Friday, September 04, 2009

Fine Bread

I seldom let bread rise only once before shaping it. It's not discipline; it's disorganization. The bread is rising. I have things to do. I punch it down and plan to deal with it later. Forty-five minutes later, I punch it down, planning to deal with it later. Forty minutes later, I see the bread getting bigger and bigger, and don't want to deal with shaping it into loaves right then, so I punch it down.

And so it goes.

Eventually the bread dough is shaped into loaves, placed into bread pans, rises that one last time and is baked.

Having made a very late start on my bread-baking last week, and the freezer being bereft of frozen loaves, I was in a hurry to get that bread baked and ready for supper. It rose once. I shaped it and baked it. And it turned out crumbly.

Big ol' fat crumbs. Messy cutting board. Harder to spread the peanut butter over the bumpy surface. What's up with that?

After a couple of days, I realized. Repeated risings make for a finer (that is, smaller, tinier, smoother) crumb. My dawdling on the bread, punching and repunching and repunching, actually creates a nicer loaf than allowing the dough to rise only once.

This week, that knowledge provided me the kick-in-the-tusch to do the bread right, with all those repeated punch-downs. (I wonder how long my new resolve will stick with me?)

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