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a few bread baking tips and the pizza dough recipe

13 years ago

Several Kitchen Forum members have moved into the area of bread baking with their new kitchens. This has been a most exciting turn of events. Some have baked bread in the past and are returning to the joy of baking and others have never baked bread and are just stepping into the wonderful world of baking.

I am not an expert and am always exploring new ideas and trying new recipes and techniques. I have learned a lot from others and thought I would share a few things here. Some of these are brand new to me and since I have had such good luck with these tips I am passing them along .

1) Classes of bread: bread doughs have different hydration % depending on what kind of dough it is. There are stiff, standard and rustic doughs. Some doughs are leaner and some are richer. Breads are leavened in different ways....starters, yeast, baking powder etc.

2) Flour: all flour is NOT created equal. Every single brand of flour and type of flour has a different weight per cup. If it is sifted, it is fresh milled, whole wheat, get the picture. Get a very good digital scale. Weigh what you use and write it in the margins. I have started doing this and can tell a huge difference. I am slowly converting my recipes to weight. These are some broad ranges below. each brand of unbleached will vary ...even by a 1/4 c. When you get to know your bread recipe and feel of the dough you will be able to tell when enough is enough.

unbleached 16oz= 3 1/2 c

ww flour 16oz= 3 1/2 c

stone ground ww flour 16 oz= 3 3/4 c

3) yeast: another subject that has plenty of variations. There is instant, there is active dry, there is fresh and then wild that you grow yourself. Fresh does not keep well and most folks don't use it in home baking. I haven't seen it in a while in stores but you can get it . You will need to convert the recipe if you use fresh. I will address the other 2.

instant- .25 oz= 2 1/4 tsp

active dry - .25 oz= 2 1/2 tsp

You might not think that is a big difference but it is. The less yeast you use , up to a point , the better. The pakgs. you buy in the store are not a Tbsp of yeast. Too much yeast...even that extra small amount makes the bread drier. Longer slower rises are better than rushing the yeast.

Get a very good digital thermometer. Yeast likes 105 -115 degree water to start it in. I know you don't have to do your inst. yeast in separate water but I use active not inst so I always "proof" my yeast. I also always add a pinch of sugar. You can kill your yeast, you can also slow it to a crawl by having it too cool.

4) sweetening: sugar and honey are not the same. There is a difference in fructose, sucrose,glucose,dextrose etc. Bread rises because yeast feeds on sugar and creates carbon dioxide and alcohol ( ethanol) .The ethanol evaporates and the carbon dixoide leavens or rises the bread. Us ONLY the amount of yeast that you need to get the job done. Too much and the dough rises quickly but it exhausts the available sugar and creates and alcohol aftertaste. As the yeast starves it turns on itself and creates a by product that tastes like ammonia.

If you use honey , it is fructose and the yeast has to work harder to break it down. This is because granulated sugar ( this included brown sugar since it is granulated with molasses added) is very refined product and the yeast can use it more readily. Your bread will take longer to rise and may not rise as well if you sub all or part honey in a recipe. Also your liquid requirements will change. Just be aware of this.

5) salt: and here you thought salt was just salt...nope. Kosher salt is hollow and big. Iodized salt has iodine you won't get a goiter ( you can look it up if you don't know :) ) sea salt on and on. If a recipe says salt they mean regular Morton's table salt. Here is a quick chart to compare:

table salt - .25 oz= 1 tsp

Kosher salt- .25 oz- 1 3/4 tsp ( see what I mean ??)

sea salt - .25 oz = 1 1/2 tsp.

weigh your salt!

Now for a big tip . I have just started doing this next procedure. DH has been doing it for a couple years in his bread bakin....hmm...well what can I say. I am a slow starter...maybe because I am such a honey :)

When you are making your bread DO NOT add the salt at the beginning. Put it aside. So you don't forget it. You have to have salt. It helps regulate the rising but it also slows the initial yeast growth. So here is what you do. Put 1/2 your flour in the work bowl of the KA or in your mixing bowl. Add the fluids with the yeast . Stir it around till you have a wet shaggy mess. Cover it and leave it alone for the gluten to get started developing for 20 min. Come back and add the salt and the rest of the flour and carry on. It makes a huge difference. Some recipes call for this step but I now do it for all of my breads whether they call for it or not.

Here are a couple sources for great bread baking info.

Peter Reinhart- Bread Baker's Apprentice - this is a techinical book but has a ton of great pics and interesting info. You can get it used on Amazon. He also has a Blog so that is free.

The Fresh Loaf- this is an amazing Blog. Everyone contributes advice and pictures and answers questions. It is all FREE. It is a WONDERFUL resource. They are really true bakers. I hope to grow up and be like them someday.

Pizza Crust recipe- This is from a fantastic bread book that DH bought me years ago. Il Fornaio Baking Book, by Franco Galli. It is wonderful.

I made 8x this basic recipe. When you start reading books like Peter's , you discover that the bakers use formulas. The yeast and water etc are a % of the flour weight. Here are those scales again. So that said when you double or triple a recipe you still need to increase the other ingred. in proportion.

One 12" crust:

1c unbleached flour

2 tsp EVOO

3/4 tsp active dry yeast ( remember if you use instant to use less)

1/3 c + 1 Tbsp warm water ( 105)

1/2 tsp salt ( remember they are not all the same)

Put yeast in water with a tiny pinch of sugar . Leave 15 min. Put flour on countertop or if you are making a large batch as I did put it in the KA. Add the EVOO and mix it in. Add the yeast mix. and begin to stir it. Leave for 20 min. covered. Come back and add the salt and just enough more flour to make a very soft non sticky dough. This dough is heavenly and easy easy to knead. You do not want it too stiff at all. stop and start your hand kneading throughout the 20 min to let you and the dough rest. If using the machine you won't need 20 min and you don't need to stop. Let the dough rise in an oiled, covered bowl for 1 1/2 hrs. It really zooms up ! De gas the dough ( used to call it punching down now they are more gentle) and let it rise again 30 min. Shape into crusts by patting and pulling gently on a lightly floured board till it is 12". You can also roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin. Do not use too much flour or it will be tough. Use corn meal on your peel to keep from sticking for the transfer to the oven. I heated the stone for 45 min. at 500 degrees. make sure and poke a few holes in the crust with a fork as they sometimes bubble. I bake the crust for about 6 min then remove and cool . When you are ready to go on with the pizza party you get the stone hot again and then brush the crust with EVOO and place back on the stone to reheat and start the browning process...remove using the peel and top with all the goodies you want and return for about another 6-8 min. YUM !! If you are not making the crusts ahead then just brush with EVOO and poke a few times with a fork and bake them 6-8 min remove and top and then finish the baking. They will be so crisp and delicious.

OK that is enough for now. Have fun and let me know where I messed up ...I tried to proof ( no pun) read as I went. c

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