Food-Bread Making Processes

Bread making processes
The nature and the quality of the ingredients required to make bread, as well as the utensils that are needed for this purpose, being understood, it is next in order to take up the actual work of making bread. Several processes are included in this work; namely, making the dough, caring for the rising dough, kneading the dough, shaping the dough into loaves, baking the loaves, and caring for the bread after it is baked. When the finished product is obtained, the loaves are ready to be scored and served. A knowledge of how to carry out these processes is of the utmost importance, for much of the success achieved in bread making depends on the proper handling of the ingredients. Of course, skill in manipulation is acquired only by constant practice, so that the more opportunity the housewife has to apply her knowledge of the processes, the more proficient will she become in this phase of COOKING.
Each one of the processes mentioned is here discussed in the order in which it comes in the actual work of bread making, and while the proper consideration should be given to every one of them, it will be well, before entering into them, to observe the qualities that characterize good wheat bread.
Good wheat bread may be described in various ways, but, as has beenlearned by experience and as is pointed out by United States government authorities, probably the best way in which to think of it, so far as its structure is concerned, is as a mass of tiny bubbles made of flour and water, having very thin walls and fixed in shape by means of heat. The size of the cells and the nature of the bubble walls are points that should not be overlooked.
Each loaf should be light in weight, considering its size, should be regular in form, and should have an unbroken, golden-brown crust. The top crust should be smooth and should have a luster, which is usually spoken of as the "bloom" of the crust. Taken as a whole, the loaf should have a certain sponginess, which is known as its elasticity, and which is evidenced by the way in which the loaf acts when it is pressed slightly out of shape. As soon as the pressure is removed, the loaf should resume its original shape. This test should produce the same results when it is applied to small pieces of the crust and to the cut surface of the loaf.
The internal appearance must also receive consideration. To be right, wheat bread should be creamy white in color and should have a definite "sheen," which can best be seen by looking across a slice, rather than directly down into it. As already explained, the holes in it should be small and evenly distributed and their walls should be very thin. These points can be readily determined by holding a very thin slice up to the light.
The flavor of bread is also a very important factor, but it is somewhat difficult to describe just the exact flavor that bread should have in order to be considered good. Probably the best way in which to explain this is to say that its flavor should be that which is brought about by treating the wheat with salt. While such a flavor may not be known to all, it is familiar to those who have tasted the wheat kernel.
The first step in bread making, and without doubt the most important one, is the making of the dough. It consists in moistening the flour by means of a liquid of some kind in order to soften the gluten and the starch, to dissolve the sugar, and to cement all the particles together, and then combining these ingredients. Before the ingredients are combined, however, particularly the flour, the liquid, and the yeast, they must generally be warmed in order to shorten the length of time necessary for the yeast to start growing. Much care should be exercised in heating these materials, for good results will not be obtained unless they are brought to the proper temperature. The flour should feel warm and the liquid, whether it be water or milk, should, when it is added, be of such a temperature that it also will feel warm to the fingers. If water is used, it ought to be just as pure as possible, but if milk is preferred it should be used only after it has been scalded. The yeast should be dissolved in a small quantity of lukewarm water. Hot water used for this purpose is liable to kill the yeast and prevent the bread from rising, whereas cold water will retard the growth of the yeast.
As soon as the bread ingredients have received the proper treatment,they are ready to be combined. Combining may be done by two different methods, one of which is known as the short process and the other as the long process. As their names indicate, these methods are characterized by the length of time required for the bread to rise. Each method has its advantages, and the one to select depends on the amount of time and energy the housewife can afford to give to this part of her work. Persons who use the long process believe that bread made by it tastes better and keeps longer than that made by the short process; whereas, those who favor the short process find that it saves time and labor and are convinced that the quality of the bread is not impaired.
The more rapid methods of making breads are possible only when yeast in the active state is used and when more of it than would be necessary in the long process, in which time must be allowed for its growth, is employed. However, regardless of the method followed, all bread mixtures must be begun in the same manner. The liquids, seasonings, and fat are combined, and to these is added the flour, which should be sifted in.
The long-process sponge method is employed when sufficient time canbe allowed to permit the natural growth of the yeast. To make bread according to this process, start it in the evening by warming the liquid and dissolving the yeast and then adding these ingredients to the sugar, salt, and fat, which should first be placed in the mixing bowl. Stir this mixture well, and then add one-half of the quantity of flour that is to be used, stirring this also. Place this mixture, or sponge, as such a mixture is called, where it will remain warm, or at a temperature of from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, through the night. In the morning, stir the remaining flour into the sponge and knead for a few minutes the dough thus formed. When this is accomplished, put the dough in a warm place and allow it to rise until it doubles in bulk. When the dough is in this condition, it is ready to be kneaded again, after which it may be shaped into loaves, placed in the pans, allowed to double in bulk again, and finally baked.
The long-process straight-dough method is a shortened form of the method just explained. It does away with the necessity of one kneading and one rising and consequently saves considerable time and labor. To make bread by this method, combine the ingredients in the evening as for the sponge method, but instead of adding only half of the flour, put all of it into the mixture, make a stiff dough at once, and knead. Then allow this to rise during the night, so that in the morning it can be kneaded again and put directly into the bread pans. After it rises in the pans until it doubles in bulk, it is ready to be baked.
The only disadvantage of the straight-dough method is that a stiff dough rises more slowly than a sponge, but since the entire night is given to the rising no difficulty will be experienced in carrying out this process. A point to remember, however, is that dough made according to this method must be kept warmer than that made by the sponge method.
Quick Process.
In the quick process of combining bread ingredients,there are also two methods of procedure--the sponge method and the straight-dough method. The chief differences between the methods of this process and those of the long process are in the quantity of yeast used and the length of time required for the bread to rise. More yeast must be used and much less time is required for the completion of the entire process. This shorter period of time is doubtless due to the fact that throughout the process, whether the straight-dough or the sponge method is followed, the mixture must be kept at a uniform temperature of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The quick-process sponge method requires only about 5 hours for itscompletion, and the bread may be started at any time of the day that will allow this amount of time for carrying on the work. For this method, warm the ingredients and then combine the sugar, salt, fat, liquid, and dissolved yeast. Into this mixture, stir enough of the flour to make a sponge and put it where it will keep uniformly warm until it has about doubled in quantity and is full of bubbles. Then add the remainder of the flour, knead the mixture, and return the dough thus formed to a warm place. When the dough has doubled in bulk, remove it from the bowl to the kneading board, knead it slightly, and then shape it into loaves. Place these into the pans, and after allowing them to rise sufficiently, bake them.
The quick-process straight-dough method differs from thequick-process sponge method in that the entire amount of flour is added when the ingredients are first mixed, with the result that a stiff dough instead of a sponge is formed. As has already been learned, this stiff dough rises more slowly than a sponge, but it requires one rising less. It must be kept at a uniform temperature as much of the time as possible, so that the rising will not be retarded. When it has doubled in bulk, remove it from the bowl and knead it. Then shape it into loaves, place these in the pans, allow them to rise sufficiently, and proceed with the baking.
Purpose of Rising.
Rising is an important part of the process ofbread making, no matter which method is employed. In a sponge, its purpose is to blend the ingredients after they have been mixed, as well as to permit the growth of the yeast; in a dough, after the gas has been evenly distributed by means of kneading, the purpose of rising is to permit the incorporation of a sufficient quantity of carbon dioxide to make the bread light when it is baked. As has just been explained, three risings are necessary in the sponge method of both the long and the short process, whereas only two are required in the straight-dough methods. The last rising, or the one that takes place after the dough is shaped into loaves, is the one that affects the texture of the bread most, so that it should receive considerable attention. If the dough is not allowed to rise sufficiently at this time, the bread will be too fine in texture and will likely be heavy; and if it is permitted to rise too much, it will be coarse in texture. Allowance, however, should be made for the fact that the rising will continue after the bread has been placed in the oven.
Temperature for Rising.
As has been mentioned, the best results areobtained if the bread dough is kept at a uniform temperature throughout its rising. The temperature at which it rises most rapidly is about 86 degrees Fahrenheit; but, unless it can be watched closely, a better plan is to keep it, especially if the long process of bread making is followed, at a temperature that runs no higher than 80 degrees. Various methods of maintaining a uniform temperature have been devised, but the ones usually resorted to consist in placing the bowl containing the sponge or the dough in a bread raiser, a fireless cooker, or a vessel of hot water.
Bread raisers can be purchased, but if desired a simplebread-raising device may be constructed from a good-sized wooden box. To make such a device, line the box with tin or similar metal and fit it with a door or a cover that may be closed tight. Make a hole in one side of the box into which to insert a thermometer, and, at about the center of the box, place a shelf on which to set the bowl or pan containing the sponge or dough. For heating the interior, use may be made of a single gas burner, an oil lamp, or any other small heating device. This should be placed in the bottom of the box, under the shelf, and over it should be placed a pan of water to keep the air in the box moist, moist air being essential to good results. Where large quantities of bread must be baked regularly, such a device will prove very satisfactory. The temperature inside should be kept somewhere in the neighborhood of 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit if the bread is to rise rapidly; but it may be kept from 80 to 95 degrees if slower rising is desired.
Placing the bowl containing the dough mixture in a larger vessel ofhot water is a simple and satisfactory way of obtaining a uniform temperature, being especially desirable for a sponge in the quick- process sponge method. The water in the large vessel should be at a temperature of about 110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. After the bowl of sponge or dough is placed in the water, the large vessel should be covered very carefully, so that the heat from the water will be retained. To maintain the temperature in the vessel and thus keep it right for the bread mixture, the hot water has to be replenished occasionally. If this is done, the sponge or dough will be maintained at a temperature of about 90 degrees and will therefore rise rapidly.
Time Required for Rising.
No definite rule can be given for thelength of time required for dough to rise, for this depends entirely on the activity of the yeast. If the yeast is active, the dough will rise quickly; but if it is not of good quality or if it has been killed or retarded in its growth by improper handling, the dough will rise slowly. Usually, dough should be allowed to rise until it has doubled in bulk. A good way in which to determine when this takes place is to put a small piece of the dough in a glass, such as a measuring glass, a tumbler, or a jelly glass, and mark on this glass where the dough should come when it has increased to twice its size. This glass set beside the vessel containing the dough will show when it has risen sufficiently.

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