Bread Magic Part Two

By Keith Fisher

Here are the pictures I took of the bread makers at Worlds

Are you ready to continue our discussion about baking bread? Well, first I want to continue with the announcement about the BIG Dutch Oven Gathering (DOG), and international convention. Held April 17-18 at Davis county fairgrounds, (Farmington, Utah).

You can call the county and make reservations to camp on Friday night. I will be there with my portable campfire. After eating at the BIG Dutch oven potluck dinner on Friday evening, you can stop by and roast a marshmallow or three. The convention starts on Saturday morning. There will be vendors, classes, demonstrations and lots of food to taste. It lasts all day, and admission is free.

Now, the bread---last time, we talked about yeast and kneading. I hope you made bread dough and developed a personal relationship with it. Did you play with your dough? Do you know how it feels when you are finished kneading? One thing that all bread makers will tell you is, ingredients and yeast quality aside, kneading the dough is perhaps the most important part of bread.

If you don’t get it right, If you don’t trap the gluten and carbon dioxide in the dough (and distribute them), you will have heavy bread. It will still be good to eat, but it won’t have the perfect cell structure you can see from a bread machine, or the bakery.

Okay I’ve pressed and turned and pounded (get it) kneading long enough. Lets move on to the next steps.

Now that your dough is perfect and you have a relationship with it. (Not a romance, but a relationship). You are ready for the first rise. I’ve heard that letting dough rise in the wrong bowl can hamper your efforts.

They say metals react to yeast, and glass is too smooth and sterile. Wood has pores that collect yeast from the air, which is good. I use a big green Tupperware, bowl. Whatever the material, make sure you have something to cover it with, try to make that bowl the only bowl you use, and dedicate it to the cause.

Okay, time to chat with your neighbor. Like new seeds just planted, Leave the dough alone. It will rise. (You did make sure your yeast was good? Didn’t you?) Have faith in the yeast and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes (the amount of time, is up to you.)

After the dough ball has doubled, punch it down, knead a bit, and form the bread. What’s it going to be? Dinner rolls, full loafs, round loafs, baguettes? I’m mostly going to talk about rolls. But I will show you some others.

Take your big dough ball and start dividing. If it’s braided bread, you will need to make three ropes of equal size. If it is a round loaf, form it by tucking it under itself. If you’re making rolls. You will need at least 24 balls of dough, a little smaller than a fist. How you do that, can vary. Some people take a likely amount of dough in their hands and roll it into a ball. (Possibly the reason they are called rolls?)

I watched a man as he kneaded the dough, then he squeezed off perfect sized balls. Just like a well-oiled machine. He kneaded the batch after every two or three rolls and started again. When he finished making balls, He dipped each ball in melted butter and arranged them in his pot, spacing them to allow for raising.

After you have formed your bread, let it rise again. The bread will double in size and be full of reproduced yeast and gluten loving carbon dioxide. Remember from last week, yeast makes bread light and fluffy, Yeast byproducts make bread taste good. Do you see why we let it rise twice?

My friend, Debbie hair lets the dough rise twice before forming then a third time before baking. If you have good yeast and a warm kitchen this will give you great tasting bread. But Yeast gets tired like we do, so be careful. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than rolls that are flat and hard.

Okay, we’ve gone through the rise and our rolls look fantastic. Now all we need it to bake them. This is where the outdoor cook will differ from the cook using an oven at home. A Dutch oven is just that, an oven. The food is placed directly in the oven and the heat is applied to the outside. No difference right? Okay, there are differences, but believe me when I say, barring bread machines, it really is easier to bake in a Dutch oven, in camp, then in your kitchen.

Remember the rule for coal placement? We will be baking, so we need even distribution of the coals. Now that you have refreshed your memory about coal placement, We will need aprox. 350- 400 degrees and a coal pattern conducive to baking. You don’t need coals in the center under the oven. (The center takes care of itself.)

Be sure to place your bottom ring of coals so they overhang the edge slightly. This will promote heat rising up the sides and browning your bread on all edges. Contrary to certain claims made by certain charcoal companies, every coal does not burn the same. Some are hotter, and some burn longer.

Because of this, you will need to rotate the food between the heat source. More than with other foods, bread will burn where there is a hot spot. So, every fifteen minutes or so, while cooking, turn the lid, ¼ turn and rotate the oven ¼ turn. This will keep the food moving and the hot spots won’t have time to burn the bread.

Are you excited about hot bread with melting butter dripping down your fingers? Good, you’d better get some butter ready, because the bread is almost done. Most have their own method to determine if Bread is done or not. With hard crusted breads, thump the crust with your finger. It will sound kind of hollow.

Some cooks stick a Thermometer probe in and wait for the inside to reach a certain temperature. Some people look for color. I say, It’s up to you. Other than the fact that fillings in stuffed bread often need to be a certain temperature, it’s really up to you. After you have baked bread, you will get your own sense of when it’s done. If you burn it slightly, eat around the burns. If it’s doughy in the center, eat the crust. Every time you bake, take mental notes.

Now let me tell you about Gratitude. When you see the face of your little child, your wife, or husband, and they are enjoying that hot piece of buttered bread. You will know you made it from scratch with loving hands, and you will be glad you made the effort. I will be glad I had a part in persuading you to try it. If you bake it in a Dutch oven, then all the better.

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