Basic Bread Bookends

I am a bit behind on posts. Of late, getting the Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers up and running has been eating into my usual blogging time. Time to catch up.

My all-time favorite book on bread is Emily Buehler's Bread Science. It reads like a lab notebook--a very well-written lab notebook, and that makes me feel right at home.

On page 16, Dr. Buehler gives a basic bread recipe that she calls the "lowest common denominator" of all bread recipes:

        flour        580 g
        water       406 g
        yeast           4 g
        salt            12 g

I am beginning to focus more on unenriched breads (i.e., those without added sugar, butter, oil, eggs, or milk). Why not try my hand at the simplest bread of all? This should test my skill and knowledge.

And so it did. The dough felt wonderful to knead, fold, and shape. And it looked so cute ready to go in the oven:

The aroma of baking bread was delicious, and I ran to the oven to watch the loaf spring (or rise rapidly from the heat of the baking stone). That's when I saw the bread ripping open as it baked:

Taking the bread out of the oven, it felt dense and heavy. No familiar hollow sound when I thumped it. Ut, oh.

When we sliced the bread in half to examine the crumb, we saw that it was overly tight, to the point of being gummy. Tasty like a dumpling, while still hot from the oven. But as soon as it cooled, it would be hard as a rock.

I think I made (at least) two mistakes: I didn't proof the loaf for long enough, and I didn't score it deeply enough. My guess is the first blunder led to the unpleasantly tight crumb. And both errors contributed to the bread violently ripping in the oven.

"We could use these bread halves as bookends for our bread books!," offered my ever cheerful husband. Yes, indeed. Or we could dry the bread in cubes, and make bread pudding or savory stuffing.

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