast called for. So I chalked that one up to too much yeast.

One the second loaf, I followed the recipe perfectly. And the result? Almost exactly the same as the first. Exploding dough? Check. Burnt crust? Check. Undercooked top? Check. Grrrarrrggg? Check.

For my third loaf, I used a whole wheat recipe from the internet, instead of from the instruction booklet. It was a smaller recipe, and used considerably less yeast, so I figured at most I'd have a too-small loaf. But no, I got ANOTHER perfect caldera-loaf.

Try number four was a white-bread loaf from the instruction booklet again. I figured maybe it was the flour I was using or something. I got a very pretty loaf of bread, tasty, nicely browned, AND AS DENSE AND HEAVY AS A GAWDDAMNED POUND CAKE. Seriously.

I know this picture looks all pretty, but my friend T actually gasped when I handed him a piece. It's ridiculous.

So this picture? Is try number five. This time again with the Cracked Wheat recipe from the instruction booklet, but with 1 3/4 tsp. yeast instead of the called-for 4 tsps. I'm talking less than HALF the amount the recipe says. But, as you can see, I've once again achieved a beautifully crusted, heavy as hell, caldera loaf. I think perhaps I purchased some kind of mutant over-achiever yeast or something, which is actually depressing, because by the time I've figured out this recipe, I will be out of yeast and may be right back at the beginning. I'm already running out of flour, powdered milk, and cracked wheat. Seriously.

I'm going to try this recipe one more time, this time with 1 1/2 tsps. of yeast, because I know that the dough only overexpanded close to the end of the cycle this time. I checked it with about 15 minutes left, and the dough was near the top but not touching it. So here goes. If I get a good loaf, I'll jump up and down for joy, have a celebratory drink, Twitter about it to all my followers, and blog about it asap. Come to think of it, I'll probably do the same if it fails again too. Ah, whatever. C'est la vie, or le pain, as the case may be.

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