Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bread Baking Tips

Potato water: Using left-over water from boiled potatoes as the liquid in bread recipes will help to produce a loaf of bread that rises higher. The cooked potato starch in the water gives a boost to the yeast, making it rise faster and also adds sweetness.

Store your potato water tightly covered in a refrigerator and it will keep for 3 - 4 days.

Cinnamon: Even if you LURVE cinnamon to death, resist the urge to add extra cinnamon to my yeasted Cinnamon Roll Recipe cos cinnamon has a direct effect on the yeast activity and in large quantities it will stop fermentation completely. Use only 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per cup flour in a recipe.

Dried Fruit : If using dried fruit in a yeast bread recipe, its best to soak them first. If not done, they absorb a lot of water from the bread's ingredients, resulting in a dry loaf. To prepare the dried fruit: place in a saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil under medium heat. Then, drain on paper towels before using.

Also, it is best to add dried fruits right after the proofing and before shaping the dough. Knead the dough until the add-ins are evenly distributed.

Yeast : Yeast must be fresh when used in a recipe. If in doubt, test the yeast by adding a teaspoon of yeast to 1/4 cup warm water with a little sugar dissolved in it. In ten minutes the yeast should have dissolved and become a sludgy, frothy liquid.

If the dissolved looks like a gray-brown, thin liquid without foam, its probably stale or dead. Toss it out.

Be sure to check the expiration date on the package.

To convert recipes calling for active dry yeast to instant yeast: Use 0.67 times the weight; or, for 1 teaspoons active dry yeast, use 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast.

Bread Machine : Bread Machine makes bread making a breeze as it takes out many manual work like kneading and mixing. But it requires upfront "investment" and space to store it. I have a small kitchen, so I cannot afford space to put in a BM. I do everything from scratch... good arm exercise for me!

Most of the recipe that I use here has been adjusted for manual. But you can easily google to find the BM-recipe.

Flour : Always have extra flour than it is called for in the recipe. You need the flour to adjust the dough to just "tacky", and not "stickly". Tacky means the dough feels sticky when you touch, but does not stick to your finger when you pull away.

Bread improver is usually a mix of lecithin, malt flour, and ascorbic acid. Used in bread recipe to improve the texture and shelf life of bread. Available at Phoon Huat.

Bread Soft keeps the bread soft and moist. Available at Sun Lik, 150gm $3.30

To create the crust that you want
  • Shiny Crust: Brush the top of the bread with an egg or egg white beaten with some water. You can also sprinkle poppy or sesame seed or oats.
  • Softer, deep brown golden crust: brush with softened butter or margarine.
  • Crisp crust: Brush with water. You may also add some salt to the water if your dietary allows.
  • Soft tender crust: brush with milk.

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