Using your loaf

Bake your own bread

Using your loaf

Having recently watched the Apprentice on TV I was intrigued to see how the teams accomplish the chocolate making exercise. Proving there is more to chocolates than just a fancy box!

Producing great food in the kitchen, not only requires skill and passion but also the correct tools. These are imperative to turn your culinary creation into a masterpiece. Get that right and you are half way there to success.

Bread for many of us is a basic daily requirement; bakers take years to acquire the skills to call themselves a professional however our trusty loaf can also be made at home. Here are my top 5 tools for producing a great loaf. 

Start with fresh ingredients. The correct storage is imperative.

Before you begin, keeping your ingredients in the correct environment is very important. Flour and your dry ingredients should be stored in airtight containers. Flour can be kept in a 40 F fridge for up to two years, according to the Wheat Foods Council and can be stored indefinitely in the freezer whereas in the pantry you are looking about a timescale of roughly 6 months.

For the true professional among us keep it cool with a walk-in freezer, this is an insulated space composed of 1 or several cells. The walk-in fridge or cooler holds your products at a positive temperature from +2°C to +15°C (+35,6°F to +59°F). 

Get your measurements correct with reliable scales. Weighing your ingredients actually makes the process much easier. When you measure dry ingredients like flour by volume, you can actually end up with drastically different amounts of ingredients. Depending on your technique, 1 cup of flour can weigh as little as 100 grams, or as much as 175 grams, whereas 100 grams of flour is 100 grams of flour -- no matter how you scoop it.

When it comes to making bread a bench knife is a super useful tool. Whether it is for dividing your dough, shaping your loaves or scraping off your work surface, your bench knife will soon become an extension of your hand.

For the professionals go large with retarder prover cabinet  - these cabinets offer you a precise proofing programming, with temperature control and hygrometric adjustment on a large scale. For those of us at home, the process can be replicated in your oven.

The shape of your loaf is as individual as you are. A loaf tin is a traditional shape of artisan bread, which is a narrow rectangle, this is a convenient shape which enables uniform slicing, but also assists if you are working with grains that form a weaker dough as its main function is to shape bread while it is rising during baking

Whether you are making bread for the home or a business, once you have found your chosen recipe here are some top tips for loaf perfection.

Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the oil and water, and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until the dough becomes satin-smooth.

Place it in a lightly oiled bowl to prove. Leave to prove for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight.

Knock back the dough, and then gently mould it into a ball. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment to prove for a further hour until doubled in size.

Dust the loaf with flour and cut a cross, about 6cm wide, into the top of the loaf.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C/fan 200˚C/gas 7 and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Bake until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Poppy Watt