Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bread... Winner!

I don't mean the head of household... I mean a successful first loaf baked in the "new" oven. Stella and a friend of hers happened to be here as I was finishing it up; both asked for seconds... not out of politeness, because Stella doesn't eat anything out of mere politeness: she liked it and her friend liked it.

The bread was direct from Hollywood... master baker Paul Hollywood of London, who has worked for most of the four-star hotels in that city. Hollywood obviously has a knack for baking, but he also has a knack for teaching, for knowing what to bother saying and what can be omitted or neglected. I tried what appears to be his simplest recipe, a basic whole wheat loaf. It didn't merely work; it wasn't merely functional. It was in texture the lightest whole wheat bread I've ever baked. The sound of the classic "thump" on the bottom was just right; I knew it would be wonderful before I cut into it. And the flavor...

There were two possible improvements. If I hadn't taken Hollywood at his word and added more water (an extra ¼ cup), and if I had used as much yeast as he specified (I've never seen a recipe before that called for a full ounce of yeast), I think it might have been even more wonderful. As it was, the loaf was rather flat and short. But everyone agreed the taste was just right.

The new oven was well-behaved, though Stella swore she smelled gas...


  1. congratulations!

    whole wheat flour generally requires more water than white flour, or so i've always been told. the substitution i've usually seen is that where a recipre would use 1 cup of regular flour, you should only use 7/8 cup of whole wheat for the same amount of liquids.

  2. Congratulations.

    Yep, whole wheat requires more "help" than regular flour to "be all it can be", but the taste is worth it.

    That loaf sounds very German, in the sense that it tasted great, but was "heavy". German and Dutch bread is like that, and absolutely great.

  3. hipparchia, Bryan...

    hipparchia, thanks for the tip. The author of the book recommends adding a small amount of extra water during the (first) knead until the dough is pliable; I just overdid it... probably an additional 1 oz. would have been enough.

    Bryan, this particular bread was surprisingly light... most of the whole wheat loaves I've baked in the bread machine were just what you describe, heavy and dense. But not this one. I wonder if it was the extra yeast that made it lighter.



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