Review Baking My Way Through Bread Illustrated

WirlyWirly

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For a few years now, I've been selecting a skill/area and developing it over the course of a few months. It's amazing what you could learn in a weekend, but if you do it for a few months the growth is incredibly rewarding. For skills that I expect to be slow-and-steady, I like to keep a log of them, which keeps me motivated when I think I haven't made any worthwhile improvement.

I'm currently in the middle of working on a skill, however I've decided to squeeze in another that I've always wanted to improve on; Culinary

I learned the basics from my mother and am comfortable making some of her dishes, however I'd like to start from scratch and get a more in-depth education.

I've selected 3 books related to culinary and will be working though them, cover-to-cover, simultaneously for the next few months/year.
  • Mastering Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Tools in Your Kitchen by Norman Weinstein
  • The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Become a Great Cook by America's Test Kitchen
  • Bread Illustrated: A Step-By-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results at Home by America's Test Kitchen
As of this today, 12/12/2020, I have completed 47% of Mastering Knife Skills, 5% of Cooking School, and 15% of Baking Illustrated.

Since knife/cooking/bread making are all life-skills, I'll be improving them indefinitely. That said, my goal is not just to complete these books as quick as I can, but to maximize the time I invest by analyzing what I'm doing so that I can soak-up as much as possible from each book.

The intention of this thread is to log my bread-making progress as I work my way (cover-to-cover) through the book Bread Illustrated: A Step-By-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results at Home

Because I'm juggling my personal life as-well as developing other skills, my goal is to do 2-3 breads/week, which seems very realistic.

With that said, here's my bread, organized into their respective sections in the book! :toast:

Starting From Scratch: 12 Foolproof Breads That Teach the Basics
#1: Quick Cheese Bread

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12/08/20: I don't actually like cheese (I was in it for the experience), so for me this turned out pretty gross. However my room-mates finished it so I guess it wasn't too bad. I don't have a bread pan (I'll buy one tomorrow!), so I used the closest thing I had. It turned out to be too wide so the bread looks pretty flat (Though it did rise well in in relation to the size of the pan). The texture and taste (I assume) is there so I'm calling it a success!


#2: Southern-style Corn Bread
12/10/20: I forgot to take a picture of this one, however I didn't find the right type of corn-meal and didn't think it would be a big deal... It was, and I threw the entire thing out. The texture was unbearable. Like my other book, Cooking School, said "Follow the recipe, at-least the first time". Lesson learned, next time I'm at the grocery store I'll look for the right type of corn-meal and try again.

#3: Brown Soda Bread
7E5Ub8V.png

12/12/20: This was the first bread that actually has you do some kneading, though it's only very briefly so I used my new bread-kneading mat (Which was SO much better than my countertop). Before starting this book, I'd made a couple breads which I kneaded in my stand mixer. This bread turned out well and I liked the flavour. The exterior was crunchy and the interior was thick and not too-dry. I'm calling this one a success!
 
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Burt Blank

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I have been making bread for a very long time. For yeast bread in my opinion choosing the correct flour is Important. In the UK I used Canadian flour here we use Serbian flour. Reason is that both are milled from hard winter wheat and have a protein content between 13/15 %.
Next I would first concentrate on one method. I used to show my nieces and nephews the Poolish method.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJs8FrlZQB0&ab_channel=JustOneBite%2CPlease%3F
 

WirlyWirly

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Thanks for the tip, I've been getting my flour from the bulk bin at my local grocery store. I have no idea what the quality is like in comparison to other brands. I'll have to buy a couple small bags of various brands and experiment.

My biggest problem right now is that my kitchen/house is usually about 60F, which means my yeast-breads would take all-night to rise. My oven has a "Bread Proofing" option, which works well, but I'm worried it also dries out my dough. I cover the container with plastic wrap just in-case.
 

Burt Blank

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which means my yeast-breads would take all-night to rise
Superb, the longer the rise the tastier the bread. In the summer here we prove overnight in the top of the fridge. If you want a quality product buy quality flour with a minimum of 13% protein/gluten.
 
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