The Basics of Baking Bread

So, you’ve baked cakes and cupcakes, pastries and pies and tried quite a lot of dishes in that oven of yours. But are you yet to try bread? The prospect of baking bread seems to scare a few bakers out there, but never fear, you’ve got to start somewhere! Here are a few tips to encourage you to try baking bread at home.

What is bread?

Flour, water, and yeast are mixed together to make a dough. When this dough is baked, the outcome is an airy loaf of bread! Apart from these basic ingredients, salt would be added to taste and the rest of the possibilities are endless.

From nuts to dried fruits, nuts and oats, anything dry can be added to the dough. Even the type of flour used could change depending on which type of bread you decide to bake.

Flour

As mentioned above, flour is one of the main ingredients that go into the bread dough and contains proteins in form of gluten and starch. The flour used to bake bread would be one that has more proteins and starch, with higher levels of gluten known as hard flours. Softer flours with lower levels of gluten are are used to bake various other patisseries like cakes. 7 Star All-Purpose Flour is a blend of both hard and soft flours.

Water

This is crucial in the science of baking bread. The yeast needs water in order to activate the fermentation process. Once water is added to the mix, the gluten molecules also begin to uncoil. When the dough is heated, the water helps the starch to gelatinize as well. Sugar and salt in the mixture are also able to react well with the other ingredients when water is present. The temperature of the water also plays a major role in the development of the dough.

Yeast

Yeast is available in different forms; dry, fresh, and instant. It’s best to stick to the type of yeast mentioned in the recipe you are following. It acts as a natural leavening agent and produces CO2 gas when it activates. Yeast also produces alcohol as a by-product of fermentation.

Mixing the dough

This is where you bring all your ingredients together and combine them well by hand or machine or perhaps both. The yeast is then distributed through the mixture and begins to develop the glutens which give the bread its texture and structure.

Baking the bread

Ever wondered what goes on inside that oven? Just as you pop that nicely shaped loaf inside the oven, the heat causes the yeast to produce a sudden burst of gas known as ‘oven spring’. The yeast is killed when the oven reaches a temperature of 140 F. The starches begin to gelatinize, and glutens become firm while the bread begins to turn brown. Browning can be further enhanced by brushing milk or egg on top. Some prefer to make slits on the dough as well to make slits on the dough before baking it so that it has room to expand to the maximum.

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