Is That a Loaf of Bread, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

August 25, 2009 at 12:50 am 10 comments

<b>Epic bread fail...</b>

Epic bread fail...

Tonight, my friend Margaret invited me over for boeuf bourguignon a la Julia Child.  This was a dinner party of epic proportions (I mean, she made an entire roast chicken as a side dish).  My job was to bring over crusty bread.

The original plan was to bring my  uber-successful challah, but I realized there wasn’t enough bread left to go around for 10 people. Plus, Jeff, Jon, and I were saving it to make french toast for dinner this week…

So, I got the genius idea to make Mark Bittman’s Fastest Yeast Bread from How to Cook Everything.  In the recipe, he even says that you can start his bread at 5:30 and have it ready by 7.  And anyway, if I can make challah, I’m a bread master now, right?

WRONG.  When I pulled the quick bread out of oven at 7:30 (just in time for dinner), it was so dense and heavy that I could’ve bludgeoned someone over the head with it and made off with their wallet…  So naturally, I panicked, and showed up at Margaret’s with a dough anvil in my hand.

Where's the boeuf?

Where's the boeuf?

Is That a Loaf of Bread?
When I walked through the door, people asked expectantly, “Hey, is that a fresh loaf of bread?” I laughed nervously and answered, “Well, maybe?” and then made a beeline for the kitchen, where I hacked the bread into pieces like an ax murderer.

I was heartbroken to find that even though the bread had browned perfectly, it was undercooked and yeasty inside. Before the night was over, the bread was resting in peace in the garbage can.  So what went wrong?

Sadly, the answer is one word pure and simple — overconfidence.  Up until now, I was kneading my doughs meticulously with extra help from the stand mixer.  This time around, I kneaded the bread like I was chronically anemic, I was lazy about shaping the loaf, and I completely forgot to cut slits into the top when I put the loaf in the oven.

I plan to revisit this recipe in hopes of finding ways to make baking bread day-to-day more accessible.  But for now, I leave you to go watch our Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home DVDs (yes, Jeff owns the entire series — he even showed me how Jacques makes an omelet on our second date) in search of encouragement and laughs.


Entry filed under: Bread, Equipment, Preparation. Tags: , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kuang  |  August 26, 2009 at 3:48 am

    heart your cooking adventures.

    you could always fall back to making an omelet in ze kaantree style

    • 2. shiwanis  |  August 26, 2009 at 10:01 am

      thanks! haha, i know how to make the omelet you speak of 🙂

  • 3. jennifer  |  August 26, 2009 at 7:06 am

    “I kneaded the bread like I was chronically anemic” -LOL

    love the hindsight. ^_^

    • 4. shiwanis  |  August 26, 2009 at 10:01 am

      My first clue should’ve been when the bread didn’t rise at all!! But I somehow still thought that putting it in the oven was a good idea…

  • 5. margaret  |  August 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

    heh well i tasted the bread and thought it was on its way to greatness =)

  • 6. sudha  |  August 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    it’s all about the breadmaker. 🙂

  • 7. Hannah  |  August 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Argh, don’t throw away the bread! What a missed opportunity for learning how to work with leftovers!

    I went on a bread-making binge a few years ago and ended up with almost half dozen too-hard-to-bite loaves. I know that bread dough ingredients are cheap, but I was just too bullheaded to throw the loaves away. Here are some ideas for what to do with dough that didn’t rise:

    – bread pudding
    – hack it into bits, make croutons
    – soak slices in coffee+sugar for a few minutes while you whip cream. Top with cocoa powder and layer into cheapo tiramisu
    – throw into a food processor, freeze the crumbs, and take pride in from-scratch bread crumbs (useful for currently out-of-reach recipes like bean croquettes [YUM!], meatloaf, cutlets, … )

    And these are just the recipes I pulled out of my vacation-addled brain!

    • 8. shiwanis  |  August 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm

      See, the original plan was to use it for bread crumbs for the falafel … but the inside was so yeasty, I was worried that would be kind of gross 😦 I guess next time I can pop it back in the oven, let the yeast finish cooking, and then even if it loaf is still hard I can use it for croutons and such…

      • 9. Hannah  |  August 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

        Yeah, if it’s undercooked, popping it back into the oven is a good call. If, however, it was the flavour that was off, you can always overwhelm the yeastiness with something strongly flavoured, like coffee (tiramisu) or cream and sugar (bread pudding).

    • 10. shiwanis  |  August 27, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      Yeah, this loaf was a disaster all around. Like it was starting to burn on the bottom, but it was undercooked inside AND tasted yeasty. This one had parsley and herbs in it, so it would’ve been PERFECT for Italian bread crumbs. D’oh! Live and learn … thanks for the tip 🙂


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