Knead, knead, knead

Knead, knead, knead

Kneading your dough lines up the messy strands of gluten and makes your bread stronger.

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A scientist’s guide to life: How to bake bread brilliantly

sciencefocus.com

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Baking bread: Yeast-free and gluten-free alternatives

Yeast-free alternatives:

  • Chapatis
  • Rye bread from sprouted wheat
  • Tortilla bread from corn

Gluten-free flour alternatives:

  • Rice
  • Chickpea
  • Soy
  • Bean
  • Corn

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Keeping bread fresh

The best way to keep homemade bread fresh is to bake it, let it cool, then place it in the freezer.

The reason why we need to put it in the freezer is that the moment we take the bread out of the oven it starts to lose its moisture.

Starch retrogradation is the chemical reaction that changes the structure of starch molecules and forces water out of the bread.

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Finger test your dough

Once your dough has doubled its size, press the dough with your finger -- if it bounces back then that means it is ready to be baked. Anything otherwise means that it needs more time to be proved.

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Know your yeast!

Bakers use one species of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae that means "sugar-eating fungi."

Yeasts are single-celled organisms that help make the bread light and bubbly.

Bread connoisseurs prefer live yeast but dry yeast has a longer shelf life. If you're open to a yeast recommendation, instant yeast is the way to go. It's way dehydrated than dry yeast and it works on the bread quicker and has a longer shelf life than the already dry yeast.

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Crusty top bread

The Maillard Reaction is the name of the chemical reaction that happens between amino acids and sugars. This chemical reaction also requires moisture and heat in order to happen.

The brown crusty top is the result of the chemical reaction stated above. If you want your bread to have it you can do either of the two:

  • spray the dough with water a few times while it is cooking; or
  • fill a baking tray with ice cubes and place it in the bottom of your preheated oven.

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Proving cupboards

Proving activates the yeast in the dough. You don't need proving cupboards in order to perfect making bread.

Although cupboards provide constant temperature and humidity, they can be done just by covering your dough with a tea towel. It is also possible to cold prove the dough at room temperature or you can leave your dough in a warm oven.

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Forget me not: Salt

When you put salt in the dough that has yeast in it, it absorbs moisture that aids in controlling the fermentation process. 

The reason why salt does that is that salt is hygroscopic so it attracts water.

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Use strong flour

If you don't want heavy and dense bread, make sure to use strong flour. Strong flour has high amounts of protein in which contains glutenin and glian that makes gluten when water is added into the mix.

The gluten gives it its elasticity and enables the dough to rise with a good structure.

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Archeological artifacts that are discovered many years ago prove to us that bread has and always will be comfort food to most of us. 

Natufian hunter-gatherers were making flatbreads from wild cereals from over 12,000 years ago but it's possible that baking could have started even earlier.

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Sourdough

Sourdough is a vegan bread, however it is not gluten-free. It's a naturally leavend bread that uses a 'starter' instead of commercial yeast.

For sourdough you need the three basic ingredients: strong white bread flour, water, and salt.

Many use different flours in their sourdough and experiment with different ones but as long as you adjust the amount of water accordingly, it will come out great. You can also add flavoring ingredients such as: seeds, nuts, herbs, chillies, cheese, and more.

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What is sourdough?

bbcgoodfood.com

Making sourdough bread

Making sourdough bread may sound complicated. But that is the reason why it has gained cult-like status - because of the perceived steep learning curve to making bread.

Once you get past the mental barrier, it's a lot easier than it looks.

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Every 20-Something Is Now Obsessed with Making Bread

vice.com

Benefits of baking

Research shows there may be beneficial effects to baking, like less stress, emotion management and social connection.

Spending time in the kitchen is a kind of self-care that's desperately needed during the long months of isolation.

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Why cooking and baking fill a void

bbc.com