The secret to great bread
At its most basic, bread requires just four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. From this quartet, an almost infinite variety of culinary magic can be conjured.
Know your bread
Kneading is the process which develops the gluten through working the dough with your hands or in a mixer.
Allowing the bread to rise after kneading is called proving or proofing. During this process the yeast is feeding on the dough to make it rise.
Knocking back involves punching out the gas and air pockets in risen dough to ensure an even texture before the second proving.
A protein composite found in foods derived from wheat. It gives dough its elasticity.
Leavened bread is bread which has risen due to the introduction of yeast or other raising agent. Unleavened bread contains no yeast and is often referred to as flatbread.
The pattern of holes inside a loaf.
Wendy's Top Tips
Q: My bread has risen too much
A: Usually caused by too much yeast, but can also be a result of too much sugar causing the yeast to over react. An absence of salt can also result in a too tall loaf.
Q: My bread hasn't risen enough
A: Too little or too old yeast. Too much salt. Was plain flour used rather than strong? Did you use the right quantity of liquid? A dry, stiff dough will struggle to rise. Salt and yeast have been in contact too long and the yeast has died. To prevent this, make sure you mix your salt into the flour before adding yeast.
Q: My bread didn't rise at all
A: No yeast or old yeast used.
Q: My dough is crumbly and didn't form a ball
A: Dough is too dry. Add extra liquid a small amount at a time until dough becomes pliable.
Q: Bread collapsed after rising or during baking
A: Dough has been allowed to prove too long. Too much liquid added. Too much yeast.
Q: My bread is like a brick
A: Too much salt. Not kneaded for long enough. Yeast has been killed by leaving dough in too warm a place to rise.
Q: Bread mixed but not baked
A: Incorrect programme selected on the bread machine.
If you are not going to use it straight away, dough can be stored in an oiled bowl covered with cling film.
Bread dough can be frozen in a freezer bag for up to one month. Allow it to defrost thoroughly before putting in a warm place to rise.
Types of Flour
Made from the whole wheat grain, with nothing added or taken away.
Usually contains about 85% of the original grain. Some bran and germ have been removed.
Usually contains about 75% of the wheat grain. During milling, most of the bran and wheat germ have been removed.
Can be white or brown flour with at least 10% added wheat germ.
Malted wheat grain
Brown or wholemeal flour with added malted grains.
Wholemeal flour ground in the traditional way between two stones.
Types of Yeast
You can now find fresh yeast in the chilled section of some supermarkets or it's worth asking in the bakery section if they can sell you some.
Easy blend & fast action dried yeast
Can be added directly into the flour and is therefore the most convenient to use. This type of yeast is recommended for use in bread machines.
Other leavening ingredients
For making some fast bake breads and tea breads in a machine, other raising agents such as baking powder and bicarbonate of soda are used.
Imagine the delectable aroma of bread wafting through
the kitchen as your home-made loaf bakes in the oven.