Hello bread – coder’s trek to mastering baking

I’m always interested into cooking and baking, because I found they are quite similar to coding in some way. Both coding and cooking/baking needs you to follow some guide first, step-by-step, make something simple but nice out. Once you get into it, you start to try out different stuff, and there all the innovations come. That’s why you can see there are so many coding books/documents name in “XXX Cookbook”.

I’m fascinated by the cookies and biscuits made by my wife, they taste delicious. And more importantly, it makes you feel you can make better things than those on supermarket’s shelves by using simple ingredients like butter, salt, water etc and following some simple step-by-step guide. So I decided to start my journey to become a codebaker (not code breaker).

So my journey starts with a popular bread-baking book: The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

It looks so simple to me so after reading the book and watching some youtube videos I bought tools like baking stone, pizza peel, and bucket then started my baking journey – very confidently.

And here traps come one-by-one……

Try #1 – 17 Nov, 2013

I read through the recipe and remember the quantities of two main ingredients very well – 680g and 910g. So I used 910g lukewarm water, add in yeast, salt, and 910g unbleached all-purpose flour, and use a wooden spoon to mix it. It goes very well!

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It mixed very well, very smoothly… everything looks so perfect, so simple… except for one thing…why the dough in the demo video looks a little bit different???

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day - YouTube

I think it might be the flour is different, maybe my scale is not accurate at all. So I started to add more flour, more and more flour, but it still is wet like liquid. So finally I felt something wrong, but couldn’t figure it out. I showed the book to my wife, and said, look, here is the ingredient list – lukewarm water, 680g, and all-purpose flour, 910g, 680g, and 910g, exact what i have measured… Wait a minute, water 680g and flour 910???

It was about mid-night but I’ve decided to re-make another batch.

This time, with correct measurement, the dough finally looks correct.

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After putting on kitchen counter overnight, the dough raised a lot.

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Try #2 – 20 Nov, 2013

The dough looks appealing, so I think baking should be simple. Plus, I’ve already watched youtube for breadIn5 many times. So it must be a small case for me. I decided to make two breads. I dusted pizza peel with cornmeal, dusted the wet dough with flour and started gluten-cloaking, then let the dough rest.

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During rest, it seems the dough grows horizontally, instead of growing tall. I felt that should be fine, as the book mentioned the dough is wet, so will not grow like traditional dough. After 40 mins, I tried to slip the dough into pre-heated oven, and encountered first problem – the doughs are refused to slip in!

And to make it worse, the second dough fell down a little bit and was stuck with the dough in front!

What a disaster! I had to use a spatula to push the dough onto baking stone and both doughs were out of shape. After about 25 mins, I took them out.

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The skin was nice, curst and crispy, but inside was soggy. Fail.

Try #3 – 21 Nov, 2013

The book has mentioned couple of reasons that could lead to soggy crumb. It could be too much water, oven not hot enough, not enough preheating, not enough resting or not enough cloaking.

This time I’ve added more flour during cloaking, and used more cornmeal.

The bread slipped into oven nicely.

But it was over-baked… The skin was burnt, while inside was still soggy.

Fail!

Try #4 – Today

Again, dusted with more flour, and cloaked nicely, let it rest on pizza peel. At same time, pre-heat oven. A good start indeed!

Now time to slip the dough onto baking stone. I felt the cornmeal was enough this time.

But shit happened again.

When slipping the dough, for some reason, it flip over directly onto the stone, so the dough became upside-down. The cornmeal covered bottom facing up. Epic fail!

Try #5 – Today

Immediately after the upside-down accident, I started another one by using up the rest of dough of this batch. And also started to mix another batch of dough. This time I’ve put in more flour to make it a bit drier.

Cloaking was good, resting and pre-heating were good too.

When slipping in the dough, there’s a corner not dusted with cornmeal so it stuck on pizza peel a bit, made a small corner on the round dough. But other than that, it was good.

Baking time is good also, though I felt a bit over-baked. And this time both bottom and skin were crust. Unfortunately the inside part was still wet. Maybe the dough was too wet so no matter how the inside part was always same.

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Looking forward to next bake.