Demystifying the basics of bread making & WHOLE WHEAT BREAD LOAF recipe
** Long post alert! Prolonged scrolling time J **
I am back after a 4 month long hiatus. Not that I was happy to be away but the situation had me tied up completely, leaving no time to blog L. However, in these 4 months I have had a whale of a time thinking of, and sometimes whipping up few new recipes, draft posts of which are waiting to be published that I promise to share asap.
Today’s post is all about breads and the technique behind them. Also sharing, a lovely Whole Wheat Bread Load recipe, which has taken up a lot of my R&D time, but has been worth it in the end.
Nabeel and I love white sliced bread! It used to make up for our quick breakfast every other day, until now. The day I learnt about the zero nutrition and negative health effects processed factory made breads have I decided to slowly discontinue them in my routine. It was not easy to eliminate bread completely from our lives and therefore I was constantly looking for recipes and inspiration to bake my own healthy bread loaf. Finally, after lot of reading and some unsuccessful kitchen attempts I found the formula to make Homemade Bread Loaf.
Baking is more science than art! And within it baking, bread is one of the most difficult things to create if you don’t know the science behind it. Once you understand the theory then there is no stopping. Based on my understanding of this science, I am sharing with you a few bread basics that you need to keep in mind before you attempt making any breads. Hope it gives you an idea of what is added when and why.
Demystifying Bread Making
- Good bread is the result of good gluten formation. Gluten is nothing but the stringy texture of dough you achieve when wheat flour is mixed with proportionate quantity of water and kneaded well. So the bottom line is knead well to reap well J
- Refined flour or Maida produces better gluten in comparison to Whole wheat flour. That explains why most bread products use refined flour. This however, is changing thanks to bread improvers, additives, gluten flour, etc that is used by bread manufacturers. They help give a good texture to the product but are totally zero on nutrition.
- It is possible to bake bread using whole wheat flour, just DON’T compare the end result with a refined wheat flour product. A whole wheat bread is denser and heavy on the stomach but much nutritious than any other bread.
- Yeast, fresh or dry plays an important role in bread making. It helps in fermentation which gives the airy texture to the bread. Active dry yeast is easily available and much stronger than fresh yeast. Both are interchangeable in a recipe, fresh yeast is always double of active dry yeast and similarly dry yeast is half of fresh yeast quantity.
- Sugar is the food for yeast, it helps yeast grow. While salt is the birth control measure of yeast J, it helps keep the yeast from over multiplying which might cause the bread to crack and collapse while baking. Thus, salt is added only after first fermentation so that sugar can help the yeast grow during the first round and then salt controls it during the second.
- Yeast requires warmth to grow but it dies at 60C so always use luke warm water (NOT hot ) to make the solution.
- Yeast products to be baked at 200C and over only. Since, the yeast dies at a low temperature the high temperature helps cook the bread fast retaining the air pockets even though the yeast has stopped producing them. This gives the texture to the product.
- Always cool down freshly baked bread before slicing it.
- Remember the more you practice the better you get at baking breads. Initial attempts might be unsatisfactory but they will help you understand the techniques well.
Whole Wheat Bread Loaf Recipe
Makes 16×3.5×3.5 inch loaf
320grams Whole Wheat flour
15grams or 1 tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
10 grams or 2 teaspoon Honey or Sugar
150ml lukewarm water
15grams or 1 tablespoon homemade ghee or Butter
5 grams or 1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons (approx) Sesame Seeds
Melted ghee or Butter
Step 1: First make the yeast solution by dissolving yeast and honey in the lukewarm water. Set it aside for 15 to 20 minutes or till the solution froths.
Step 2: Meanwhile, measure the flour and empty it over your working counter. Grease your loaf tin with oil and keep aside.
Step 3: Make a well in the flour pile and pour the frothed yeast solution in it, carefully.
Step 4: Bring the flour together and mix. Once the yeast solution has been mixed take some water and start kneading. You might need approx. 150ml to 200ml of water to make the dough.
Step 5: Knead the dough well by stretching and pulling it. The secret to well baked bread lies in the kneading of its dough. Refer image to understand how to knead properly.
Step 6: Once you achieve smooth yet firm dough, round it up neatly and place aside covered with a moist cotton cloth or muslin. Let the dough rest till it doubles in size (first fermentation). The time here varies depending upon the temperature but it should be anywhere between 20 to 50minutes.
Step7: To check whether the dough is ready lightly press it with fingers, the feeling is same like when one touches sponge. Turn the dough and look for web like formation at the bottom (refer image).
Step 8: Using your palm, cream ghee or butter and salt together on the counter.
Step 9: Literally, throw the fermented dough over the mixture and punch it to release all the air trapped within it. Lightly knead and shape into a rectangular log with the sides neatly tucked in. The log should be slightly smaller than the loaf tin.
Step 10: Place the dough inside the loaf tin and gently press using fingers to cover the corners. Cover the loaf tin with a cloth or muslin and set it aside to double in size (second fermentation). This fermentation will take anywhere between 40 to 60minutes, depending upon the room temperature. The hotter it is faster the fermentation.
Step 11: Switch on the oven and set it at 220C. Once the loaf has doubled in size, uncover it and brush it very gently with some water. Sprinkle sesame seeds and press them lightly on the loaf so that they stick to it. Let the dough remain for 5 minutes.
Step 12: Once the oven is hot, place the loaf tin on its centre rack. The loaf will take around 40 to 50minutes to bake.
Step 13: Remove the loaf and immediately brush it with melted ghee or butter. Take the loaf off the tin and keep it on a rack to cool. It is important that the loaf is removed from the tin and then cooled.
Step 14: Slice and serve the bread only after cooling it completely.