Yeast Dough Tips
Mix in only enough flour so dough leaves the side of the bowl and is easy to handle.
To knead fold dough toward you. With heals of your hand push the dough away from you with a short rocking motion. Move dough a quarter turn and repeat.
Place dough in a large greased bowl turning dough to grease all sides. Dough should rise until double in size. Press fingertips about ¾ inch into dough. If indentations remain dough has risen enough.
Always cover bowls and pans with plastic when rising.
Gently push fist into dough to deflate. This releases large air bubbles to produce a finer texture in traditional loaves.
How to shape loaves.
Flatten dough with hands or rolling pin into 18x9 inch rectangle.
Tightly roll dough towards you beginning at the 9inch side.
Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal.
Cut bread after it has been cooled or else you will squash it.
Breads stored in the refrigerator becomes stale at a faster rate as it causes the starch molecules to crystallize.
Never put warm bread in plastic because it will become soggy.
Why add vinegar to bread?
Add 1 tbsp of vinegar if using low quality flour because it helps gluten development (can act as a dough enhancer for whole wheat bread. Vinegar doesn't seem to harm yeast in small amounts, but is a yeast inhibitor if you use too much. The way it helps breads acheive more height may have more to do with the beneficial effect acids have on gluten develpment.
Adding 1 tbsp of vinegar to every 2.5 cups of flour makes the bread rise faster and gives the bread some of the characteristics of sourdough. 1 tsp of vinegar which somehow gives the yeast a real boost and you can't stop the bread from rising to great heights (practically leaps out of the pans) no matter what kind of flour.
If your water is very hard, you'll find that a tablespoon of cider vinegar or lemon juice added to the water will make a better bread.
You can use most types of vinegar (wine, apple, etc.).
Yeast Bread Cures
Not high. Possible causes are water too hot for yeast, too little flour, not kneaded enough, rising time too short, or pan too large.
Coarse texture. Possible causes are rising time too long, too little flour, not kneaded enough, oven too cool.
Dry and crumbly. Possible causes are too much flour, not kneaded enough.
Large air pockets. Possible causes are dough not rolled tightly enough when shaped.
Yeasty flavor. Possible causes are rising time too long, temperature too high during rising.
Know which crust you want.
Artisan, chewy style crust needs steam for the first few minutes, then dry heat.
Dusting with flour gives a rustic look to the loaf.
Egg wash turns the bread golden and gives a softer crust.
Milk washes in the last few minutes is good for a sandwich style loaf and gives a glossy brown, soft crust.
Brush loaves or rolls with oil or water and roll in seeds or grains to coat before baking.
Oil softens the crust, water keeps it crisper.
Slash top of loaves ¼ inch deep 15 -20 minutes before baking, if not longer, to give the ultimate slash and rise look to the bread.
Other Bread Tips
Let the bread cool before slicing. The bread should reach an internal temperature of at least 180°F before you take it out of the oven. At this point, the bread is still baking and drying out. Let it cool two hours before slicing. If you cut into it before that it will look underdone or soggy.
This is not as true for small, white flour loaves and rolls. Some of them are designed to be eaten hot-out-of-the-oven.
How to Store Bread
Keep crusty bakery bread in its original paper sleeve. Do not put it in a plastic bag, as it will retain too much moisture and become spongy. To prevent bakery bread from drying out, save the end piece and use it as an end protector. You can also place the bread cut end down on a breadboard.
Freshly baked bread that will be eaten immediately can be wrapped in a clean towel and kept on a breadboard.
Keep sliced store bought sandwich bread it in its original plastic packaging to help the bread to retain moisture. It should be stored at room temperature in a cool dark place. Sunlight will cause bread to dry out, and if it is in a humid place, it will grow mold.
Bread keepers are the ideal place for keeping bread for up to a week. They maintain the cool dark atmosphere that bread needs. While a wood, metal, or clay breadbox is ideal, in areas where bugs are abundant, a plastic bread keeper that allows bread to breathe is a good option.
For long-term storage, wrap pre-sliced bread in plastic wrap with the air removed and put it in the freezer. It is difficult to slice bread after it has been frozen. It will keep for three to four months.
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