Sunday, January 23, 2011

The quest for the perfect temperature



{100% Whole Wheat Bread, KAF}

Homemade bread and yogurt is becoming a staple in our home. Staying home with Pieter has allowed me to renew some of my hobbies and learn some others. It has been fun learn how to work with yeast and bacteria to beneficial results. I say fun with mixed feelings, for the results in the beginning sure were not exactly what I had in mind. The hardest thing in making bread and yogurt is finding just the right temperature.

I tried the oven several times for incubating yogurt, but it just didn't work. I finally figured out, with a little online research, that using a slow cooker with hot water works really well.  I put in water at about 110 degrees, turn on the pot for 5 minutes, turn it off and then cover it up with a towel. I check it every couple hours and turn the pot on for a few minutes to bring the water temperature back up to 110.  So, now, even though we left Trader Joe's behind in our move from Cambridge, we are enjoying Greek Yogurt again!  I found the culture at Cultures for Health.  I also have been making the Viili Yogurt, originating from Finland, but that one has been giving me a lot more trouble. It has to be incubated at 70-77 degrees, just a bit warmer than (our) room temperature in the winter.  I was telling this to Ben on Friday night and he said, "Well, have you tried the furnace?" Amazing!  It works perfectly!  Not only for Viili yogurt, but also rising - 80 degrees directly on the furnace and 75 with a bit of cardboard in between. 

9 comments:

  1. ingenious! I love it, Missy!!

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  2. I'm making yogurt right now. Last week I made the best yogurt so far. I use to leave it in the oven over night(the whole pan full) but then it would come out too watery. A friend of mine said you are warming it too long. So, today I am making it at 4:00 and will have it in the fridge before I go to bed. I'll let you know how it turned out. ps I use my finger to test the temp ;)

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  3. Missy, I put bread to rise in the oven by setting it to 175 degrees for one minute and then turning it off. I chose 175 degrees because that's the lowest setting my oven recognizes. I find that works really well for bread. I've also been having a lot of luck with refrigerator overnight rises. Then I can have the bread fresh and hot by lunch.
    --Tonia--

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  4. Hmm... I am going to have to look into this overnight rise business. I have really been enjoying King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking cookbook (see my bookshelf in the sidebar). So many great recipes! My most recent fun is a sourdough starter from KAF! Just came on Friday and so far I have had two successful loaves.

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  5. I'm going to make some bread this morning. Still in search of the "perfect" recipe but having fun in the meantime. I think I'm going to try the tip above from Tonia as my bread has been taking forever to rise at room temperature in our apartment. I'm really interested in trying yogurt too. Can you post more about it? And your sourdough starter? I really really really miss Trader Joe's!!!

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  6. Shasta, I always used Tonia's method for rising bread, until I found that my warm furnace surface to works so well.
    The perfect recipe for bread is quite the quest. I really like 100% whole wheat that is in this post. If you have a hard time finding the milk and potato flakes, since you are in China, you might consider the sourdough route, as that is very simple - just flour and water.
    KAF has a nice section on sourdough: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/sourdough/. I don't know if you can get the starter shipped internationally. If you can't, get the KAF Whole Grains cookbook. That has a whole chapter on making your own starter with wild yeast.
    I'll post some more on both!

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  7. My yogurt is a success!

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  8. I'm pretty sure the wine is the perfect thing to have with your bread too! It also has yeast, though the kind naturally found usually instead of the common bread yeast. Maybe one day I'll try baking bread or making yogurt... better start buying lotto tickets. :)

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