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Ways to Bake Better Bread

When you are making bread in your kitchen, there are important things to keep in mind to achieve the best results.

First, different flours are going to have varying abilities to absorb liquids. Also, depending on the temperature and humidity that day, the amount of flour you need is going to beslightly variable. The flour that is called for in a recipe is really just an approximation. Start with less flour than the recipe calls for and then add more flour if you need it. The dough should be smooth and have a satiny texture. There are many types of flour used to bake bread. The big difference with the flours is how much protein is in each one. When the flour is mixed with your water, the proteins will form into gluten and will make the dough rather rubbery and elastic. Gluten is what gives the dough its basic framework. It makes it rise and stretch as it traps the bubbles of gas that are given off by the yeast as it starts to grow. The more gluten you have in the bread, the higher the volume the bread will be. Some of the most common flours for baking bread are all purpose, bread flour, whole wheat and rye. Bread flour is going to give your bread a lot of volume, whole wheat will provide the bread with a bit of a nuttier flavor.

When you are dealing with your yeast, it is a good idea to proof the yeast first. Do this before you add it to your flour mixture, because if the yeast is bad, then you have to throw away the entire mixture. Proof your yeast by dissolving it in some warm water that is about 40 degrees Celcius. If the yeast is good, bubbles will begin to form in the watery mixture. This means that the yeast is working and it can be safely addedt. When it is time to knead the dough, knead it for about two minutes, or until the dough is nice and smooth. The final result should be satin like and not sticky at all. Roll the dough into a ball shape and put it in an oiled bowl. You can brush the dough with oil so you will not get a crust on the bread while it is still rising. Cover your bowl with a towel and let it continue to rise in a warm area. 

Let the bread rise until it reaches twice it's original size. Test your dough by pushing a finger into the middle of the dough. If the dent remains when you move your finger, it is double in size., time to cook your bread.

Additional kneading and additional rise times are what give bread more flavor a better feel of the crumbs and improve the overall presentation of the bread. This is the reason that many bread makers do not like to use yeast that rises quickly, or to use the quick cycles that are on so many bread machines today. The dough really does need the entire cycle of the yeast for it to create really good bread.
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