Adventures in bread baking

(or why I am clearly not a baker!)

So it all started out when I decided that the BLT from scratch challenge was something Neil and I would participate in. I was completely convinced that this would be do-able. And, for the most part (the parts that we have a say in, so nothing to do with the L or the T parts of this challenge, cheers Mother Nature for the horrible plant growing weather you have bestowed upon us this summer), it has been fine.

You can check out our progress by clicking here. Neil has made a fine bacon and a couple of different pancettas. Our tomatoes are finally ripening. I mean, look at this:

All was good.


I started thinking I should probably experiment with the bread. The long weekend seemed like a perfect time so I set about exploring the world of Irish soda bread and Australian damper (since I don’t have a breadmaker and was concerned about learning how to bake with yeast so close to the “reveal” date (this Saturday, September 12th).

First, I tried this recipe (edited to add: this site is no longer live) for damper. It did not work:

Ummm, can you say Play Doh???

I tried it again the next day. Again, it did not work:

Then I researched a couple of different recipes for damper and found many of them called for far less flour. So I tried this one (again, this link is no longer valid) Different shape, same result:

Feeling rather at the end of my tether, I tried the Sophisticated Gourmet’s soda bread recipe. Result? Well, not quite the disaster of the previous three tries. Take a look:

An odd shape, to be sure and still rather dense, kind of like a true English scone in taste but soda bread texture.

To be honest at this point, I probably would have thought cardboard tasted good so I gave Neil some warm bread with butter and jam to taste.

He pronounced that it tasted “like a giant scone” and that was that. I thought it was a nice “for breakfast” bread but won’t be getting up early on the weekend anytime soon to make it…

So what of the B of the BLT next week? Well, I might be game to try this recipe for soda bread form the New York Times later on this week. However, I have also enlisted the help of a friend who cooks and bakes so well she could open her own restaurant. Hopefully she will show up with two loaves of delectable “No knead bread” (again, thanks to the New York Times for the recipe) – a bread I keep meaning to make but which requires time. And patience. Two things I don’t have a lot of these days now I am back teaching and soon to go back to university…

Stay tuned for more bread adventures – I won’t be beat by a bowl of flour and water. I simply won’t!

23 thoughts on “Adventures in bread baking”

  1. Keep at it. It does take practice but you will get it. Also, if the weather is humid it can really make things difficult. Did you kneed by hand or by a dough hook?

  2. Janis – I did it by hand precisely because I don't have either a breadmaker or a dough hook. I will keep at it – just need a bit of a break from it!

  3. Bread making is a struggle for me, as well. My mom is quite the bread baker, so I grew up with homemade bread all of the time. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that I inherited that talent.

  4. Felice – if we had the room, I would have a bread baker…

    Jen – my mum is an amazing cook too and it seems I have not inherited all of that talent either!!

  5. My recollection of how Australian damper was originally baked was that the kneaded dough was put into the hot ashes of a fire…. I've tasted damper like this and it's indescribably wonderful. Bushmen in Australia know how to do this but when you ask them how long, how hot etc… they shrug and respond "long enough" and "hot enough"…
    Good try though…

  6. Gosh! Thanks for being so honest on your results, so many times I've come across blogs where folks are "trying out" an new bread recipe and it looks like it came straight out of a gourmet bread shop!
    Don't give up! You give me hope. If you find the key to bread success please, blog about it.
    Ever so sincerely,

  7. sorry, but your writing made me laugh so hard – reminds me of myself last night!
    i made shortbread cookies for my aussie baldy husband a while ago and they tasted… floury and were shaped like broken bricks. I tried again last week and it was a big success! So last night i cooked another batch and this time they were worse than ever… strangely, i followed the same recipe but had two failures and one success and i still don't know what went wrong. but no matter how they turned out, my baldy still says "at least they're tasty". oh, yeah, that's why i'm married to him. ^ _ ^

  8. Short – looking back it was pretty silly – Neil was painting around the house and every time he came in the kitchen, there was ANOTHER play-doh loaf in the pile and I was working on the next…

  9. I love homemade bread and love your persistence with it! I've definitely had my own failed attempts, that I still try and find ways to enjoy! 🙂 Sometimes Plan B turns out to be even more fun 🙂

  10. Wow! I just found this! The link that you posted with the comment on my blog didn't work for me. But I am commenting anyway. I am glad that you tried my recipe. You're a real trooper and are very persistent.

    The soda bread kind of does taste like a big english scone.. And yours really does have some height to it! Thanks for sharing your baking adventures with us.

  11. Kamran – thanks for the kind words and yes, the tinycc website seems to be having some difficulty right now… I will try bread again when time permits – I don't like to be beaten (especially but something as simple as bread that so many other people seem to be able to master!!!)

  12. looking forward to reading more bread adventure stories. real yeast bread making intimidates me, so i take the easy way out and use my bread machine. it's good, but it's not the same.


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