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How to make great bread

How to make great bread

How to Make Great Bread

The miracle of dough rising, the delicious aroma in the kitchen as the bread bakes, the sound of the crust crackling as it cools and the golden beauty of a loaf – these are almost as significant as the flavour and texture of the bread when you eat it. Baking bread at home is one of life’s pleasures, so don’t miss out! A plain loaf has just four ingredients, flour, yeast, water and salt, and is not at all difficult to make. Your task as the baker is to do some enjoyable mixing and kneading and then sit back while the yeast does its work.

Before you start, read through these notes on the ingredients used in and the processes of making bread:

Yeast

Yeast is a living plant which needs gentle warmth, food and liquid to make it grow. As it grows it gives off carbon dioxide which creates the bubbles that make the dough rise and it also produces alcohol. The alcohol is driven off when you bake the bread and this is what makes freshly baked bread smell so good.

There are two readily available types of yeast:

  • Edmonds Active Yeast is dried yeast granules which become active when mixed with warm water.
  • Edmonds Surebake Yeast is a mixture of active yeast and bread improvers which give homemade bread a soft, fine crumb. We recommend using Surebake in bread making machines.

Yeast works best at 37˚C which is body temperature. A higher temperature will kill the yeast whereas a low temperature will retard its activity, but not kill it. By leaving bread dough to rise at room temperature, or even in the fridge, you will produce a better-flavoured loaf which will stay fresh longer.

To use Edmonds Active Yeast, you begin by mixing the yeast with some warm liquid to reactivate it, then after about 15 minutes add it to the flour with the remaining ingredients.

To use Edmonds Surebake Yeast, mix the yeast with half of the measured dry ingredients, and then add half of the required liquid (milk or water) cold. Immediately add the rest of the liquid as boiling water followed by any butter. Stir to a smooth paste and let stand for 2–3 minutes. Lastly mix in the remaining dry ingredients and proceed with the recipe.

Replacements

  • 1 tablespoon Edmonds Active Yeast is equivalent to 2 tablespoons Edmonds Surebake Yeast.
  • One 12g Edmonds Instant Dried Yeast sachet is equivalent to 1½ tablespoons of Edmonds Active Yeast or 3 tablespoons of Edmonds Surebake Yeast.

Flour

Edmonds High Grade Flour is best for bread making since its high protein (gluten) content gives the bread good volume and texture. You can also use Edmonds Wholemeal Flour, and sweet, cake-like breads are made with Edmonds Standard Flour.

Other Bread Ingredients

  • A small amount of sugar helps feed the yeast and gives bread its golden crust. You can use white or brown sugar, honey, golden syrup, treacle, molasses or malt extract.
  • Milk and butter make bread softer and help it stay fresh.
  • Add any spices, seeds, herbs, oats or grated cheese with the butter before kneading the dough. Add dried fruits or nuts towards the end of kneading.

Kneading

  • Knead dough by folding it towards you and then pushing it down and away, using the palms of your hands. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat the process for 8–10 minutes until it feels firm and springy and is no longer sticky.
  • Use as little extra flour as you can. Kneading develops the gluten in the dough which helps it rise and gives the baked loaf an even texture.

Proving Bread Dough

Using the oven

  • Preheat the oven to 50˚C with a dish of hot water on the bottom rack. Turn the oven off. Brush the top of the dough with oil or melted butter and cover with a cloth. Leave the dough to prove for 30 minutes to 1 hour until it has doubled in volume, then take it out and shape as required.

Using the microwave

  • Brush the top of the dough with oil or melted butter and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave for 10 minutes on 10% power. Stand for 10 minutes then repeat until the dough has doubled in size.

At room temperature

  • Cover the dough with a damp cloth and put a large plate or lid over the cloth. Leave on the kitchen bench to prove overnight. Shape and bake the next day.

In the refrigerator

  • Cover the bread dough with a damp cloth and a lid and refrigerate overnight. Allow it to return to room temperature – about 1 hour – before proceeding with the recipe.
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