White Bread Fail


This was my first ever attempt at making bread..
I got the book Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads for Christmas from Wife. I was immediately fascinated with the idea of making bread even though I had expressed no prior thoughts or interests in doing so before Christmas.

So, here's my first attempt, and while it didn't turn out great it wasn't the worst thing in the world either. I'm calling it a respectable first try.

Recipe
1 cup milk
2 T vegetable shortening or butter
3 tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm water
2 pkg dry yeast
2 T sugar
6-7 cups bread or AP flour
1 T butter melted

2 medium (8 1/2" - 4 1/2") loaf pans, greased or teflon

The recipe from book gives instructions for using varying methods. I will list the instructions for using electric mixer and kneading by hand.

    Mixing

Warm the milk in a saucepan to soften shortening or butter. Add salt and lukewarm water. Add yeast and sugar, stir to dissolve.

Stir in 2 cups flour, beat for 3 minutes at medium speed. Gradually add 2 more cups of flour and beat for 3 more minutes.

Turn off mixer and add 2 more cups of flour. Work in with spoon until it becomes stiff and then work with your hands.  When the dough has a rough form and is cleaning the sides of the mixing bowl turn it out on a floured work surface.

    Kneading

Knead for about 8 minutes using a push-turn-fold motion.

    Shaping

Divide the dough in half and shape into balls. Let rest for about 5 minutes.

Form loaves by pressing each into an oval, roughly the length of the baking pan. Fold the oval in half (the long way), pinch the seam tighly to seal, tuck under ends, and place seam down in the pan. Brush the loaves with melted butter.

    Rising

Place the pans in a cold oven and turn heat to 400 for 60 seconds. Turn the oven off. Do not turn on or open oven for 30 minutes.

    Baking

Turn on oven to 400 and bake for 45 minutes or until loaves are brown. When done, they'll sound hollow when tapped on the bottom crust with the forefinger. If the crust is soft return loaves to the oven, without pans, for about 10 more minutes.

    And here we go..

milk being heated very slowly

add the salt water, salt, yeast and sugar

starting to add the first two cups of flour

cups of flour #3 and #4

here's where I stop using the mixer, add 2 more cups of flour to this and start using a spoon and eventually my hands

after incorporating the last 2 cups of flour into the dough and kneading for about 8 minutes

cut into 2 halves and rest for a few minutes

now would be a good time to grease your pans

shape your doughs to be oblong shaped and fold in half the long way

begin pinching and smoothing the seam

keep working the seam

flip and into the pan (sorry this photo got irreversibly squished, this is a 9x5 pan)

Brush with melted butter - this goes into the oven, preheat the oven at 400 for 60 seconds, turn off the oven, and let the bread proof for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn on the oven to 400 and bake for 45 minutes or until brown.
This is what I ended up with.

Looks okay but flat. Looks kind of like bread at least. Smells great! These loaves were incredibly salty tasting which made me question the 3 tsp used in the recipe (is that a typo? why put 3 tsp why not put 1 T?)

These loaves went out on the deck to feed the birds and beasts. (they didn't go for it)

    What I've learned

I ended up making about 6 more loaves using this recipe. My next attempt I thought that maybe my milk wasn't heated enough and I needed to use hot water instead of lukewarm. My 2nd attempt was slightly better but still not great.

On my third attempt I used slightly less heat in the water and milk (thinking that maybe I burned my yeast) and let the loaves rise for about 2 hours. These loaves rose quite a bit higher and did not taste salty. I was on the right track.

On my final attempt with this recipe I allowed for the dough to rise in a bowl on top of a warm oven and covered with a towel before splitting or shaping into loaves. I let them rise as long as it required, and after about 3 hours the dough finally doubled in size. Now we're cooking!

I punched the dough down and shaped it into the pans and continued to let it rise. It did rise a little more, but seemed to stop when it was just below the height of the pan. By this time the whole process had taken 8-10 hours - not good for a recipe entitled Thirty-minute White Bread.

Those final loaves were okay, but I've since moved on to another recipe in the book called Rich White Bread, which has so far created 6 excellent loaves of bread. I think there's an inherent flaw in this particular recipe, but I really don't know enough to say that's true. What I do know is following the recipe by the book failed miserably.

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