Want to Make the Best Homemade Bread? – Follow These Steps
There is little that is more inviting than smell of freshly baked bread coming from the kitchen. Sure, you can go to the local market and buy about any type you want, conveniently pre-baked and neatly packaged, but it isn’t the same. There are definite advantages to making your own bread. You’ll know exactly what’s put into the loaves and if health and nutrition are important to you, this is a great reason for doing it yourself. In addition, there are tons of recipes for delicious breads so you can make about any kind you want, plus you’ll have a burst of pride when the compliments start rolling in from friends and family. To start making the best bread at home – follow these steps. Note that there are some really cool bread makers on the market.
Step one: Recipe, tools and ingredients
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Dry measuring cup for measuring dry ingredients, use a glass or plastic liquid measuring cup for measuring liquids. Each ingredient must be measured correctly.
Prepared loaf pans (coated with cooking spray or shortening and light dusting of flour)
Large glass bowl for mixing dough (5 + quart capacity)
Rubber spatula and sturdy spoon for mixing and stirring dough.
Clean work surface
Once you’ve chosen the recipe you’re going to use, gather the ingredients. Allow all ingredients to warm to room temperature for the best results and make sure that they are all as fresh as possible.
To avoid heavy loaves, use a spoon to lift flour from container into the measuring cup so it doesn’t get packed down. This is how to avoid getting too much flour packed into the cup. Avoid tapping or shaking the cup. Level the top with the flat edge of a spatula or knife.
Preheat the oven to the temperature called for by the recipe. Bear in mind that you should check the progress of the baking about 10 minutes early to make sure that they don’t get done earlier than expected because of oven temperature variations.
Step two: Make the dough
Add all of the liquid ingredients including warm liquids. These should be at a lukewarm temperature to ensure that the yeast action is at its best for a perfect rise. Sprinkle yeast on the top so clumps do not form. Mix the yeast into the liquid to ensure perfect blending of all ingredients. Next, add dry ingredients, which have been precisely measured, a little at a time and mix well after each addition.
Step three: Knead the dough
When all of the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, it’s time to start the kneading process. Lightly flour the kneading surface and place the dough in the middle. This is a stage that is important for preparing the dough for rising. Knead dough vigorously for approximately 5-7 minutes. If you’re new to this process, use both hands and push down on the dough ball, flattening it, bringing more dough in from the front and sides in a folding manner that works the dough in and gives it a good workout. You’ll know that the dough is properly kneaded you can stretch out a small piece like a wad of bubble gum. It will be elastic and stretch out easily.
Step four: Let the dough rise, then punch it down
When kneading is completed, return the dough to a large bowl that has a light film of butter or shortening but not too much. This helps to prevent sticking. Place in the center of the bowl and allow to rise in a warm place where there are no drafts. This process can take anywhere from an hour to several, depending on the size of the batch and the ingredients. You can cover with a clean towel to speed the process. The yeast is “ripe” or ready when you push your fingers into the dough to the second knuckle and holes remain when you remove your fingers. When ready, return the dough to the kneading surface and punch it down. The punch down is a process of lightly kneading the dough a final time.
Step five: Pan rising and baking
After the punch down it is time to form the loaves and place them in the pan for a final rise. Shape the loaves by pulling dough around and tucking it under, pulling dough from the tops, ends and sides. Lightly greased hands make this process easier. Try to get a smooth upper surface for more beautiful looking loaves. Place in pan when shaped, cover with clean dry towel and allow to rise a final time in the pan. When the dough rises to the desired level in the pan, place in oven making sure that there are a few inches in between each pan, and bake for the recommended amount of time given by the recipe. Check the progress about 10 minutes early, and remove from oven when the loaves are evenly browned on top. If the over runs hot and loaves prematurely brown, you may use an aluminum foil tent over the top to prevent overbrowning. When done, the internal temperature should range between 190 degrees and 205. The loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the side or bottom of the loaf.
Step six: Cooling and serving
Remove the loaves from pans immediately and transfer to a wire cooling rack so the bottom won’t get soggy. The bread will be ready to cut when it has fully cooled. This is how you make perfect bread from home.
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