Since it's August here in the East, that can only mean one thing, it's raining. In fact there is not even a nip of blue sky to remind me it's summer. As you know, I have a child in the school band but due some circumstances, today was to be an outdoor practice. Rain = no practice.
To make the day memorable, I planned for a "Beauty Day" with our daughters. We are going to smooth, soften and paint available surfaces and exfoliating will, of course, be involved. I promised waffles for breakfast and will serve them with strawberries and blueberries, so we're set for the first meal of the day to be fun. We rented a few movies to watch and have recently become addicted to a series now airing on Netflix, so we're set for lazy entertainment. Our home is always amply supplied with snacks, so we're set for binge-eating. We grilled a lovely pork tenderloin last evening I plan to turn into hearty sandwiches for dinner, so we're set for dinner. What to do?
I love to bake bread on rainy days.
Since I have been awake since 3:00am, as usual, (the curses of an active mind and hot flashes) I got an early start. (I am about to shape the dough into a loaf, rolls and even a few cinnamon rolls!) As I began assembling the dough, I got to thinking back to my favorite cooking class to teach, Yeast Breads. Thinking about teaching got me to thinking about passing along a few lessons in bread making to you, Dear Reader. (Aren't you happy you tuned in today?! Big hint, I am expecting "YES" as your answer.) Anyway, what follows are just a few answers to some of the common "why," "what" and "how" questions in bread making. I hope the answers help demystify the magic behind the loaf and help your dough pay off.
Q:Why do you knead bread dough?
A: To develop gluten. Gluten is a protein that holds food together and helps keep its shape.
Q: What is "gluten" and why do we care about it?
A: Gluten is what makes bread airy, light and elastic.
Q: Ok. How do you knead bread dough?
A: Very carefully. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) I knead bread dough in a large bowl, using as little added flour as possible, until I have a cohesive, elastic mass with the texture of, pardon the expression, a baby's bum OR the bum of a lazy blogger. (If I came to mind, shame on you! I workout every day!) I use my palm (not my fingers) to push the dough away from me, my whole hand to gather it and bring it back onto itself, give it a turn and repeat.
Q: How long do you knead the dough?
A: Until it has had enough. Not to be a wise gal, but until it achieves the right texture, consistency and bounce, usually 5-15 minutes.
Q: Bread making sounds like a lot of work. Is it worth it?
Avid home cook and passionate instructor