Making your own homemade bread loaf is such a rewarding experience. Everyone deserves to have a nice piece of bread for any given reason and making that bread yourself is going to make it even more delicious. Any serious cook, professional or home cook, should be able to master making a solid loaf of bread. Once you develop the basic skill of fermenting the dough then you can go on to mastering different shaping and scoring and before you know it you will be making baguettes as well as the French.
This post is going to take you through the key points of making a leaf dough bread loaf.
You might be wondering what exactly is lean dough? A lean dough usually consists of only flour, water, salt, and yeast. This is different than an enriched dough which would potentially have the addition of eggs, dairy, or sugar. Making a good lean dough is a base of a good quality bread loaf. From the base of a lean dough you can shape or score it to be baguettes or boule loaves.
Importance of Gluten in Bread Loaves
Gluten is developing in the kneading process of bread making. This is important for developing the structure of the dough. It is also important to remember that too much gluten formed in the dough will cause the bread loaf to be tough and chewy. After the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic try avoiding over working the dough after that.
Fermentation or Proofing Bread Dough
This is especially important for a dough that has yeast in it. During the proofing times the yeast is fermenting and releases gases into the dough. This results in the dough rising and often doubling in size. This is an important part of the bread making process for the volume and shape of the loaf. There are often several proofing times because once you fold or shape the dough the volume decreases and all the gases are released therefore it needs another resting time to build up volume again.
Shaping the Dough
The shaping of the dough is important and can determine what kind of bread loaf you are making. The same dough can be a baguette, baton, or bloomer loaf.
Check out this video to have a visual for a simple bread loaf shape. Use this video for shaping and your loaf will come out in a desirable shape.
The final step to completing the perfect bread loaf is baking it. For most lean dough bread loaves, you want to bake at a higher temperature 400 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This will give you a nice dark brown golden crust while maintaining an airy but structured middle. You know the bread is fully cooked when you knock on the bottom of the bread, and it sounds hollow.
Mastering a great homemade bread loaf will impress your family members and dinner party guests. You will also have a great feeling of satisfaction when you enjoy a slice of your own handmade bread. It is amazing what flour, salt, yeast and water can become with some time and a little massaging. Now you know the key points of bread making, go ahead and make a loaf for yourself.