Thursday, 2 June 2011

Guide to Making Homemade Bread pt 1

Guide to Making Homemade Bread
The Secret to Successfully Making & Baking Bread!

By {Chris Pell
Making bread is easy and once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to keep doing it.  There are different ways that you can make and bake bread.  Some people prefer doing it from scratch.  Others prefer using a bread maker.                                                                                  
In order to start making and baking the bread, here are the items that you would need to get started:
·        Flour
·        Yeast
·        Water
·        Large Bowl
·        Sugar
·        Fat
·        Mixing spoon
·        Pans to bake the bread in

Here is a little more information about the ingredients and actions that you’ll have to take when you are getting ready to make the bread:

Using Yeast
The easiest type of yeast to use is active dry yeast.  It should always be fresh, so make sure to look at the expiration date on the packets.  Having and using fresh yeast is important because you want the bread that you make be fresh as well.
For the water, you must get the temperature just right.  Water is used to make the yeast dissolve and added to a mixture of yeast and flour.  In order to get the right water temperature, get a thermometer.  The temperature is supposed to measure between 110 – 115 degrees after the yeast has dissolved in the water.
For a flour and yeast mixture, the temperature for the liquid must be between 120 – 130 degrees. 

Adding Flour
In order for the finished product to have the right quality, you have to choose the right kind of flour.  One of the best kinds of flour that will do your bread justice is bread flour.  Bread flour can make the best kind of bread. 
It has a high content of protein or gluten.  Gluten is important because it can make your bread have a special texture.  Gluten helps the dough to stretch in the form of a web.  When the yeast ferments, air bubbles will try to emerge.  Using gluten will trap them. 
All-purpose flour can also be used to make the bread.  Cake flour is not recommended because it doesn’t contain a lot of protein.  Your bread will not bake right due to the cake flour not being strong enough to deal with the gas pressure from the yeast.
With whole grain flours, there is not enough gluten to justify making a loaf of bread.  You would have to include all-purpose flour or bread flour to provide it with structure.

Using Liquids
Depending on what type of liquid that is used in the dough will determine how it will come out.  If you use water, the crust will be crisper and the bread will have more of a wheat taste to it.  If you use cream or milk, the bread will have a richer taste and a fine texture. 
Using cream or milk will cause the bread to brown quicker.  There is more sugar and butterfat included in the dough.  If orange juice is added, it will still be sweet and will help to kill the strong taste of the whole grain effect.

When you use shortening, oils or butter, the bread will have more flavor.  It's not a good idea to use margarine or whipped butter because they have water.  Water is also found in low fat items, so they are not good to use either.  Your loaf of bread will not hold up very well. 

Using Eggs
Your bread dough will have flavor when you add in the eggs.  Eggs also give the dough richness and color.  Eggs give your bread a nice taste.    

Adding Salt
Whenever you make bread, you should always include salt.  Salt helps with how the yeast is developed and the bread will not rise more than it's supposed to.  The bread will also have a good flavor.  Of course, there are some people who would prefer not to use salt.  They can substitute it with items such as yogurt to help the bread to rise normally.

Using Toppings
You can use different kinds of toppings to change the bread crust.  You can use an egg glaze with just the yolk and add seeds or nuts.  When you use an egg yolk for the bread glaze, it will make the crust shiny.  The crust will still be crisp and golden. 
If you want the bread crust to be crisp and chewy instead, spray a little water on the dough during the baking process.  If you want the bread crust to be soft, brush milk on the dough before baking it.  You can also use butter to make a softer crust.  These are some unique ways that you can experiment with bread crust.

Measuring Ingredients
Include enough water, milk or cream that is needed and heat it at the specified temperature.  Scatter the yeast over the liquid and allow it to sit.  This is to see if the yeast is fresh and active.  You will know if it is if it starts to rise and bubble.  You will be able to measure and mix the remaining ingredients to make the dough.

Mixing Ingredients
Create a round and deep dent in the middle of the flour.  Add the yeast, liquids and eggs.  Beat all of them every well.
You can slowly add the remaining flour that will be used.  When you get to the point where you can't stir with ease, you can stop.  Put flour on your board or surface where you will work with the dough.  Combine all of it into a ball.  If you need more flour, add it so that that your fingers and hands don't stick to the dough.

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