Truly one of my MOST Popular Posts.
1. Equipment: First of all… for making the BEST bread(s) it requires the best equipment.
- For several loaves, the Bosch Universal mixer kitchen machine is my favorite for whole grains and white bread(s).
- A Sunbeam bread machine is so nice for a single loaf either white or wheat.
- A 14-cup Cuisinart food processor (wow note the LOW price), is just a marvel at white and mixed-flours.
- A classic Taylor instant thermometer probe comes in so handy
- A Precision Pro digital kitchen scale is quite beneficial (and smart) for measuring ingredients by weight. Plus one offers great accuracy for dividing your dough proportionally.
2. Wet Ingredients should be at least room temperature and added to the work-bowl first.
3. Dry Ingredients: For mixers... blend half the flour, with dry ingredients, until smooth (hydrating the flour and aids gluten development).
- So warm liquids to at least 72°F (for an extended rise) and up to 110°F (for a shorter rising) time.
- Butter needs to be soft; it can be melted, but softened butter produces a superior crumb texture.
- Honey is delightful in bread(s), yet can over-brown; consider decreasing oven temperature by 10°F.
- Adding eggs, increases depth and richness, be sure they are room temperature before adding.
For food processors or bread machines... add salt to the liquid, before the flour.
Measure any remaining dry ingredients (lecithin powder, and vital wheat gluten - stored in the freezer) on top of flour before mixing.
The very best instant yeast is SAF Red instant yeast, (store in the freezer); it's quite potent, use 25% less for recipes listing active dry yeast. Red Star is also good, made by the same company.
Adding vital wheat gluten and lecithin will make wheat bread lighter, and Fruit-Fresh helps to inhibit mold.
4. Kneading: Slowly mix in the remaining measured flour, a portion at a time. How much depends on the humidity of the stored flour, the weather; believe it or not even your altitude!
Continue adding flour, just until the dough begins to clean the sides of the work bowl and then stop adding flour.
White bread recipes usually only require 5 minutes on speed 2. In a food processor just 40 seconds!
Wheat bread recipes require a full 8 minutes on speed 2 for proper gluten development. (Go to KitchenAid Mixers: Kneading Tips for more info).
Wheat bread in a food processor is trickier, knead 40 seconds, rest 20 minutes; knead 20-40 seconds more.
For bread machines, add the liquids, fat, sweetener and salt all before you all the dry ingredients. I believe,for a superior crust, test a recipe first with the DOUGH cycle (and bake in a regular oven). If you prefer baking in a bread machine (I'm not a fan) adapt the cycles to your preference, thereafter.
5. Timing: Start timing the kneading once the dough begins to clean the sides of the work bowl. Knead dough until soft and pliable.
For all machines, do a pinch test of the dough ball, which should be soft and tacky (like a Post-it Note), however not sticky.
I recommend taste testing that pinch of dough too, it surprising how the raw dough will taste much like it will when cooked. I'll do this, primarily to test the amount of SALT in a new recipe. Other recipes often have way more salt than necessary for MY taste, especially if I substitute salted butter (which I prefer for freezer storage) over unsalted or using oil. It's all about preference. Right?
6. Dough Rise: With the type of quality equipment, such as a Bosch Mixer, a first rise is NOT required to obtain an excellent texture. HOWEVER... I prefer TWO traditional rises, INSTEAD [of advertised and shown] as many Bosch owner do.
|maybe a bigger deal than you know...|
a) The first dough rise marries the flavors, particularly for recipes that have SEVERAL ingredients. Remove the dough hook (or blade), allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk. Disengage locking lids, for either a mixer or food processor (or simply remove) to cover the dough with a tea towel.
b) The second rise [aka: pan rise] also helps to mellow not only the flavor of whole-grain wheat bread but does aid in digestion too. Bet you didn't know that!
7. Shaping: Rolling out a soft, yet still slightly tacky dough [with a rolling pin] helps to create a small crumb texture that's nice for sandwich bread. However, I more quickly roll with my hands, without a pin too. Place the loaf into a generously sprayed loaf pan for the second rise, until double in bulk.
For wetter, softer "Artisan" doughs (along extended rises) for a larger cell structure, simply flatten the wetter dough with your hands or fingers, and then simply fold the dough into thirds [to make somewhat of a loaf shape or simply shape dough into a round.] Place the free-formed loaf onto parchment for easier transfer to HOT baking stone after the shaped loaf has risen.
8. Loaf Rise: For traditional pans, rise until 1 to 2-inches above the rim. Whole wheat bread rises mostly out - as opposed to up (like white bread does). I'll like using 8x4 loaf pans for wheat bread, yet 9x5 loaf pans for white bread. Place the loaves into the sprayed loaf pans. For a baking stone, preheat the oven for a solid hour first, to bake a free-formed loaf.
9. Baking: The baking time can vary, depending on your oven. Loaves should be golden brown, both top and bottom; somewhat hollow sounding when thumped. Sweet, egg-rich bread recipes are often done by 180-190°F. Soft sandwich bread recipes around 190°F and crusty artisan recipes anywhere from 200° to 210°F. Test interior temperature with an instant-read, for a quick read out.
10. Cooling: Remove the bread from the pan, to cool on a wire rack. For a softer crust, brush with butter. Do not bag until fully cooled. Bag soft loaves in plastic; bag crusty loaves within paper bags, to retain crispness, but double bag either in plastic for freezing.
11. Slicing: Try resist slicing, before the internal temperature drops to 100°F. Everybody loves warm bread from the oven, but you will be rewarded with superior crumb texture when you do. Come on, just show a little more self-control, you know YOU can do it!
An electric knife improves the texture of the slices. Unsliced loaves loose less moisture when frozen than sliced loaves However, the convenience of having slices is often a preference; your choice here.
12. Freezing: Allow the loaves to completely cool before bagging. Bag each half a loaf separately, and then double-bag the two halves. Expel as much air as you can, without crushing the bread [a drinking straw helps here]. Freeze until firm before standing on end. Avoid defrosting bread in the microwave, which also gums up crumb texture, like slicing too warm of bread does. Instead, thaw at room temperature.You can certainly toast frozen slices if you like.
Yes, very warm bread does warm the heart, but slicing less warm bread IS part of better baking!
Now...on your mark, Get Ready... START BAKING!
You stomach, family and even wallet will THANK you!
Labels: Breads, Equipment, How To, Secrets Shared