I started this morning with the full intention of making a loaf of bread, after a successful loaf made last week, despite over-proofing it; chocolate chip cookies, for part of the cookie-making fat debate I have going on for later publishing; and hard-boiled eggs, because there are a little over three dozen eggs in the fridge, 30 of which are farm fresh and need to be used up. All before I needed to get supper on the table, and tonight’s a church night, so I was on a little more of a time limit. I scalded my milk, melted the butter and dissolved sugar while I measured out a cup and a half of bleached flour and three and a half cups of white-wheat flour and mixed it up to warm (I keep flour in the freezer – that may change). I got distracted by stuffing envelopes and sticking address labels (upcoming baby shower), and so when I got back to the milk mixture, the butter had made a skin on top. No big deal – I just warmed it back up to melt, and added my yeast as directed. Last time, I let the yeast sit on top and proof – not this time. This time I got the bright idea to mix it in. I think that may have killed it, because it didn’t proof nearly as well this time as last – instead of a foamy yeast head, there were little blobs of yeast floating in butter and milk. Soldiering on.
I slowly added the milk mixture to the flour, thinking the whole time that I would need to add the whole mix because the air was cooler and drier than last week, and I was working with wheat, so I could definitely use the extra moisture in proofing. I even added an extra teaspoon of yeast to the flour and mixed it in, hoping that even though the proofed yeast didn’t proof well, the extra yeast would help while the dough was rising. The dough got shaggy, and looked too wet, so I stopped short by several tablespoons, and set the dough out to knead before first rise. Even then, I knew something wasn’t right – the dough soaked that “over extra” moisture right up, and felt a little too heavy and rough. Soldiering on.
I oiled my bowl and set my dough inside, turned on my oven light and left the dough, covered, to rise. Timestamp: 1140. First rise is supposed to be two and a half hours. I cleaned up my workspace and washed out my dishes, including the saucepan of milk, sugar and yeast. At the bottom of the saucepan was a thin layer of milky, tan sludge, or what I could only assume was the majority of my yeast. Damn and double damn. Maybe the added yeast to the flour would be enough. Fast forward four hours later, and my dough still hasn’t doubled. I’m tired of waiting, so I decide to see what’s happened. Punching down the dough ball is unpleasant. It’s formed a thin skin that cracks when I push into it, which doesn’t improve my feelings on this dough.
Well, if I can’t make bread out of this – indeed, I’ve soldiered on enough to reap the full end product waste of a dough this dense, and it just makes an inedible wheat brick – I’ll make something else. Pizza is on the menu later this week; I can make pizza crust! Better roll out a piece and see what it does. 20 minutes in a preheated 375F oven, however, does not yield me a pizza crust. Instead, I get a giant pita! My oven isn’t hot enough to get a full puff out of the dough, and I didn’t add any steam, but I still have something that will be plenty serviceable as pita chips or flatbread crisps. And at this stage in the game, I can ALWAYS use some snacky-type things.
I didn’t get chocolate chip cookies done, or hard-boiled eggs, but supper’s in the crockpot and I’m about to start on some fresh cornbread to go with it. And best of all, I didn’t waste a four-pound mass of dough; or two cups of milk, a few tablespoons of butter, and five whole cups of flour, just because what I intended to make wasn’t what I was ending up with. Sometimes you have to get a little creative.
What about you – what kind of adventures have you embarked upon in the kitchen lately? Something not turn out like you wanted, or just turned out to be a bust altogether? Make something you didn’t figure you would? Tell me ’bout it! And if you’ve got any tips for making hybrid wheat bread, I’m all ears. (Note to self: don’t use so much wheat flour next time.. Ease up on your division, there, princess.)