I had promised I had quite a few things to post about, and now here I am having gone four days without an update. Oh well.
I am trying not to eat preservatives and other junk found in the processed foods at the store. I have found a few brands of sandwich bread that are acceptable, but the last time I went to buy one they were not on the shelf. (Granted, I will not pay full price for bread, especially the type of bread that I find acceptable, so they may have been on a shelf somewhere, but they were certainly not on the sale shelf.)
I have tried to make my own bread before, but I have since researched the difference between instant and active dry yeast (rookie baker mistake), so I gave it another go. This time I used a recipe for Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Good to the Grain, using active dry yeast.
Things went well at first. I used an autolyse which gives the flour time to absorb or something. (I don't know, I just followed the directions. Note to self: learn what the hell you are actually doing.) Then I had to let it rise for an hour. Then I had to knead it a bit and fold it over on itself and put it in the pan to rise some more.
Here is where I ran into some trouble. Maybe I need a bigger loaf pan, but I suspect the whole hour in the directions was too long for the second rise. I should have kept a closer eye on it, because when I brought it out to go in the oven it was already bulging out of control.
I tried to scoop it back in a little, but it was a little too late. I put it in the oven with a sheet pan on the rack below in case it fell that far. (Luckily, it did not.)
In the oven, it grew more, as you can see from the photo. For the whole 40 minutes of baking time I was nervous that it was going to get out of control and turn into some kind of bread monster.
When it came out of the oven, it had wrapped around the loaf pan. As you can see, it was not sitting flat on the cooling rack since it had literally wrapped around the bottom of the pan.
The roughness you see is mostly wheat bran, which promptly fell off as I tried to find a way to remove the bread from the pan.
This was no easy task. In the end the loaf pan had to be released from its yeasted prison by knife.
In the end, it looked mostly like a loaf of bread. I would count it as a success, although it could be improved upon.
I sliced the bread the next day (sorry, no pictures) and made a sandwich using leftover spiral sliced ham from Easter, a slice of Swiss cheese, a romaine leaf or two, and some spicy brown mustard. It was delicious, but crumbly. The top part of the bread pretty much just fell off. I would attribute this to the stress placed on that area by the excessive rise. Oops.
The bread did taste good, at least as good as storebought bread, with the potential to be better. I followed the recipe exactly which I do not think I will do again. My main concern is the refined bread flour. After a little bit of research I am going to try using white whole wheat flour in its place because, if the source was correct, it has a similar amount of protein to bread flour. I would also like to try including some of the multigrain flour mix, the recipe for which is also in this book. I think it would be fun to add some different flavors in the mix.
When you take into account how little time you are spending actually doing work, bread making goes fairly quickly. Now I can't wait for tomato season so I can have my favorite sandwich, BLTs, on my homemade bread!