Saturday, February 8, 2014

Makin' Bread

It was pretty cold last weekend and I really wanted to make some bread, so I went about looking for ways to proof dough.  I've successfully used the microwave before, but my present microwave is barely big enough to reheat a plate of food, certainly not big enough for a big ball of bread dough. Then I remembered I had this:
I looked it up, and found a few sites that said a crockpot should work just fine for this purpose.  You want to use the coolest available setting (this one here is warm, low, high.... warm is the option to go with).  

Next step was finding the recipes.  I gave Scott my pinterest boards for baking to look through and two caught his interest, so I decided to make both.

I did make a bit of an error, in that I forgot to mix in the olive oil in my dough formation.  It is quite possible that forcing it in after the first rise gave me a different result than doing it right would have given me.  But my failure to follow instructions and make up the difference still resulted in a lovely bread.

The ingredients are pretty simple (especially because I have some wonderfully full rosemary bushes in my front yard)
And using the crock pot, with a parchment liner and plastic wrap cover worked really well for the proofing.  It did come out a little warm to the touch, but the rising worked nicely, both times.
After first rise completed
2nd rise I put back in the crock pot and cranked the dial to high... covered with new plastic wrap and some dish towels for added insulation.  The goal was to attempt to bake it this way.
Unfortunately, after 45 minutes it was still doughy at the top center.  I pulled it from the pot at that point and finished in the oven.  It tasted great, but lacked that lovely crust I would have gotten with a traditional baking.

These were wonderful.  I always imagined that pretzels and pretzel rolls would be really hard to make. That is so far from true.  The dough starts just like any other, basic yeast, flour, salt, water and a touch of sugar.  Pulled together with the dough hook on my kitchen aid, but would have been possible the old fashioned way (lots of elbow grease and a bit of time).

Again I looked to my crock pot for the initial rise, then for the second time around as well.   Set my cookie sheet atop the heated bowl, covered with a tea towel and left it alone.
Once they finished their second rise, they each got a quick bath in some water & baking soda.  
This part was a little like magic.  Even though they had some time to proof, they opened up just a little bit more after their hot water bath and made this novice baker really excited to see the finished product.  Little bit of patience needed for the x marking, the soda water makes the skins a little tough so the dough was hard to score without using too much pressure.
A short time later with the help of a hot oven, these beauties were ready to eat and boy were they delicious.  All the wonderful flavor you expect from a pretzel, and no more time than it takes to make a regular kneaded yeast bread.   I think I'll be making some more tomorrow.