Thursday, October 12

What Not to Do when Baking Bread (A Lesson Learned the Hard Way)

Tuesday I decided to bake another batch of bread. This time though I thought I'd make a sun dried tomato and herb bread. I followed the same instructions as the last loaf and fermented the poolish overnight in the refrigerator. Yesterday I brought it to room temperature, added the other ingredients and kneaded it for 20 min. It rose. It rested. It proofed.

Then came the disaster. The book, which anyone who wants to learn how to bake good bread should buy, said that when you put the bread into the oven to bake you should spray the sides of the oven with water to create steam. This makes for a crunchy crust.

The trouble began when I didn't have a spray bottle. Instead I tossed a shot of water into the oven and it did create steam. Unfortunately 20 minutes later when I went to turn down the oven and rotate my loaves I discovered the oven had gone from 450 to 350. Concerned, I turned up the heat and left it for another 20 minutes. When I returned to pull the loaves out the oven was at 200 and the loaves not even close to being ready.

That's when I discovered I'd doused my pilot light. For some reason, though the oven was on, the house didn't fill with gas. I haven't figured out why yet because surely my move of accidentally dousing the pilot light with a cup of water should have resulted in an ultimate gas explosion. But maybe that only happens in the movies.

At any rate, it took a very groggy Bryan (he'd been napping) and I a good half hour to get the pilot relit and the oven reset. Now that my half baked loaves had completely cooled off, I returned them and baked them again at the right temperature. I tried them this morning, they're not terrible, but definitely not up to their potential.

So let this be a lesson to all you potential bread bakers. Buy a squirt bottle. Don't throw cups of water into your oven. I know it should be obvious, but in a pinch, sometimes the brain convinces you that doing really stupid things is a really great idea.

Fortunately nothing blew up in the learning of this lesson.

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