Baking bread used to be something I did but never really understood. After being tutored by Richard Bertinett at his Kitchen on how to make the perfect dough enabled me to find the passion to add to my knowledge.
I came across this video of USA baking legend Peter Reinhart and I must say he confirmed my feelings for baking bread. His passion together with his simplistic and humorous manner of explaining how to make the perfect dough, what happens during the “making” process and all things technical is just simply perfect!
If you have a spare 16 minutes watch this video as it definitely clarified any remaining issues as to why I still sometimes bake bricks! Baking bread is the radical transformation of taking wheat or flour and making it into a tasty loaf, it’s a tricky process and the fate of your loaf lies in your hands. The baker makes the ultimate decisions on which flour or ingredients to use but a small fluctuation in temperature and timing will effect the final outcome of your loaf.
In short you cannot fast track the process and without the true understanding and knowledge it’s a daunting task. Anyone can bake bread but armed with the knowledge and know how, it’s an even more interesting and exciting process.
Peter talks about the 12 stages of bread baking and explains the Bakers Mission of extracting flavour from wheat or flour:
- Mis-en-place – weighing ingredients and getting everything ready
- Mixing – developing the gluten to give the dough the strength to grow and activates the yeast
- Fermentation – developing flavour – this is the stage where the yeast ‘eats’ the sugars and starts to ferment by creating carbon dioxide and alcohol- in Peters words the yeast “burps” and “sweats”
- Dividing – the dough into smaller pieces which makes it easier to handle
- Shaping – Shape the dough into required shapes such as loaves, rolls, sticks etc..
- Final Shaping
- Panning – transferring the dough to suitable tins and baking vessel such as baskets, loaf tins or baking trays
- Final Fermentation also known as proving stage
- Baking – Three transformations take place: 1. the sugars caramelise and forms a crust; 2. proteins coagulate at 160°C, this forms the crumb of the loaf; 3. gelatinisation takes place when the dough reaches 180°C, all the moisture is absorbed and the yeast bubbles bursts and all the flavours are transferred to the bread