5.22.2007

Bread making tips

If you have never made breads before, you're missing out on many life lessons breads will teach you- or so I found out. Years ago, a guy friend quoted EG WHITE's writings saying that the first thing a girl should learn to master in culinary skills is bread making. Stunned, I shrugged my shoulders and smiled.
I have never baked my own breads because they require a lot of work and techniques. However, I decided to conquer the breads world by going to a professional class to learn bread making. And I have to say that making bread is deeply satisfying. There's the tactile thrill of putting your hands into whisper-weight flour, the invigorating exercise of kneading a mixture until it's smooth, and the enjoyable charge that comes with punching down a pillow of dough! However, I think an investment of a stand mixer with a hook is highly advisable~ to save excessive hand-work. *grin*
Here are some tips and lessons that I learnt~
1. Don't try to rush rising times: Flavor develops during the fermentation process, so slower and longer is always the best way to proceed. In fact, for the Pain de Menage (country bread), bakers would add a tiny bit of 3-month old refrigerated dough to new doughs to add flavor!
~~Sometimes we try to rush through life without processing our feelings or enjoying the moment. Good things come to those who wait. ^___^
2. It is important to let the dough rest, covered, before shaping bagels. This gives it a change to relax and makes shaping easier.
~~Rest and Relax, it makes life and stress easier to handle!

3. Creating steam in the oven will give bread a crisp crust. The humidity will keep the crust from setting and thus prevent the bread from expanding too quickly. To do this in a home oven, place water or ice cubes in a pan on the bottom rack.
~~The friends and environment we choose play an important role in our life. It might be negligible but it makes a difference. Birds of a feather flock together.
4. Never add all of the flour in a recipe to the dough until you're sure it is needed. It is usually better for the dough to be slightly wet and sticky, which encourages fermentation better than if the dough were too dry. Furthermore, the amount of flour and water varies according to the day's temperature humidity. If it is humid, decrease the amount of water.
~~Things happen and life changes but we have to adapt and make the best of the situation. Whatever life gives us, handle it with flexibility and adaptability.

5. Checking the internal temperature of bread is a foolproof way to tell if it is fully baked. Insert an instant-read thermometer through the side of the loaf and the internal temperature should be 190 to 200 degrees. OR, you can tap it and when you hear a hollow sound, the bread is done. A bread which looks cooked might not actually have a hollow sound or internal temperature of 190-200F.

~~Even though we look alright on the outside, we might not actually be really "cooked" or doing well. Be true to yourself and God. Only U are accountable to yourself and God.
6. Working with yeast: it is a hard worker. it feasts on sugar, water and oxygen; rapidly multiplies; and, given time, triggers the chemical reaction that transforms flour and other ingredients into a lush cushion of dough. In doing so, yeast also adds texture, structure, and flavor. It is what elevates flour and water to such gratifying sustenance. So get to know yeast, its properties and reactions. One cake compressed fresh yeast (.6ounces) equals (1/4 ounce or 2 tsp active dry or instant yeast).
~~Be familiar with what you're working with~ and never look down on the small things. It matters.
7. Salt kills yeast when in direct contact, so when adding salt to dough, do so as the bulk of the flour is added, then immediately mix well to disperse. Never add salt to a starter, even small amounts.
~~OH, it emphasizes the point that tiny actions and words sometimes do matter! We might not realize it but whatever we do have ripple effects and consequences.
8. Did you know that the Type of water affects the bread product? Do you know why New York is famous for their pizzas? Their dough is special because of the water used to make them. (It has been rumoured that xx LA pizza store has the best pizza because they import water from NY.) The chef-instructor recounted an experiment she did years ago. She made breads from the water sent from 4 states in the US. The results were strikingly different, showing that the minerals in the water content affect how the final product comes out.
~~ Each of us are different. Although we might look similar outwardly ( just like water in CA and NY), our composition varies and we are special in God's eyes.

~~
SO, Forget the low-carb craze and eat the oldest food known to mankind- breads! It is good for you~ eat more whole grains and do everything in moderation!
~~
Some of the menu items included:
  • Pretzels using "easy white bread"
  • Hamburger Buns
  • Pita Bread
  • Na an Bread + tons of garlic +cilantro = absolute delicious
  • Focaccia Bread using fresh rosemary + thyme herb
  • Baguettes using Pain de Menage (country bread) recipe
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ALL WHITE PARTY~~~~~~~~~






Darl, as promised in the earlier post, I wore the blouse that you sent
~ it was just what I needed for the all white party. :)
~~~~~~"GIRL'S NIGHT OUT" ~~~~~~
*salsa dance/exercise*good food

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tips. Can you post up the recipes? I would like to try them.

Cherry Z said...

Hi!
Well, is there a particular bread recipe that you'd like? I will post them when I make it in the future...(which might not be soon) :p

Anonymous said...

Thank YOU! Wonderful TIPS!!

Anonymous said...

I would love to find a great Foccocia recipe!

Lani said...

I'm new to bread-making (today, I made two loaves of pan rustico that are 45 seconds from being done), and I haven't yet found anything as lovely as your account of the process and your reminders of the life lessons therein. Lovely!

jo said...

Thanks for the help!

Unknown said...

Greaqt tips - thanks.

but how about this for the 'wisdom' of step three... steaming.

Let emotions gently circulate they keep things moist and flexible in ones life and relationships. (moisture is representative of the inner world of feelings in Astrology, Jungian psychology and I Ching.)

Just a thought. I enjoyed your wisdom enormously.

Joe C said...

Appreciate the internal temp tip. In 4 hours I'll discover if it works for me. And a foccacia recipe would be great.

Anonymous said...

How about posting your Na an bread with cilantro and garlic! That sounds yummy!

Dan and Michelle said...

Thanks for your tips...and I LOVE your analogies to life through breadmaking! They couldn't be better put! God is truly at work in our inner hearts and lives more than we (or others) sometimes know!
Blessings,
MKTebbe

Disclaimer: All the recipes posted are for my personal references and/or adapted from mentioned instructors or books. They/I reserve the rights to it. Please remember to cite your sources! Thank you.