Have a wealth of bread making recipes? What you need to know before you get started

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Answered by: Ninette, An Expert in the Bread Baking for Beginners Category
Bread making can be easy, even for those like myself that appear to have an intolerance to being in the kitchen for extended periods of time. These guidelines will establish a new found confidence that will extend into your baking to help you bake a tasty well risen loaf every time. Be sure to consult this practical list before you proceed with any bread making recipe.

#1. Acquire the right tools

Baking is all about precision, meaning and patience. To ensure that your loaves are baked to perfection you'll need these essential tools:

+ Scales: mechanical & digital

+ Measuring jug

+ Spoon measures

+ Large mixing bowls

A mechanical scale works best with large quantities, for smaller amounts digital scales will bridge the gap between a strong well risen loaf as opposed to one full of air and waiting to burst. There are specific amounts on baking recipes for a reason and, these tools will enable you to follow instructions to the exact gram.

#2. Salt + yeast + :(

In most good bread making recipes you're likely to encounter a strong emphasis on keeping the salt and yeast on opposite sides of your mixing bowl. As Paul Hollywood, the Great British Bake Off judge and overall baking guru aptly stated, "If yeast comes in contact with the salt if will retard the dough".

A retarded loaf is a flat bodiless loaf that can easily be avoided by mixing the flour and the yeast together before anything else. This will squash any jitters on combining the yeast and salt together thus allowing a smooth transition tot the next part of the recipe.

#3. "Don't just chuck in all the water straight away. It's the biggest mistake everybody makes when they're making bread" - Paul Hollywood

Not you though.

Gradually add the water to the dough mixture. If too much water is added the action is irreversible. A steady scarce hand is the best approach. As the dough is worked through by hand you will know when the mixture is parched and requires more water. The majority of the dough will stick to the edges of the bowl. With the gradual addition of water the loose bits of dough will form part of the main mixture. Be patient, it will happen.

#4. Keep your hands busy during the bake

Extend some of your new found patience into the cooking time and you will not regret it. Baking your first loaf is exciting but, resist the temptation to pull your oven door open every couple of seconds. By doing this you are minimalizing the amount of heat your bread receives and, essentially punching holes in the effort you've put into breathing life into your bread. If the prospect of creating a sinking loaf is not enough to steer you clear of the oven, spend the baking time doing something that makes you forget about time all together.

Just remember to set a timer!

#5. Have a cooling rack at the ready

Bread making recipes will not always state this but, it is definitely a step to include in any baking recipe. Similar to meat, bread needs time to rest and cool through. The quicker you can slide a knife down the edges of the tin in which your bread has cooked, the sooner you can expect to sink your teeth into your creation.

Shop bought bread hasn't got a patch on you.

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