Professional bakers have their own bread baking secrets for coxing flavor out of the flour, or creating a wonderfully crunchy crust with a savory soft center. If you follow basic bread baking recipes, you will end up using the right ingredients and applying the right steps. But you will be missing the bread baking secrets that turn homemade bread into the kind of bread professional bakers sell at their bakeries. So here they are, trade secrets to bread baking, which you can easily add to your favorite bread baking recipe.
Bread Baking Mixing Secret
All bread baking recipes begin with mixing the flour, water, yeast and any other ingredients. Mix these for only 3 minutes, then stop. Cover the bowl with a wet towel or a plastic wrap and leave the mixture to rest for 20 minutes. This resting period, called autolyse by bakers, gives the water time to permeate the flour, which then develops gluten. As a result, the dough becomes less resistant to kneading. Without this bread baking secret, the additional kneading required to shape the dough may result in oxidizing or overheating, diminishing the quality and taste of the dough.
Bread Baking Flavor Secrets
One easy way to increase the flavor of your dough is to give it more time to rise. The longer the fermentation takes, the more flavor will be released from the flour. One bread baking flavor secret is to use less yeast, that is no more than 1/2 a teaspoon of yeast per 1 cup of flour. Another secret is not to over-activate the yeast. Though you should mix your dry yeast with water, some bread baking recipes recommend sprinkling sugar over the yeast. In fact, this practice causes the yeast to become too active too early. Finally, to really activate the flavor of the flour, professional bakers create a starter, a mixture of all the yeast, and some of the water and flour required in the recipe. Just mix these together and leave them until they double in volume, then introduce the starter at the beginning of the bread baking processes, along with your other ingredients.
Bread Baking Fermentation Secrets
Another bread baking secret to delaying the rising of the bread is to slow down the fermentation of the yeast by cooling (do not use a fermentation crock.. totally different purpose!). Cover the dough in plastic or a wet towel and let it rise for 1/2 an hour only, then place it in the fridge to continue a slow rise overnight. When you are ready to bake the next day, prepare to leave the dough outside the fridge for 1 hour, to allow it to return to room temperature before handling.
Bread Baking Shaping Secrets
When shaping the dough incorporate the resting technique again. After you flatten the dough, cover it with plastic or a wet towel, and let it rest for 20 minutes. The dough will become easier to shape thanks to this bread baking secret. After the dough is shaped, leave it to rise again for at least one hour (this is the proofing stage of bread baking). Aide this process with a bread proofing basket.
Bread Baking Scoring Secrets
Scoring is the process of cutting shapes into the top of the dough before it is put in the oven for baking. But cutting into soft dough is difficult, unless the knife is very sharp. A great bread baking scoring secret is to use kitchen shears instead. Just snip triangles along the top of the shaped dough if it is a long loaf. Or snip four triangles in a circle, to form a star atop a round loaf. We recommend using the best bread knife or best bread slicer.
Bread Baking Oven Secrets
To create humidity in your oven during baking, keep a pan filled with water on the bottom of your oven. Allow the pan and water to heat as you preheat your oven. The rising steam will improve the baking process and improve the quality of the crust.
You could also make your life easier by using a bread machine!
While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!