Baking bread can be fun but it can also be daunting as a beginner.  We bake our own bread for our bread boards and have learnt a few things along the way.

  1. Heat (and salt) can kill the yeast!  If your water is too hot (ideally the water should be body temperature 37 degrees) or you leave your bread to prove in a very hot area then it may not rise as well.  Water should be from the tap and feel cool or just warm.  You should also make sure when adding the salt to the flour that it does not touch the yeast until you start the mixing process.
  2. There is such a thing as too much kneading!  Kneading (stretching the dough to develop the gluten) by hand should take around 10 minutes, you are looking for the stage where the dough can be stretched without tearing.  A mixer will take approx 3-5 minutes to reach this stage.  Over kneading will result in a flat and heavy bread.
  3. The proof is in the rising!  Proving or rising the bread is an important stage and while most recipes will say it takes an hour, it can take longer for your dough to double in size depending on the temperature, ingredients and humidity.  You should also make sure your dough is covered to prevent it from drying out, this can be with a tea towel or oiled cling film.
  4. Is it ready to bake? To check that your dough is fully risen, press your finger into the surface and if the dough springs back it will need a little longer.  The dough is ready when the finger mark stays.  Bake straight away to prevent over proving.
  5. Why do I need to knock back? Most bread recipes require a smooth texture so after the first prove you should punch and press the dough to remove the air bubbles that will then re-form during the second prove.  Breads such as focaccia don’t need to be knocked back as they are known for their irregular air holes.

 

New to bread baking?  We’ve put together a selection of kits to make it easy for you to start.   Visit our shop to purchase yours.   https://courtyardkitchen.bigcartel.com/product/bread-making-kit