Epic Baking Fail

What went wrong? That was the first thought that crossed my mind. Followed, of course, by a tsunami of details that could have caused my baking disaster. By the way, this is not the first baking disaster that I’ve had. I actually suck quite a bit at baking, yet my love for it and the relaxation that I get from it make me enjoy it so much that I just keep trying and trying in hopes of someday becoming a baking diva of some sort. That’s why I was so dissappointed to see the shapeless blob that was supposed to be a vibrantly flavored zucchini raisin bread loaf take a life of its own as the crumbs avalanched all over my counter top. Yep, disaster had stricken my kitchen. I would like to toss the damn blob into the trash and never see it again, but I am weird. I keep my baking disasters on the counter for three main reasons. 1, I hate seeing food and energy go to waste. 2, Maybe it will taste better the next day, or the hubby might eat it out of pity, I know I won’t eat it. And 3, as a constant reminder of my failure and a motivation to hit the books and find out what I did wrong. The third is exactly what I am going to do today, for I am getting tired of having this zuchinni blob take up counter space. Oh and for the record, I have made delicious zuchinni bread before.

I adapted this recipe from Wayne Gisslen’s Proffesional Baking 5th ed.

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I did not use bran, but added 120g pf extra pastry flour. I used raisins instead of the coconut or walnuts. I doubled the zuchinni since I was not using carrot. I used brown sugar instead of regular sugar.

The results:

I used a mini cupcake mold ( those 9 mini cupcakes came out great) and a 9inch loaf pan for the rest of the batter. I only made half the recipe. The resulting loaf of bread ( if it can be called bread), was extremely dense, which leads me to believe that I should have only filled the loaf pan half way up to give it room to rise. I filled it up 3/4 of the way. I inserted a toothpick into the loaf, when I saw that it was clean, I removed the loaf from the oven and let it cool only to find out the batter was still under cooked inside. I looked through the pages of ” The Pastry Chef’s Companion” for answers because it has a very informative section on ” What Went Wrong and Why”.

What is a quickbread?

A quickbread is a simple bread that is leavened with rapid rising chemicals. It contains very little fat so it should be eaten as soon as possible as it will get stale. Various nuts and vegetables can be added to the bread mix.

A main concern when baking quickbreads is the developement of glutten. Unlike yeast breads which have a chewy texture, quickbreads should have a tender crumbly texture. Because they are leavened with baking soda and or baking powder, these chemical leaveners do not have the strenght to hold up to any glutten that may develop in the bread. So the result of excessive glutten developement will be a dense and hard loaf that can probably knock someone out. Nope, not delicious. As I read through my baing books, I discovered the creaming method.

Creaming method
1: combine fat, sugar, salt spice, in a mixer bowl. Use paddle attachment.
2: cream ingredients until light
3: add egg product in 2 or three stages. Stir together liquid ingredients until done
4: in another mixing bowl sift four and dry ingredients
5: Add 1/4 of dry ingredients into wet ingedients, mix until just blended. Then add some more of dry into wet until all ingredients are used up. The final batter should not be smooth but just barely blended and moist.

This method is used when thie bread recipe calls for higher fat and sugar content. These two ingredients will inhibit the development of glutten.
It is also very important that the oven temperature is not too high as the outside of the bread will become crustyand the inside will be undercooked.

So, another attempt at zucchinni bread is in the near future. I will be adopting a lot of the tips listed here and hopefully I can take beautiful pictures and enjoy it with my morning coffee. Until then, I hope these quickbread mixing tips will help you avert baking disaster!

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