Let’s all gather on the first Wednesday of August, which is August 6th this year, and learn all about breads. From noon to 1 p.m., you will learn various facts and recipes about breads. We meet in the Saint Louis Public Library, Central Library, book club room, located in the Locust Street Atrium. Here you will be able to read bread books, learn new facts about bread, and share your favorite bread recipe.
Breads have been around for many years. Here is a list of several types of bread.
I recall when I was a child, my mother baking bread “from scratch”. What that means, is that she would bake hand-kneaded breads. As with all hand-kneaded breads, first she mixed the dry ingredients together with a wire whisk, then set it aside. Separately, she would mix the wet ingredients together, with a wire whisk, if necessary. After heating the wet ingredients to 120F, put the flour into a bowl, then make a big hole in the middle of the flour. Slowly pour the warmed ingredients inside this big hole, also known as a well.
By using your clean hands, begin kneading the dough, incorporating the wet and dry ingredients together. Continue this procedure until all the dry and wet ingredients are smoothly mixed together. If the mixture is too moist, add a bit more flour. If the mixture is too dry, add more liquid.
If you have a KitchenAid machine, be sure to use a dough hook for mixing the dough thoroughly. After your dough is mixed together, pour a bit of oil in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Next, place the dough into the bowl. Move around in the bowl the dough until all sides are completely covered with oil. You should cover the bowl with a large dish towel. Place it onto top of a warm stove. This warm temperature will help the yeast to grow.
After your dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 to 2 hours for the first rise, you then “punch” it down. Repeating the above procedure, after punching your dough down. Knead your dough about 25 to 30 times. Finally, place the dough back inside the bowl and recover with your large dish towel. Depending upon the bread recipe, you may not have to let your dough rise more than once.
The third step in baking bread, is to shape your dough into a loaf, and let it rise a third time. Make sure your bread pan is oiled, or has a coating that you don’t have to oil. Let your dough rise just until it reaches over the top of your bread pan. It usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes for your last rise.
Your fourth and final step, is to bake your loaf of bread, test for doneness (we used a piece of straw), and let it cool. When you test for doneness, you do not want to have any dough stick to your piece of straw. Remember, when you remove the bread from your bread pan, place it on its side on a wire rack to cool. Make sure you cool completely before storing your bread inside a plastic bag. If you don’t wait for it to cool down, your bread will sweat and then become soggy.
I recall smelling freshly baked Irish soda bread in our kitchen when my mother was baking bread. She used to time it so that it would be ready in time to serve for dinner. A slice of cold butter was always served with our bread, so that we would always cream it over our hot bread and watch it melt completely. MMmmmmm good!!!!
Check these books out:
Kalanty, Michael. 2011. How to Bake Bread – The Five Families of Bread.
San Francisco, CA: Red Seal Books.
Oppenneer, Betsy. 1994. The Bread Book.
New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.
Sharper, Jennie. 2001. Bread Machine Basics.
New York, NY: Anness Publishing Inc.
Thomson, Jan. 2000. Breadmaker’s Guide Savory & Sweet Recipes from Around the World.
Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers.