Baking bread is an art. Careful planning is essential to the bread making process. In this article, I plan to cover some important dynamics that many bakers don’t give thought to. For example, does it matter whether you own a convention or convection oven? Is there any significant difference between baking bread in a gas or electric oven? A little but I am going to teach you a couple of tricks so that it won’t make any difference if it’s a yeast bread or a quick bread or even a cake. Are you concerned about whether or not there is a preferred brand for home baking? Are you cooking with one of the following appliances: Frigidaire, Whirlpool, Jenn-Air or Samsung? At the end of the day, it isn’t going to matter which brand is sitting in your kitchen. If your oven is working, you’ll be able to bake bread like a pro.
Tip 1 – Things to consider before baking bread
- Observation is the bread baker’s best friend. You are encouraged to follow a bread recipe in the strictest fashion but know that such things as the amount of liquid used are dependent on other factors such as altitude and high humidity. Quantities of liquid in any given bread recipe are merely guidelines. Always hold some liquid back and add more as needed. It is not a good idea to add more flour to a wet sponge because the chemical reaction between the flour, yeast, and salt will be disproportionate.
- During days of high humidity, the cooking time will need to be extended.
- At altitudes of 3,500 feet and greater add 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees celsius). Because of the low atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes, the extra heat is needed to form a crust during the initial stages and prevent the loaf from over-rising in the final stages of baking.
- Flour is the most important consideration when baking bread. King Arthur flour is the best bread making flour for the money. But please try other milled flours and compare the differences. Remember, bread making is an art and as such is going to take some time to learn. Flour will affect the taste and how the bread is processed from start to finish.
- Temperature is extremely important when baking bread. Ingredients and bread making tools need to be at room temperature – except the yeast which dissolves at body temperature. But remember that yeast is killed at 130 degrees so make sure your water is not too hot.
- Use glass or plastic bowls for mixing and rising bread. Metal bowls tend to cool down and will slow down the rising process.
Tip 2 – How to get consistent crispy crust every time
Steam is important for bread recipe’s that require a crisp, crusty exterior. Steam affects texture and the way the bread looks. The moisture helps to soften the crust in its earliest stages. This allows the bread to completely rise and form a thin crisp crust. Moisture also helps to caramelize the natural sugars giving the bread a rich and golden brown crust.
- Fill a spray bottle with water. After placing the loaf in a preheated oven, apply steam by spraying the oven walls, being careful to avoid the oven light, any heating elements, and the oven fan if there is one. Perform this operation two more times every two minutes and be quick to close the oven door after each steam treatment.
- Another method to create steam is to place a wide casserole dish filled with ice cubes on the bottom rack. Remove the rack once the ice cubes melt. About 15-20 minutes.
- Line the bottom rack with unglazed ceramic tiles leaving 2 inches of space between the oven wall and between each tile. This provides good air circulation. The tiles produce a steady radiating heat that helps retain the maximum amount of moisture in the oven. When combined with either of the two steaming methods, baking on ceramic tiles produce the most consistent and crispiest crust of all.
- All ovens release moisture in one way or another. As mentioned above, it does not matter what type of oven you use to bake bread if certain adjustments are made to temperature, time, and moisture, your bread will pop out of the oven an aromatic, golden brown, delicious appetite pleasing delight.
The following is an artisan bread that sort of breaks bread baking rules and whose simplicity will blow your mind yet your friends will think you bought it at a local bakery.
Cranberry Orange Almond Artisan Bread
- 3-cups King Arthur all-purpose bread-making flour
- 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
- Zest from one orange
- 1 1/2 cups water and the water does not need to be warm! Cool tap water is perfect.
Whisk together flour, salt, yeast, and orange zest in a large glass or plastic bowl. Stir in the dried cranberries and toasted chopped almonds. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours. Overnight is a perfect length of time.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place a dutch oven or cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat for 30 minutes. While the pot is heating up, pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Do not knead! Cover with plastic wrap and allow to set while the pot is heating. Remove the pot from the oven. At this point, I like to use parchment paper to help drop the dough into the pot. The parchment paper also helps to remove the loaf from the pot. Cover and return to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article about some of the nuances of baking bread. Repetition is key to becoming a successful baker. If you have any inquiries regarding appliance repair, appliance repair training, or any marketing queries, please contact Fred’s Appliances today. We are standing by for all your appliance questions!