Food-Ingredients for Bread Making

Ingredients for bread making
Possibly the first essential to a correct knowledge of bread makingis familiarity with the ingredients required. These are few in number, being merely flour, liquid, which may be either milk or water, sugar, salt, and yeast; but the nature of these, particularly the flour and the yeast, is such as to demand careful consideration. It will be admitted that the more the housewife knows about bread-making materials and processes the greater will be her success in this work. Likewise, it is extremely important that this food be made just as wholesome as possible, for next to milk and eggs, bread ranks as a perfect food, containing all the elements necessary for the growth of the body. This does not mean, though, that any of these foods used as the sole article of diet would be ideal, but that each one of them is of such composition that it alone would sustain life for a long period of time.
Grains Used for Flour.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, numerousgrains are raised by man, but only two of them, namely, wheat and rye, are used alone for the making of yeast, or leavened, bread. The other grains, such as corn, rice, and oats, produce a flat, unleavened cake, so they are seldom used for bread making unless they are mixed with white flour. Wheat and rye have been used for bread making for a very long time, and their universal use today is due to the fact that they contain considerable protein in the form of gluten. This is the substance that produces elasticity in the dough mixture, a condition that is absolutely essential in the making of raised bread. In fact, the toughness and elasticity of bread dough are what make it possible for the dough to catch and hold air and gas and thus produce a light, porous loaf.
Of these two grains, rye is used less extensively in the UnitedStates for the making of bread than wheat, although in some countries, particularly the inland countries of Continental Europe, considerable use is made of it. Its limited use here is undoubtedly due to the fact that when rye is used alone it makes a moist, sticky bread, which is considered undesirable by most persons. The reason for this is that, although rye contains a sufficient quantity of gluten, this substance is not of the proper quality to make the elastic dough that produces a light, spongy loaf. Therefore, when rye is used, wheat flour is generally mixed with it. The result is a bread having a good texture, but the dark color and the typical flavor that rye produces.
Wheat, the other grain used for bread making, is an annual grass ofunknown origin. It is used more extensively for food than any other grain. In fact, it has been estimated that the average quantity consumed by each person is about 6 bushels a year, and of this amount by far the greater part is used in the making of bread. Since so much of this grain is used as food, considerable time and effort have been spent in developing those qualities which are most desirable for the purpose to which wheat is put and in perfecting the processes whereby wheat flour of a good quality may be obtained.
This grain is particularly well adapted for bread making because of the nature of the proteins it contains and the relative proportions of these. These proteins, which occur in the wheat grain in the form of gluten, are known as gliadin and glutenin. The gliadin imparts elasticity and tenacity, or toughness, to the gluten, and the glutenin gives it strength. It is not, however, so much the quantity of gluten in the wheat grain that actually determines the quality of flour as the fact that the two varieties must be present in the proper proportions in order for the gluten to have the properties desired for bread making.
Sometimes the entire grain, including the bran, germ,etc., is ground fine enough merely for baking purposes and is used as flour in this form. Such flour is called graham flour. It contains all the nutriment, mineral matter, and cellulose of the original grain, and is therefore considered valuable as food. However, the objection to this kind of flour is that its keeping quality is not so good as that of the kinds from which the germ has been removed, because the fat contained in the germ is liable to become rancid.
The best grades of fine white flour make breadof excellent quality, but such bread is not so nutritious as that made from whole-wheat flour. In the making of this kind of flour, some of the choicest varieties of wheat are first moistened in order to soften the woody fiber of the bran and are then sifted until the outer husk of the grain is removed. After this treatment, the grains are dried and then pulverized into various grades of so-called whole-wheat flour. The name whole-wheat flour is misleading, because it implies that all of the grain is used; whereas, since several of the outer layers of bran and the germ are removed in its production, whole-wheat flour is merely flour in which practically all the gluten and the starch are retained.
Because this variety is not sifted as are the white flours, it is not so fine as they are; but it is not so coarse as graham flour, nor is bread made from it so dark in color. Both graham and whole-wheat flours produce a more wholesome bread than any of the varieties of white flour, because they contain more of the nutritive elements and mineral salts, which are necessary in the diet. The bran that is retained in them is not used by the body as food, but it adds bulk to the diet and assists in carrying on the normal functions of the digestive tract.
If a large quantity of flour must be bought atone time, as, for instance, enough to last through an entire season, it is advisable to test it carefully before the purchase is made, so as to avoid the danger of getting a poor grade. As a rule, however, housewives are obliged to purchase only a small quantity at a time. In such cases, it will not be necessary to test the flour before purchasing it, provided a standard make is selected. Very often, too, a housewife in a small family finds it inconvenient to keep on hand a supply of both bread flour and pastry flour. In such an event, a blend flour, which, as has been mentioned, is a mixture of flour made from spring and winter wheat that will do for all purposes, is the kind to purchase. While such flour is not ideal for either bread or pastry, it serves the purpose of both very well.
How yeast came to be discovered is notdefinitely known, but its discovery is believed to have been purely accidental. Some mixture of flour and liquid was probably allowed to remain exposed to the air until it fermented and then when baked was found to be light and porous. Whatever the origin of this discovery was, it is certain that yeast was used hundreds of years ago and that its action was not at that time understood. Even at the present time everything concerning the action of yeast is not known; still continued study and observation have brought to light enough information to show that yeast is the agency that, under favorable conditions, produces light, spongy bread out of a flour mixture.
It has been determined that yeast is a microscopic plant existingeverywhere in the air and in dust; consequently, it is found on all things that are exposed to air or dust. In order that it may grow, this plant requires the three things necessary for the growth of any plant, namely, food, moisture, and warmth. Carbohydrate in the form of sugar proves to be an ideal food for yeast, and 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which the most rapid growth occurs. When these conditions exist and a sufficient amount of moisture is provided, yeast grows very rapidly and produces fermentation.
The changes that take place when yeast causes fermentation can be detected very readily by observing the fermenting of fruit juice. As every housewife knows, the first indication of a ferment in fruit juice is the appearance of tiny bubbles, which collect on the sides and the bottom of the vessel containing the fruit and then gradually rise to the top. These bubbles are a form of gas called carbon-dioxide, or carbonic-acid, gas. If, after they appear, the juice is tasted, it will be found to be slightly alcoholic and to have a somewhat sour or acid taste. The gas, the acid, and the alcohol thus produced are the three results of the action of the ferment.
When yeast is used in the making of bread out of wheat flour, thechanges just mentioned take place. To understand the action of this plant, it will be necessary to remember that wheat contains a large proportion of starch. This substance, however, cannot be acted on by the yeast plant; it must first be changed into sugar. The yeast that is added to the flour changes some of the starch into sugar and transforms the sugar into alcohol and carbonic-acid gas. This gas, which is lighter than the dough, rises, and in its efforts to escape expands the elastic, glutinous dough into a mass of bubbles with thin walls until the dough is two or three times its original bulk. The yeast plants, though, must be well distributed throughout the dough; otherwise, there are likely to be no bubbles in some places and large bubbles with thick walls in others. The gas thus formed is prevented from escaping by the toughness or the elasticity of the gluten, and the spaces that it leaves are what produce a light, porous loaf. When the expansion has gone on long enough, the formation of gas is checked and the ferment is killed by baking the dough in a hot oven. During the baking, the alcohol is driven off by heat, some of the starch is browned and forms the crust, and so little acid is produced in the short time in which the yeast is active that it is not noticeable.
Commercial Yeast.
When yeast plants are deprived of water and food,they cease to multiply. However, under these conditions, they may be kept alive so that when water and food are again provided they will increase in number and carry on their work. Advantage has been taken of these characteristics of yeast, for although at one time the making of yeast was entirely a household process, it has now, like butter, cheese, canned fruit, etc., become a commercial product. The first yeast put on the market was collected from the surface of the contents of brewers' vats, where it floated in large quantities; but as this was an impure, unreliable product composed of various kinds of bacteria, it is no longer used for the purpose of making bread. At present, yeast is carefully grown as a pure yeast culture, or product. It is marketed in such a way that when proper food, such as soft dough, or sponge, and a favorable temperature are provided, the plants will multiply and act on the carbohydrate that they find in the food. In fact, the purpose of the well-known process of "setting" a sponge is to obtain a large number of yeast plants from a few.
Commercial yeast is placed on the market in two forms--moist and dry. Each of these yeasts has its advantages, so that the one to select depends on the method preferred for the making of bread as well as the time that may be devoted to the preparation of this food. Moist yeast, which is usually called compressed yeast, consistsof the pure yeast culture, or growth, mixed with starch to make a sort of dough and then compressed into small cakes, the form in which it is sold. The moist condition of this kind of commercial yeast keeps the plants in an active state and permits of very rapid growth in a dough mixture. Consequently, it proves very useful for the rapid methods of making bread. It is soft, yet brittle, is of a grayish-white color, and has no odor except that of yeast.
Since the plants of compressed yeast require very little moisture to make them grow, an unfavorable, or low, temperature is needed to keep the yeast from spoiling; in fact, it is not guaranteed to remain good longer than a few days, and then only if it is kept at a temperature low enough to prevent the plants from growing. This fact makes it inadvisable to purchase compressed yeast at great distances from the source of supply, although it may be obtained by parcel post from manufacturers or dealers.
Dry yeast, the other form of commercial yeast, is made in much thesame way as moist yeast, but, instead of being mixed with a small amount of starch, the yeast culture is combined with a large quantity of starch or meal and then dried. The process of drying kills off some of the plants and renders the remainder inactive; because of this, the yeast requires no special care and will keep for an indefinite period of time, facts that account for its extensive use by housewives who are not within easy reach of the markets. However, because of the inactivity of the yeast plants, much longer time is required to produce fermentation in a bread mixture containing dry yeast than in one in which moist yeast is used. Consequently, the long processes of bread making are brought about by the use of dry yeast. If moist yeast is used for these processes, a smaller quantity is required.
Liquid Yeast.
Some housewives are so situated that they find itdifficult to obtain commercial yeast in either of its forms; but this disadvantage need not deprive them of the means of making good home-made bread, for they can prepare a very satisfactory liquid yeast themselves. To make such yeast, flour, water, and a small quantity of sugar are stirred together, and the mixture is then allowed to remain at ordinary room temperature, or 70 degrees Fahrenheit, until it is filled with bubbles. If hops are available, a few of them may be added. When such yeast is added to a sponge mixture, it will lighten the whole amount. Before the sponge is made stiff with flour, however, a little of it should be taken out, put in a covered dish, and set away in a cool, dark place for the next baking. If properly looked after in the manner explained, this yeast may be kept for about 2 weeks.
More certain results and a better flavor are insured in the use of liquid yeast if it is started with commercial yeast, so that whenever this can be obtained it should be used. Then, as just explained, some of the liquid containing the yeast or some of the sponge made with it may be retained for the next baking.
Quality of Yeast.
Of equal importance with the quality of flour is the quality of yeast used in the baking of bread. Yeast is, of course, accountable for the lightness or sponginess of bread, but, in addition, it improves the flavor of the bread if it is of good quality or detracts from the flavor if it is of poor quality. Since the condition of yeast cannot be determined until its effect on the finished product is noted, the housewife should take no chances, but should employ only yeast, whether she uses commercial or liquid, that she knows to be good and reliable. Compressed yeast may be easily judged as to quality. It should be grayish white in color, without streaks or spots, and it should have no sour nor disagreeable odor. If home-made yeast is used and the results obtained are not satisfactory, it may be taken for granted that a fresh supply should be prepared.
Milk is sometimes used as a part or as all of the liquid in bread. While it adds nutritive value and is thought by many persons to improve the texture, it is not absolutely essential to successful bread making. Whenever milk is used, it should first be scalded thoroughly. A point that should not be overlooked in connection with the use of milk is that the crust of milk bread browns more readily and has a more uniform color than that of bread in which water is used as liquid.
Like milk, fat adds nutritive value to bread, but it is not anessential ingredient. If it is included, care should be taken not to use too much, for an excessive amount will retard the growth of the yeast. Almost any kind of fat, such as butter, lard or other clear tasteless fats, or any mixture of these, may be used for this purpose, provided it does not impart an unpleasant flavor to the bread.

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