What Baking Bread Teaches a Pitmaster about Smoking Meat

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noboundaries

Epic Pitmaster
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Sep 7, 2013
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Roseville, CA, a suburb of Sacramento
I constantly experiment with recipes and cooking/baking/grilling/smoking/braising techniques. This morning I'm baking my favorite multigrain, seeded loaf, something I do once a week. I have perfected the recipe for my tastes, and then I watched a YouTube video by Cooks Illustrated about incorporating a Tangzhong into the recipe. What is a Tangzhong? It is a small addition of flour and water cooked into a starch and added to the ingredients to soften the loaf, tighten the crumb, retain moisture/freshness longer, and extend shelf-life. You even increase the hydration amount. I thought, "This I gotta try."

As I stood holding my KitchenAid mixer in one place while it kneaded the dough with the Tangzhong addition, I saw a sticky mess. I thought, "No way is this going to come together." My mind immediately started figuring out how much additional flour I should add. Should it be AP or bread flour? When should I add the flour? Then I told myself to not make a single change and let the ingredients do their thing. Just because it wasn't coming together like it had dozens of times before didn't mean anything was wrong. After all, I had made a change.

Normally, my recipe reaches a smooth ball stage in about 6 minutes in the mixer. I passed 6. I passed 8. I passed 10. It was still a sticky mess but I could see gluten strands forming. By 13 minutes I had a smooth ball, the sides of the bowl were clean, and it had released from the bottom of the bowl. It was then I remembered that baking bread is no different than the one thing that worked for smoking meat to perfection...patience.

Once upon a time I constantly monitored meat temps, chamber temps, the clock, and mealtime expectations. It was much like watching that bread knead. If it didn't "meat" (sorry, couldn't resist) my expectations, I immediately went into problem-solving mode. That's stressful and often complicates the issue. Patience often solves whatever you believe might be going wrong. Patience opens the door to timing techniques for stress-free smoked meals.

The bread is rising now. I have no idea how it will turn out. But I've yet to discard a loaf that I considered a failure. It's all edible. I saved the end piece from last Wednesday's bread to compare the crumbs (internal structure) of my original recipe with the Tangzhong version. Pics to follow.

Almost done rising (cold oven with light on). BTW, the light does nothing for the temp of the oven. It only allows you to see what's happening. Trust me, I've tested it.

20230103_112339.jpg
 
Great post and so very true. A few years ago I posted a thread with some tips for making sausage. The one thing I really tried to stress to people reading it was patience. The overlap is very pronounced in our chosen hobbies where patience is required. It's pretty much an across-the-board requirement to attain success, regardless of what it is we are doing.

Robert
 
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Update. At lunch a few minutes ago, I learned my wife ate the last piece of bread this morning I was saving for a comparison. My fault, though. I didn't tell her my plans. She got up early to work. I slept late because I'm retired, and I assumed it was still in the fridge.

New loaf is cooling.

20230103_124557.jpg
 
Update. At lunch a few minutes ago, I learned my wife ate the last piece of bread this morning I was saving for a comparison. My fault, though. I didn't tell her my plans. She got up early to work. I slept late because I'm retired, and I assumed it was still in the fridge.

New loaf is cooling.

View attachment 653365
early bird gets the worm{bread}

that loaf of bread looks so good!! bet it smells wonderful!!
 
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Man there is nothing like the smell of bread cooking! Yours looks great.

Oh brother if I had a dime from every time I told my son "just be patient" I'd be retired sitting on a beach some where.

Jim
 
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I constantly experiment with recipes and cooking/baking/grilling/smoking/braising techniques. This morning I'm baking my favorite multigrain, seeded loaf, something I do once a week. I have perfected the recipe for my tastes, and then I watched a YouTube video by Cooks Illustrated about incorporating a Tangzhong into the recipe. What is a Tangzhong? It is a small addition of flour and water cooked into a starch and added to the ingredients to soften the loaf, tighten the crumb, retain moisture/freshness longer, and extend shelf-life. You even increase the hydration amount. I thought, "This I gotta try."

As I stood holding my KitchenAid mixer in one place while it kneaded the dough with the Tangzhong addition, I saw a sticky mess. I thought, "No way is this going to come together." My mind immediately started figuring out how much additional flour I should add. Should it be AP or bread flour? When should I add the flour? Then I told myself to not make a single change and let the ingredients do their thing. Just because it wasn't coming together like it had dozens of times before didn't mean anything was wrong. After all, I had made a change.

Normally, my recipe reaches a smooth ball stage in about 6 minutes in the mixer. I passed 6. I passed 8. I passed 10. It was still a sticky mess but I could see gluten strands forming. By 13 minutes I had a smooth ball, the sides of the bowl were clean, and it had released from the bottom of the bowl. It was then I remembered that baking bread is no different than the one thing that worked for smoking meat to perfection...patience.

Once upon a time I constantly monitored meat temps, chamber temps, the clock, and mealtime expectations. It was much like watching that bread knead. If it didn't "meat" (sorry, couldn't resist) my expectations, I immediately went into problem-solving mode. That's stressful and often complicates the issue. Patience often solves whatever you believe might be going wrong. Patience opens the door to timing techniques for stress-free smoked meals.

The bread is rising now. I have no idea how it will turn out. But I've yet to discard a loaf that I considered a failure. It's all edible. I saved the end piece from last Wednesday's bread to compare the crumbs (internal structure) of my original recipe with the Tangzhong version. Pics to follow.

Almost done rising (cold oven with light on). BTW, the light does nothing for the temp of the oven. It only allows you to see what's happening. Trust me, I've tested it.

View attachment 653364
Fantastic post and lessons. This lesson applies to basically all aspects of life.
I learned early on in my life (like in my teens) that almost every problem we have, we create for ourselves!

Having patience and discipline go a loooooooong way in making things better, easier, and simplifying life vs making it worse.
Also being open minded and always willing to learn, combined with patience and discipline, means you improve AND you adapt and thereby overcome.

Your new bread experiment is a microcosm of life. It appears applying your wisdom is going to result in an amazing loaf of bread you haven't made before. If not this loaf, then likely a loaf in the near future as you dial it in :D
 
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Nice Ray, can't wait to see the final result and your thoughts on the addition. Seems like there is a different method that is similar called yudane, we might have to do side by sides for comparison?

On a whim last night my wife came out with "I want to make Challah Bread" Mind you neither of use ever made bread before...we learned a few things for next time. sorry not looking to take over your thread, just found it coincidental on the timing of your post.
IMG_4562.jpg

IMG_5713.jpg
 
Well, the verdict is in. Taste is very similar to my regular loaf, but the texture is softer and more moist. There's a bit more chew, but not much. The crumb is slightly tighter, but the moisture is very apparent.

My regular loaf is a 78-80% hydration. This was 86.2%. We'll see what it's like in a few days, but right now, I'd absolutely repeat this.

20230103_150037.jpg
 
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Fantastic post and lessons. This lesson applies to basically all aspects of life.
I learned early on in my life (like in my teens) that almost every problem we have, we create for ourselves!

Having patience and discipline go a loooooooong way in making things better, easier, and simplifying life vs making it worse.
Also being open minded and always willing to learn, combined with patience and discipline, means you improve AND you adapt and thereby overcome.

Your new bread experiment is a microcosm of life. It appears applying your wisdom is going to result in an amazing loaf of bread you haven't made before. If not this loaf, then likely a loaf in the near future as you dial it in :D
Tb, thanks for sharing your wisdom. Each life is an experiment in growth. Sometimes we add yeast!
 
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Great post. The bread looks so delicious I can smell it. ATK tests the dickens out of their recipes so they can be trusted but it’s still hard to change something you are so familiar with and good at. I loved the pictures and the story.
 
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