Baking Bread: The Basics

What you knead to know.

Before I started baking, I thought it would be more complicated than it is. That's not to say it doesn't take practice, nor that finding out about it (say, by reading a book or two) isn't necessary. But I wouldn't have been quite so intimidated if I'd known these things first. Maybe these will help you.

All you need is flour, water, salt and yeast
Four simple ingredients, and the only one that actually makes any difference is the flour. Have you seen the list of ingredients on commercial bread?
100% flour, 60% water, 2% salt, 1% dried yeast
Rather than trying to memorize or look up recipes, just remember these proportions (2% yeast if using fresh yeast. But don't bother).
Take your time
You can't rush good bread. Time for the dough to rise, maybe two or three times, is an essential part of the process. Mass-produced bread, made using the Chorleywood process, rises for only 45 minutes and tastes bland as a result.
Allow about a day
I know this sounds like a lot, but most of this time, the dough is rising, so there's plenty of time to do other things. The more time the dough has to ferment, the better the taste will be.

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