Oatmeal Bread – part 4

Every time I bake bread something happens that reminds me I’m really pretty new at this bread making thing and I learn a lesson. The dough for this loaf was prepared using the bread machine. I noticed when the 90 minute cycle was up that it had risen a bit more than the last time and that the pan felt warmer than I expected. I didn’t think much about it, punched the dough down to degas it and formed the loaf. Then I set it in the microwave with the boiling water for warmth and humidity and set the timer for 45 minutes.

The last loaves were proofed just the way I wanted them at 45 minutes. This one surprised me. At 45 minutes when I came to put it in the oven it was about to run over the edge of the pan.

I baked it for 45 minutes at 350 F and was surprised to see that there was no real spring from the heat of the oven. The photos show before and after baking. I put the after back into the microwave to show how the loaf is the same height after baking as before. I’m guessing that the lack of spring may have something to do with it having been over proofed. Maybe it sagged some from being moved into the oven and then sprung back to its original height.

Cooling on the rack the loaf looked nice.

The loaf sliced up nicely when it was cool and the texture was good. That answers the question I had about was it the flour or was it the way I did the bulk fermentation (first rise) and proofing (second rise in the bread pans) that caused the holes in the bread from part 3. It was my handling of the dough, not the flour. That makes me happy because I bought 25 pounds of the flour.

The difference in the time it took for this batch to rise in the proofing let’s me know that I can’t just set a timer and walk away, I need to pay attention to the dough while it is rising. One of the factors in how long it takes to rise is temperature. I have ordered a digital thermometer that has a probe on it so I can tell what the temperature is in the center of the dough. It will also be useful to check the internal temperature of a baking loaf to accurately tell when it is done.

The bread machine takes an hour to bake a loaf when I use it for the complete process. The crust on the loaf baked in the machine is much lighter and softer than the ones I have baked in my kitchen oven. Next I plan to lower the temperature to 300 F, bake for an hour, and use the thermometer to see if the bread is done – and if the internal temperature has reached 190 F.