So I totally reached a new level of nerdom – I called the King Arthur Flour baking hotline for help.
I was desperate. It was my first go at whole wheat no knead bread and while it looked nice enough, it tasted weirdly…tangy. More like sourdough, with a sort of chemical finish. Not what I was going for at all.
What I was going for was a nice, soft sandwich loaf, sweetened with honey, from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, via the King Arthur Flour blog. I’ve had my share of bread disasters in the past, but the recipe seemed easy enough, so I gave it a try.
I love the idea of baking our own bread, but traditional breads seem just a little too fiddly for the chaos around here. Many breads require a period of kneading, then rising, then kneading again, then rising again, often on a strict time table, which is tough to stick to when you have a two year old running around. Can I get a what what?
So I was pretty much resigned to buying our usual bland, squishy loaf at the supermarket, until I came across abin5, somewhere in my internet travels. For the first time, making bread from scratch on a regular basis actually seemed doable.
It combines the flexibility of no knead bread and the efficiency of baking in bulk.
Like the loaf that started the no knead craze, this one depends on a long rise to develop flavor. The cool thing about no knead breads is that the rise, though long, is often quite flexible. The dough for the whole wheat loaf above, for instance, can stay in the fridge for up to seven days, and some can stay in there up to two weeks!
They can handle a little neglect, which is what I look for in a loaf of bread.
But what really sold me on the abin5 breads is a neat little trick – instead of making just a single loaf, it has you make enough dough for multiple loaves. You bake one right away, and keep the rest in the fridge, ready to go, until needed. Then you just lop off a chunk when you need a fresh loaf and throw it in the oven. It saves you a bit of work.
Anyhoo, I followed the directions pretty closely, but I substituted Fleischmann’s RapidRise yeast for the saf instant yeast recommended on the King Arthur Flour website. I figured they were roughly equivalent. Boy howdy, was I wrong!
After my nerdy call to the King Arthur baking hotline (the baker I talked to was suuuuper nice by the way), I learned that RapidRise is really intended for just a single, short rise, after which you throw it in the oven. It is definitely not intended for a 2 hour rise at room temperature and an overnight rise in the fridge. And in my case, the initial rise at room temperature was more like 3 or 4 hours, because I, umm, kinda forgot about it.
(Incidentally, I did some scouting around on the web and found some confusing info on yeast. For the most part, there are three types of yeast – fresh, active dry and instant. Instant yeasts do not need to be dissolved in liquid prior to using, they can be added directly to the dry ingredients. There are all kinds of instant yeasts, including bread machine yeast and pizza yeast. RapidRise, which is made by Fleischmann’s, is also considered an instant yeast, but it’s like instant yeast on steroids, the rise is powerful and aggressive. I noticed Red Star has something called Quick Rise, not sure if it behaves the same as Fleischmann’s RapidRise, but the website does caution against use in refrigerated or frozen dough baking. The kitchn and Wikipedia actually put rapid rise yeasts into their own category, though it’s not clear if anything other than Fleischmann’s RapidRise falls under that category. To make things even more confusing, the King Arthur Flour website notes that while it used to be that you had to dissolve active dry yeast in liquid first, the way it is processed now allows you to skip that step, apparently you can add it directly to the dry ingredients. Sheesh.).
So my dough was over fermented by the time I baked the loaf, and even more so by the time I baked the second loaf about three days later. The first loaf was sour, but not unpleasant with a goodly smear of butter. The second loaf, however, was vile, so I chucked it. Fail!
I do plan to try again, but with the saf instant yeast recommended on the King Arthur Flour blog. (And how is the saf instant yeast different than all the other instant yeasts out there? Not totally sure, even after all that digging around I am still a little confused, but it worked for King Arthur, so hey, that is good enough for me. I thought about substituting good ‘ol active dry, since that is the easiest to find, but I’m kinda chicken after my last experiment so it might be a while before I work up the courage to do it). Of course, we live out in the boondocks and none of the stores around these parts carry the stuff, so further tests are on hiatus until I get me some.