Having the right ingredients is only half the battle in making perfect bread. Every home cook should have a few basic supplies on hand, as well.
If you don’t bake often, you won’t need as many as an avid baker.
There are also key differences to keep in mind if you are a bread machine baker or a fan of baking from scratch.
It is important to remember that these are just the tools you should have on hand, and the list is only a set of recommendations.
You may or may not use everything on here, and your needs will vary largely based on the type of bread baking you do.
All bakers should keep a few key pantry items on hand, including a selection of flours, sugars, molasses, honey, milk, eggs, salt, yeast, baking soda, baking powder, and anything you want to use to add flavor or to improve your bread in general.
There are many places to find information on the contents of a well-stocked baker’s pantry, but this article won’t cover the ingredients themselves. On to those lists!
Bakers who choose to do everything by hand should keep the following items on hand at all times:
- Measuring utensils (cups, spoons, etc.)
- Glass Bowls
- Wooden, Stone, or Ceramic Rolling Pin (for making fun loaf shapes)
- Dough Scraper
- Chef’s Knife
- Bread Knife
- Loaf Pans of Different Shapes and Sizes
- Bread Molds and Tins
- Muffin Pans
- Pizza Stone
- Cast Iron Griddle
- Automated Baking
Using a bread machine still requires having some supplies on hand. In addition to your machine’s bread pan, hook, and the machine itself, you’ll want the following items in your kitchen:
- Measuring Utensils (spoons, cups, etc.)
- Rounded Spatula (to help remove loaves from the pan without damaging the nonstick surface)
- Timer (for adding ingredients like fruit and nuts at the right time)
Process in perfect bread making
Making bread flour
It’s all about the method of working (kneading) the dough which allows for a much looser, (wetter) mixture, that results in a lighter, springier, more elastic and responsive dough.
This dough rises beautifully with no requirement for any improves and produces a truly excellent texture of crumb and a light crispy crust, distinctive of bread.
These results are quite unlike those produced by other kneading techniques where recipes naturally demand a greater flour content to prevent the dough from sticking to everything as it’s being kneaded.
Breads produced in this manner will predictably be heavier, have a denser texture and a thicker crust
Understanding what it takes to produce perfect bread is an experiential phenomenon. There’s no other way to learn bake bread than to roll up your sleeves and get your hands in the dough.
So first of all be ready to try and fail, and learn from your mistakes, that’s the joy of learning.
Adjust the recipe, it’s knowing the consistency that’s the most important issue.Reduce the amount of water when adding to the mix by over 15% to account for the higher humidity levels!!!
Practice will give you the experience to get a feel of the “right” consistence, but again, a teacher will get you there much faster.
Especially weigh the water if you want to be able to repeat a result you must know exactly what went to produce that result, measuring by volume just isn’t accurate enough.
Always work to a recipe, but know that you will almost certainly need to make an adjustment. So make sure that you take notes of exactly what you’ve done, and then if you make an improvement you’ve got a new best recipe and you know how to reproduce it.
Knowing how to make adjustments is something that only experience will show you, but taking notes will speed this process along. If you don’t take notes you’re flying blind.
Mistakes to avoid
The secret-at least most of it-is in the rise. The most common mistake that we see in bread making is not letting the dough rise enough.
So how do we know when the bread has risen enough?
The dough will double in size. It will be soft and look a bit airy. When you touch it with your finger, it will feel soft and an indention in the dough will remain. If it feels a bit springy and the dough bounces back from the indentation, it hasn’t risen enough.
To help you tell when your bread has risen enough, most recipes tell you how long to let the bread rise at normal kitchen temperatures.
(The stated time is a guideline but it’s usually pretty accurate if you are using water at the recommended temperature. Set the timer and forget about the bread until you hear the timer.)
Can you let bread rise too much? Yes-but most of us are too impatient to let that happen often. If it does rise too much, it will be blistered, so soft it won’t hold its form, and may even collapse.
No problem. Just gently knead some of the air from the dough, reshape the loaves, and let it rise again. It will rise more quickly the second time.
Sometimes, the bread dough is too dry or too wet. That won’t happen often if you carefully measure the water. Traditional bread dough will be soft and barely sticky but dry enough to handle with a little flour on your hands.
Environmental conditions, such as humidity or water hardness, may affect the moisture in the dough. If you feel that your dough is too wet or dry, add another tablespoon or two of flour or dribble in a tablespoon of water.
If you find yourself bewildered by the list above, consider the following. Baking isn’t just about the process itself. It’s an art of its own.
The tips listed here help you to make the most out of your baking, without investing a fortune.Otherwise, the sky’s the limit.