This was supposed to be a sandwich loaf. Sandwich loaves, however, are typically more than an inch and a half tall. I guess I could make finger sandwiches, though, and call it a day. But instead I think I’ll use this opportunity to ruminate on what might have happened here. This little tiny loaf, incidentally, tastes amazing, so at least it has that going for it.
This loaf was made from a modified recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Instead of using all wheat flour, as the recipe called for, I swapped in half regular, all-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour has very little gluten and thus, sometimes, very little rise. In theory, then, this should have certainly risen some more than it did, since I only used half of the wheat flour.
Artisan Bread’s recipes all use a very wet dough. It’s the wetness of the dough that allows it to sit in the fridge for up to two weeks, as the water continually feeds on the yeast, causing it to grow. This loaf was made with dough I put together this morning; it was exceptionally wet. The directions called for shaping the dough into a ball; that certainly didn’t happen, as this stuff was very, very sticky and un-shapable. I ended up just glopping it into a loaf pan. That could have been part of my problem–maybe it needed a little more flour, a little more shapliness. That’s how the peasant loaves I’ve made have been–I could sorta shape them into a ball by draping them in flour, as the recipes called for. This one called for shaping with wet hands which only seemed to make the problem worse. Hmm.
The recipe also called for me to slash the top of the loaf before baking. I had my knife ready, and then forgot, as I was making grilled cheese sandwiches at the same time. This might be our biggest culprit–perhaps the top had nowhere to go. I didn’t have any plastic wrap to cover the dough with during rising time, using instead a barely damp towel. As such, it dried out some. The combination of that dryness plus a lack of a slash might have led to the lack of oven rise here.
It’s also possible that my yeast is wearing out. I bought a 2-pound bag of yeast a long while ago (May 2007); I thought it could store more or less forever in the freezer, but maybe I’m wrong there.
The bread tastes fantastic, however, and has a great crust. I think I might just slice it lengthwise and make sandwiches that way. We’ll get far fewer slices, but they’ll be tall enough for a slice of cheese, and really, that’s what matters. There is enough dough to supposedly make two more loaves in the fridge. I may dump it all into one and hope for the best; if it won’t be tall from rising, at least it’ll be tall from volume!