The Arabic Food Recipes kitchen (The Home of Delicious Arabic Food Recipes) presents How to bake bread. Enjoy the Arabic Cuisine and learn How to bake bread.
While it may take some time to master perfect sourdough, whipping up homemade bread isn’t terribly hard and the results are almost always going to be better than anything that comes in a plastic bag.
"You can certainly make very good bread at home," says expert baker David McGuinness, co-owner of Sydney's renowned Bourke Street Bakery chain, which specialises in artisan breads and pastries. "Like anything, it just requires a bit of practice. Don't be put off by your first results if they're not fantastic. If you don't get it completely right you can always just toast it."
"I think more people should make bread at home and not be intimidated. There's a personal satisfaction in knowing exactly what's in the bread and people with allergies can choose flours that suit them," adds McGuinness.
McGuinness recommends finding a good decent base recipe and simply working on it "until you really understand it and understand what small differences will make to it".
You don't need to understand the science behind bread baking to make a decent loaf, but it can definitely help to get your head around the basics of how the ingredients interact and what effect variables such as heat or moisture can have on dough while it's rising, proving or baking.
Best breads for beginners
McGuiness suggests starting with a ciabatta style loaf or other white, yeasted bread. Another good option is a standard white dough, which can then be flattened so you can push toppings, such as olives, sea salt and rosemary oil into it. This results in a flavoured foccacia that isn't actually very hard to make but looks and tastes very impressive. Harder doughs, such as sourdough or rye, are best avoided when you're first starting out until you're mastered the basics.
Making gluten-free bread can be challenging because it is the gluten in dough that makes it elastic and pliable. However, there are more good options available these days and you can even get gluten-free flour mixes for bread baking in many health food stores.
Gluten-free grains include sorghum flour, millet, teff, brown rice flour, buckwheat and quinoa, which are all also nutritionally dense. Gluten-free starches such as potato starch, cornstarch and tapioca are often added, as are chickpea, almond and other high-protein, non-grain flours. Eggs are often used as a binder and flavour can be enhanced by adding extra spices, fruit and nuts.
Bread at its most elemental is simply flour, yeast, water and salt.
Bread-making flour is ‘strong', which means it has a high gluten content. A bread made with ‘soft' or low-gluten content bread will be crumbly in texture and not rise as well.
Use ‘live' fresh yeast ideally (ask your local bakery). If not, dried yeast is absolutely fine and is easier in some ways for beginners to manage.
Water should always be lukewarm, not too hot or it will kill the yeast.
Fats such as oil, butter or lard help ‘shorten' the crumb of breads, making it easier to chew, and add flavour.
Salt is essential in bread making. It not only affects flavour but also the rising of the yeast and therefore the texture.
Sugar, honey or other sweeteners are often added to feed the yeast with a simple carbohydrate.
Eggs can add colour, nutrition and flavour and create a softer dough.
Milk sometimes replaces some of the water, influencing the texture and flavour of the loaf.
While there's all manner of specialist baker's gear you can buy, all the equipment you need to produce a decent loaf is:
A plastic mixing bowl
A decent set of scales, preferably digital
A baking tray
Beyond that, a good thermometer, baking stone and dough scraper are all a huge help.
Avoid these common mistakes
Don't over-knead dough as it will make it tough.
Likewise, don't over-prove your dough or it can become too fermented.
Don't use poor quality flour or the wrong type of flour.
Don't feel you have to follow the recipe precisely if the dough feels too wet or dry. A lot can depend on climate. It's best to add less flour at first than too much as dough will generally become much less sticky as you knead it.
Use top quality ingredients to make your bread, such as organic flours from Kialla or the Wholegrain Milling Company and Murray River Sea Salt.
Learn the art of shaping properly as this can make a great difference to your bread.
Taste.com.au - June 2012
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