Bread making is an art. Even with very few ingredients — water, flour, yeast and salt — bread recipes can be difficult to master.
“Making bread can be a very intimidating proposition, even for the most seasoned home cook,” explains ReluctantGourmet.com Writer G. Stephen Jones. “Someone who doesn’t think twice about putting together a traditional cassoulet with an ingredient list as long as their arm might experience a pang or two of doubt when faced with a bread recipe with those four little ingredients.”
To make sure your next batch of homemade bread meets bakery standards for taste and appearance, incorporate the following bread-baking tips.
A simple recipe is the best start to a delicious loaf of bread, according to TheSpruce.com Writer Jennifer McGavin, who recommends being flexible with the recipe’s directions.
“The caveat is that bread baking will always have slight variations due to the moisture content of the flour you are using,” explains McGavin.
Once you’ve settled on a simple recipe, it’s important to invest in high quality ingredients.
“Common-sense steps will help ensure a tasty loaf. Check the expiration date when you purchase yeast; be sure to buy exactly the type of flour called for in a recipe (bread flour, for example) and use bottled water if your local tap water has any unpleasant smells or flavors,” advises CookingLight.com Writer Kathryn Conrad.
Although a baking stone carries a lot of weight and requires an extended amount of time to heat up, McGavin says that using one will almost guarantee your bread bakes up with an ideal crust. And don’t forget to preheat the oven with the stone in it.
“With or without a baking stone, I have found that heating the oven for half an hour with no stone or one hour with a stone is essential for professional-looking and tasting results,” writes McGavin.
Don’t expect your first bread-making attempt to be the stuff of culinary genius — even if it’s tasty, the more you practice at making bread the better each batch will be. To get better, you need to pay attention to your scientific methods.
“Teach yourself to check ambient temperature, water and dough temperatures and write down the steps you took, on the side of your recipe or in a notebook,” explains McGavin. “You will probably bake bread a few times a month and you will forget what works for you — that you added two extra tablespoons of water, or cut down on the salt — if it’s not written down.”
Don’t get sloppy with your recipe’s detailed measurements. A dash of that or a pinch of this will not result in quality bread.
“Careful measuring of ingredients is essential to making good bread. Don’t rely on guesswork,” reports Conrad. “When measuring the flour, be sure to follow our instructions to lightly spoon it into the measuring cup (don’t scoop!) and level off the excess using a knife. Be sure to use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients like flour and sugar, and liquid measuring cups for any liquid.”
Homemade bread is a delicious and special treat; with a little practice and dedication, you’ll be able to produce bakery-quality bread in your home kitchen with ease.
This article is presented by CitySide Subaru in Belmont, Massachusetts.