Lesson 1 Practical. Bread Making.
The process used in this first practical lesson is known as the "Bulk Fermentation Process". (BFP)
All the ingredients are mixed together and after initial mixing, is allowed to ferment and develop over a set period of time.
The recipe used for this lesson is Standard White Tin Bread
Turn on the oven. 205C fan, 220C/450F Gas7.
Sieve the flour, milk powder and the salt together on to a clean worktop, add the fat and gently rub into the dry ingredients to evenly disperse the fat (Alternatively place the ingredients into a large mixing bowl)
Using a scraper or one hand, make a bay (a well).
Place the yeast in a clean basin.
Measure the correct quantity of water at the required temperature.
Add a 1/4 of this water to the yeast and lightly whisk to disperse and break down the yeast.
(if using dried yeast, reactivate using part of the measured water)
Pour the remaining water carefully into the bay and with open fingers of one hand, begin to mix, drawing in a little of the flour from the wall of the bay.
Gradually move around the bay, drawing more flour into the centre, taking care not to break the walls of the bay and creating a batter.
If the walls of the bay break, do not panic and try and stop the water, the best way is to move the dry mix onto the escaping water.
At this point add the yeast water making sure that all the yeast is dispersed and no sediment is left in the bowl. Continue mixing using booth hands.
This stage it is known as the "flock stage" because it resembles the flock that is used to stuff cushions and mattress.
Do not at this stage be tempted to add any additional water.
Scrape all the remaining dry flour into the centre to start forming the dough.
Because flour absorption varies, at this point a decision has to be made as to whether additional water is required. if it does it should only be a very small amount. There is a tendency with beginners to think that the dough is too dry at this stage and so they add more water.
This is the point where the dough could be easily be spoiled.
The problem is that if the dough is mixed for too much at this stage, it will be difficult to add more liquid if required, however, if you add too much liquid the finished dough will be too slack (soft). If you have weighed accurately this really should not be too big a problem. Only experience will tell you the required consistency, each time you make this recipe you will naturally know whether to add or not.
It is important to bring all the ingredients evenly together before moving to the next stage.
Now begins the hard work, the Gluten that was formed when the flour came in contact with the water, has to be developed. This is known as Kneading (mixing).
Using the heel of one hand and a tearing action with the other, start to stretch and pull the dough apart, bring it back to a mass and then repeating this action. This should continue for at least 12 minutes.
Just punching with your knuckles does not do a lot for the development of the gluten.
As you knead, take notice of the changes that are taking place to the dough. This is why you should always make your first breads by hand.
Of course, if you have a bread machine or a mixer you can have the hard work done for you but you will not get to feel and see the changes taking place. We strongly recommend you make at least three mixings by hand before you use any mechanical aids.
When finally mixed, the dough should be "clear" and well "developed" and should have a smooth silky feel and appearance.
Now begins the Bulk Fermentation Time. (B.F.T.) This time should always be stated in the recipe/production points as will the instructions regarding Knock-Back. (Not all doughs require a knock-back).
The dough is now left in bulk to ferment. Place the dough into a bowl large enough to allow it to double in size. Cover the dough with a damp clean cloth or lightly oiled cling film, this is to stop the dough from forming a skin and set aside in a draught free warm area, having turned your oven on already your kitchen should be warm enough for this. If it is particularly cold then an airing cupboard or right next to the cooker will be the best option.Draught is the biggest enemy, even in the summer time.
After 2/3rds of the total B.F.T.the dough needs to be Knocked Back. This is simply expelling the gas already generated in the dough to encourage further yeast development. To do this, take the dough out of the bowl and firmly press and punch the dough to expel the gas. Reform the dough into a ball, replace in the bowl and re-cover, set aside for the remaining 1/3rd of the B.F.T.
NOTE: If the B.F.T. stated is 1 hour then Knock Back will be after 40 minutes and the dough then given a further 20 minutes in bulk before further processing
The dough is now ready to process.
Take the dough out of the bowl, taking care not to be too heavy handed but at the same time do not be afraid to handle the dough.
Weigh the dough (scale) into the required weight, 450g (1lb) for small loaves 900g (2lb) for large or as stated by the production points.
Most U.K. bread tins are made to accommodate these amounts of dough based on past legal regulations. It is unwise to exceed these stated amounts.
The dough pieces are then "handed up", made into round balls, covered with a damp cloth and allowed to stand for 10 minutes.
TIP: cover with a dry clean tea cloth and then place a damp cloth on top of this.
After resting for 10 minutes (intermediate proof) the dough is ready to be moulded into its final shape.
Flatten the ball of dough to form a disc.
Fold the flatten disk in half to form a pasty shape. Bring the left hand side over to the centre and then the right hand side. Lightly flatten and then starting from the top fold over the edge and then roll-up firmly. Place into warmed greased tins. This is now the "Final Proof" and will take approximately 30-35 minutes.
.Cover the doughs with a slightly moist cloth, changing the cloth for a dry one after 10-15 minutes. do not allow the moist cloth to come in contact with the dough in the tins. Alternatively place each loaf into a lightly oiled freezer/plastic bag, big enough to allow the dough to expand without touching the bag, the air in the bag will form its own ballon keeping it off the surface of the dough, this air needs to be contained either by the use of a tie or tucked under the tin.
The biggest problem comes when you remove the bread from the bags, the bags must not touch the surface of the dough or it will tear and leave stretch marks on the dough and if it is not carried out gently the dough could collapse at this stage.
The dough needs to be "proved" for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the centre of the top of the loaf is about 20 mm (3/4in) above the tin.
The loaves are then "set" in the oven, 200C Fan, 220 C / 450F, Gas 7 ideally in a little steam.This can be achieved in a number of ways.
(1) Have in the oven a baking dish containing water which will be gently boiling and giving off steam. In our opinion the best way for the beginner.
(2) Put an empty baking (roasting) tin in the oven to heat up at least 20 minutes before you need to set the bread. When the bread is ready, carefully place in the oven,evenly spaced if more than one, pour cold water onto the very hot tin, this will create steam instantly and close the door quickly to trap the steam.
This is not a way would recommend to a novice, steam burns and we can assure you, from experience, HURTS
Do not open the oven door for at least 15 minutes or the steam will escape. Some recipes recommend that you open the door, briefly, after 15 minutes to allow the steam to escape to enable the bread to continue baking in a drier atmosphere, this is dependent on the type of bread that you are making. We certainly recommend that you do this 10 minutes from the end of baking.
When opening an oven door, beware of the heat and steam that will rush out.
Heat and Steam rise very quickly and the last thing you want is a face full of steam. OUCH
Baking will take 25-35 minutes for 450g (1lb), 40-45 minutes for 900g (2lb).
Immediately after baking, carefully remove the bread from the tin and stand on its end on a wire tray to cool. Handle with care as the bread is not only hot, it can be easily damaged at this stage.
To test if it is baked:
The first test is visual. Does it look baked? If the oven temperature was correct and the time baked was as stated in the production points then if it looks baked it most probably will be baked.
On the other hand, if the oven was above the stated temperature it will look baked externally but will be under baked internally. The traditional way is to tap the bottom of the loaf, it should sound "hollow" . If the top of the loaf is well coloured but the sides are pale, return the loaf to the oven, out of the tin, for a further 5 minutes. This should ensure that the loaf is baked.