Bread


Bread

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Here are some good sites to visit about bread
Jamie Oliver    BBC    Botham    Fabulous foods

 

We had a bread maker once and I just couldn't get it to produce a usable decent loaf of bread, so I did it myself - by hand. This is not rocket science - but it does require attention to some of the detail.

If you want to know what's really going on when you make bread - this is it. You will rely upon two (and probably a third) chemical reactions.

  • Yeast and water activated with sugar produce alcohol and gas. Same for wine and beer - but in bread with alcohol produced is vapourised by the heat of the cooking. With bread we want the gas to be trapped in elastic bubbles. With wine and beer the gas escapes and we keep the alcohol!
  • Water and flour release gluten. That's why bread flour is needed. Many domestic flours for cakes have the gluten removed. This is what the kneading does - produces this gluten which then gets the air trapped in it. That's the basis of all bread.
  • There are other things going on as well - but go research it for yourself - it's fascinating.

Let's get going

  1. Get the stuff ready before you start

  2. Be sure you can give it the attention it needs - that is take say 20 mins to prepare - then 15 minutes kneading - then 2 hours to prove - then knock it back - let it prove again - then 45 minutes bake at 220C. Just do not start this if you haven't got the time.

  3. This is my recipe for a simple loaf - I make loaves one at a time in a 2lb load tin. That's quite big (for the domestic market) and you might need to go to a specialist shop to get one.

    • 650 grams strong BREAD flour
    • About 450 ml of slightly (tepid) warm water (the total water content is very important. The actual amount you will need is likely to be between 60-70% of the flour weight)
    • 15 ml of dried yeast
    • 5ml sugar
    • 10 ml salt
    • 1 tablespoon oil

  4. This is what is needed to make a loaf - do not slavishly tip in the amounts above, because they may be slightly too much or little. More or less water may be required.

  5. As I explain the steps I will also set out why some of the things you do must be done as instructed, then you'll know why you must follow some of this religiously.

  6. Keep everything warm. Cold kills bread making, too much heat kills yeast.

  7. Take 150ml of the warm water - stir in 5ml sugar and ensure it is dissolved. Use a little fork or baby whisk and sprinkle in the 15ml of dried yeast. Get the yeast dissolved and set this to one side (somewhere warm) to froth up. Say about 10 - 15 minutes. The froth head on the top is very important and needs to develop to MORE than the thickness of your index finger.

  8. Be sure that your big mixing bowl is ready - (warm). Sift the flour, ad the salt and mix well. Add the oil and mix again.

  9. Take the big mixing bowl with the flour, oil and salt. Make a well and pour in the frothy yeast mix and the remainder of the warm water.

  10. Use a wooden spoon or wooden spatula to mix. This takes time. It'll all start to blend together and the time will come when you can get your hands into this. Be sure to have a little spare flour around as you'll need it. Get stuck in and knead this mass into a big ball. If you do not know what kneading is - go look it up. As you work it'll begin to dry out and you'll find it'll come off your hands and leave the bowl clean (well almost!). This is the time to add a little flour or water as required to get a mix that you can work with.

  11. However, you really want the dough to be as wet as you can keep it consistent with a dough that doesn't stick to everything. When you have a dough, get it out of the bowl and knead it on a work surface.

  12. Knead for 15 minutes minimum. You'll start out kneading and as you do you'll find it becomes "sticky" again. Add a little flour to stop it sticking. The additional stickiness that develops is important - you'll know by this everything is going well. What's happening is the water and the flour are chemically reacting and making the elastic gluten. This is the elastic stuff which, when the yeast starts to react later, traps the air bubbles and makes your bread light. No elastic sticky stuff and no air trapped and heavy bread - simple.

  13. Most recipes say knead for 10 minutes. The development of the gluten is so important I always go for longer. The science of bread relies on two chemical reactions. The development of the sticky elastic gluten (mixing and kneading flour and water) and the yeast mixture that releases air (actually it's CO2).

  14. When kneaded put the dough into a basin and set to one side (where? somewhere warm) for at least an hour. You want it to at least double in size. Put a clean cover over it. Why? To keep it clean and so it doesn't dry out.

  15. When that's done, remove the dough onto your work surface and gently knead out the air and knock it back to it's original size. It will be warm and elastic. You need your baking tin now.

  16. The tin should be warm, keep it with the mix that's been proving. Then it'll be the same temperature. Grease the tin.

  17. Put the knocked back dough into the tin. Press it into the corners. Cover again. You can easily use some oiled cling film.

  18. Now you put this back into the warm space for up to another hour to rise again.

  19. Get the oven ready. 220C should be OK. When the dough has filled up the tin - risen again - put it in the oven. Once it's in the oven it isn't going to rise much more - the heat will kill off the yeast.

  20. Cook for around 30 - 35 minutes.

  21. When it comes out - watch it - it's hot. I can't resist a little slice to taste - do not burn your mouth!!

    ENJOY when it's cooled