Friday, November 2, 2012

My First Commercial Yeast Bread

I have baked a lot of sourdough loaves over the last year and a half but I have never made a loaf of bread with commercial yeast. I had two packets of yeast left from making guava and cream cheese rolls for the Willow Bird Baking Challenge and wondered what I'd make with them. I thought it would be donuts until on Sunday my friend sent me a panicked message asking for help with her No Knead Bread. Yes, that famous New York Times No Knead Bread. She said it was watery but she followed all the instructions.

There are several reasons why her dough could have been watery. Maybe she accidentally added too little flour or too much water. I have found that different brands of flours absorb water differently too. Humidity could also play a role. Too many variables to diagnose. I decided that since I had some commercial yeast, I'd try this famous loaf.

It's hard for me to go back to baking bread using volume measurements since I am so used to weighing my ingredients but I decided to stop being picky. I made two changes. The original recipe called for 1 5/8 cup of water and I ditched that additional 1/8 cup. When stirring together, I could see that my dough could have used those additional two tablespoons and it would not have made a difference. I also replaced 1/4 cup of the water with beer.

I mixed it up and it definitely was not watery -sticky but not watery. In fact, I have made loaves with a higher hydration. She said she added more flour but after the bulk ferment, it went back to watery. I waited 18 hours but mine did not get watery. It smelled wonderful though. Love that beer smell.

I just took it out the oven and  I can hear it crackling behind me as it cools down. I can't wait to slice it. It's a beautiful loaf. I think I'm in love!