Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ellen's Birthday Eve ~ 3/16

Bread making day!  Having purchased such foreign items as packets of dry yeast, Crisco and whole milk, I was ready to go.  I read over the recipe several times in advance to make sure I was familiar with all the steps, and gathered up all my ingredients.

I scalded the milk (after figuring out what the heck "scalded" meant), added the yeast to warm water, stirred in sugar and salt and vegetable shortening and flour until it was not sticky, and then I kneaded it for 10 minutes.  Kneading is surprisingly hard work, but it was also fun, in my nice warm sunny kitchen that smelled like yeast.  Folding and squeezing and shaping the soft dough brought back memories of making the bread in my neighbor's kitchen when I was little.
I put the dough in a big bowl, covered it with a clean dishtowel and put it on top of the referigerator to rise.
After an hour, it really HAD doubled in size.  Neat!  It was actually working!   

I punched it down, according to directions, and kneaded it again for five minutes, then back in the bowl and back up on the fridge.
After another hour, it had risen again.  I punched it down, kneaded for another five minutes, then separated it into two equal parts and put them into my loaf pans.  Back onto the fridge under the dishtowel.
After yet another hour (this deal sure is time-consuming) they had risen again.  I put them in my pre-heated oven, and 30 minutes later called Greg into the kitchen for the big reveal.
They came out of the oven looking brown and smelling wonderful, but they looked weird; kind of lumpy and not as smooth and beautiful as I remember my neighbor's loaves were.  I tipped them easily onto the cooling rack and spread a little butter on top, as directed by the recipe.
After letting them cool for what seemed like a ridiculously long time but was actually less than 30 minutes, I cut them open and...

That is not what they are supposed to look like, ideally.  They tasted wonderful and were cooked perfectly, but they were way too dense.  What went wrong?  After some internet reasearch, I realized that when the recipe instructed me to punch the dough down after rising, it should not have been kneaded again.  And then again.  Apparently, the punching itself actually needs to be GENTLE.  Gentle punching!  I overworked the poor dough, and kneaded all the fluffiness out of it.  Still, the yumminess that I remembered was there.
I am going to try again soon, possibly this weekend, and hope for fluffy and yummy perfection!