27 October 2014
Baking Bread at Home
Baking bread at home is an excellent way to save money, annually yielding over one thousand dollars in savings for a family of four or more. This simple guide will show just how easy it is to produce your own! Making bread from scratch is a very simple process that is inexpensive, healthy, and a fun way to get messy in the kitchen. The following recipe will allow you to make breads that replicate a baker’s quality, instead of preservative filled market loaves. This article will give clear systematic instructions, explaining the preparation of fresh bread, along with essential tools including ingredients, and in addition further resources and helpful tips.
Ms. Griffin, a culinary arts instructor at Hoggard High School said, “The key to a chef’s success is the ability to read the entire process first, then mise en place.” This ensures no hidden steps overlooked or accidental miscalculations made. To start, measure the exact amounts of honey, water, flour, and yeast in a plastic/glass cylinder. Next, begin mixing with a wooden spoon, after combined, seal loosely, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours; overnight is preferred but optional. This mixture is the first half of yeast that is used to leaven the bread. If the yeast comes from a packet, be sure to save the rest for the second batch of leavening. The reason for placing the yeast mixture into the refrigerator is to slow down the fermentation process. This also gives the dough extra time to absorb gas let off by the yeast, in turn yielding a much softer dough; this helps achieve excellent bread quality. The process allows yeast molecules to age; this aging is very beneficial for bread; in fact, fantastic for the development of flavors. Additional time and induced hydration helps form the gluten proteins specifically for bread development. The following step is to leaven or allow the mixture to rise. The yeast wants to reproduce quickly, therefore, producing the gasses inside the dough that make it expand. Now for the best flavor and texture, the yeast mixture needs to reproduce slowly. To achieve this, store the container of the pre-ferment mixture in a cool place; and add it to more ingredients. Once the first yeast mixture is complete, combine flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl, then add the pre-fermented mixture from the refrigerator. At this point, begin mixing the dough by hand, just enough until it comes together. Using the “by-hand” routine, will fluctuate from 10-15 minutes. After completing, then cover the dough mixture with a kitchen towel and let sit for 20 minutes, allowing it to rise. After the dough has risen, knead the mixture until it is easy to pull, or until when stretched, it mimics a thin sheet that light will pass through. The dough should be moist, but not sticky. Kneading could take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to reach desired consistency. Another fun tip is the thin sheet of dough is also known as the “baker’s window.” This lets one know if the gluten has formed properly. Meanwhile, pour 2.5-3.0 inches of hot water into a shallow pan and place on the bottom rack of your oven; a glass-baking dish will work. At that moment, the oven should be at 180 degrees. The reason for this is hot water causes two reactions: It warms the dough and, in effect allows it rise faster while keeping the air inside the oven humid, in result preventing the dough from developing a dry skin on top. At this point, begin to grease the inside of a large glass bowl with the vegetable oil. Next, begin forming the dough into a ball, and then put the dough ball into the bowl, which has been pre-greased. After that open the oven and set the bowl on the oven rack above the pan of water for 90-120 min; this is proofing. Once the dough has doubled in size, knead into the proper texture. Remember to knead the dough using proper technique: First, place the dough on the counter top, lightly dusted with