It's good to have goals. For example, one of my goals is to learn how to bake bread, so I decided to join the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge hosted by one of my favorite blogs, Pinch My Salt. The challenge is simple: make every recipe, in order, from Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice.
This book is serious business-- the first hundred pages are all about the science and art of baking bread and there is a lot to learn. Sponges, soakers, dough scrapers, measuring, ingredients, yeast, proofing, retarding, forming, kneading-- it's all covered. The first recipe, Anadama Bread, doesn't even show up until page 108.
With much excitement I kicked-off my BBA challenge this weekend by starting at the beginning with the first recipe Anadama Bread. It all started Friday night with the soaker, which was very easy. All I had to do was combine some corn meal and water in a small bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature over night. Done.
The next day, following the recipe, I added the flour, yeast and water to the soaker so that it would turn into the sponge. I knew the sponge was ready once it started to bubble after about an hour...
...so far, so good.
Once the sponge was bubbling I added in the rest of the ingredients and stirred until it was a big sticky mess in the bowl. At this point I had a choice-- I could knead the bread by hand or use the stand mixer. I chose to knead by hand mostly because I had a romantic notion that I wanted to really feel the bread come together as a true artisan bread baker would.
The book says that it will take 10 minutes of kneading to achieve the desired result-- a pliable, smooth ball of dough that passes the window pane test (that is, you can stretch a piece of the dough so thin that you can see light through it without the dough tearing.).
So, I started kneading. Ten minutes went by and my dough was still sticky. Another ten minutes passes and the dough was still tacky. At this point I started losing my patience and told my husband, "I'm about to give up on this bread." He kindly stepped in to help knead.
Despite adding A LOT more flour to the dough it just didn't feel right. I tried the window pane test-- not even close. Frustrated I walked away to check the book to see if I could troubleshoot the issue. That's when I discovered a giant mistake.
Mr. Reinhart makes a big deal about being organized when baking. One should have their mise en place, which means everything is in it's place. All ingredients should be premeasured and all tools within easy reach. All good advice and advice I should have followed.
Two important things would have happened if I had followed the advice-- first, I wouldn't have destroyed my kitchen and, second, I wouldn't have forgotten to add the butter...
Butter is very important in bread.
There was no going on after realizing the butter mistake... bread without butter is sad.
This is what happens to dough that is missing ingredients...
Sadly, this was how my debut ended in the BBA Challenge. Are my dreams of mastering the art of bread baking over? Of course not! Will I revisit the first hundred pages of the book? Probably. Am I the only person in this challenge who miserably failed the first recipe? I'm not sure, but I'm going to find out!
Are you participating in the BBA Challenge? If so, let me know in the comments and, please, share your advice! Do you want to participate in the challenge? Click here to learn all about it and find out how you, too, can join in on the fun!