Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pita Bread Recipe

pita bread
pita bread
Me and my grandmother both love pitas. We'll stuff them with anything: meats; fish; cheese; vegetables; etc. One might think that they would be difficult to make, but this is not true. Remember my pizza dough recipe? Well you can use it to make good pita bread. Here's how. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, and set a cast iron pan inside to get blazing hot. After the pizza dough has risen the first time form it into balls (the size of which will depend on how big you want your pitas). Roll the balls in flour and let them rest on the counter for 15 min. Next take the balls and roll them out quite thin, a 1/4 of an inch or preferably a little less. Then immediately throw the flatened dough into the hot pan and close the oven door. The oven and pan must be very hot for a big bubble to form. After a couple of minutes the pita will be puffed up like a balloon. When this happens it is ready to remove. Let it cool and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Understanding Different Types of Flour: All Purpose, Bread, Cake

Gluten is the protein found in wheat. It is a combination of gliaden and glutenin (which together are 80% of the proteins in flour) in the presence of water. The amount of protein is the most important criteria for determining which flour to use. This is because it is gluten that gives dough and batters its structure. Low protein=tender, high protein=chewey.

 All purpose flour is the "go to" baking flour. As its name suggests it can be used for anything. It is made from a blend of hard and soft wheats. Hard (winter) wheats are high in protein. Soft (spring) wheats are low in protein. Most brands of all purpose flour have 3 grams of protein per serving.

Cake flour is made from soft wheat, and has 2 grams of protein per serving. It makes tender fluffy cakes.

Bread flour is made from hard wheat, and has 4 grams of protein per serving. Bread flour also often contains malted barley flour which improves yeast function and taste, and ascorbic acid to improve texture. Bread flour makes great bread, but all purpose is good too. My recommendation is to use bread flour where you want the final product to have some chewiness, like bagels, and to use all purpose flour where you want something more tender like rolls.

Note: King Arthur all purpose flour has 4 grams of protein per serving making it more similar to other brand's bread flour. Use it accordingly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shaping a Bread Loaf

bread dough

shaping a loaf of bread

Step 1: make the dough into a rectangle by gently stretching it out. Trim the rectangle if necessary so it if the same width as the pan.
Step 2: Roll the dough pressing down after each turn to make a log
Step 3: Seal the seam by pressing tightly, and placing seam side down in the pan.

Basic White Bread Recipe

A basic white bread can be turned into many different things (sandwiches, croutons, french toast, stuffing, etc.: after its cooked and before it's cooked: dinner rolls, cinnamon raisin bread, pigs in a blanket, sweet rolls, etc. Here is a basic white bread recipe.

1 package yeast
1/2 cup of the dough starter you should all have in your refrigerator ;)
1 1/2 cups warm water (or milk if you like it richer)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil or 1 stick melted butter
5-6cups flour (half bread and half all purpose)

Mix the first 6 ingredients together, then add just enough flour to make a workable dough. The wetter the dough, the lighter the bread. Knead for a couple of minutes. Then place in a greased bowl to rise 2 hrs. After this rise punch it down and fold the dought over itself a few times until you have created a ball. Let it rise 1 1/2 hrs. fold it over itself again. Let it rise an hour. now turn the dough out on a work surface and spit in half. Shape each half into a loaf trimming as necessary. plcace eact half on a greased loaf pan and let it rise until it is just over the surface of the pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 min. Cool on wire racks, out of the pan and enjoy. For info on shaping the loafs look at the next post.

Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe

homemade pizza
I love to make pizza dough. It is versatile and very easy to make. The following is the recipe I use.

1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (just warm to the touch)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2- 3 cups flour (50% bread flour and 50% all purpose)

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl, then add enough flour to make a soft, but workable dough. Pizza dough cannot be stiff or else it will be hard to stretch later. If it sticks to things a little that's alright. Knead it until it is smooth, about 5 minutes, then place in a greased bowl and let rise 1 1/2-2hrs. Punch it down and sit it in the refrigerator overnight. Pizza dough is really best after it ferments in the refrigerator 12...18...24....even 48 hours. The dough must come to room temperature before you can use it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

how to Make Bread Dough Starter

bread dough starter
Dough Starters are a wonderful way to add flavor to bread. They also improve dough texture. A dough starter is like a pet you keep in your refrigerator It is basically yeast mixed with flour and water left to ferment and develop in flavor. It may use wild yeasts as in traditional sour doughs, or a store bought yeast. Those made from wild yeasts will develop a more interesting flavor, but they take longer to make. To make a quick starter mix about 1 1/2 cups of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar and a small amount of yeast (less than a half package). Then add enough flour (all purpose will do) to make the consistency of very thick pancake batter. Let the mixture sit for 18-24 hrs at room temperature. Your starter is now ready to use. If you are not ready to use it keep it in the refrigerator and take it out once a week to give it a little more flour and water and let it sit out at room temp. for 18-24 hrs. Never use it all at once. Keep a little to keep the starter going indefinitely. Above is my starter after sitting out for 12 hrs. Note how bubbly it is. Don't you just love the power of yeast?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Thoughts on Recipes

Recipes in baking are very important, for things like cookies and cakes, but I would argue that for bread it is more about technique: getting a feel for the dough, and the environment of your home. Since recipes are a starting point I will be including them in this blog, but keep in mind that the technique of handling the dough is the most important thing. For instance if a recipe calls for 11/4 cup of water to 4 cups of flour keep in mind that this is not set in stone. On humid days you may need either more flour or less water and on dry days the opposite. Look for a white bread recipe within the next few days. Good Day everyone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Dough Maker Blog Intro!

Hello readers. You can call me Bam the doughmaker. I am a lover of from scratch baking. I have been baking bread for 10 yrs. It is something I enjoy, and for a hobby it's pretty cheap (and tasty too!). In those 10 yrs I have learned so much about the art of baking. I hope to share some of that knowledge with you, and maybe learn some more in the process. In this blog you will explore my breadmaking projects as well as a few other delicacies. The only criteria is that it will involve yeast bread dough. I can't wait to get started!