Breaking bad habits is part of baking bread, and too often, some cooking tips should never go unnoticed. If you’re not too familiar with baking bread, these aren’t just bread hacks, since they’ll save you a loaf in return…
The basic building block of life is bread
As our old friend Alan Rickman once mentioned in the movie “Rasputin”: A morsel of bread is more precious to man than a mountain of diamonds and gold, Amen’. This tells you all you need to know about making good bread. But one good tip deserves your attention to detail which can result in a finished result that is better than the bread you buy at the store. In many ways, this is going to be closer to artisan bread that tastes like nothing else you’ve had before.
Follow the recipe
Your recipe is supposed to be accurate with all of the ingredients and mixing instructions, but this isn’t always the case. If you find a recipe that you haven’t tried before, you need to find out more info if there are any bed results or typos that would result in a bad batch. This is why you shouldn’t use a recipe that someone on social media is promoting on their blog. You should always choose bread recipes from trusted websites that allow comments.
This way, you can look through these comments to see if others have had the same success or not. Even with a proven recipe, you might have overlooked simple abbreviations that can make terrible results due to reading tsp and tbsp. A good recipe will offer exact amounts in grams that will make it easier to measure. Most bread makers will have very basic information, so be sure to read everything that’s listed.
Of course, the only way to see if a recipe works well, you have to try it out for yourself. If there is nothing wrong with it and you like the final product, don’t change a thing and stick to that recipe when you make it again.
Measure all ingredients
Despite what is listed in your bread recipe, you can learn a lot from measuring all of your ingredients separately. This means that you should measure these ingredients on a gram scale so you can put this alongside your original recipe. The reason for this is pretty obvious so you won’t make basic mistakes and keep your ingredients consistent each time. The last thing you ever want to do is try to eyeball anything or make guesstimates.
Another thing you don’t want to do is trust using a regular tablespoon or teaspoon because these may be off by not having an accurate measurement. Many people say you can have rounded spoons but this will be subjective with 5 or more grams in many cases. The same can apply to measuring cups with, may not mention the contents need to be compacted or given accurate measurement. Always measure them using a scale that never lies to you.
Salt is one essential item that will help flavor your bread in ways that are going to be amazing. If you add it too soon into your mixture, you can also prevent the yeast to begin fermenting, which is why you’ll add this after your yeast is activated. Once you add the yeast into your water, allow the yeast to activate for 10 minutes before hydrating your flour. This is when you can add your salt and won’t get in the way of your gluten forming.
Some bread bakers feel this doesn’t matter and throw the yeast and salt into the flour at the same time. This can slow down the fermentation process, so you don’t want to sacrifice the amount of time it takes for your dough to rise- either.
Mind the water
There are two rules about the type of water you’ll use for hydrating your flour. The first rule is not to use hot or warm water. So when you start to activate your yeast, the water needs to be warm to wake up the yeast sooner, but as it develops it should be slightly above room temperature when you start to hydrate. The second rule is that your water cannot be hot because this will kill your yeast right away.
It needs a comfy place to make the fermentation process as comfortable as possible. Just like any other organism, yeast likes a nice and warm place to make bread into edible goodness which makes it so special. It also helps to flavor your bread while it rises and further prevents your dough from rising too soon.
Check your yeast
There is nothing more crushing than to find out your yeast has expired and isn’t working. The good news is that more yeast can be added and won’t spoil your bread at all. This is why you need to activate your yeast separately from the rest of your water. This way you can check on the development of how it’s reacting and know for sure that it’s working how you want.
This is the easiest way to ensure your yeast is working as it should after it starts to bubble after sitting in the water with a pinch of sugar. This can then be added to your main water and then mixed with your flour and salt. As it hydrates all throughout, the salt won’t slow the fermentation much which is another reason why you need to place your mixed and kneaded dough in a nice warm spot to rise.
Bonus: Do the pinch test
The last part of testing to see if your bread dough is had has enough time to proof. This is often called the poke test and sounds exactly as it’s done. You take a couple of fingers and push this into your dough that’s been rising for a while. If your dough starts to spring back like a rubber band without any problem, it’s not ready yet. When it leaves a mark that takes longer to spring back, then your dough is ready to put into the oven.
If you leave it too long to rise it will leave an imprint that doesn’t spring back at all like Silly Putty. Over-proofed brad will also have a flavor that isn’t very nice and has a gummy texture or even a crumbly texture that is very un-bread-like. Your instructions for proofing all depend on checking your dough on when it’s rising to get the best results.