Baking Lemon Bread in Germany

If you saw my previous post, you know that I was getting ready to do some more baking, which I love to do. The hand mixer worked well and I had an incredible loaf of frosted lemon bread. Unfortunately, this was a prepackaged mix, unlike most of the other things I cook.

I found the mix at the local Rewe grocery store and thought that I’d give it a try. Even though it’s a mix, there are a few bits of extra love I put into it.

These ingredients will soon be hugging and getting warm and cozy in the oven.
These ingredients will soon be hugging and getting warm and cozy in the oven.

Step 1 – Never microwave the butter

Butter needs to be smooth and soft to mix well with your dry ingredients. Cold and hard butter clumps and leaves strange pockets inside your loaf, plus it sticks everywhere. Melted, runny, wet butter has no such problem.

It’s okay to leave it outside of the fridge to keep it soft, but it’s never okay to microwave butter. It heats up too quickly and too unevenly and the end product doesn’t have the same smooth texture as it does when it slowly warms. I like to use a homemade Bain-marie. Start by boiling water, then turn off the heat and stick your cup with butter inside the water bath. Ideally you should use glass or ceramic for the butter vessel (you don’t want metal or plastic flavorings in your butter).

Warming the butter in a warm water bath preserves its smooth texture.
It takes a while to warm up, but in the end the butter is golden, fluid, and smooth.

Step 2 – Be gentle with your eggs

Eggs are definitely fragile while inside their shells, but their insides need protection inside a your recipe as well. They add structure to your dough, allowing it to be somewhat puffy and soft. Normally a little bit of gluten and yeast would hold it all together like sticky-glue, so it is extra important when baking gluten-free to provide some form of chemical mesh on which the bread can form.

Eggs are fun to whip by themselves as they turn creamy and foamy.
Eggs are fun to whip by themselves as they turn creamy and foamy.

That being said, I don’t like to mix my eggs with my flour early on. Try to mix all of your other ingredients before adding the eggs. Whip them separately so they can setup without intervention. For the most delicate breads I will fold in the egg at the end instead of mixing so as to preserve the nice structure.

Creamy butter mixes easier than cold and clumpy butter. Cakey doughs can be crumbly without the egg.

This dough was pretty rough and crumbly, so I just added in the egg at the end and continued to beat it with the mixer.

The extra preparation with the butter and egg made a smooth and creamy batter.

Step 3 – Ignore the instructions if they are wrong

Recipes and instructions are guidelines. This bread wasn’t anywhere near done by the time the box said it would be. In fact, it took more than twice as long to make and still made it out with a custard-like middle. It was probably the pan I used that made the difference, but it worked out okay because I continued to watch it and bake beyond the specified time. Cooking gives you the chance to experiment and learn; sometimes is actually is easier to tell someone, “keep doing it until it’s done,” than it is to lay it all out step by step. In these times it can be frustrating if you don’t know what done is, but don’t be alarmed. Try it a few times and you’ll learn, then you’ll know.

Bread Rising

As the time draws near for us to leave and move into our 120 sq. ft home, I have been doing all I can to get as much baking and cooking in as I can before I have to give up counter space and all of the proper equipment. This includes making gluten-free but oh-so-yummy and moist chocolate mocha brownies, chocolate mocha ice cream, amazing gluten-free pancakes, thin-crust pizza, fresh fruit smoothies, yoghurt, and now yeast rolls.

Upon the suggestion, I setup my camera to capture the rising process of the yeast rolls, which are engineered for maximum lift (it’s basically the same as the space shuttle launch system). Enjoy the following video and its fluffy goodness.

If you are wondering about the part towards the end of the video when the dough ball shrinks way down, it’s not an accident. At that point I took out the dough and punched it down in order to start the rising process all over again. After punching it down, it rose again rapidly.

The ambient temperature during the rising process was around 73˚ F.

This next video isn’t as clear, but you can see the rolls rising in the oven. The initial rise in the heat of the oven is called the initial spring of the dough, because it grows rapidly and then stabilizes.