Bread 101 – Your basic bread loaf

Doing some more research on this bread making business, I found a site with lessons available, so I thought…wait wait wait….back this up a little, let me return to the very basics first…So reading up on lesson one, I made this basic bread load – I assume this would be bread making 101 in a culinary course. However, I was a little out of my comfort zone as I was always taught bread needs some kind of fat, be it oil, shorting or butter…this one calls for no fat, and no sugar. Now I know the only real reason sugar is used is to “feed” the yeast and for colour in the baking process, so I can comfortably omit the sugar, however the fat part…I omitted anyway, so lets see how it comes out.

Basic Bread

3 cups Whole Wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups tepid water

Flour and salt into the kitchen aid with the dough hook attachment, until the salt is mixed through properly. Add the yeast, mix through. Add the water (must be hottest out of the tap).
Another method to follow is adding your yeast to your tepid water, let that stand to “activate” for about 5 minutes, add that to your flour and salt. This is the most common method used, however this lesson called for mixing it all together

Form a ball, and continue to knead for about 10 minutes. If you find your dough is a little dry, add more water (be careful to not make the dough to wet)
Set aside covered to rise and double in size, this will take about 45mins to an hour.

I check if my dough is ready when doubled in size, I push my finger into it, if the imprint of the shape stays, then you know you are good to go.

Next step is knocking back and shaping. You can obviously make any shape you wish. Just remember certain shapes take long to bake than others. I went for a rustic looking shape (as my main goal out of all this is artisan breads), but feel free to make little buns, or a loaf.

Once you have shaped your dough, you must leave it to rise a second time, looking for it to double in size once again, will take another good hour or so. (Don’t poke the bread after this rise, you are just looking for double in size)

Another important part of baking your loaf is the scoring part. The reason for this step is not only for the decorative quality it adds to your bread, but the other reason for scoring your loaf is to release the built up gasses which stops your loaf from tearing open while baking. You need to make the scores with something really sharp, you don’t want to massacre the dough, just simply want clean smooth cuts over the surface.

Note – My scoring is not smooth. The season for this was I did not cover the shaped dough with a wet kitchen towel. It is very important that your dough stays moist otherwise it will form a little hard crust. Which mine did.

Baking you bread. Now I am fortunate enough to have a Rational Oven at work, which is amazing…it’s the one piece of equipment that without a doubt, makes life easier in the kitchen. So I bake my bread on the bake & steam setting, however a normal oven obviously works just as well. I bake at 200۫ C for 20 minutes, I like a crunch to my crust, and the softness on the inside.

Very important! – Your oven must be preheated, don’t put your bread into a cold oven.

Once you take your bread out, let it cool to about room temperature before you cut it. Don’t cut straight away, I find it better to cool slightly, you want it still warm enough for when you spread your fresh farm butter on, the butter melts slightly.

Now, the problems you could run into:
Dough is to dry will result in a tight heavy loaf.
Dough is to wet will result in irregular holes and not a nice rise.
If you choose to add sugar, you will have a nice golden colour once baked
The salt is for taste; however, it stumps the yeast and helps with the fermentation, too much yeast will result in a beer like flavour, too little yeast and your bread wont rise.

Please note: This is by no means an amazing loaf of bread, this is just very basic bread, like one you would buy from you local store. What this lesson is all about is feeling your dough, getting to know your dough, and finding out what reactions you want, and don’t want. However if you have the time, this is a great way to always have fresh bread in your house if you don’t have a bread machine!

If you do this, let me know how you tweaked it! I have put lesson 1 & 2 together in a way. Lesson two was just about adding things to the bread to enhance flavour. Add some olives and fresh rosemary, or feta and peppadews and fried bacon…play with it. Once you have the basic down, you can go ahead and really experiment with the dough. Don’t be afraid!

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