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Sunday, 26 October 2008

Flat wild bread isn’t as terrible as I thought

summary: wild bread decorated with herbs; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

wild bread Amazingly, in spite of being flat as a pancake, heavy as lead with an overly moist crumb, the wild bread I made yesterday tasted quite good with T’s phenomenally good pâté. It also went very well with his equally excellent white bean soup.

But before you think I’m happy about the result, let me assure you, I’m not. I’m completely dejected. Disheartened. Because my plan was to be just as dazzling as T.

I really wanted to make not sour wild bread and was going to try the experiment to shape the bread immediately after it had been kneaded – thus putting the bread through only one rise. (Where did I get this idea? I cannot recall but it seemed like a good one at the time.)

Positive of brilliant success, I also decided to copy Susan’s (Wild Yeast) beautiful herb decoration on the roasted garlic bread she made for WBD2008. (If you haven’t seen her bread, you should look. It’s stunningly beautiful. Naturally, HER wild yeast bread rose….)

Yes, indeed, I’m riddled with bread envy!

I was certain the bread was going to turn out. The last time I made wild bread (for my 15 minutes of fame), I got the most amazing oven spring after baking bread that I thought hadn’t risen and wasn’t going to rise.

So this time, when the bread didn’t rise again, I thought, “no problem! I’ll just bake it and it will be fabulous”. Quel stupid idea.

wild bread Just after shaping the bread, not having flat leafed parsley as Susan had used, I placed curly leafed parsley and some dried cranberries on top of the shaped round. And put it in the oven with only the light turned on to rise (ha… all it did was spread out). Just before baking the bread, I slashed a ring around the herbs and sprayed it liberally with water.

Then I made another tactical error and scattered more flour over top. Silly me.

wild bread I don’t think the bread changed in size one iota. Except to buckle and bulge a little on top.

The crumb was overly moist – almost as if the bread was not baked enough – even though the internal temperature was around 210F. I’m still convinced that the bread had not risen enough before being baked. And yet, there are the tell-tale signs of lazy baker’s bedroom at the top of the loaf, indicating over-rising. Not a chance that that occurred.

Here are my speculations about why the bread failed:

  • The starter wasn’t active enough.
  • I used my digital scale instead of cups to measure the ingredients. :lalala:
  • The dough wasn’t kneaded enough.
  • The rising temperature was too cold.
  • It’s a bad idea to shape immediately after kneading.
  • The oven was not pre-heated properly.
  • The bread was not baked long enough.

Eventually, I might learn how to make wild bread when the kitchen is cold… but I don’t think it’s going to be any time soon. I have wrap myself in a quilt, retreat into the comfort of our rocking chair, holding the active dry yeast jar and lick my wounds.

On a happy note, the challah I made yesterday (yes, I used active dry yeast in it) was fabulous. Wait til you see!


  • Susan/Wild Yeast

    Sorry it didn’t turn out the way you wanted but it does look very pretty! I quite like the curly parsley and the cranberries are a festive touch.

  • MyKitchenInHalfCups

    You are too funny Elizabeth! First it’s terrible, then it’s not so bad but it’s still terrible, then you tell us you baked a spectular Challah but your holding your yeast jar and licking your wounds. Too funny! But I know just how you feel ;)

  • ejm

    That’s nice of you to say, Susan. And I think it might have been quite lovely if I hadn’t dumped flour on it just before baking it and the bread had risen. But as it is, it looks a little as if the bread has gone moldy already.

    What I neglected to say,Tanna, was that everyone but me refuses to eat the failed bread. I’m the only one who will deign to ingest something that could double as a doorstop and only because I can’t bear the idea of throwing it out, onto the compost or scattering it for the birds. (Imagine the chagrin if even the birds refused to eat it!) So, the wild yeast bread was indeed terrible… :stomp: The challah, on the other hand, was fabulous. I really must write that up soon!


  • Dee

    Oh dear, I fear I’m terribly underqualified to comment. All that talk of wild bread and tell-tale signs and fabulous challah has me more than a little intimidated. You see, even Mark Bittman’s a-five-year-old-can-do-it bread had me flummoxed initially. You, on the other hand, sound amazing!

    Thank you for stopping by, Elizabeth. I do hope you enjoy the pear and buckwheat bread – I’d love to know how it turns out.

  • Susan from Food Blogga

    That’s too bad, Elizabeth. I really do think it looks good though. And thanks for giving the rest of us a head’s up. Now, go enjoy a slice of your challah bread. :)


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