Friday, July 23, 2010

The Agony of Defeat

My plans for entering the bread portion of the Hudson Cream Flour Bakeoff came crashing down around me last weekend.

Really, they came CRASHING down around me and shattered into about a million pieces.

Just so no one believes life always goes as planned here at The County Line kitchen, I am giving a little equal time to my monumental failure. Sure, most of the time, I try to post pretty photos of my cookies, pies and casseroles.

But, here's a little truth in advertising: Sometimes, things don't exactly qualify for a photo session at Better Homes and Gardens (unless they are illustrating the Top 10 Kitchen Disasters of All Time).

Here is Exhibit A - the Wide Angle View, just so everyone can feel a little bit better about any inadequacies they might feel they have in the kitchen.

Even this view isn't wide enough to see the glass that ended up traveling from the dining room all the way to the kitchen when my glass bowl "jumped" off the table and broke into a million pieces (I know it was a million because I had to pick them ALL up!)

I was attempting to make Nutty Orange Wheat Bread. And, if you can look beyond the shards of glass, you can see that it was rising nicely. Too bad it ended up in the trash can.

I was trying to do three things at once, never a good choice. I mixed up the Nutty Orange Wheat bread first. My plan was to enter it in one category for the Bakefest, and then enter Multi-Grain Bread in another category. I also had my Cherry Berry Pie in the works.

You've heard the old adage: Too many cooks spoil the soup. Well, I have a new one: Attempting too many recipes at once is an invitation to disaster.

I had kneaded the bread on a cutting board on the dining room table. In my zealous kneading, I guess I dislodged the table pad a little further than I realized.

When I put the second bowl on the table to rise, I came back in the kitchen. Suddenly, CRASH! I really didn't know what had happened until I rounded the corner and saw my catastrophe. There was so much glass, I thought both bowls had ended up on the floor.

Thankfully, one survived.

It was a sad day. Those glass bowls are my favorites to use for the rising process for bread dough. I was glad one survived my kitchen mishap.

The Multi-Grain Bread dough had landed on a dining room chair, right side up, its glass bowl still intact and the tea towel still covering it. It was a small miracle amidst the disaster.

I let it rise and then shaped it. I've mentioned before that shaping bread into loaves is not exactly my best kitchen skill. I think I have a mental block after years of white ribbons as a Pratt County 4-Her.

So I had a Stafford lady demonstrate the fine art of shaping loaves to my 4-H kids this summer. She bakes bread every single week.

After this session, one of my 4-Hers won the champion ribbon in the intermediate division at this year's fair. She then made four more loaves for the 4-H premium auction, all of which looked better than anything I have ever shaped.

Maybe it's like a second language. If you learn a second language - or the art of bread shaping - in your youth, it "takes" a little more quickly.

Randy would say I need to practice a little more. (I think there's an ulterior motive to that advice!)

Even with some expert instruction, my loaves didn't turn out perfect enough to enter in the bakefest.

Yes, there were few enough entries that I would have placed. But I know how they are supposed to look. This isn't it.

Even though they leave a lot to be desired in the "looks" department, they were very tasty as breakfast toast.

Didn't your mother tell you? Looks are not everything.

A little butter on freshly toasted homemade bread ... that just might be priceless.

Here are the recipes. My advice for you: Don't try to make them both at once. Enjoy!

Multi-Grain Bread
1 cup water
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking, I used quick cooking)
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup unprocessed bran
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 pkg. rapid rise yeast
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs (divided - only one needed if one not used for topping)
Additional wheat germ or oats for topping (opt.)

Heat water, yogurt and oil to simmering. Stir in oats, wheat germ and bran. Set aside until cooled to very warm (120 to 130 degrees), about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, brown sugar, undissolved yeast and salt. Add cooled bran mixture; blend well. Stir in 1 egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half to 12- by 7-inch rectangle. Beginning at short end of each, roll up tightly as for jelly roll. Pinch seams and ends to seal. Place, seam side down, in two greased 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Optional: With sharp knife, make 3 diagonal slashes (1/4inch deep) on each loaf. Lightly beat remaining egg; brush on loaves. Sprinkle with wheat germ or oats.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove from pans; let cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 loaves.

A recipe note: You can purchase both
wheat germ and unprocessed bran at Glenn's Bulk Foods just west of Hutchinson for a fraction of what it costs for the same products from grocery store shelves. If you don't live near there, try a bulk food store in your community.

Nutty Orange Wheat Bread

3 cups whole wheat Hudson Cream Flour
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose Hudson Cream Flour
2 pkg. yeast
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted

In large bowl, combine 3 cups whole wheat flour, yeast, orange peel and salt. Heat milk, water, honey and oil until very warm (120 to 130 degrees). Gradually add to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Let sit 5 minutes for whole wheat flour to absorb liquid. Change to dough hook. After sitting, add toasted walnuts and enough all-purpose flour to a make a soft and satiny dough. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 30 to 45 minutes. Punch dough down. Remove dough. Using about 600 grams of dough, roll into rectangle and then roll as for jelly roll, forming a loaf. Put in a greased 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Repeat for remaining dough. Makes 2 loaves.

Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until done, covering with foil the last 10 minutes to prevent excess browning. Remove from pans; cool on wire rack.

This bread is great toasted for breakfast. (Yes, we have had it before. We just didn't get it this time after the kitchen debacle!)


  1. Sorry about your bowl :( but your bread looks good to me!!

  2. I remember my mom baking bread when I was growing up in Saskatchewan. Summers were a bit cooler than here, and cooler then than they are now. She used to put her bread in the car to rise. Probably not something you could do here.