The Art of Perfect Bread Baking
by June Kessler
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Making bread requires little more than your hands, an oven and patience. The recipe for success is simple; time and warmth are all it takes to transform a few basic ingredients into springy silky dough that bakes to a crackly, crusted loaf. It is like most things- easy when you know how, with practice making perfect. If we had to choose one single phrase that I feel is essential to bread making, it would be this; bread is alive, growing entity and, the product of it’s ingredients and surroundings; it responds to its environment- “treat the rising dough as if it were alive’’ While we advocate the use of scales, warmers and thermometers, remember that observation is the baker’s traditional tool. The more you make bread, the better your bread will be.
Essential Ingredients and Techniques
Flour is the main ingredients of most bread, accounting for about three-quarters of the finished loaf. The flour you choose will give your bread its individual character. The choice of flour affects not only the quality of the baked bread but also the bread baking process , Flour will absorb more, or less, liquid depending on the verity of wheat that it was made from, the place were it was harvested, and the way in which it was milled. Such variables are compounded by the humidity in the air – on a damp day, flour will adsorb less liquid than on a dry day. The quantities of liquid given in the recipe can never be more than guidelines. Our mixing technique suggests that you hold back a proportion of liquid and add as needed. The method acts as a safeguard against overly wet dough and the consequent need to add extra flour; which upsets the balance among flour, salt and yeast. If you require a little more liquid than stated in the recipe, do not hesitate to add it; your aim is to produce dough conforming to the consistency specified in the recipe, be it firm, soft or wet. Observing; and understanding the condition of your dough, and what it requires, is the key to successful bread baking.