Bread 1.0 in which our baking prowess is questioned

Food ?? Comments Sun 14 December 2014

The culmination of our previously detailed baking problem ended with us in possession of a packet of yeast after a 10pm jaunt to MaxValu in Ishikawa. Determined to use up the two packets of flour we mistakenly bought, still out of bread (courtesy of the ever reliable Jimmy's), and on a high from our baking successes, we were ready - it was time to bake some bread.

My sister had sent me the challah recipe she uses, and we slowly formulated a plan. It was midweek, and rather than do it after uni, Michael argued we needed an early morning start.

If we're going to do this, we need to do it properly. Like bakers do it. Think about it. Hot fresh bread for breakfast! - Michael

So up we got, at 7am, and begin making the dough. The rough plan was to make the dough and leave it to rise whilst Michael went for a run and I, ugh, went back to bed (don't judge me). But we (of course) overestimated our bread making capabilities, and my triumphant return to bed was foiled by the need to stay behind and kneed the dough.

Eventually I got the bread at a reasonably nice consistency (I thought), left it to rise, and as it was 9am we headed in to uni.

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Making do without a rolling pin

The rest of the morning was characterized by mad dashes between the office and our apartment; from 9-10.30, I feverishly submitted multiple simulations to the supercomputing cluster, before running back to the apartment and working/plaiting the dough.

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Leaving it to rise

Then, it was back to the campus at 11am, leaving the dough to rest for half an hour, before returning with bento boxes bought outside OIST. Lunch was consumed in excitement as we stared at the oven (come on, come on).

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Making do without a pastry brush, yet with an unlimited supply of complementary toothbrushes

Finally it was ready, and we pulled the loaves out of the oven. They smelled amazing. But as I went to pick them up, it was obvious something was wrong.

"Uh, they feel pretty solid."

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Bread 1.0: half-risen with a steel enforced crust

I tapped that bottom of the loaf. My new found baking confidence started to sink with each thud emanating out of the load.

"Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure they're meant to be significantly bigger than this." - they were barely larger than when we had put them into the oven.

We hesitatingly cut one of the loaves in half (oh god, the crust feels like reinforced steel) and tried it. To say it was dense would be an understatement

"So. Uh. Perhaps that wasn't flour after all?" we mused, clinging to the slight hope that we could still, after all this, find a way of blaming the ingredients rather than our baking skills.

After a couple more bites (the amazing freshly baked bread aroma convincing us that maybe, maybe the next piece, could be the one), and a short post-baking laughing fit, we realised the insanity of trying to juggle bread making and research at the same time, and resolved to somehow offload the bread.

"Well. We could bring some to morning tea? Oh, and Tania might want to try some!"

We ended up bringing an entire loaf in with us.


"Oh, what's this? - Thomas

"A failure, that's what." - Michael

Surprisingly, by the end of the day, the loaf was gone! It turns out that, no matter how dense the bread, and no matter how inedible the crust, when you're sitting in an office until 5.30pm, even half-risen steel enforced bread becomes an enjoyable midday snack.

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I persevered for a couple more days, until the crust hardened to a stage where I was scared for the wellbeing of my teeth

The only problem is, we still have half a packet of yeast in our cupboard. And it's getting harder and harder to resist the thought that maybe, maybe this time, our bread will be perfect...

Tags: japan okinawa



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