Updated: Jan 9, 2019
I always say, that new beginnings always bring excitement and some anxiety of not knowing exactly what we are getting into, so if you are new at trying to start baking bread at home, you are on the right place!
The idea here is to try to minimize mistakes, and to get some control over the outcome, which is really hard with bread, as it completely has a life on its own, literally! You will totally understand this if you have already experimented with it, if not, be prepared to have some serious wins and fails, which will be a fun learning experience at the end.
The following tips completely changed how I started baking and empowered me on the right direction, therefore I wanted to share them with you hoping these will help to get you started more easily:
1. Knowledge on basic concepts:
a. Types of yeast
b. Protein content of flour
c. Basic fermentation chemistry
d. Basis process for bread making
Check these blogs for that information:
2. Digital scale – please don’t use volume measurement! Like cups, tablespoons etc. Your best friend while getting started in bread baking will be a digital scale and you can find them anywhere these days for around 10 dollars. Weighing ingredients is the best way to be accurate and not changing the recipe, therefore lowering the chances of failing at it.
3. Scrapper – this magical tool is very helpful when managing dough, it will be like the extension of your hand and give you all you need to be able to shape and manage the dough properly. And most importantly, it will be very helpful in being able to easily clean your working station afterwards!
4. Bowl – it is always nice if your cleaning gets minimized as much as possible after baking, don’t you agree? So having a bowl for the first part of the process, is often very helpful in keeping your ingredients under control, and not flying all over the kitchen.
5. Appropriate flour – not all flour are made equal, nor can be used to substitute the flour the recipe is calling for. As a side note, and just to let you know about my crazy beginner experiments, I love to eat healthy and I am into changing recipes as I feel like. However, bread is not like changing herbs on a pie, changing the flour, is COMPLETELY doing a different product, and will be putting you in a 90% risk of not getting what you expected or as it was in my case, eating burnt bread bricks. The gluten content, type of grain, its water absorption, are some of the few things you need to ask before changing the flour of the recipe. You can totally start experimenting this once you know the basics.
6. Time – have some spare time when you decide to start baking bread. It is always good not to be rushed and to think about the process that you are doing, also in case you need to start all over! Lol. Take it as a time to have fun, and you can also turn this into a family activity which will be even better.
7. Parchment paper – when doing single loaves on a tray, and after doing everything the recipe said, you will feel your bread was perfectly kneaded, fermentation looked great, and you baked it to perfection. Once you take it out of the oven you will be so happy that it looks amazing that you will feel like taking a million pictures and trying it, BUT THEN all breaks down when you realize it’s completely stuck to the tray! I have been there, and I don’t want you to experience this pain… so get good parchment paper, don’t oil the tray, it’s not 100% effective unless you have been doing it many times and you know your trays.
8. Plastic wrap – you should take care of your dough and not letting it dry out during fermentation is important. So cover it with plastic to prevent it from drying out and creating creases.
9. Environment check – where am I baking? Is it too cold or too hot? Is it very humid or dry? These are very relevant factors when it comes to bread baking, and could totally make it a success or a failure, just remember that fermentation requires a stable temperature to work perfect.
10. Dutch Oven – I didn’t know when I started my bread journey, and you may not either, that professional bread bakeries use steam injection ovens. You might be wondering, what and why is that? It’s an oven which releases steam for the initial part of the baking process to make great bread! (I will write about it in the future, in case you are interested). So to try to get as close to that as we can at home, means using a Dutch Oven, it will recreate that environment to get amazing bread results at home!
If you ever have any questions, please dont hesitate to contact me, or visit us at one of you baking workshops.