Friday, January 15, 2010

file under strange, but true

I just learned the coolest thing: you can resuscitate dead bread dough! I started to make challah this morning, and I made 1 1/2 recipes to yield 3 loaves: one for us, one for my in-laws, and one for my sister-in-law's family. Conventional wisdom says the dough is done proofing when it's done proofing, not when the clock says so; even so, mine was like a rock after an hour and a half. What to do? I could throw it all out, or I could experiment. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? (Or in this case, in for half a dozen eggs and 10 cups of flour, gimme some damn challah.)

Three seconds of research on the interweb gave me this idea: proof some new yeast that isn't dead, and mix it into the existing bread dough. Then start the rising process again. Specifically: put a packet of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons) in a bowl with 1/4 cup of warm water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar, which helps wake up the yeast. Walk away for 10 minutes. When you come back, it should be super bubbly and smell kind of sour. Knead the liquid into your existing bread dough. (This is messy, since you're basically pouring water onto dough; it wants to run off. I just did it a little at a time.) I also sprinkled on a little more flour so it wasn't completely sticky, but I didn't worry about re-kneading it to a satiny finish because I didn't want to overwork the dough. Re-spray the bowl with cooking spray, turn the dough to coat, cover with a towel, and let it rise for an hour and a half.

When I came back, 90 minutes later, it had started working! And after punching it down and giving it another 30 minutes, the dough was totally back on track! I just braided it and left it for the final rise. Other than the fact that it should've been done hours ago, it looks perfect!

For what it's worth, the yeast I used to fix it was the same yeast I used in the first place, so clearly it wasn't dead. I have no idea what initially went wrong, but I'm so excited I could fix it! I'd hate to waste all those good ingredients, and I was REALLY craving fresh challah! (I'm making roast chicken and potatoes and broccoli, too... mmm...)

1 comment:

Sandra Dee said...

"Gimme some damn challah"

I don't think you are supposed to use this kind of language, young lady :-)