April 29, 2009

Bread rolls

I've recently finished a masters program (last week, to be exact), and one of the things on my "to do" list now that I've got more free time now was to get over my fear of baking things that involved yeast (i.e. bread). It sounds irrational, but the self-inflicted psychological pressure to make sure the bread rose seemed very challenging!

I took the plunge, and found out that actually the easiest thing about it is the rising - the yeast does the work for you! It's the kneading, the taste and inside crumb texture that are the harder things to tweak to one's satisfaction.

I have tried the French Bread Rolls to Die For recipe twice, with wildly different results each time.

The first time (also the very first time I'd ever cooked with yeast), the crumb was so dense, it was like eating a brick, or some very dry pumpernickel. I think I didn't knead it enough. :(

The second time, the results were much better, but the olive oil was still a bit overpowering and the sugar made the bread too sweet. I made sure to knead it for a full 10 minutes, so the crumb came out perfectly (I did it all by hand as I don't have a bread machine and I enjoy the feeling of kneading the dough, it's very therapeutic). However, the crust was still not crusty like proper French bread, even though I added a tray of water into the oven this time...maybe it's just the drawback of having a mini oven instead of a proper-sized one.

Anywhere, here are the results of my second attempt (I took photos of my first attempt, but can't seem to transfer files from my phone right now, so no joy):

Waiting for it to rise...

Rise, rise, little buns!

Turning a lovely golden brown~

Last bite.

It's got the lovely holes and lightness of texture that I'm looking for, but the taste was a bit off the mark. Still, not bad for my second-ever attempt at making bread. I think I am going on the hunt for a better recipe that makes less sweet and more crusty bread, though I'm not sure if I can achieve a French baguette with my small convection oven.

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