Bread - Hope Loaf

Just a word of warning for anyone new to this blog (and me in general). I have no idea if this is going to work or not. I'm making it up as I go along, and as many of the things I do fail as succeed. So if you're doing a fundraiser, thought you'd make sixteen hundred rolls to sell for a dollar each, and feel it might be important for it to work the first time, this may not be the place for you.

I started watching some videos, and reading up on bread, but got to that inevitable stage where I just have to have a go and see what happens.

Sometimes you just cant really tell what everyone is on about until you at least discover which bits are important, and which might just be decoration.

So I thought I'd make a small white bread loaf.

Actually this is unfolding in real time. Just like that old hit TV show 24.

But with more bread.

So if you get bored at any stage, try opening four different windows and read four different pages of my blog simultaneously.

So far this has happened...

I started with some bread making flour.

I thought all flour was for making bread, but some must be for cake or for mixing with egg and throwing at politicians.

I secretly suspect it's all the same but I know a politician, so I'll find out later and let you know  the truth of it all.

It seems like a pretty rational thing to do to place the ingredients into a bowl, but I saw a video where someone just mixed on a slab of wood.

I thought they looked slightly more like they knew some kind of secret, as compared to the others, so I went with the slab of wood method.

[Note from the future - It turned out to work just fine. (the mixing that is. I have no idea yet about the loaf) ]

I made a bit of a well in the centre and added some yeast.

See the way I worked "well" in casually, just like someone who knows stuff!

That's about a cup of flour and I'm hoping, exactly the correct amount of yeast.

And a pinch of salt.

You cant really see it, and you cant really tell how much I added, but I kind of liked the textural quality of the photo.

I've read a few bread recipes over the last 24* hours and I am amazed at how much salt everyone is adding.

My little loaf has a pinch, but I've seen recipes that call for a tablespoon for a dough to make two loaves. Unless there are radically different sized table spoons in some parts of the world that I don't know about, it seems a little too much.

The next step, or at least my next step, is to hold the camera in one hand, and slowly add water with the other, whilst squishing it all together with the last, in the hope that it turns into dough.

Which surprisingly it did a bit.

Then a bit more.

I kept adding a splash of water as the hand full of dough picked up more and more of the flour.

After a minute or two of adding water and poking the dough around, it seemed to be taking shape.

From this point, I just worked it around a bit and picked up the remaining loose flour from the slab, until it looked like this.

Its a bit like dough, but a bit crumbly in texture and seems to be something made of flour and water. That is you can still see the flour.

So I started kneading.

Unfortunately I started kneading like my school art teacher told me to knead clay, so I'm not sure how that's going to work. [Note from the future - The bread is currently rising, and I'm researching the next step and find that I should be kneading slightly differently. From what I can gather I should be kneading, then rotating, then kneading then rotating. But who knows.]

After a while it looked like this.

It's seems to be starting to take on a different texture, and seems to be much more unified and less floury.

I figure I'll knead until it stops changing.

I got bored (tired) and felt that this was as good a time as any to stop.

I think it's worked so far, although it seems a little stiff.

Perhaps more water should have been added, but I don't think I can add it now so I'll just stick with what I have.

I shaped it as lovingly as I could and made it nice and smooth on the top by gathering the dough and pulling it under itself.

It's a cold day here today, so I turned Mrs 120 Things in 20 years's coffee machine on.

For some crazy reason it has a cup warmer on the top, but as it turns out, this might be just the place for making my dough do the rising thing.

I put cling wrap over the top because the internet told me to.

Those of you who read this blog regularly, will know that I think that if a job's worth doing, it's worth taking it's temperature, so I stuck a digital temperature probe in with the dough to see what I could see.

I'm not sure 22c is warm enough.

So I thought I'd put my latest theory to the test - That being that the house wouldn't burn down if I stuck a stack of tea towels over the coffee machine's cup warmer.

Only time will tell, but at least I'll have an ongoing record of the temperature thanks to the digital probe.

That should at least help with forensics.

Having covered the apparatus, I thought I'd do some quick research and see what temperature I should really be doing this rising thing at, and have decided that 25c or so is about right, so I wasn't so far off after all.

Also it seems that covering it with towels hasn't done anything. I'm guessing that's just because there must be a thermostat in the coffee maker that holds the temperature at 22c.

We live and fail and learn. But the house didn't burn down.

Which is nice.

It's later, and I've returned to my bread to see the temperature is now sitting at 28c, which I think is still within the good range for the yeast.


Having unwrapped it, I don't think it's really done a lot as far as doubling in size.

Perhaps it did something else while I was away instead.

I followed my shallow research's advice (my research was shallow, I don't have a shallow researcher**) and knocked the non-existent air out of it, and then shaped it into something slightly longer, thinner, and more numerous.

And now I wait.

And peek.

And wait.


It's later still - I just had another peek and it appears to be working. The only (and obvious in hindsight (but I wasn't really expecting success)) problem, is that if they rise much more they will turn into a single loaf. For this reason I've decided a "Hope Loaf" is now a thing, and will always be made out of four equal lengths, formed together into a single square loaf representing something important.

And square.

I've been doing yet more research in the waiting time, and it seems that the last thing you want to have happen is for a skin to form on your dough as it tries to rise. Apparently it restricts it's ability to move freely in four dimensions. I think perhaps my loaf was just too firm and didn't have the required give, but during the second kneading and shaping, it seemed a bit softer and a little looser. I've heard the word "rest" tossed around in recipes and online, so perhaps it's one of those things that  should be listened to.

As usual I'll let you know if it turns out to be important.

I changed my mind. Not about letting you know, but about the bread,

I got a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to get the final mono-loaf out of the bowl, so I removed them individually while I still could, and laid them out on top of the coffee machine on some baking paper. That way I can transfer them to the oven without having to pick them up.

As you can see they got a bit distorted, but I think they will bounce back.

They seem softer again. Perhaps as their structure is broken up by the air bubbles, it's weakening it, but it really seems wetter.

But remember, I have no idea what I'm doing.

For those of you who are temperature interested, the temperature of the stainless steel cup warmer is 32c when tested directly on the surface.

! > I'm baking

Drum roll please......

I made this...

It tastes almost exactly like glue!

120 Things in 20 years - Bread - Hope Loaf. You have to start somewhere, and visuals are as good a place as any right? Right?

*Now might be a good time to divide the screen into 4

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