This article is written by Chef Lim Her-Yi from Bud Of Joy on February 16, 2017.
It is protected by Copyright © 2017 Bud Of Joy
The success to Bread Baking is not so much about recipes. It's more about understanding the Science and technique.
To date, there are a number of techniques to bread making. However, the Science behind every loaf of bread remains the same.
So what determines the success or failure of bread making?
In my experience as a professional Baker, 75% of the success rate of bread lies in being able to conduct a good gluten window test during the kneading process. (The other 25% depends on many factors such as the proofing, baking time, oven temperature, when you slice your bread, etc)
So the one thing for successful bread baking is being able to conduct a good gluten window test.
What enables bread to rise? What traps the air in the bread and enables it to rise during proofing and rise further during baking without deflating?
In a very short and concise summary, gluten is formed when wheat flour and water is combined during the kneading process. The gluten strands form a network which creates the elasticity in the bread dough. This gluten network, when properly kneaded will enable the bread to trap all the air that it needs to rise, hence creating a soft and fluffy loaf which everyone loves. Just like how elasticity in a rubber balloon enables it to be blown to size, the elasticity of the gluten strands (or how strong the gluten strands) enables the loaf to grow in size before and during baking.
The yeast, when it feeds on the carbohydrates and sugars, gives off carbon dioxide which enables the loaf to rise during proofing. These tiny air-holes that are caused by the yeast growth are further enlarged during the baking process as the heat causes the expansion.
So how do we determine if the gluten has been well formed?
The Gluten Window Test
A gluten window test needs to be first conducted, whereby the dough is stretched gently to test that it doesn't tear. It has to be able to be stretched so thinly without tearing such that light is able to pass through and you can see the fine gluten strands itself. [See photo]
You should be able to see your finger prints as well. Yes, you read that right. Not just see your fingers through the dough, but your fingerprints as well.
Photo: The gluten window test - the dough has to be stretched so thinly (without tearing) that your fingerprints can be seen through the dough.
A common mistake during this kneading process is made when individuals feel that the dough seems to be kneading too long and they start adding spoonfuls of flour into the dough .This results in a loaf that is too dry. Or some may knead the dough too long, such that the gluten strands start tearing up and end up being destroyed. This results in a sunken loaf of bread.
So the next time you try making a loaf of bread, do ensure that you can conduct a good gluten window test and see the result.
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About Bud Of Joy
An artisan, organic bakery providing premium baked goods designed to bring health back into food.
Address: 71 Circuit Road, #01-31, Singapore 370071
The bakery is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 12noon to 5pm.
It is closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays.
Article: The One Thing You Must Know to Bake Bread Successfully
Published by Bud Of Joy on February 16, 2017