Fill Your Home with the Fresh Baked Aroma of Sourdough Bread.
Making Fresh Baked Breads & Treats
Baking your own bread is a rewarding and economical alternative to buying processed and pre-packaged baked goods. These mass produced products may contain dough and flavor enhancers, excessive salt and other additives designed to extend the shelf life of the product far beyond its flavor factor. Artisan breads are hand-made of only flour, water, yeast and salt. Because of this, bread baking is enjoying resurgence in popularity. The physical act of making bread has four universal steps; combining ingredients, developing structure, fermentation and baking. Breads of different flavors and styles are produced by varying the way the basic ingredients are combined. Kneading is the physical act of working the dough vigorously and long enough for the wheat protein called gluten to be formed. Gluten is the compound which gives bread its springy, stretchy structure. Different methods of kneading are used based on the style of bread you are making. Rising or proofing are the terms used to describe the fermentation process in bread making. During this time, the yeast consumes the wheat and produces carbon dioxide gas, lactic acid and other flavor compounds. Gluten traps the gas and allows the dough to increase in volume by creating the characteristic bubbles. A cool rise is when yeasted dough is placed in the refrigerator to rise slowly. The yeast’s activity is slowed down allowing for more flavor development by the cold-loving bacteria present in the dough. Texture is also improved by a long, cool rise because the increased acidity strengthens the gluten. A pre-ferment is a general term used to describe a part of the dough that is mixed and fermented for a period of time prior to being added to the final dough. Sourdough is a well-known example of a pre-ferment. There are many different types of pre-ferment methods. Poolish is a pre-ferment of Polish origin, it’s made with equal parts by weight of flour and water (referred to as 100% hydration) and a small portion of the total yeast called for in the recipe. The amount of yeast used depends on the temperature and the time allowed for the fermentation. At warmer temperatures or for longer fermentation times the amount of yeast will be minimal. Biga is a pre-ferment of Italian origin, it can be made just like a poolish or with more flour (less hydration) making it stiffer than a poolish. In fact, the biga is often times a chunk of the previous day’s bread dough which was set aside prior to the addition of salt. The purpose of using a poolish or biga is to allow for rapid multiplication of yeasts which leads to an increase in strength and rising ability of the final dough.