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Here are some good sites to visit about bread
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
- 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
- Get the stuff ready before you start
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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
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.
Keep everything warm. Cold kills bread making, too much heat kills
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
The tin should be warm, keep it with the mix that's been proving.
Then it'll be the same temperature. Grease the tin.
Put the knocked back dough into the tin. Press it into the corners.
Cover again. You can easily use some oiled cling film.
Now you put this back into the warm space for up to another hour to
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.
Cook for around 30 - 35 minutes.
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