The Baking Curve

Back in the states, I baked bread sometimes. I used my stand mixer to knead the dough for me, pretty punching doughmuch always. The times I had tried kneading dough by hand the bread turned out heavy and less-than-delicious. I wasn’t sure if I was adding too much flour, not kneading enough, or both, or something different completely.

When we moved to Dublin, I didn’t bring my kitchen aid. The plug would be wrong, and I had a very willing friend to take care of it while we were gone. So I left it behind.

The first time I made bread in Ireland was at Thanksgiving when I made potato rolls and they turned out beautifully. But they were made with all white flour. I always ran into trouble when I added whole wheat flour.Ballybrado flour

But as the weeks and months went by and I had loads of free time on my hands, I baked bread more often. It got easier and didn’t seem like such an epic endeavor. I tried different recipes. And I got better at kneading dough and knowing when I’d added enough flour. Eventually, I wasn’t looking at the clock every 30 seconds to see if I was done kneading. Of course, it isn’t a matter of time, but of the consistancy of the dough. Moisture, stretch, texture, etc.

I’ve since turned out some really nice loaves. Probably better than I could have done with my kitchen aid, because with that I was probably more likely to add too much flour too quickly.

My best loaves were an adapted recipe from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. I used millet rolls close up 23.2for the cooked grain base and the resulting bread was sweet and tender and really delicious.

I think I’ll keep kneading dough manually even when I get my stand mixer back. At least, most of the time.


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    I have a great recipe for beer bread which is really easy, plus it has beer in it!

  2. 2

    kimmykokonut said,

    Yay for developing bread intuition! I find it so satisfying to just trust it. We make a holiday roll here that’s potato sage and it’s my favorite (but it’s also white flour). I find the Tassajara Bread book to be a good resource and I’ve heard Bread Alone is also a good one. And if you want to get all professional, Peter Rheinhart has a beautiful one out there on whole grain breads.

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