Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Ten Steps of Baking Bread

So, basically i have been in intro to baking as my first class for labs. I have been learning a ton of recipes and baking lots and lots of bread and pastries. One thing i feel necessary to share to the world, is the ten steps of baking bread. In order to make perfect bread that's fluffy, soft and delicious on the inside with a beautifully browned and crispy crust, you must follow these steps:

1. Scaling - This one is clearly the most obvious. You have to scale out the ingredients perfectly. Most bread is made from four ingredients; flour, generally bread flour (duh), water, yeast, and salt. Other ingredients are added to add flavor, color, texture, or to leaven the bread.
2. Mixing - Another obvious stage. You have to blend all the ingredients together until the dough can be stretched to make an super thin film. Mixing well will create gluten, which is key to making bread.
My Baguette's
3. Bulk Fermentation - This is the first proof. You can either do a quick proof, which would require a proof box, which i assume most home kitchens don't have, or, you can do a long fermentation process by putting it in the fridge over night. Basically, the longer you let the yeast convert the starch to sugars and create carbon dioxide and alcohol, the better the bread will be. This is the most important process and can really make or break the bread.
4. Dividing - divide the dough into the proper amount for baking. For baguettes, one pound should suffice, but you can change the amount up to make smaller or bigger breads.
5. Rounding - when you cut and divide the dough, you are letting carbon dioxide escape from the air tight center of the dough. By rounding it, you are recreating some lost gluten, while recreating the perfect air tight environment for the yeast to do its fermenting thang.
6. Bench Rest - this step is the second proof which is required to let the dough ferment even more, making that bread that much more delicious. It relaxes the dough. Generally 45 minutes to 1 hour in a proof box, maybe 2 or so in the fridge.
7. Shaping - this is the form and shape of your bread. In terms of baguettes, the bread should be rolled out into a tube like shape that's bigger in the middle and gets thinner as you reach the edges.
8. Panning - Depending on the type of oven you have, this could go a few different ways. With a stone oven, all that would be needed is a piece of parchment paper to protect the stone from getting dirty. With a regular convection over, sheet pans would work, but they wouldn't have the same bottom crust as bread baked in the stone oven.
9. Final Proof - One final proof before going into the oven so that the yeast have reached their maximum output of carbon dioxide and alcohol. Pretty quick, for only thirty minutes or so. This will also give it that final rise for the baking step. Stippling, or cutting the bread also occurs in this step. Putting slight cuts into the bread will allow the center to cook better and a give a awesome pattern to the bread.
10. Baking - Another simple one. Put it in the oven and let it become something amazing. The cook time and temperature depends on the dough size, crust and color desired.

Well, that's it. I hope that you learned a few things about bread today reading this. So go fourth and make bread to eat and share and showoff your bread making skills.

The Hungry Gamer

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