Kneading the dough for bread is an activity loved by some people because it helps them relax and work out frustrations. At least that’s one way to look at it. And others don’t find the need to knead very appealing because of the obvious reasons of physical effort involved in it. In either case, one can’t deny that the whole “mixing, kneading, first rising” ceremony of bread making, is such a delicious process to understand and learn.
No matter how you feel about bread making procedures; when the whiff of freshly baked bread hits your nostrils you will realise that there is no excuse to not make your own homemade artisan bread. It’s fun and you’ll be happy to see the end results which would be a beautiful light-textured loaf of your choice, made at home itself. I bet you won’t find anything in the stores like a loaf made all by your own effort. Moreover, it keeps well too, even without the preservatives that most store-bought bread has.
However, to get that perfect loaf you should know to play well with the ingredients and methods proportionally. You don’t have to know too much of science to bake a loaf of bread but a little knowledge will help you understand the chemistry involved in bread making which turns the ingredients put together into bread.
Here is a brief on how the ingredients come together to make a perfect loaf of bread:
Yeast, one of the key components in bread making is a living organism. It produces the gas, carbon dioxide, which naturally expands the dough helping to give the loaf a good volume. It helps the dough ferment whilst providing flavour through the production of complex compounds.
Sugar and yeast work hand-in-hand. It is the essential food for yeast which should be used in moderation. Flour has a natural fermentable sugar content of about 1.5 %, therefore use sugar carefully if you are adding any extra fruity ingredients into the dough otherwise you will end up with an extremely sweet loaf.
Salt inhibits the gassing action of the yeast but is needed for flavour. It is a tricky balance that we have to keep in mind when experimenting with savory flavours.
Fats, such as butter, vegetable oils, lard, or even the eggs, help develop the gluten in bread. They act as the binding agent that help to hold the structure together. Fat is the ingredient that is used to improve the crumb texture and fluffiness of the loaf by enriching the dough.
Apart from the above said, you have to be extremely careful with the measurements, as it can make all the difference between a lovely loaf and something really disappointing. Such is with the water temperature, which should be always tepid because cold water will not activate the yeast, and hot water will kill it. Once you get a hold on these factors, bread making would be no more a hassle to be done at home. If you are trying the good old fashioned artisan bread making at home, it is advised to get trained by a professional to achieve the best results.