There is a certain enchantment about the bread that can only be found at your neighbourhood bakeries; it is invariably incredibly tender and airy.
Many of these bread, particularly the packaged varieties, are manufactured with a large number of chemical additives such as calcium propionate, amylase, and chlorine dioxide, which enable them to maintain their characteristic characteristics of being soft, light, and fluffy for an extended period of time.
Have you ever considered the possibility of baking a healthier version of that light and airy bread and buns? It’s not going to be as hard as you might think it will be! You don’t even need a mixer; all you need is some good old-fashioned elbow grease, and you’ll have delicious bread without any of the additional chemicals you don’t want. Who says it’s impossible to make bread at home that has the same texture as bakery bread? If you follow these five guidelines, you will soon be in “carb heaven.”
1. The use of bread flour in preference to all-purpose flour
The versatility of all-purpose flour is reflected in the fact that it can be used to create a wide variety of baked goods, including bread, cakes, and cookies. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, but all-purpose flour has a lower protein content than bread flour. Bread flour’s high protein content helps to produce more gluten and rise in baked bread, producing a texture that is light and chewy.
Even though you can use all-purpose flour in place of bread flour, it is strongly advised that you use bread flour when the recipe calls for bread flour. This will ensure that you get the best possible results.
2. Carry out the test using a windowpane.
When baking bread, the Windowpane Test is an extremely helpful technique. It is a method for determining whether or not your bread dough has been sufficiently kneaded and is also known as the Membrane Test. Inadequate kneading will result in underdeveloped gluten, which will produce a loaf with a high density. Even bread that is cooked on the stovetop needs to have the optimal amount of kneading done to them in order to have a pleasant chew. This is not only true for bread that are baked in the oven.
Take a small ball of your bread dough and flatten it out with your palm to perform the Windowpane Test. The following step involves gently stretching it out in circular motions while rotating it using your fingers. When your dough forms a membrane that is see-through, much like a windowpane, it is ready to be used. If your dough tears or breaks easily during the test, you should knead it for an additional two minutes before performing the test again.
3. Conducting the Test at the Appropriate Temperature
It’s common knowledge that yeast is responsible for the bread’s rise, but what role does it play within the dough itself?
Because yeast cells are alive, yeast will consume any sugars with which they come into contact. In exchange, they produce carbon dioxide, which is the gas that causes your bread dough to rise by producing air bubbles within the dough itself.
However, in order for this to occur, the necessary conditions must first be satisfied. It is imperative that we keep the temperature at approximately 37 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is not warm enough, the yeast will not become active; however, if the temperature is too high, the yeast will eventually perish.
Bread dough can be risen using either of these two common methods. The majority of bread recipes instruct you to proof the dough at room temperature, which is perfectly fine because the weather in East Africa is warm enough to support the activity of the yeast.
Oven proofing is another method that can be used, and it is applied to specific kinds of bread in order to achieve the results that are desired. During the oven-proofing process, the bread dough is placed alongside boiling water in an oven that has been turned off and is then closed.
This technique helps your bread rise more quickly and uniformly by retaining steam inside the oven, creating a warm and consistent temperature. Additionally, the bread produced using this method is lighter and contains more air pockets within it, both of which are characteristics that are typical of certain types of bread.
In our school, you will learn all of the various techniques that can be used to proof bread, from kneading techniques to determining when your dough is finished, as well as shaping, assembling, filling, and more.
4. Instead of measuring liquids with cups, use weights.
When weighing ingredients, it is always recommended to use weight measurements instead of measuring cups whenever possible. This is because weight measurements are more accurate.
If you do not know how to use measuring cups correctly, there is a possibility that the results will not be accurate. The resultant weights can be very inconsistent and even differ by about 10 grammes or so, which will cause the end result of your baking to be affected. The way that you measure your flour can have a significant impact on the weights that are produced.
If you use an excessive amount of flour, you will end up with bread dough that is heavier and denser than you desire. For this reason, you should never forget to check that the quantities of your ingredients are accurate!
5. Always Keep a Close Eye on Your Cooking
Especially after a lengthy session of kneading, there is a strong desire to just toss your loaf of bread into the oven and forget about it until the timer goes off. That should not be done! Because every oven is slightly different and has hot spots, it is important to keep a close eye on your loaf and rotate it if it appears that one side is browning more quickly than the other.
Rub Your Stress Away With Some Kneading
Baking bread can be intimidating because of all of the proofing and kneading that is required. But believe us when we say that as soon as you get the hang of it, you’ll recognise how much fun and how easy it is! You are free to shape them in an infinite variety of ways and stuff them with an infinite variety of fillings. There is no limit to the possibilities.
Soft & Fluffy Milk Bread Loaf
This loaf’s mildly sweet and milky aroma makes it suitable for consumption on its own, but it also goes well with jams and chocolate spreads! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag us on Instagram (@eastafricachef) so we can see your creations!
- Prep Time: 2hr 35min
- Cook Time: 30 min
- Total Time: 3 hr
- Yield: Makes 1x large loaf 1x
- Method: Bake
- Beat one egg in a small bowl, then place it aside.
- Combine the bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and milk powder in the mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Mix well.
- Add the milk, cream, and half of the egg.
- It takes about 10-15 minutes to mix/knead the dough until it is soft and elastic. To see if the dough has been thoroughly mixed, perform the windowpane test. It is safe to use if it doesn’t immediately break or tear too easily.
- The dough should be rounded, put back into the mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, covered with a damp towel, and allowed to ferment for an hour.
- The dough is deflated and rolled into a log shape.
- the dough into three equal pieces (you may use a weighing scale).
- Roll the dough into an extended oval shape and then roll it up. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces.
- Place each piece of dough into the loaf pan or bread baker, leaving an equal space between them.
- Let the loaf proof for an hour while covering the pan with a damp cloth.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C after 50 minutes of proofing.
- With a pastry brush, cover the top of the loaf with the remaining egg from the third step, and bake it for about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Halfway through baking, or after 15 minutes, cover the top of the bread with a sheet of aluminium foil because it will brown very quickly.
- Let it cool and serve.
How Should Homemade Bread Be Kept?
Cover and store leftovers at room temperature for up to 3 days, or refrigerate for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Reheat for a few minutes at 150°C to restore its soft and fluffy texture! You may also reheat it in a toaster oven. This loaf is also ideal for making sandwiches.
20-25mins > ferment 1h > moulding 15 mins > proof 1h > bake 30mins