Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Five Must Haves for Bread Making

So, you want to make your own bread, but don't want to run out and invest a bunch of money on something you're not sure you will love.  I totally understand.  Here's my list of what you must have for successful bread making.  You can totally build up from their with specialty pans, stones, and cloths, but this will get you started and make you great bread.

1. Instant Yeast
This has been one of the easiest things I've done to improve my success with bread making.  Instant yeast rises much faster than regular or even rapid rise yeast.  Plus, I've also learned my lesson with trying to force dough to rise in a warm oven or by other artificial means.  Instant yeast will rise even if you put your dough in the refrigerator.  It's easy to work with and I can't imagine making bread without it.

2.Olive Oil
The method of bread making in Craftsy's Artisan Breadmaking class uses olive oil when your dough is too sticky to handle, instead of the traditional flour method.  So you'll need olive oil on hand.  You don't have to buy the most expensive oil you can find, but don't try to use a regular cooking oil like canola.  I use Pompeian, and you can find it online or probably at your local grocery store.

3. Parchment Paper
Similar to wax paper, but not waxy, this paper is a life saver to keep rising doughs from sticking to things and to bake on.  IT makes keeping your baking sheets a breeze and helps your breads to brown evenly.  You can find it in your grocery store or any craft store that sells cake baking supplies.

4. Baking sheets
Well, you have to have something to bake your dough on,  if you have cookie sheets, those will work fine.  If you really get into your baking, there's all sorts of stones and dishes you can bake in for cool shaped loaves, but these are a must.  Surprisingly, I haven't used a loaf pan yet for this class, but I always bake on a baking sheet.

5. Kitchen Scale
I almost left this one off, but I think it really makes a difference.  For this class, you weigh your ingredients by the ounce.  The reason being, is that one cup of flour can a different amount, based on how much or little you pack your cup, how humid it is, and just the texture of your flour.  But flour will weigh the same no matter if you sift it first, if it's humid out, or whatever extenuating circumstances there may be.  So, I use my postage scale, and set a bowl on it, turn it on (so that it zeros the scale even though the bowl has weight) and then add my flour, salt, and water.  I do not weigh my yeast.  You can find them relatively cheap, so I really think their worth the investment.

So there's some ideas to get you started on what you need to begin bread making.   There's other things that would be fun to have, but are definitely not essential.  Just check out all the things that fall under "bread making supplies" on Amazon on there's tons of pans, couches, stones, knives.  It's enough to make a girl lightheaded with the possibilities.

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