I've been making sandwiches and toast out of the FAIL bread, but it leaves much to be desired. I've been reading and thinking and think I made a few mistakes, so I'm trying again.
First, I didn't proof or bloom or whatever the yeast. On the recipe I tried in early 2009 you mixed the yeast in with the dry ingredients, then add water and mix, then put in the fridge overnight. But this recipe doesn't have long sitting time, so the yeast probably didn't get active enough. So I would have known if I had thought about it, but I didn't think and just threw the yeast in with the dry stuff with this week's attempt. Tonight I let the yeast play in warm water for 10 minutes before adding the flour.
I'm also using bottled spring water this time per some online suggestions. I don't really think my tap water is a problem, but I'd like to make a few good loaves before experimenting with different methods and ingredients. The spring water is just an extra measure of caution.
Earlier this week I just dumped the water into the dry ingredients, stirred with the mixer paddle and then switched to the dough hook. Somewhere in reading or in memory I was told that I need to mix the flour into the water a little at a time, so I did that tonight. (I vaguely recall mixing everything together at once for my baguettes earlier this year, then I vaguely recall Sean slowly mixing in his flour, so I think I made the same goof with my baguettes which is probably why they were so dense.)
I'm using the same measurements as my earlier attempt except that I measured the water by weight. (More for convenience since 1cm3 water = 1g water; this way I don't have to keep waiting for the water to stop sloshing and then bend down to read the level.) The difference in the dough was immediately noticeable. I think the slow addition of the flour was the main difference. I was thinking before tonight's attempt that one problem is that I didn't yet know what the dough was supposed to look or feel like, but when I saw it mixing something clicked in my brain and said "yeah, that's what it's supposed to look like".
I'm going to bake in a loaf pan tonight. For some aesthetic reason in my head I had wanted to use artisan loaves for sandwiches, but trying to figure out how to slice the cottage loaf—which really collapsed into something more closely resembling a cob loaf—made me decide that if I'm going to slice it for toast or sandwiches it would be a lot more convenient to bake a pan-shaped loaf.