Most of us are uncertain about doing bread at home. We have been advised and informed about the tedious, inflexible, diligent methods of baking bread. Which is true if you see bread baking from one perspective. One needs to be precise about ingredients and the kneading and proofing times when doing bread. And overall a tedious job to do at home.
Well, I had the same perspective about bread before. Today, I do it with ease and I don’t spend time slapping the dough on my kitchen slab to develop gluten. I bake the bread at home with ease which requires no additional dedicated hours.
This article is my perspective and my procedure which I feel is undemanding and trouble-free. If you are someone who really wants to make bread at home and has not achieved consistent success until now, this article is for you. I have tried to un-complicate the approach and methodology.
Enter my kitchen in the morning and you will see, how I accomplish a good bread before lunch, without hustle. I am doing Gobi and Aarhar dal with raita and rice for lunch today. But because I decided to do a bread today, the first thing I do is get the maida and the rest of the bread ingredients into a bowl and mix it into a rough dough. The idea is not to dedicate separate hours for doing bread, but make it a part of everyday kitchen routine.
Bread needs kneading so the gluten gets stronger and is capable of holding all the air pockets inside during proofing and baking time. If you need more understanding about gluten click here.
Don’t get petrified on words like gluten development and all. We Indians are pals with gluten, it’s a part of our DNA. When we knead the dough for everyday roti we develop gluten. So nothing new for you and me. For bread, it’s almost the same process, but the dough has more water content in comparison to the whole wheat roti dough. And thus requires more kneading.
Either you have a machine or you do it with hand, both will get you the great results.
Tip: here is the point, I don’t want you to miss. If you start the process a day before (will not require time) you will achieve gluten formation quicker. So I generally, mix half a cup of flour (maida) with water and make a rough dough a night before and keep it in a box (cover with a lid) in my fridge. Just like roti dough.
This just needs 2-3 minutes of your time and the night-rest will do half of your job.
Let’s get to my kitchen again, I mixed all the ingredients for the bread including the dough from the fridge in the bowl and left it to rest. This step took another 4-5 minutes of my time.
Meanwhile, I washed and soaked the dal and rice in water and kept them aside.
With slightly wet hands, I went back to my bread dough and gave it another kneading for 2-3 minutes and left it again to rest.
Cleaned and cut gobi, and potatoes because its a Punjabi house, we can’t do gobi without aloo (potatoes).
Did the Tarka with a bit of oil, cumin-coriander seeds and ginger chilly paste and added gobi potatoes in the wok to cook.
The whole process must have taken 15- 20 minutes and then I got back to my bread dough. Gave the dough another kneading with slightly wet hands for 2-3 minutes and left it to rest again. Gluten strands become stronger when the dough rests. So given the dough ample rest during kneading helps the overall process.
Tip: when you follow the same procedure of time gap-kneading make sure to get smoother outer skin. You will find it difficult for initial few kneads but you will be amazed to see how the dough gradually changes into a smoother feel. Every time you touch the dough and knead, your target should be of grouping the whole dough into one smooth ball.
Tip: When you google bread recipes, it will give you heavily hydrated dough. You don’t have to follow the same, this will only dull your enthusiasm because excessive hydration is difficult to handle for amateurs.
I suggest gradually add water to the flour (like you do roti dough) and stop when you sense/notice the binding without any dry flour patches in the bowl.
Once you nail doing basic breads multiple times at home, then gradually you start to increase the hydration (water content) in your dough, because you will have more confidence and you will be quite a pally with the dough and its behaviour.
Pooja D from Sugarfall (her Insta page is a canvas of very tempting, amazing bakes) has written to me that handling the dough is unnerving initially and she finds bread dough very temperamental.
She is so right, you know that the amount of water flour can absorb depends on the quality of the grain and even the storage methods of the flour. Not all the recipes on google will give you the exact amount of water/liquid required for kneading the bread dough. It’s your understanding with the dough. Your target should always be a soft smooth dough ball. Gradually adding water to the flour with intelligence and kneading to accomplish smoothness to the dough is a smart decision.
The rise of the dough will depend on the weather. The hot climate will make the bread rise quicker and if it’s a bit cold you should wait longer till the dough rises. I normally wait till the shaped dough is double in size.
Or you can keep the shaped dough inside a close kitchen cabinet, make sure to cover it.
Hydration: you can knead the dough with water or milk. Or add milk powder in the flour. Milk gives the bread a sweeter taste and will win more votes ay home. Kneading with water will also give a good result but it’s great for rustic bread.
Ladi pav, dinner rolls, burger buns or regular bread loaf taste great when kneaded with milk.
Butter and Fat: will add more richness to the bread, but it will take a bit longer to rise. Bread like Brioche has greater butter content along with eggs and sugar. They are greatly loved and preferred.
Salt and sugar are a must in any bread recipe. Again more sugar in the dough will take a bit longer to rise and the end result will be sweeter. Tutti Frutti buns, brioches and many sweetbreads have more sugar content.
No bread will taste good without salt. If you have doubt, try missing out salt in one of the recipes. Salt is one of the four essential ingredients in bread.(flour, salt, yeast, and water) Salt stabilizing yeast fermentation rate, strengthens the dough, enhancing the flavour of the final product.
Yeast is an essential part of bread baking. You can read a detailed article about yeast here.
These are the essential ingredients for bread baking, but the method of kneading and shaping the bread holds equal importance. If you are not a pro, don’t try to follow those cool baker who slaps and fold the dough into a snuggly looking baby blanket so easily on the internet. Start with the basic and try to accomplish simple first.
Putting down the points below
Knead a small batch rough dough a night before.
You can knead the dough without a machine when doing other work in the kitchen.
This time gap-kneading helps the gluten to get stronger and you will have less work.
It will take almost 5-6 times of brief kneading and after that you let the dough rest in a bowl for the first rise.
Make sure to have a smooth, elastic dough ball.
The first rise usually takes an hour and after that, you can add flavours. Shape the dough according to your preference.Usha Cook Joy (3616) 1600-Watt Induction Cooktop (Black)
Easy ways for Baking Bread at Home
- Mixing bowls
- 2 cup Maida – all purpose flour
- 1/4th cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 and 1/4th tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- A night before taking 1/2 a cup of maida and knead it into a rough dough using some water. Cover and keep in the fridge to rest overnight.
- In a large mixing bowl add rest of the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and the already kneaded dough. Gradually add water to combine all the ingredients together to form a dough.You can use a machine to knead the dough or can knead it with hands. Refer to the article above for hand kneading. Once you have a soft, smooth, electric dough ball, keep it in a clean large bowl to rest. Make sure to oil or butter the bowl first before adding the dough ball into the bowl. Cover and let it rest for an hour, till the dough doubles in size.
- Once the dough rises and is double in size tip it on your kitchen counter (slightly dust the kitchen counter with flour) add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and rosemary. Using a folding method, shape the dough and place it in a baking tray lined with a parchment paper.
- Cover it and let it sit on your counter for 1 hour. When you are ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 450 F degrees for 10 -15 minutes and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown