When you’ve been doing it wrong over and over for frickin’ decades…

…things can get awfully aggravating.

I bake bread every five days or so, and my recipe makes two standard-sized loaves. I have no complaints with the taste and consistency of my recipe, which I’ve made so often that by now I do it on autopilot. In fact after all this time any slightest change creates quite a disturbance in the force.

And I’ve been contemplating experimenting with a very serious change, because the one complaint I have always had with my recipe is the paltry way it rises. I want higher loaves, and for quite some time it has seemed to me that there was one suspiciously simple way to get that: Don’t divide the bake into two loaves.

That was almost certainly going to turn out to be a bad idea, and I hate waste. But in summer I usually don’t get through the second loaf before it molds anyway. So this morning I decided to give that a try.

Like I said, disturbance in the force. I had already automatically rolled out the dough and cut it in half when I remembered that I wasn’t going to do that. Even kneading it back together meant that loaf wasn’t going to be so great, slices would probably break in half, but I went ahead anyway. Had to time the bake carefully, assuming that one big loaf wasn’t going to bake exactly like two regular loaves always do.

And…


Not a complete success, obviously. Seems like it wants the dough a bit wetter than I usually make it. Also not a complete failure: It didn’t fall like a soufflé, which I half expected.

The proof is in the cutting, and when I let the loaf cool…


…except for the aforementioned ‘you shouldn’t have cut it in half first,’ which I predicted, it seems just fine. Made a sandwich: Works just fine.

Should have been doing this all along. I’m an idiot.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to When you’ve been doing it wrong over and over for frickin’ decades…

  1. taminator013 says:

    Looks pretty tasty…..

  2. Judy says:

    The only time I get a decent loaf of bread is when I ignore my no-knead loaf until it is overflowing the pan. It’s still not the gold standard, my mother’s loaf of bread. So, I have no opinions on what might help you with your bread making. I follow your adventures in bread making with keen interest.

  3. jabrwok says:

    I’m pretty sure you’ve posted your recipe before, but I think I hadn’t started baking regularly when you did so, so I didn’t pay any attention. Do you use yeast or baking powder? Increasing either would presumably help your rise.

    I recently discovered that 24 year old baking powder doesn’t actually work. Who knew?:-)

  4. SLee says:

    jabrwok, the recipe was posted on Jan 11 2018. Enjoy!

  5. Robert says:

    “I’m an idiot”. No, Joel, you’re a baker who makes bread that feeds himself.

    My first attempt oh so many years ago taught me bread yeast and brewer’s yeast ain’t the same thing. Loaves the size and density of a brick. I baked it- I ate it. Slowly. Nowadays I use a bread maker. So much easier and the bread is pretty darn edible.

  6. jabrwok says:

    Thanks. Doesn’t look like Joel needs to add any more yeast anyway!

  7. mac says:

    This evokes “race memories” of how we learned to do most everything else we do – trial and error, and keep what works best. I peer through a glass, darkly, into the dim past, and imagine hordes of bakers going “Hey, not bad!” across the ages; each finding a different way to bake something – whether it’s bread, rolls, biscuits, whatever, and because they had the same aversion to waste that you have, they ate it if they could stand it. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes worse, sometimes just different and perhaps interesting. Each change being the result of accident or planning, or just running low on salt, spilling something, etc.

    Kind of makes you feel connected to history, doesn’t it?

To the stake with the heretic!