Playing with Dough…oh, and baking bread too.

I am not sure why I am so apprehensive about baking bread. I think it is because my dough handling skills leave something to be desired. I simply need to learn how to handle dough. Day one of bread class put me on that path to learning these skills.

We spent part of the class literally playing with dough. Learning how it feels with too much water or too little. Learning how to knead it to break down the gluten proteins and get the right elasticity. I was told that if my dough looks like it has cellulite, it has been man handled.

There are 12 steps to fermentation when making bread:
1. Scaling – measuring out your ingredients. A simple bread dough has 4 ingredients – flour, water, yeast and salt.
2. Mixing
3. Bench rest – allowing the dough to rest after being handled. Helps in maintaining elasticity.
4. Punching – releasing the air, eliminating bubbles.
5. Dividing – cutting the dough into the pieces to be baked.
6. Rounding – smoothing it and rounding the edges.
7. Bench rest
8. Shaping – depends on the type of bread you are making – Bun? Loaf? Baguette? Round?
9. Proofing – allowing to rise
10. Scoring – cutting lines to allow steam to escape especially if using a steam oven. Also a decorative addition. People will score differently, it is like a personal bread signature.
11. Baking
12. Cooling

Today we made a simple white bread dough which we could shape into buns, loaves, baguettes or rounds.

20120923-213528.jpg Told ya there would be flour.

Using fresh yeast and warm water we make a slurry to proof the yeast, making sure it is alive. When the yeast is alive it will react to the warm water and begin to bubble. This is the ingredient that gives a bread dough its rise.

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On top of the slurry, we add flour, shortening (butter is better), sugar, milk powder, and salt is last. Using the mixer and dough hook, we mix until the dough pulls away clean from the sides.

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The dough is then left to rest and rise, hidden under a bowl or wrapped in plastic to keep from drying out. I got so caught up playing with our molding dough, I forgot to snap shots of the dough ball as it grew. In any case, it doubled in size and then we divided, rounded and shaped the dough.

I went with a loaf and some buns. Dough proofing.

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20120923-214404.jpg See how it has risen and filled out the pan more?

There are the giant rotating ovens.

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They bake for about 25 minutes or an internal temp of 200 Fahrenheit. Colour is not a clear indication of done ness. Bread fresh from the oven.

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Ugh, took all my willpower not to rip up and devour it right then and there. I waited until I got home to slice it up.

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My parents scored the loaf, I kept the buns. Nice soft white bread with a nice crust. I had my piece with some garlic butter. Then I had to hide it to keep from eating them all tonight.

I am quite proud I made bread today. To me it seems like such an ancient art lost to modern day bread machines. My class is off to a good start. Again, I am lucky to be tabled with 3 other very nice people and actually, the entire class seems very friendly, eager to chat, help and offer compliments. My teacher is witty and extremely informative. She said we would be given tidbits of theory if we wanted or not. I accept willingly.

I am happy to be back =)

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