Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Home Baked Loaf Bread, part 2 of 3

Rising - When the kneading's done, put the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn, and cover.

*Turn* means this: Put a little (olive) oil in the bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and then turn it over, so it's oiled on all sides.

*Covering* the rising dough or loaves is a good thing. It keeps the dough from drying out on top. Historically, people usually used a damp cloth. I like plastic wrap, laid very loosely on top, not touching the dough. As it rises, the dough comes up and meets the plastic wrap. I pick up the wrap and let it settle back down, so the dough can rise free and uninhibited.

Let it rise in a warm, relatively humid and draft-free place for apx. 1 1/2 hours, until double. You can check it by touching it very lightly with your finger. It's ready when this leaves an imprint of your fingertip.

Yup. Looks double to me. Looks like it's about to explode all over you, the kitchen, the kids, the dogs, the cats...

I like to rise it almost as long as it's safe to rise, a shade more than double. But! This is a bit risky. Just like over-kneading, over-rising is not good: it collapses, and the final product is nearly inedible.

If the air is too cold and dry, yeast dough can take much longer to rise. A couple techniques to help it along are:

-Put a large bowl or pan of hot water on the lower shelf of your oven. Turn the oven on a few minutes, then turn it off and let it cool until it's just slightly warm. Put the dough in to rise.

-Even easier: Put the covered bowl of dough in the bathroom, and turn on a very hot shower a few minutes to create a warm humid environment. It's like steaming your wrinkled shirt in the hotel room while traveling on business.

In the end, if the bread tastes very yeasty, it's NOT because too much yeast was used in the recipe. It's from rising it too warm. This is a subjective taste thing: many people love that extremely yeasty flavor. More than one restaurant knows this, and rises bread or yeast dinner rolls too warm on purpose. If that's what you like, too, go for it. Just like the bread machine bit, okay? It's YOUR food. Eat it how YOU like it. Food police are Not Allowed to take over here at ksquest.

Making the Loaves - After the first rising is done, punch it down: just shove your fist right on in that sucker, and watch that big hunk of airy dough collapse. Kids of all ages love this part.

Punch it down.

Turn the dough out onto the kneading surface. Many people flour the surface again; I find it unnecessary after the initial kneading, as long as the old bits of flour and dough are cleaned off the surface.

Knead lightly for a minute or two to pop any remaining big air bubbles, or simply press them out with your hands. Kids of all ages love this part too because it makes funny bathroom noises, which often sends them off in irrepressible fits of giggles, leaving you some peace and quiet as they scamper about in the yard going ape on scatalogical humor.

If you like, cover and let it rest a bit. (This means the dough, not the kids. Well, maybe the kids too, if they're getting underfoot by now.)

Make a rectangle.

Divide dough into 4 sections - I cut it with a knife - and set one on the kneading surface. Press with your hands to make a narrow rectangle (apx. 5- 6" wide), pressing out any large air bubbles again as you go. Roll it up tightly to make a rounded rectangular loaf shape.

Roll it up.

Seal the ends and the final bottom seam with your hands by pressing down the edges of the dough with the edges of your hands, and turning them under the loaf. You can use your hands to smooth the surface as well.

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