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Home Baking Hits A New Popularity Surge

The Coronavirus pandemic brought many challenges, however, the biggest challenge for us now is how we recover in a way that will breath new life into our world and break open our creativity.

One of the positive outcomes has been the huge surge in popularity in baking our own bread. So much so that within days of lock down, supplies of bread flour were running out in the shops.

think about that smell!

During lockdown, the wonderful smell of baking bread wafted through the air! You inhale the freshly baked aroma coming from the oven in your kitchen and hey presto, you are hooked!

Once the dough bakes in the oven and is done, you won’t want to wait until it cools off to eat it.  Plus, you won’t want to go back to the store to buy anymore.     

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

This is how it works! ready?

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.

Fats

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.   

“And in the mornin’ we can eat waffles!” Quote from “Donkey” in that great film, Shrek!

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.  

Kneading Dough

Start kneading the dough by turning it over several times and removing unwanted particles.  Fold it in half in your direction.  Use the heels of your hands to push it away from you.  Make a ¼ turn with the dough. 

Keep doing this until your dough has been smoothed out and feels springy.  The dough and your fingers should not be sticking to each other.  Add enough flour so that the dough does not stick to the board or whatever surface you are working on. 

Rising Of the Bread

Lightly grease the mixing bowl that you will use.  You can use butter or shortening.  Turn the kneaded dough into the bowl and make sure every part is greased.  Greasing keeps the dough from drying out as it rises while it’s baking.  Use a clean cloth to cover it.  Store it in a warm area.  You can place it on an oven (gas or electric) and allow the dough to rise. 

When the dough rises to double of what it was, press your fingers on the top of it.  There should be an indentation when you are done pressing with your fingers.

Making Loaves

Make a fist and push the dough down in the center.  To remove the air, the dough edges should be pulled in the depressed part and pushed down.  Place it where the flour is spread out and turn it.  Shape the dough according to the instructions.

You can use loaf tins to put the dough in.  Make sure that they are thoroughly greased.  Or if you want free form loaves, use a cookie sheet and it should also be greased.  Cover the dough and watch it until it has risen to twice the size.  Since the dough will have more yeast the second time that it rises, it won’t take as long to do that..

Baking

Preheat the oven to the specified temperature.  Put it in until you see a golden brown colour on the outside.  You will know that the bread is done when you tap it with one or two fingers and it has a hollow sound.  Take the bread from the pans and place on a wire rack to cool.  You can add more butter on the top for flavour and a softer crust.

you impressed?!!

Looks good. Smells good. Tastes good!
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