bear - ingn.1 the manner in which one comports oneself; 2 the act, power, or time of bringing forth offspring or fruit; 3 a machine part in which another part turns [a journal ~]; 4pl. comprehension of one's position, environment, or situation; 5 the act of moving while supporting the weight of something [the ~ of the cross].
The first thing I'm going to try is leaving out the added sugar, seeing how well the yeast performs without it. So today's recipe is as follows:
Whole-Wheat "Buttermilk" Bread
1 and 1/2 cups whole milk, soured with 1 and 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar 2 Tbsp coconut oil 3 cups whole wheat flour 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast 1 and 1/2 Tbsp wheat gluten 1 tsp salt
Add soured milk, coconut oil, flour, and yeast to bread pan. Mix 5 minutes on quick-bread cycle. Stop the machine. Sprinkle salt and gluten on top of the dough. Set timer so that dough soaks at least 7 hours before machine comes on.
I set up the machine about 3 p.m. and it will come on around 3 in the morning, so this loaf will get about 12 hours soaking time. (Why's the gluten on top and not mixed in? Simple, I forgot to add it till after mixing. I don't think it will matter much.)
Look for an update to this post with a photo, tomorrow morning.
This time, of Experiment #4, the one where I soaked flour and sour milk for 24 h or so and then added it to the machine with sugar, yeast, salt, and gluten when I was ready to bake. The idea behind this procedure is that I would just keep flour soaking in acidulated liquid all the time, in the fridge, and just take a lump of it out when I want to set up the bread machine. Much like now I keep dry flour in the pantry, and scoop some out when I want to make bread.
It didn't turn out quite as nicely:
To be fair, a sudden schedule change left the bread sitting in the oven with me unable to take it out for a few hours. Maybe it collapsed well after it was baked. I don't know.
It tastes fine. But the Experiment #3 bread tastes more complex and, I don't know, warmer. I definitely prefer it.
This method has a couple of advantages. The soaking flour doesn't take up the bread machine, so you can be soaking and baking at the same time. And with the flour and liquid already mixed in, setting it up was easy, just throw a couple things into the pan....
...almost too easy...
**smack** (sound of my palm hitting my forehead).
I think I left the oil out. Maybe that's why it doesn't taste as nice.
So in my last post I told you of my experiment of making bread soaked (for something like twelve or thirteen hours) in the bread machine, all mixed up except for the salt on top, with a small amount of yeast. Check this out:
Mmm! (It needs more salt, but that's the recipe, not the technique.)
This is by far the nicest-looking, nicest-textured bread that's ever come out of my machine. (I don't much mind gnarly tops and open crumb, so I haven't bothered to troubleshoot my recipes so they always come out perfect, nor am I usually around to check the dough condition during the knead cycle.)
If I were to do this every day or every other day, how would that work out?
Well, let's see. Suppose I want the bread to come out for breakfast: that means the machine finishes at 6:30 a.m. Breadmaking takes four hours, so it would come on around 2:30 in the morning. I could set the timer no sooner than 5:30 p.m. The minimum soaking time is 7 hours and what I tested was about 13 hours, so to get bread that's risen no more than this I'd need to mix the bread between 1:30 in the afternoon (setting the timer in the evening) and 7:30 p.m. I could let it rise longer, beginning as soon as I got up in the morning, or as soon as I got the pan cleaned out from the previous day.
In other words, a one-loaf-a-day, fresh-bread-at-breakfast baking schedule would look like this:
6:30 a.m. Take the bread out of the machine, let it cool in the pan while I start the coffee, shake it out of the pan and leave it to cool on a rack. Fill pan with soapy water. Go upstairs to shower and dress while bread cools.
7 a.m. Slice bread for breakfast, if desired. Clean bread pan.
Between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Mix recipe in bread machine pan and knead for 5 minutes. Reset bread machine. Turn on the bread machine and set the timer to produce bread at 6:30 a.m.
Optional longer soak: Start the bread any time, but don't forget to set the timer in the evening!
You bet I'm wishing I had a 24-h timer on my machine.
If I wanted fresh bread for dinner, I'd want the bread to come out of the oven around 5 p.m. So the machine would come on around 1 p.m. and I could set the timer no sooner than 4 a.m. Seven to 13 hours soaking time means mixing the bread between midnight and 6 a.m. Not gonna happen! On the other hand, I could let it rise longer (probably --- I would have to test it to be sure) and that would mean mixing the bread in the evening and setting the timer in the morning. Do-able as long as I remember to set that timer.
So a one-loaf-a-day, fresh-bread-for-dinner schedule would be:
5 p.m-6:30 p.m. Take the bread out of the machine for dinner. Let it cool ten minutes in the pan, then shake it out of the pan and soak the bread pan. Let bread cool 20 min before dinner.
8 p.m. or so. Wash the bread pan and mix the new bread. Stick it in the machine.
Morning. Set the timer.
That's not too bad either.
We typically eat less than one loaf per day, so if I got one more bread box I could save extra and then just skip a day whenever we had too much bread.
One disadvantage to this method is that the bread machine pan would be occupied for much of the day, which means fewer opportunities for spur-of-the-moment pizza dough or cinnamon rolls. If I baked bread on a morning schedule, I could still use the machine to make dough for lunch, and I could decide in the afternoon to make something else for the breakfast bread. There's also time to bake an (unsoaked) extra loaf of bread if necessary, in time for dinner! If I baked bread on an evening schedule, lunch pizza could not happen unless I planned ahead and soaked the bread first in a separate bowl. I suppose I could transfer the dough to a separate bowl if I suddenly decided to use the bread machine in the middle of the day.
I'm thinking the morning schedule is a lot better.
Since protecting the yeast with layers of dry ingredients worked so well in my twoprevious experiments with soaking flour in the bread machine, I decided to abandon other ideas of protecting the yeast from moisture during the soak.
My next two experiments are on the counter right now.
On the left, in the bread pan, we have Experiment #3, "What happens when the bread is pre-mixed with a little bit of yeast and allowed to rise slowly at room temperature while soaking?"
On the right, in the mixing bowl, Experiment #4, "Is it more convenient to soak the flour and water separately and add it to the pan at bake time?"
Let's take a closer look at #3. I modified the original recipe for whole-wheat buttermilk bread as follows: I measured the soured milk, coconut oil, flour, gluten, and sugar into the pan along with only one-half teaspoon of yeast. I mixed the dough on the quick bread setting and unplugged the machine when it switched to BAKE. Then I pulled the bread pan out and added the salt on top of the dough --- I left it out of the mix so that the salt would not inhibit the reactions I'm trying to get while soaking, but I still want salt in my bread.
I debated whether I should leave the sugar out too, but in the end decided to add it because my worst-case scenario is that the yeast rises too much. That's worst because bread over-rising can make a mess in the breadmaker; bread under-rising just produces, well, flat bread.
I covered the pan with plastic wrap and left it on the counter. I'll set the timer and stick it in the machine as soon as we get within 13 hours of breakfast.
Now, let's move on to Experiment #4 in the bowl:
Not much to see here. This is just flour and soured milk, mixed in a bowl with a spoon. It's going to sit on my counter for a day, after which time I will transfer it to the bread pan and complete the recipe.
It occurred to me just now that since I use raw milk, I probably didn't need to sour it with vinegar for this step. It probably would have soured just fine at room temperature without help. (Don't try this with pasteurized milk. They do different things when you let them sit out.)
I guess I should consult the official bearing blog epidemiologist to find out if I'm endangering anyone's health here. Since it's ultimately going in the oven for an hour, I figured it would be okay...
UPDATE. About eight hours after mixing these up, #3 (the one with the small quantity of yeast) has risen appreciably in the pan. Before and after:
The crumb is very open and spongy, a little more than I like in a sandwich bread (almost French-bready in texture, I think). So there's something in the recipe that needs to be tweaked. But the technique worked okay. No explosions, no disasters, and the flour got to soak for 8 hours.
I decided to stop Experiment #1 early, and baked the bread after about 4 hours of soaking. Here's why:
The question I wanted to answer was: Will the yeast stay dry? After 4 hours there wasn't any sign that the dry flour the yeast was sitting in had gotten even the slightest bit moistened. I decided it was safe to stop the counter-top experiment and try a timed-in-the-bread-machine experiment instead; I no longer worried that the yeast would get wet and explode the dough all over the inside of my bread machine.
I was concerned that the dough was drying out too much. So I thought, "If I bake the bread now, I can check it during the knead cycle and add back enough water to rehydrate it. Then I'll know about how much water to add to my recipe next time."
(Mark, later: "Why didn't you just weigh it to find out if it lost an appreciable amount of water?" Well. Duh. Even though I have two degrees in chemical engineering, I have been cooking for far longer than I have been using laboratory equipment, and I tend to forget to replace my (imaginary) chef's toque with my (imaginary) lab goggles when I need to do any sort of analytical cooking, or cooking analysis. See here for another example.)
So, having learned "the yeast will stay dry if protected by a layer of dry flour," I put the pan in the machine and turned it on. When the beep sounded during the knead cycle I checked it... and discovered an apparently perfectly hydrated dough ball. It hadn't dried out at all! (Or, if it did, I had put in extra liquid to begin with.) The bread baked up fine, a little bit short and dense perhaps (Cathie says that vinegar might inhibit the yeast), but tasty. I like a denser bread for toast anyway.
So: experiment #1, even though aborted, tells me the yeast can safely sit on top of the rest of the ingredients separated by dry white flour, and that the bread (though it looks dry) won't dry out too much in 4 hours.
Still, I'd like to keep it wet all through, and having read a little bit more about bread soaking I decided to try the following procedure for Experiment #2. (The original recipe is at the link above for Experiment #1.)
I mixed soured milk, all but 2 Tbsp of the whole wheat flour, and coconut oil in the bread machine as "quick bread," the only setting that begins the MIX cycle immediately. Then I turned off the machine before it could start the BAKE cycle.
I mixed sugar, salt, 2 Tbsp white flour, and gluten powder in a small bowl. This was about 1/3 cup dry ingredients.
I covered the wet mixture with the dry ingredients, leaving an extra heap on the very top.
I dug a little well in the dry ingredients and added the yeast to that.
I set the machine's timer to complete the bread 12 hours later (allowing for 8 hours soaking).
See, it occurred to me that the gluten, sugar, and salt don't need to be soaked (in fact it's probably better if they're not mixed in there, and if kept dry, they could add to the total volume of dry ingredients and provide a thicker blanket with which to cover the wet flour mixture.
Here it is in the machine, waiting. See how I've nearly covered the wet dough with dry stuff this time?
When I locked the pan into the machine after adding the dry ingredients, some of my yeast pile tumbled over and made contact with a bit of the moist dough (center right of the photo). I haven't noticed any activity in that spot about 3 hours after setting it up, but I'll keep an eye on it.
Mark made up the chart, and the "rules" at the top.
It's like this: I am supposed to begin doing something to bring my weight back to the middle whenever any of the conditions described in the rules are met. I cannot return to normal behavior until the running average of five measurements in a row crosses the midline again.
This is great, except that I have not gotten around to defining "normal behavior," nor the positive and negative types of "doing something." Right now "normal behavior" is "more or less eat what I want" and "doing something" is "eat less than I want." (I have only slipped into the land of underweight-must-eat-more once.)
I really won't feel that I'm doing this properly, and proactively, until I've figured out what "normal" ought to include.
Thinking back in this post to my days as an insecure graduate student, constantly certain that I was going to be exposed as an impostor with worthless research, had me thinking for a moment.
I started by googling the name of the person that MrsDarwin called "Mr. Put-Down Eminent Scientist" (properly, I guess, "Put-Down-Eminent-Scientist-san") to see if I could find out whether he suffered in his home life or not, as she hoped, but I came up empty-handed of evidence either way. He appears to be doing well professionally. (Nope, I'm not naming names, and I expect the set of people who could possibly figure out who I'm talking about is small and unlikely to intersect the set of my blog readers.)
But then I decided to do something else, and I googled some search terms from my thesis. Hm.
Despite the fact that I never published the papers I wrote that described my research -- my advisor passed away before we got them into publication, and I let them slide away -- my 2004 PhD thesis has continued to be cited in ongoing research, not just from my own department.
I didn't expect this. It's a pain and a half to extract information that's only available in a PhD thesis not at your own institution. They're not yet universally easily searchable the way that journal article abstracts are. It makes me wonder if maybe it would have been a good idea, and actually useful to people, to try to publish my two measly papers.
Here's an interesting story. I once got named as co-author on a paper I didn't write, back when I was finishing up my thesis. It was a tip of the hat to me, n0thing more. My thesis was really a hypothesis. I raised a question, and then I ran out of time and had to leave it for others to answer. The other named authors were people who were beginning to look for the answer to the question. My research was the "Background" section of their paper.
Anyway, the professor who was the principal author of the paper sent me a pre-print as a courtesy. I was literally packing up the contents of my desk when I got a copy of the pre-print. It was the first I'd heard that my research was being published by anyone, AND it was the first I'd heard that my name was going to be on somebody's paper as a co-author. Nobody'd even mentioned it to me, let alone asked me for input. I suppose that their putting my name on the paper -- as second of five authors -- was an honorary, an afterthought.
I opened the pre-print and read it straight through (standing there in the office surrounded by cardboard boxes of photocopied documents and scribbled notes, a carefully curated archive that I would later carry upstairs to my attic and never open again), and I found a terrible, glaring mistake. I can summarize the nature of the error for the non-technical very easily: my years-long-in-the-formulating hypothesis predicted that, in a certain situation, Outcome A was such-and-such-percent more likely to happen than Outcome B. And the preprint in my hand, which had my name on it and was just about to be published, had got it backwards, mangling several technical details and in the end announcing that Outcome B was more likely than Outcome A.
I read it over three times to be sure it wasn't me who was wrong.
It was late in the evening. I walked out the door and down the hall, walked without knocking right into the office of the professor who was responsible for this happening (fortunately he was alone), and explained as clearly as I could that the paper was completely backwards and needed to be fixed immediately before it went to publication.
That was, I think, the only time that I spoke with conviction about the work that I'd done, to an audience of exactly one. I may have felt like a fraud most of the time, but I knew I was right about this. I also was acutely aware that if the paper went to publication as is, I'd have documentation of having been a fraud.
The error was corrected and the paper went to print with the technical details correct. I admit that I wish my research could have been described in my own words instead of somebody else's, but that is a minor quibble.
A postscript? The research group is still working on the question I posed, and intermediate computational results appear to confirm my hypothesis. That's kind of reassuring to hear, even though having read the papers, I'm not entirely sure that the computational results given are independent confirmation of the ones I produced -- I suspect they're more like fancier-looking versions of the same computations I did.
It's been quite a while since I had a business trip. Considering my new career, I would even count "flying with one of my kids out to visit a friend and her family for the weekend" as a sort of business trip. Making connections, after all, is what I do.
The last time I had a trip paid for by my employer was in the summer of 2001. It was an academic conference in New Hampshire* that lasted several days. I brought my nursing baby, and my husband came so he could take care of said baby while I was in the seminars and the poster sessions. This was one of the famous Gordon Conferences, informal, with dormitory-like housing and common meals. "Summer camp for scientists," one of my friends described it to me before we went.
The conversations and arguments and presentations spilled out of the conference room and into the dining room. People sketched diagrams on napkins in between bites of lunch. Late one evening I went downstairs to check the bulletin board and found several fairly eminent researchers in my field clustered around a bottle of Irish Mist and laughing uproariously.
Does that sound fun to you? I hope it does. Me, I spent the whole week with a sick black hole in the pit of my stomach. My research wasn't good enough, I was in the wrong place, I just wanted to sink back into the wall and disappear, and the baby made me really, really conspicuous. Summer camp for scientists -- maybe. For me it felt more like gym class. Boarding and dining with your fellow conference goers? The "collegial atmosphere" meant that I couldn't escape, even for the length of a cup of coffee. Did I mention that I have a deep-seated fear of small talk? Let alone small talk that might morph into "Oh, your advisor is Dr. S___? I've known him for thirty-five years! What's he up to?"
In one especially horrifying incident conversation among about a dozen researchers at after-dinner coffee, an eminent Japanese researcher -- who had studied under my adviser years before -- asked me to describe my research. I gave my carefully prepared brief summary. The Japanese scientist, along with the other men and women from industry, academia, and government labs, standing in a tight little circle with their coffee cups, listened to me quietly; and then ended the conversation by saying, "I think Dr. S____'s students are not quite as brilliant as they used to be."
Pause for a moment and tell me how you might reply to that, friend.
I don't think my advisor got his money's worth out of sending me to that conference. But I sure learned something.
Hm, I notice that this post has gone a bit off tracks. I was going to write about Mark's business trip, the one that ends today when he gets home from three days in Missouri, in midafternoon. I guess I'll write that post some other time. When I woke up this morning I was feeling sort of grumpy and tense for a variety of reasons having to do with homeschool planning mostly, and now that I have spent a few moments reminiscing about my graduate school days, I feel a lot better about my vocation. Whew.
*The conference depicted in this post is a composite. Inexplicably, my advisor paid good money to send me to the Gordon Research Conference twice. The first time I went alone, the second time with my husband and baby. I have horrifying memories of both.