Food-Baking the Bread

Baking the bread
The various processes in the making of bread that have been considered up to this point may be successfully carried out, but unless the baking, which is the last step, is properly done, the bread is likely to be unpalatable and indigestible. Much attention should therefore be given to this part of the work. So that the best results may be obtained, it should be borne in mind that bread is baked for the purpose of killing the ferment, rupturing the starch grains of the flour so that they become digestible, fixing the air cells, and forming a nicely flavored crust. During the process of baking, certain changes take place in the loaf. The gluten that the dough contains is hardened by the heat and remains in the shape of bubbles, which give the bread a porous appearance; also, the starch contained in the dough is cooked within the loaf, but the outside is first cooked and then toasted.
In baking bread, it is necessary firstto provide the oven with heat of the right temperature and of sufficient strength to last throughout the baking. As is indicated in Fig. 4, the usual oven temperature for successful bread baking is from 380 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, but in both the first and the last part of the baking the heat should be less than during the middle of it. An oven thermometer or an oven gauge is a very good means of determining the temperature of the oven. But if neither of these is available the heat may be tested by placing in the oven a white cracker, a piece of white paper, or a layer of flour spread on a shallow tin pan. If any one of these becomes a light brown in 5 minutes, the oven is right to commence baking. Every precaution should be taken to have the oven just right at first, for if the bread is placed in an oven that is too hot the yeast plant will be killed immediately and the rising consequently checked. Of course, the bread will rise to some extent even if the yeast plant is killed at once, for the carbon dioxide that the dough contains will expand as it becomes heated and will force the loaf up; but bread baked in this way is generally very unsatisfactory, because a hard crust forms on the top and it must either burst or retard the rising of the loaf. If the heat is not sufficient, the dough will continue to rise until the air cells run together and cause large holes to form in the loaf. In an oven that is just moderately hot, or has a temperature of about 400 degrees, the yeast plant will not be killed so quickly, the dough will continue to rise for some time, and the crust of the bread should begin to brown in about 15 minutes.
A loaf of bread that has risen too much will have the insidetexture to coarse and the shape of the loaf is not good. The result of uneven temperature will be a high side caused by exposure to more intense heat than the opposite side, and a crack will be the result of a too rapid formation of the crust. Sometimes it is advisable to keep the crust from becoming hard too rapidly. In order to do this, and at the same time produce a more even color, the top of the loaf may be moistened by brushing it with milk before it is put into the oven.

The time required forbaking bread and the care it should receive in the oven are also important matters to know. How long the bread should bake depends on the size of the loaf. Under proper oven temperature, a small loaf, or one made with 1 cupful of liquid, ought to bake in from 50 minutes to 1 hour, while a large loaf requires from 1-1/2 to 2 hours. As has been explained, the loaf should begin to brown, or have its crust formed, in about 15 minutes after it is placed in the oven, and the baking should proceed rather slowly.
To get the best results in baking, the pans should be placed so that the air in the oven will circulate freely around them. If they are so placed that the loaves touch each other or the sides of the oven, the loaves will rise unevenly and consequently will be unsightly in shape, like those shown in Figs. 14 and 15. If the loaves rise higher on one side than on the other, even when the pans are properly placed, it is evident that the heat is greater in that place than in the other parts of the oven and the loaves should therefore be changed to another position. Proper care given to bread while baking will produce loaves that are an even brown on the bottom, sides, and top and that shrink from the sides of the pan.
As soon as the bread has baked sufficiently, take it from the oven, remove the loaves from the pans, and place them to cool where the air may circulate freely around them. A bread rack, or cake cooler,is very satisfactory for this purpose, but if such a device is not available, the loaves may be placed across the edges of the empty pans so that nearly the entire surface is exposed. Whichever plan is adopted, it should be remembered that the bread must be carefully protected from dust and flies. Bread should never be permitted to remain in the pans after it has been baked nor to cool on a flat surface; neither should the loaves be wrapped while they are warm, because the moisture will collect on the surface and the bread will not keep so well.
After the loaves have become sufficiently cool, place them in the receptacle in which they are to be kept. This should have been previously washed and dried and then allowed to stand in the sunshine, so as to be free from mold or any substance that will taint or otherwise injure the bread. After the loaves have been put into it, keep it well covered and allow no stale crumbs nor pieces of bread to collect. To keep such a receptacle in good condition, it should be scalded and dried every 2 or 3 days.
Bread is one of the foods that every one takes so much as a matterof course that little thought is given to its serving. Of course, it does not offer so much opportunity for variety in serving as do some foods; yet, like all other foods, it appeals more to the appetites of those who are to eat it if it is served in an attractive manner. A few ideas as to the ways in which it may be served will therefore not be amiss.
As fresh bread is not easily digested, it should not usually be served until it is at least 24 hours old. Before it is placed on the table, it should be cut in slices, the thickness of which will depend on the preference of the persons who are to eat it. If the loaf is large in size, the pieces should be cut in two, lengthwise of the slice, but in the case of a small loaf the slices need not be cut.
Various receptacles for placing bread and rolls on the table, such as a bread boat, a bread plate, and a bread basket, are also used to add variety in serving. Whichever of these is selected, it may be improved in appearance by the addition of a white linen doily. For rolls, a hot-roll cover is both convenient and attractive. Sometimes, especially when a large number of persons are to be served, a roll is placed between the folds of each person's napkin before they are seated at the table.
Occasionally bread becomes stale before it is needed on the table. Such bread, however, should not be discarded, especially if the loaves are uncut. Uncut loaves of this kind may be freshened by dipping them quickly into boiling water and then placing them in a very hot oven until their surface becomes dry. If desired, slices of bread that have become stale may be steamed in order to freshen them; but unless great care is taken in steaming them the bread is liable to become too moist and soggy.

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