10 - 2009

How is your bread?

Just about three and a half months ago, I published a lengthy post on the way I’ve been making bread, using a melding of techniques from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and no-knead recipes. Since that time, I’ve kept on baking, and I wondered if you have, too.

If you want to find all the bread info from that time, I followed up my post with a post linking to the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day blog as well as to some other tips found around the Web.

And in this “Reader Mailbag” post, I answered some questions that came in with the hundreds of comments on that original post.

Since then, I’ve heard of a few other issues with bread, and I wonder if others are widespread?

The pink problem

I heard from one friend that her bread, forgotten in the back of the fridge for a few days, started to turn pink and smell foul — beyond sourdough-tart. Pink dough is not good!

I haven’t had this issue, despite keeping my dough for two weeks or so in my refrigerator (around 40-43F). I would suspect temperature or some stray bacteria for this bread-party foul. Hopefully, a good cleaning and fresh start did the trick.

The charred problem

My mother, on the other hand, had a problem with my recipe. It worked fine at first. Later, though, loaves got done much sooner (around 30 minutes) and were burned on the bottom.

I suggested her oven was hotter than mine. This was confirmed when I whipped up some lasagna at her house. When I checked on it, I almost burned my face when I opened the oven door and steam poured out! My oven doesn’t hold heat like hers does. Good for her — but she needed to turn it down. (She said she turned down the temperature and shortened the bake time for better results.)

The temperature problem

Interestingly enough, shortly after this conversation with my mother, I started noticing at my house that cookies weren’t baking as fast … and pizza wasn’t baking as fast ….

I picked up an oven thermometer and checked out the situation. Sure enough, when my oven is on its regular setting, if I set it for 450 degrees Fahrenheit, it heats right up … to 375F. We do have a “fast bake” convection feature, and when that fan is running, the oven gets to the temperature as we set it.

(On a side note, I’ll just mention that it’s about time our oven quit working properly — after all, it’s nearly four years old! {And yes, that comment is dripping with sarcasm.})

What about you?

Are you still baking? Are you successful, or have you had to tweak the routine to get it working properly for you?

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