Fail Bread

I’m totally going to get a reputation for being a terrible baker.  I posted a few months back about my tres leche cake gone wrong, now I’ve gone and made some terribly ugly bread.  We’re going to learn what went wrong together, readers.  Learn from my atomic pumpkin loaf of shame.

Santa brought me a breadmaker, by which I mean there was one on sale for $15 on black Friday.  The first loaf I made was gorgeous.  It had a golden brown, flaky crust and the inside was as light as air.  I was breadmaster of the universe, able to create loaves worthy of magazine covers, or in my mind, a series of smug blog posts about my lovely masterpiece breads and bread related creations.  So of course I got cocky.

I found a recipe in the breadmaker user manual for a sweet bread with bananas and pecans.  I didn’t have any bananas, so I used canned pumpkin instead.  This brings us to valuable lesson #1.

Pumpkin is much wetter than banana.

I also measured sloppily, which brings us to valuable lesson #2.

Forgetting to use the exact measurements will bite you in the ass every time.  Seriously, there’s science going on when you bake.  Mess with science, get this:

Misshappen loaf of poorly conceived bread.  The loaf is orange, and the edges hang over the sides like the brim of a floppy hat.
I had to hack this out of the bread machine.

Just in case you don’t have the full effect, here’s another view:

The top of a misshappen loaf of poorly conceived homemade bread.
This is the saddest bunch of pumpkin flavored carbs I've ever seen.

It is well documented in this blog that I am addicted to pumpkin flavored stuff.  I had visions for this bread.  I was going to smear it with Nutella, people.  I was going to make pumpkin French toast. There was potential for little individual bread puddings with the end crusts.   These were not meant to be, as I got sloppy and created Frankenstein’s loaf.   I could almost hear Alton Brown, Grand Poobah of Foodery and Science, tsking at me from his spectacular TV kitchen.

I knew right away the bread was too wet.  I had added a good bit of flour to the knead cycle, but when the bread finished baking the top was smooshed against the glass window and it was covered with a layer of steam.  The underside of the lid was baked into the bread, so  I used a wooden spoon to gently coax the top away from the machine. A skinny pancake turner loosened the sides, and a good whack on the bottom of the bread pan made the loaf fall out.   The kneading tool was still embedded in the bread.

I let it set for a minute or two before slicing.  The inside of the bread was full of tall, flat air pockets and was unevenly colored.  The slices are shaped a bit like tilted mushroom clouds, which combined with the awkward shades of orange creates a piece of bread Tim Burton might conceive of feeding to a sad child.  I took a bite for the team and it was pretty terrible.

I went to the web to confirm my suspicions that too wet dough equals exploding bread (it does) and also learned that my butter may have been too cold.

I know we have a lot of great cooks around here, how can I make a tasty pumpkin bread in my bread maker?

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

7 replies on “Fail Bread”

I’m working up the nerve to try again! I just need to find a banana > pumpkin puree conversion chart.  Or, you know, a recipe for pumpkin yeast bread.  Thanks for your support! Making good bread is one of those things I want to know how to do.  Like building my own computer or changing my own spark plugs.  It seems like a nice skill.

At first glance I was like, “That’s not really so bad,” but then you described the inside, lol. We all have our kitchen fails. One of mine is rice. It shouldn’t be hard to cook rice on a stovetop, but whenever I do it comes out weird, texture-wise. And bread is a hard one for me too. I don’t have a bread machine but I’ve tried making french bread in the oven a few times, and it’s always dry.

Margarita time is serious business.  Oh, man, I should totally make margaritas later to celebrate that my housemate is out of town.
I do love to bake, but haven’t really started tackling bread yet.  I don’t have a breadmaker and I don’t have enough space in my kitchen.  It’s possible that I don’t have enough patience, but I do dream of one day making my own little individual baguettes that are just the right size for fancy sandwiches.  Because, c’mon… a little bit of fancy dijon mustard, swiss cheese, and roast beef on a homemade sandwich-sized baguette?  Awesome.
… I might just buy those breads when I go to the store today.

Ha! Glad to be of service.  I cubed up the rest of it and tossed it out for the birds, who seem to be enjoying it.  When I followed directions, it worked great. 

I have an ice cream maker, too, but I’ve never had any success with it.  I had an ancient one that worked like a charm (although you had to crank it for what felt like hours.) but the modern one I got a few years ago just makes cold milk soup.

By far, my best appliance investment has been my blender, b/c it’s never, ever let me down at margarita time.

I applaud your candor! I have been tossing the idea of a breadmaker around for quite some time. That desire is tempered with wanting a good ice cream maker. So far, they have canceled each other out; but if I ever DO get the breadmaker of my dreams, these are very good lessons to learn from!

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