Monday, 16 April 2012

Lessons in Bread Baking: Oops! I forgot the salt

Have you ever baked something and realized after you took it out of the oven, sliced it, and tasted it, that you left out an important ingredient?  That happened to me with this Quick White Bread, one of the breads for the Mellow Bakers’ new bread bake.

We’re baking through Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf or The Art of Handmade Bread, depending on which version you have. I have both versions because I’m trying to learn the appropriate conversions for both North America and Europe. However, leaving out an ingredient was not supposed to be part of the process.

This was supposed to be an easy and quick loaf. So I decided to experiment with it. I adapted the recipe to include Heirloom 18th Century French Mediterranean Bread Flour from Anson Mills and puffed millet and even baked it in a Pullman pan. However, because I omitted the salt, the dough rose too quickly and collapsed during baking. You can see how it sunk in the photo below. 



Instead of deeming this bread a failure, I decided to use it as a teachable moment. This is a perfect example of why you should always follow the first basic step of bread-baking: Mise en Place which means “everything in it’s place”. 

I wrote these very words on my how to make bread page: “Begin by getting all of your tools and ingredients ready and within arms length. The success of your bread-baking experience depends on how organized you are so don't skip this step.”  I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t have my “Mise en Place” and somewhere along the way, I forgot the salt.

Salt serves a number of purposes in bread.  It stabilizes the gluten structure which creates a better dough and adds flavor. It also slows down the fermentation process by dehydrating the yeast and bacteria. Technically, salt is an optional ingredient; however, if you’re going to omit it, you should use cold temperatures to slow down the fermentation process or reduce the rising times. I did neither for this bread so that’s why it fell.

Instead of baking the bread freeform, or in a regular loaf pan, I baked it in a Pullman pan. Here are photos of the process I used to shape and bake the loaf.

image heirloom-millet-pullman-loaf014
heirloom-millet-pullman-loaf015 heirloom-millet-pullman-loaf020
heirloom-millet-pullman-loaf04 heirloom-millet-pullman-loaf09


Although the flavor was a bit bland, all is not lost.  This is a great toast bread which is what I was shooting for. I happen to like saltless breads such as Tuscan Bread so this isn’t a problem for me. I just toasted it, spread it with butter and it tasted yummy. I also made a grilled cheese sandwich with it using extra-sharp natural cheese.  Delish!

I was going to make the bread again with the salt to show you the difference, but I used all of my heirloom flour so I’ll have to show you those results another day.


Happy Baking!


No comments:

Post a Comment