Throughout the world, bread has been the most popular and oldest staple food since the dawn of agriculture. No one could deny that man can truly and literally live on bread alone. Today, one of life’s simplest pleasures is freshly baked, hot bread and smelling its irresistible aroma while it is being baked.
Having bread every day is much easier than you might think. That French bread, sweet quick bread or whole grain bread can fill your home with aroma and save a bunch of money. Anyone can easily make bread with a few simple steps and ingredients. On this simple know-how article, how to make French bread will be explained as it is one of the most basic breads in the world.
What You Need To Make Bread (French):
To bake French bread, all you need is six cups of all-purpose white flour, one teaspoon salt, two cups of warm water, and three teaspoons or one pack of active dry yeast.
Activate the Yeast
To begin the baking process, you need to activate the yeast by mixing it with approximately ¼ cup of warm water.
The water should be warm enough to touch; if it is too hot, the yeast will be killed and if it is cool, the yeast won’t be activated. After 1-2 minutes, the yeast and warm water mixture will become a thick, frothy texture.
The yeast is activated if the mixture becomes bubbly and thick. If you use a “rapid rise” yeast, skip this step because this kind of yeast already self-activates.
Mix the flour and salt together. Make sure you mix them in a large bowl where you can comfortably mix all the other ingredients and hold them together. Use a wooden spoon to mix. Put in all the other dry ingredients. Mix them well. Then, put in the yeast and stir properly. Alternatively, you can also use an electric mixer if you want, however, it is easier to mix using your hand.
Add the Water in the Mixture
The amount of water you will need in this step is quite variable depending on the season’s humidity. Slowly add it to the flour mixture while stirring it in, until it slowly becomes a dough. Stop adding water as soon as the mixture becomes ready to bake. With your hands, reach into the bowl and pull the dough together. Push all the wet part of dough into the ball and begin to form the basic dough.
Let the Dough Rest and Rise
Put the dough on a kneading surface sprinkled enough with flour. Let it rest for five minutes. During this stage, this gluten strands are forming, giving the bread a chewy texture.
Knead the Dough
The most important part in preparing the dough is its initial kneading. Constantly knead the dough for five to ten minutes or until the dough becomes smooth. Do not stop kneading if the dough still has the craggy surface, and add flour if necessary.
It takes some patience and practice to knead a dough. You have to push the dough hard, roll it away from you, folding it over, and repeating the process over and over until you get the needed texture.
When kneading, make sure that your hands and surface are well floured and the dough is not sticking on your hands or surface. If you observe that the dough is wet, add more flour on the surface and keep on kneading.
Let the Dough Rest and Rise Again
This time, put the dough back into the clean mixing bowl. Cover it with plastic or a towel and let it rest for about three hours. Ideally, the temperature should be about 70-75 degrees F. If you are baking during winter or cold season, it is good to place the dough in or on the stove while it is turned off.
Reform the Dough
After three hours of letting the dough rest, roll it over for few times on a floured surface and put it back into the bowl for the second rise. You don’t have to knead the dough again and this time should be easier for you since it is already soft and smooth.
The Second Rise
There are a lot of opinions on how many times a dough should rise. Some prefer only one rising, while others prefer two or three risings. For a good crusty French bread with airy inner crumb, let the dough rise for two to three times. If you want a quick hot delicious bread, skip this second step and proceed to the next.
Form the Dough in Shape
This time, your dough is ready to be pun in the oven. Remove the dough from the bowl, cut a small portion and form it in whatever shape you want. Put them on a baking sheet.
Cover the Rolled-Out Loaves for 45 Minutes
Before putting them in the oven, you have to cover the loaves for 45 minutes and let them plump back up. Make small cuts on top of every loaf and make sure each dough has a space about an inch away from each other. This will make the loaves plump evenly as they are baked.
Put Them in the Oven
Place the loaves in the oven for about 30 minutes and with 400 degrees temperature. The bread is ready when it is golden brown and the bottom is firm.
To Make a Perfect Crust
The technique for a perfect crust is no longer a secret. Put a small pan of water inside the oven while the baking process is on-going. Water allows steam to gradually form and helps in the formation of a perfect crust.
Conclusion – How To Make Bread
So, there it goes on baking a bread, specifically a French bread. The ingredients are simple and the procedures are easy. The hardest part is the kneading process, but you will be good at it in no time. By knowing how to make this basic bread, you will learn more methods on how to bake perfect breads and more complicated ones.