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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Baking Bread Dear? - Secrets of Bread Making

Baking bread is not as easy as it looks. At least for me it isn't. Mixing the ingredients isn't difficult at all. After all, basic bread only has flour, salt and a little oil. It's the kneading that really counts the most. However, kneading will spell the outcome of bread. Underkneading will produce a rough texture. Overkneading will make the bread tough. But when a right amount of kneading is applied, you have the perfect bread. The dough should be smooth, elastic and aromatic.

Another important ingredient in bread is the shortening. During a discussion about bread, my friend said once he had to bake bread for their bakery because their baker left. "Nakalimutan kong lagyan ng mantika...ng maluto makunat saka iba tigas pero tuwang tuwa ako dahil yon ang gusto ko,,," (translated as "I forgot to add oil. After baking, it was so tough but I was very glad because that's how I like it"). So unless you are making unleavened bread, the oil should be added to your dough to make it soft.

Yeast is another factor that really makes a difference in the flavor and texture of bread. I use slightly heated (about 2 to 3 minutes of heating) tap water. My friend uses water straight from the tap. Still another friend prefers to use boiled water mixed with cold water to make it warm. What ever you do, just keep the temperature to a point where it is neither cold nor hot. Just warm. Also, I prefer using instant yeast as it is easier to work with. Remember not to let bread rise too much. The yeast will give off a very strong unpleasant flavor when left to grow over an extended period.

The 4th most important factor is the heat of the oven. Uneven heat will produce an uneven bread in terms of color, shape and size. Also, an oven that's too cold will yield a dry bread. Very high oven temp will give you a crunchy bread.

Bottom line of all these is to stick to the recipe of whatever you're baking. Remember that baking is both an art and a science. As a science, it requires accurate measurement and the adherence to steps.

Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread is so satisfying that it is worth the effort of baking it right in your kitchen. Try it some time.

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