Friday, January 15, 2010

HBin5: It's Official

January 2010 marks the official beginning of the HBin5 Baking Group. There were two warm-up challenges in November and December, but the baking list has now been finalized and we're off and running.

Our first recipe was the whole wheat bread Master Recipe, from which we were tasked to make one loaf of bread, one epi or wreath, and some crackers. I will discuss my results in reverse order since the baking went from bad to good during the whole process.

My dough came together easily and rose exceptionally well, so I can't quite explain the failure of the epi-wreath, described below.

The crackers came last.

I played around with these and found it was easier to lay the strips of dough on the cookie sheet before cutting them into bits. I used kosher salt, toasted sesame seeds, and nigella seeds as a decoration instead of the chili powder. I think I docked them a bazillion times, but some of them obstinately puffed in the oven.

The ones that baked the longest turned out to be the chewiest, whilst the ones that baked in the least amount of time came out the crispiest. Go figure.

The second baked item was the loaf of bread. I just kept it simple. It rose nicely and had good oven spring when baked.

The first bread I baked with the dough was the epi-wreath. It appeared to rise just fine, but shrunk while baking. It was flat, flat, flat. Like a frisbee.

I nearly threw out the rest of the dough, but gave myself 24 hours to think it over. In that time period, the dough rose again, even in the refrigerator, so I went ahead with the loaf and the crackers.

I don't know why the bread didn't rise. It tasted fine. It photographed fine. But it was a failure. It's a mystery.

To see how the other HBin5 bakers fared, check out the blogroll on Michelle's blog, and feel free to join us if you dare!


Megan said...

Just what I need - another baking group! I would love to continue working on my bread making skills - and soon. I think I need to check this book out.

Michelle said...

Nigella Seeds...I am going to look for it as it sounds wonderful!

Your crackers look great! And the loaves of bread are gorgeous. I really don't see anything wrong with the Epi at all. It looks like it rose fine in the photo.

Cristie said...

Your boule got a great rise, and looks wonderful. The crackers seem like some of the best I've seen. Maybe the epi had risen and then fell in the oven? Baking is always somewhat of a mystery for me, it's part of the charm.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia @ ButterYum said...

I'm not a bread baker, so I can't offer any advice other than to say keep on keepin' on!

PS - it looks pretty ;)

Unknown said...

it all looks wonderful! I wish I could've gotten those pretty edges on my crackers. did you use a pizza cutter?

Susan said...

Hmm, another baking group. Should I join? I have the book and actually have some of the whole wheat dough in my fridge right now. :)

Megan said...

Your crackers are quite pretty. Mine were all distorted and awkward.
And at least you made an epi! ;)

Jen said...

love how your crackers turned out!! so jealous!

Kim said...

I have had some trouble getting my dough to rise and have found that I double the rising time. I think everything looks wonderful though! I love the toppings on your crackers.

Cathy (Bread Experience) said...

I think your loaves look wonderful and the crackers look delicious! I had a little bit of trouble with the wreath myself. One of my attempts rose really nicely the other two not quite so much.

Jacque said...

Well, your wreath gets style points anyway... so cool! I'll bet the HBin5 group is going to be a lot of fun, and delicious to boot.