8.16.2011

Learning about Bread


I had originally started a theme called Weekly Bread, where I was going to get over my fear of yeast breads by tackling all of the recipes in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I made the first loaf, but haven't gotten past that...probably because the bread was only okay and went rock hard in 2 days.

So I've been doing some research on bread, specifically from the book pictured below.
Image via Amazon.com
 
Since reading the chapter Yeast Breads and Flat Breads, I learned I was rather uninformed about the process of bread. Here are a few things that I thought to share with you (and have a convenient place to pull them up again). All of this information comes from the book The Baker's Dozen.
  • If you have a scale, you are far better off weighing the flour instead of measuring by volume.
  • With my Accelerated Biology students, we make soft pretzel dough when we cover the chapter on photosynthesis and respiration. I have used two different recipes in the past two years. While the pretzels are okay, they taste more like bread than soft pretzels. Turns out there are two different kinds of yeast--the commercial yeast bought in packets, and wild yeast that you have to grow yourself. It is the latter kind of yeast that makes the distinct taste of sourdough. Looks like I'll be learning how to make a sourdough starter...
  • Yeast should always be dissolved in warm water (even if the directions say otherwise!) for novice bakers. And for sweeter breads.
  • Even though it takes longer, use active dry yeast over instant yeast and rapid rise. The taste is better.
  • Eggs in bread recipes prevent the dough from going stale longer
  • Fats and oils soften bread and make it stay fresh longer
  • The optimum temperature at the end of kneading bread should be 75'F. There is a whole paragraph that includes math to make sure this is specific.
  • Bread that is kneaded by hand should be done so for about 10 minutes. You can use the "windowpaning" method to see if the gluten is developed enough.
  • The oven should be preheated for FORTY-FIVE minutes to ensure it is hot enough.
  • An alternative to the "hollow thump test" (I am more of a quantitative person than a qualitative person) is to put an instant thermometer in the bread from the bottom of the loaf. The internal temperature should be 200'F.
  • Bread wrapped in plastic can make the crust softer, but it will stay fresher longer than wrapped in paper.
  • Use bread flour.
With all of the following information (and yet another rainy day in Bucks County), my confidence is bolstered up. Instead of choosing a BHG recipe, I will choose one from this book and see what results I have. I'll post about it tomorrow!

Also, there is only one more day until Shabby Apple announces their 15 finalists for the Dare to Design competition. I submitted the following dress a while back. Keep your fingers crossed!

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