Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Big Bread Experiment

Welcome to the Squirrel Family and also welcome to all my followers to date whom I have not said hello to. 

I watched the above 3 part programme on BBC2 this week and found it fascinating. It is quite true that you are never to old to learn.

My bread works about 95% of the time, the other 5% are problems with either rising or too wet/too dry due to me trying to rush the process. So today, taking a leaf out of the artisan bakers book I made it differently.

Normally, I would add flour, yeast and salt together, add the liquid plus oil or melted butter and knead until a gentle push on the mixture with my finger bounces back. Two things are incorrect in this process apparently (although not according to every cook book on bread has shown).

One, don't add the salt at this stage as the yeast doesn't like it. So I missed it out and only when kneading was almost complete did I scatter my salt onto my work top and worked it in. This went surprisingly well.

Secondly, I had not been kneading to the 'transparent window' stage. Say what!!!

Yes, apparently, you need to knead your dough to the point whereby if you lift the outside edge of it and gently tease apart, it should become semi-transparent, like a window, without breaking.

Now, I normally knead my bread to a rough count of 100 – around 5 minutes. After that, the finger push usually bounces out. Today however, I did it for the required 10 minutes before dividing it in two to use for two different recipes and carried on kneading. I gave up at the breaking window stage as my arms would no longer function.

After a quick rest, I added 1 tablespoon of wholegrain mustard to one loaf and kneaded it again until smooth. The other one was similarly worked on but had 2 tablespoons of mincemeat included rather than the mustard. They both became as slippery as eels after these additions but eventually became smooth.

They have worked very well both in taste and appearance. They are as light as mine normally are (in the 95% good bracket), but the texture was definitely more light and airy.

The left hand one is the mincemeat and the wholegrain mustard is on the right. We had slices of this with our left over soup from yesterday and you could taste the mustard - very nice. Might try 2 tablespoons next time to try and find out how much is too much!


  1. Your loaves of bread look gorgeous. It sounds an easy enough recipe too. Well done.

  2. It sounds as if it`s all in the time of kneading as well as the last minute salt addage.
    I must remember that when making some bread in the future. Thanks for meantioning it here!

  3. They both look absolutely gorgeous, haven't tried mustard in bread yet but love sun dried tomatoes for having with soup. I too have enjoyed watching the programme but then I do love homemade bread whatever the flavour....yum!!

  4. Thanks for the comment on my blog. I hope we get to see your decorations tomorrow!

  5. Your bread looks great to me - I've not seen the Big Bread Experiment programme. I generally only make white and occasionally granary or wholemeal loaves. I don't knead by hand but use a dough hook and a mixer but today it 'died'. It looks like I'll be kneading by hand until it gets fixed. Thanks for your tips.
    Love from Mum

  6. Thanks for the welcome!

    I watched the show too and really enjoyed the tips. Like you I kneed for not long enough, i must experiment and not resort to the machine!


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