So here’s what happened…
Yesterday I talked about the basic ingredients that bread needs, and how if you take the basics and experiment, you will be able to easily make your own bread. And I promised to let you know how that works in practice.
I’ve made bread from recipes before, so I already knew what it should look and feel like. Taking out a large glass bowl, I dumped in 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of warm water, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast. I mixed these together well, and turned the dough onto a floured board to knead. The dough felt, looked, and smelled wonderful… soft and warm. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes, popped it into a greased bowl, covered with a damp cloth, and left it to rise in a warm spot. In my case, I had turned the oven on while mixing the dough and then turned it off when I put the bowl in to let the dough rise.
After it looked like the dough was about double in volume, I punched my fist in to it to let the air out, and put it into a greased loaf pan to rise again. When it was double again, I turned the oven on (375 F) and baked it until the top was a light golden brown.
The results: I ended up with a tasty bread which tasted delicious, with a crispy crust. I wasn’t too happy with the texture, it was a little tough and chewy for my tastes, but adding some shortening to the dough should change that next time. My son declared it “Delicious!”
So yes, knowing the basic chemistry of cooking allows a cook to make bread.Some breads are made without the yeast, and are referred to as “quick breads” because there is no need to allow the yeast to work and make the dough expand. Some use butter or shortening to create a lighter texture. Some breads use a brusing of butter or beaten eggs to change the outside crust.
Once you find a basic formula that works for you, adding flavors makes your bread versatile. Nuts, dried fruit, herbs and spices can dress the breads up to compliment your meals. Using whole grain flours will add nutritional value as well as unique, hearty flavors. Just remember, whole grains and dried fruit will also require using a little more liquid in your recipe. Adding fats will soften your dough and make a lighter textured loaf. Adding flavorings to the top of the bread as it bakes will add flavor and flare, without changing the loaf inside.
So grab a bowl and some ingredients, play around with different ideas, and let us know what happens. But most of all, HAVE FUN and know that you are capap