We're baking bread!
Now don't get all worried - it's really quite easy! There are only 3 things that have to be perfect:
- Your yeast must be fresh, check the date on the package. I prefer to use the regular yeast not the quick rising.
- Your kitchen must be warm - bread dough likes to be toasty warm (no pun intended) to be able to rise properly.
- You need a lot of patience, remember a watched dough never rises!
Steps to making a perfect bread:
Ingredients: Prepare all your ingredients in advance, to ensure that you will have easy access to it when it is called for. The last thing you want to be doing is measuring your 8 or so cups of flour while your yeast is foaming and frothing and ready for action!
Mixing : Dissolve the yeast as indicated in the recipe. Remember that yeast is alive, and it needs something to "wake it up" (the warm water) and to "eat" (the sugar). But don't over water it or over feed it or it will become cranky and refuse to work properly. Let it sit for a while and you will see it start to foam and froth - this means that it is working. Start stirring the flour slowly into the prepared yeast mixture.
Kneading: Fold the dough over towards you. Press it with the heel of your hand and give it a slight twist. Repeat rhythmically and the dough will become smooth and elastic and small air bubbles will appear just under the surface.
Bowl rising: Grease a large bowl and put your dough into it, turning the dough so that it is all lightly greased. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit in a warm spot.
Punching the dough: Know someone you don't care for - here's where you can let your frustrations out....
Pan rising: Shape your loaves and place them into the pan(s) you are going to use to bake the bread in, grease the top lightly and cover with your damp cloth.
Baking: When the dough is ready to bake it will have risen enough to have filled out the corners of your pan. It will be symmetrical and leave a slight impression when you press it in with a finger.
Is it done? Notice if the bread has shrunk from the sides of the pan. Tap the bottom of the pan to release the loaf and then tap the bottom of the load to see if it sounds "hollow" If it is dome remove it from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool
Now why don't YOU give it a try? Here's an easy recipe to start with!