So you’re interested in making bread, right? Well, before you get started with your first loaves and a simple bread recipe, take a moment to absorb this introduction to bread making.
It covers what you need to know about home baking, including; how long it takes to learn, the stages of bread making, and how to select the equipment and ingredients needed to make beautiful homemade bread.
I’m a professionally trained baker whose worked in the industry as a baker, bakery manager, owner and trainer since I was a teenager. I hope you enjoy this bakery introduction guide and delve into the recipes and tips on this site afterwards! You’re most welcome too!
Bread is a simple food that’s been eaten throughout history. In ancient Egyptian and medieval times, bread was baked on an open flame. Later, European peasants would take their kneaded dough to the local bakehouse. Nowadays, it’s less common for home cooks to have the skills to make bread. Still, it’s become increasingly popular to take on as a hobby whilst eating better food. Bread is an important yet delicious food that is well-loved. It’s nutritious and a great source of carbohydrates and protein.
Only a handful of ingredients are needed to make bread; flour, water, salt and a levain. Yeast is the most common levain for bread. Yet, sourdough, the original bread-levain, has had a significant resurgence in recent years. The ingredients are combined and mixed in a mixing bowl to develop a structure derived from the gluten in the flour. Alongside the gluten structure, the levain produces carbon dioxide gas which gets trapped in the dough, making it rise.
Kneading, time and temperature are used to perfect the structure, rise and flavour. After sufficient development, the dough is baked in the oven taking those 4 original ingredients and turning them into bread.
The earliest signs of bread that have been authenticated by scientists date back to around 9500 BC in Ancient Egypt. It is known that wheat and other grains were cultivated at this time. Ancient drawings and preserved remnants explain that wet wheat was left on a warm stone, probably by accident at first. The farmer returned a few hours later to find that the mixture had risen. The Egyptians experimented with baking and adding salt and stumbled on the first bread recipes.
Humans were cooking with fire by this time. Therefore, we would expect some sort of loaves or rolls to be produced. However, it has not been 100% proven. Commercial bakeries were discovered in Greece, dating back to 1700 BC. There is an interesting article at The Spruce Eats if you want to learn more about bread history.
After the successful development of yeasts used for brewing, similar synthetic strains were fortified to produce bread. The type selected for baker’s yeast is a version of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. This strain is used for all yeast-leavened bread and appears organically in sourdough cultures. Before commercial baker’s yeast appeared in 1880, the sourdough starter method was used. Changing primarily to baker’s yeast increased production levels with fewer quality variables and a faster rising time.
Bread is one of the most widespread sources of food in the world. Most food staples across the globe are inexpensive, plant-based foods full of energy. There are more than 50,000 edible plants in the world, but just 15 provide 90% of the world’s food energy intake. Rice, corn (maize), and wheat make up two-thirds of this. Bread provides calories and minerals that are easy to digest. In essence, bread is an essential food source and a product of beauty.
I love baking because I still don’t know everything about it, not even close! There are so many local staples and alternative methods that you simply can’t master everything! Bread can be so elaborate that it impresses or indulges merely in a warm sarnie. Healthy or naughty. The possibilities are endless, and it is incredibly satisfying that simple ingredients can be used to make something so very special!
Making bread at home has traditionally been a skill that all homemakers knew. It’s not as popular these days. However, it has never been easier to get started! Being able to make tasty bread for you and your family is a gratifying and healthy hobby. It’s also something that you keep learning. There is never too much knowledge, and experienced professional bakers continue to learn every day.
But it doesn’t take years of training just to make one loaf of bread. With the right beginner’s bread recipe, you can have success on the first attempt. It may not turn out perfect, but if you keep practising, your bakes will get better. After 3 months of baking once a week, most beginners feel competent and comfortable working with any type of dough. Though I’ve found some bakers grasp the basics in a few days!
Next, we will cover the stages of bread making, so you don’t get drowned in fancy lingo and unnecessary steps. Click the link below:
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