February 2, 2003 - My First Breadblog Post
OK, great, now I've sold out to the powers of darkness, egotistical ravings, and stark madness. In short, I've added a blog page to the Sourdough Home. As if anyone cared about my ravings.
In this blog, I won't be boring you with details about who I slept with last night (I'm so boring that it was my wife, unless she was out of town, in which case our dog might have curled up at the foot of the bed), the cool drugs I took yesterday (unless you think 1/4 aspirin is exciting, you may reasonably assume I don't take drugs), or why my boss is a total jerk (I'm self-employed... I really can't criticize my boss).
This blog is about bread, because that's one of my major passions. Because I'm a tech-nerd, I'm not using blogging software to do this. I'm just using the same web creation software I use for the rest of the Sourdoughhome web page, Arachnophilia 4.0. If that bothers you, get over it.
Anyway, to the baking anecdote than prompted the creation of the Breadblog. There I was, baking my tail off. I was working on batch of the Black bean and chipotle Pepper, another batch of the Bohemian Rye (with altus), and two batches of Challah. I wasn't being totally masochistic, I was preparing for a church event and had been asked to bring bread. The Challah recipe had always bothered me because you're left with several egg whites left over. And then you break ANOTHER egg to make an egg wash to make the bread pretty. It isn't a big waste, but it is a waste.
So, I decided to try a (small) experiment. I added some water to the egg whites, mixed up the mess, and used that as my egg wash. It worked great! That still left me with a bunch of egg wash though. So I decided to put the wash on the Bohemian Rye and the Black bean and chipotle Pepper breads. It was SUCH an improvement in the appearance of the breads! If you don't use a wash on your breads, you should try it!
I think I'll try a cornstarch wash next... so I don't have to break an egg every time I bake.
How did the breads turn out, you ask? GREAT!!! The black bean and chipotle pepper bread has a wonderfully moist crumb, a great taste, and the peppers add a lovely bite. The Bohemian Rye was the minor disappointment of the day. It was a very nice bread, but the rye and caraway flavors were a bit subdued. I'd only given it one rise, so the rise time was short. Next time, a longer rise.
The real champ was the Challah. I'm still working on that recipe. The tricky part is getting the dough dry enough that it braids well, and wet enough that it works well. It's a delicate balance. The dough was just a little too dry this time. Next time, I'm going to weigh the flour as I use it so I can get better control over the dough. I let the dough rise overnight so it would have time to triple. It did, and then some. And then I made the braided loaves in the morning. What is amazing is how complex the taste of the bread is. If you haven't tried making Challah before, give it a shot... I think you'll be happy with it!