Thursday, March 27, 2008

Your Daily Bread

Kim left a comment on the last post that her bread does not turn out. There can be many reasons for that. One of the reasons can be that your flour does not have enough gluten. Gluten is a substance made up of the proteins found in wheat flour. It is what holds bread together and gives it structure. It is hard to make bread from other flours and you need wheat flour added to your rye flour to make bread because only wheat has enough protein. The gluten makes the bread. We need the gluten developed to hold the bread together. You are able to use the same flour to make a cake as you are bread, because you don't knead your cake batter. It is the kneading process that develops the gluten. The hard wheats (both winter and spring) are good for bread making. Soft wheat does not have enough gluten for bread. When you buy bread flour at the store, it is just flour with more gluten added in. You can buy Vital Wheat Gluten to add to your flour if you wish. Make sure you buy the Vital Wheat Gluten and not gluten flour. Gluten flour is just basically flour with some gluten added. The chewier you like your bread, the longer you will knead it and the less shortening you will use. That is where shortening got its name. Fats (the shortening in your bread recipe) shortens the gluten strands. It coats the gluten fibers and does not allow them to stick together as well. Gluten also needs liquid to absorb and expand, so make sure you have enough liquid in your recipe. This is one place to start if your bread is not turning out... do you have the right kind of wheat or flour.

If you do not properly knead your bread you may have very hard dense bread, sometimes to the point of being brick like. When I hand kneaded my bread it was much heavier than the bread I make now. When we moved into our last house it was an Amish home and we lived with out electricity for a short while. I could not use my DLX mixer. I found a dough bucket (picture below) that worked just as well. I would put all of my ingredients in the bucket and then sit down and put it between my knees. I would turn the crank for 10 mins. and it would do a wonderful job of kneading for me. Many people have a Kitchen Aid mixer in their kitchen. I know that some models can be used to knead bread. If you knead by hand, be sure you are working that dough.

Another problem can be too much flour or too little flour. You want your dough a wee bit sticky and soft and yielding. Adding too much flour can make a harder dense loaf that does not rise well. Adding too little flour and it may rise too high too quick and you end up with big holes under the crust.

I hope this helps a little. I would suggest you ask around and see if anyone you know makes bread often. Then go and watch or help them do it a few times to get the hang of it.


Pearl said...

Hey Marci! Thanks for all the info! I am going to try again and see if I can get a good loaf. I will post pictures even if it does not turn out. None of our friends here in Cincy make their own bread but a lot of our friends in Texas did, that is where I first tried it. Thanks again!

Sharri said...

I never heard of a dough bucket before! Neat. :0)

Sharon said...

I tried making my own sourdough starter and then the bread. What a flop! The birds wouldn't even eat it! I did something wrong. I want to start making my own bread, but probably with yeast this time. My hubby likes his bread on the soft side. He likes the store-bought honey wheat bread. Have you ever made this? Also, is it the amount of shortening that makes the bread soft?