FlourFlours react differently in their ability to absorb moisture. Depending on humidity andtemperature, the amount of flour needed in a recipe may vary by as much as a cup or two.Therefore, the amount of flour called for in a recipe is always approximate. It is best to start witha smaller amount of flour and slowly add more while kneading to achieve a smooth, satinytextured dough. There are several types of flours used for bread making. The primary differencebetween flours is their protein content. When mixed with liquid, certain proteins form glutenwhich gives an elastic quality to dough. Gluten provides the framework for dough to rise bystretching and trapping the gas bubbles given off by yeast as it grows. The type of wheat, whereit is grown, and the milling process all influence the amount of gluten. The higher the glutencontent, the more volume the bread will have. Secondary differences are taste and texture. Themost commonly used flours for bread baking include:All-Purpose Flour, a blend of hard and soft wheat flours, is suitable for yeast breads aswell as quick breads and most cakes.Bread Flour, with its high gluten content, results in bread with good volume. Doughmade with bread flour should be kneaded longer than dough made from all-purpose flourto fully develop the gluten.Whole Wheat Flour, which contains the entire wheat kernel, adds a distinctive "nutty"taste to doughs. Some all-purpose flour is often added to it to lighten the dough and yielda larger volume. Whole wheat flour should always be stored in the refrigerator to preventrancidity.Rye Flour, limited in gluten, is usually combined with all-purpose, whole wheat or breadflours to improve volume and texture.YeastYeast is the leavening agent which makes the dough rise. A living plant which breathes andgrows, yeast thrives on the sugar added to dough, producing a gas which stretches the dough andcauses it to rise. It is available in active dry or compressed forms and can be usedinterchangeably. Compressed yeast usually comes in .06-ounce cakes and active dry yeast comesin 1/4-ounce packages. (One .06-ounce cake is equivalent to one 1/4-ounce package.) Recently,quick rising yeasts have been developed. These finely ground yeast granules allow the dough torise in half the time.Proofing the yeast: Yeast should be "proofed" before its added to the flour mixture to be sure itis active. To proof, dissolve the yeast in a small amount of warm water- approximately 105degrees F to 115 degrees F for dry yeast; approximately 80 degrees F for cake yeast-for 10 to 15minutes until the yeast is foamy. A small amount of sugar may be added to quicken the process.Note: If you are using the Rapid Mix Method where the yeast is added with the other dryingredients, the water temperature must be 120 degrees F to 130 degrees F to activate the yeast.Quick rising yeast may be dissolved in water or added directly to the flour.Liquid
Liquid added to a flour mixture turns to steam and helps create texture. Water yields a crusty loafwith a fairly dense crumb while milk gives bread a rich and tender crumb and a softer crust.SugarSugar is the ingredient that activates the yeast to make the dough rise. It also adds flavor,increases tenderness and helps the crust brown. Granulated sugar is generally used, but molasses,brown sugar and honey may also be used. Be careful not to add too much sugar as it can retardgluten development. A good rule of thumb is 2 teaspoons of sugar per 2 cups of flour.SaltSalt regulates the growth of the yeast. Salt-free bread rises quickly, while too much salt canreduce or destroy yeast action. It also enhances the flavor of bread and contributes to a finertexture.ButterButter or shortening makes the dough stretch easily and makes the bread tender. It alsocontributes to flavor and aids in giving bread a longer shelf life.EggsEggs aid in gluten development and provide extra nutrients to bread doughs. They also addflavor and golden color desired in sweet doughs.Making the LoafKneadingKneading develops the gluten in the flour to form a framework for holding the gases given off bythe yeast. The KitchenAid mixer not only effortlessly tackles kneading but provides the constantrhythm necessary for best results. After all the flour has been added, continue to knead forapproximately 2 minutes until the dough is smooth and satiny, not sticky. Shape the dough into aball and place in an oiled bowl. Brush the top of the dough with additional oil to prevent a crustfrom forming while rising. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm (70degrees F to 85 degrees F) place, free from drafts.Rising
Let the dough rise until double in size. To test the dough, depress two fingers into the center andif the dent stays, it has doubled. Punch the dough down by pushing your fist into the center of thedough and pulling the edges over to the center. Turn the dough over. Letting the dough rise asecond time before shaping will yield a finer textured loaf.ShapingThere are many ways to shape a loaf. Specialty breads, such as braids or rolls, will generallyinclude directions in the recipes. Two simple methods for shaping standard loaves are as follows:Form the dough into an oval the size of the pan, stretching and turning ends of the doughunder and pinching into a seam. Place in prepared pan, seam side down.Roll the dough into a rectangle slightly longer than the size of the pan. Beginning withthe shorter side, roll dough towards you. Seal long seam as well as ends with hands. Foldsealed ends under and place loaf, seam side down, into prepared pan.BakingPlace loaves in the center of the oven, leaving space for the heat to surround the pans. To checkfor doneness, remove one loaf from its pan and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow it is done.Turn loaves onto racks immediately after baking to prevent sogginess.Bread Making Tips1. Always store flour in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. For long-term storage,store flour and yeast in refrigerator or freezer.2. To measure flour, spoon it lightly into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula.3. Use the Grain Mill to grind whole wheat berries and other grains into flour. One cup ofgrain yields approximately 1-1/4 cups of flour, except for rolled oats which yields 7/8 cupof flour.4. Always check liquid temperature with an accurate thermometer.5. Allow bread to rise in a warm, draft-free place. Place bowl of dough on rack over pan ofwarm water. Or, set oven on lowest setting for 10 minutes. Turn oven off and place bowlof dough in oven.6. For soft crusts and extra shine, brush finished bread with melted butter and cooluncovered.7. For crispier crusts, brush loaves with a mixture of one egg white and one tablespoon ofcold water before baking.8. Inverting finished bread onto racks immediately from oven prevents a soggy loaf.9. Some large recipes and soft doughs may climb over the collar of the dough hook. Thisindicates the dough needs more flour. The sooner all the flour is added, the less likely thedough is to climb the hook. Try starting with all but the last cup of flour in the initial
mixing process. Then add the remaining flour as quickly as possible, never exceeding thetotal amount given in the recipe.10. Dough made with whole grain flour may not form a ball on the dough hook duringkneading. However, as long as there is contact between the hook and the dough, kneadingwill be accomplished.11. Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.12. Baked yeast breads may be stored in the freezer for up to six months. Wrap securely inplastic wrap or aluminum foil. To thaw, let stand at room temperature for 3 hours.Bread Machine Tips1. Use good quality hard wheat unbleached, unbromated flour that has at least 12 grams ofprotein per cup. (I like King Arthur)2. Use fresh, quick dissolving active yeast, not rapid rise.3. Open the machine and check the dough during the first 5 - 10 minutes of the firstkneading cycle!!! Even if your manual says not to do it: flour acts as a sponge absorbingmoisture on wet days and becoming dehydrated during dry weather. Youll have to adjustfor fluctuating humidity and barometric pressure by adding small amounts of flour orliquid to the dough.4. If youve never made bread before and dont know what dough is supposed to look like,buy a package of frozen bread dough (available at your local supermarket), and let itdefrost according to the package directions. Place it on a lightly floured surface and playwith it until you are familiar with the consistency. This is what youre aiming for in thebread machine.5. Now, to adjust the dough in your bread machine during the first knead cycle: wait untilthe ingredients have been kneaded for 3-4 minutes. If the dough looks sticky and wet andis coating the bottom and sides of the pan, then sprinkle in flour, a tablespoon at a time(you may need up to an extra 1/2 cup) while the machine is kneading, until you have asmooth, supple ball of dough. If the mixture is dry and corrugated looking or the doughdoesnt hold together then sprinkle in additional liquid, a little at a time, until the dough issmooth and pliable and forms a cohesive ball. If youve wandered away from yourmachine only to return to find a wet messy glob or a dry desert thumping around in themachine, press stop (you can do this at any time - except if the machine has gone into thebake cycle), add a small amount of flour or liquid and press start. Stick around and makeadditional adjustments, if necessary, until the dough looks right.6. I have found that when you are either making dough, or placing the ingredients in themachine to make bread at that time, you can add either the liquids first or the dryingredients first. The major exception to this is the old dak (no longer made) where theyeast must be placed in the bread pan first in a position farthest away from the kneadingblade. When programming ahead make sure to place any dried fruits away from contactwith wet ingredients as they will absorb those liquids and throw off the recipe.Extra kneads and extra rise times all contribute to the depth of flavor, character of the crumb andgeneral personality of a loaf of bread. One of the reasons I dislike rapid rise yeast and rapidcycles on the bread machines is that the dough really requires the entire life span of the yeast to
become the amazing miracle that is bread. If you are partial to whole grain breads and arewinding up with lower loaves than you wish, then try a double knead cycle: place the ingredientsin the machine and program for dough or manual. At the end of the final knead reprogram themachine for bread (of Whole Wheat) and press start. Youve given the dough an extra work-outto develop the gluten - that will result in a higher loaf. For an even higher loaf you can (if yourmachine permits) program for a longer rise time, or simply remove the dough from the pan afterthe final rise cycle (but before baking) transfer it to a bread pan and allow it to raise in a warmplace until doubled in bulk. Then bake it in the oven.Sweet doughs with lots of butter and eggs also respond well to a second long rise in a cool place.I remove my brioche from the machine after the dough cycle is complete. I place it in a largefreezer strength zip lock bag and refrigerate it overnight. Then I place it back in the machine (myZojirushi has flexible programming), program for 2nd rise and bake. If you cant program yourmachine this way you can place the dough in a bread pan after you remove it from the machine,give it a long, refrigerated rise, and then bake it in the oven. Even non-wheat and non-sweetdoughs can benefit from this extra rise.