Bread Baking for Beginners: Beat the Baking Block

The Western world is in the mist of a baking mania. We are rediscovering what is a daily task for millions in poorer countries: home made bread. Last year, for the first time, Britain launch a “National baking week” and it is not only women who are baking away, men are doing it too. There are countless sites with tips for the beginner-baker but home baking is still perceived as a daunting task.

The Baking Block:

  • Bread baking is time consuming: true but false. Effectively the preparation will take no more than 12 minutes. As for the rest, the bread does it on its own accord. The dough takes about two hours to rise at room temperature. Cooking time is 35-45 minutes.
  • Making bread is difficult. No, it is not. On the contrary baking bread is a simple, relaxing activity. There are a few pitfalls which can be easily avoided. Especially if you use a bread machine!

The Raising Loaf

  • water temperature: this is the decisive factor, it is going to make or break your bread. As a rule of thumb you will need 350ml at 98°F or 36°C. If it is too hot or too cold, it will not work. To achieve the perfect temperature without a thermometer, simply fill a measuring jug with hot water up to 250ml, then top it up with cold water. Dip your finger to test it, you should not feel the change in heat.
  • Be accurate when you measure up the ingredients: a difference of 50 ml (4 tablespoons) in water level will change the density of your loaf from a heavy to light. Adding flour to stop the dough sticking to the work-top will only result is making your loaf too heavy.
  • Double in size: the dough is ready to bake when it has doubled in size. But what does it really mean? The trick is to wait for a couple of hours and press your finger onto it, if the dent remains, it’s ready.
  • Yeast: at the beginning, you will find it easier to use dried yeast.
  • Bake in a hot oven 220°C in which you will have place a bowl of water, the moisture will give your bread a crisp crunchy crust.

Alternatives & Recipes

Although making delicious loaves of bread is not difficult, using the food processor to knead the dough makes the process even simpler. To do this, you will need a dough hook. Then what you do is sift the dried ingredients in the bowl, add the water, switch the machine on. The processor will knead the dough for you in about 3 minutes. Another way to chit a little is to use ready mixed packets.

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