Cooking Through Ratio: Doughs and Batters – More Bread

The bread bug has bitten me.  After experiencing my first loaf of yeast bread, I’m totally hooked. I even made the sweltering trip to Whole Foods yesterday to pick up some extra yeast in a jar this time so that I would no run out anytime soon. After making a fresh baked baguette, I wanted to employ the ratio to make something a bit different. Michael Ruhlman gives a few suggestions and so I settled on what he describes as a sandwich bread recipe which I could make in my bread loaf tin as a variation.

15 ounces of flour and 9 ounces of water are just the right amount to fill a 9 inch loaf pan while keeping true to the 5 parts flour, 3 parts water ratio. This variation also calls for the addition of 2 tablespoons of butter. I made the dough last night but ran out of time to bake it so it was left to rest and rise in the in the refrigerator over night. Tonight I took it out and let it reach room temperature before forcing out the built up carbon dioxide and redistributing the yeast. It was left to rise again for an hour as I made pasta for dinner.

Just before I filled the bread pan with dough, I removed a small portion to use as a started for a second loaf. Ruhlman asserts that yeast is not a key component of the ratio and that is why it is left out. Given enough time and the right conditions, it will do it’s leavening job, which I intended on experimenting with to find out what my results would be like.

With the oven set at 350 degrees, the bread was put into a greased loaf pan and then put into the oven. What kind of sandwich bread would this make I wondered? As I would soon find out, the answer is the most amazing sandwich bread ever enjoyed by me! Crispy, firm and slightly sweet. Absolutely delicious. The dough variation also calls for applying a light egg wash half way through baking which produced “an appealing crust” as promised. The book is exceeding my expectations already.

Sandwich Bread Loaf
Sandwich Bread Loaf

With my “starter” I worked on the sandwich bread variation again using all the same measurements and procedures. With a little extra coaxing and kneading the dough rose almost as much as the first batch. Not bad at all. For flavoring I opted to add a bit of cinnamon and sugar for a tasty breakfast bread.

After spending a few hours in the kitchen on this hot summer day, the heat was noticeable and yet strangely enjoyable. An hour after I put the second loaf it, it was ready with a crispy brown crust.

Cinnamon Bread Loaf
Cinnamon Bread Loaf

To my surprise, after baking, only the crust was darker with the inclusion of the cinnamon. The inside was unaffected and missing the swirls of cinnamon that I expected to see. Despite my visual disappointment, the taste was all there, not as pronounced as cinnamon loaves I have had in the past, but sweet, subtle and very yummy. I’m now suffering from carb overload. It’s a tough job, but someone must endure the pain.

As an aside, the recent pictures I have taken in my kitchen for this and previous posts are not dim for effect, they just are not working properly after the power company made some “repairs” which resulted in the baking in the dark experience on my birthday. My whole apartment now flickers like a ghetto rental in some old movie. Curse them should these electrical issues extend to affect my stove and/or oven.

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