Whether you have had a business for some time, or a project that is about to be launched, some tips on leavening and baking bread help you pay more attention to the quality of the product.
Since prehistoric times, bread has always been present in man’s diet, the techniques used for its processing have changed, as well as a greater understanding of the tricks to make its production perfect.
The main problems in making this food can occur during the cooking or leavening process. In the following article we will analyze the 4 most frequent mistakes that are made during the leavening and baking phases of bread.
Leavened bread: the 4 most frequent mistakes
The yeast is usually made up of fungi, which decompose the starch of the flour and the sugars which, after being broken down, become ethanol and carbon dioxide.
And it is precisely thanks to the heat that carbon dioxide increases in volume, as it remains trapped in the bond of gluten molecules, and gives rise to the leavening of the bread.
To influence the leavening process there is also the strength of the flour which is determined by the quantity of gluten it contains: the greater the quantity of this element, the more the network formed by the molecules allows to trap carbon dioxide so as to increase the volume of the bread. Consequently, the greater the amount of gluten present, the more of the flour is defined as strong.
First you need to understand which types of leavening can be used:
- Chemistry: it is carried out through the use of instant chemical powdered yeast, the reaction is allowed by the contact that occurs between an alkaline and an acid element, ie a simple chemical reaction to heat;
- Microbiological: obtained through the use of mother yeast and brewer’s yeast, both fresh and dehydrated. In the yeast there are microorganisms that feed on flour and which, by reproducing, increase the volume of the dough.
The mother yeast needs some care in order to be kept alive and for this it must be constantly refreshed in order to avoid that it has a sour smell and taste. The positive characteristics of this yeast make it possible to obtain soft, easily digestible doughs and to increase the shelf life of the bread.
The leavening of the dough occurs faster if brewer’s yeast is used, in addition the dough will become very high and soft, but less durable over time, therefore it will more easily lose its crunchiness. In order to be used it must be dissolved in warm water in order to act correctly and to activate it, honey or sugar can also be used.
Now that we have seen how leavening works, we can better understand the mistakes that are made more frequently:
- Mix of wrong flours;
- Incorrect salt dosage;
- Poor dough processing;
- The temperature of the place chosen to let the mass rest.
Let’s now analyze each mistake in detail in order to create a product that increases its quality from time to time.
1. Mix the right flours
Each flour has a different amount of gluten and consequently some types are preferable to others, so as to allow perfect leavening.
Flour 0, for example, has a low protein index (quantity of gluten contained) and for this reason it must always be accompanied by other types of flour, even if in minimal quantities.
Less refined flours such as wholemeal, on the other hand, allow the bread to be tougher and at the same time more durable, but it loses its softness inside.
For this reason, mixing two types of flours with different characteristics, which compensate for the amount of gluten of each other, allows for perfect leavening. A mix of different flours will make the bread softer and more durable over time.
2. Salt dosage
This ingredient must be used carefully because it could counteract leavening, for this reason it must be carefully dosed, avoiding adding it in excessive quantities, that is the one that allows the right compromise between the creation of the crunchy external crust and avoiding the increase in volume of the dough.
For this reason it must always be added as the last component, away from the addition of yeast. Only after the latter has been well blended can the salt be added to create a soft interior and a crunchy exterior, which lasts longer.
3. Work the dough a little
It is difficult to understand when to stop kneading or what the perfect consistency is for the dough.
The use of a professional mixer allows you to avoid these errors, giving the dough a perfect consistency so that it can be started correctly for leavening.
Properly woven, the dough forms a compact gluten mesh, so as to trap as much carbon dioxide as possible.
4. The temperature of the place chosen to let the mass rest
The dough to rise properly should be left to rest in “leavening cells”, where the temperature is between 28 and 30 ° C and there are no cold currents, but the air is strongly humidified.
In other words, “Bread fears the cold”, this is the classic baker phrase. The dough must also be retouched several times in order to avoid the formation of a crust that is too resistant, which does not allow the microorganisms present in the yeast to continue to reproduce.
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The most mistakes made when baking bread
Before choosing the oven and after understanding how to structure the dough, it is necessary to study how bread is baked.
When the dough is placed inside the oven it goes through two cooking stages:
- First moment that allows the increase in volume;
- Second moment where the division between the crust and the crumb is formed.
The baking of the bread is carried out by the oven in a gradual way, first the crust is formed and then the heat reaches the crumb giving it the soft consistency. Thanks to the evaporation of liquids, a crust is formed when the outermost part reaches 100 ° C.
At this point it begins to release heat to the underlying parts and so begins the cooking process until you reach the innermost layer where there will be no evaporation, but only the condensation will remain since that part will never be able to reach the necessary degrees.
However, let’s not forget that to create a perfect crust it is also necessary to add a natural additive, such as barley malt. Not only does the crust depend on proper cooking, but also on the interaction that occurs between sugars and proteins.
This premise was necessary to better understand the physical and chemical dynamics that accompany the phenomenon. So in the case of baking bread, what are the most frequent errors that occur? We illustrate them below:
- Ineffective cuts on the surface;
- Do not use the “steamer”;
- Too high temperature;
- Missing the moment to bake.
1. Ineffective cuts on the surface
The crust is formed on the outside when it reaches the necessary temperature by activating the entire chain process, but with the formation of a certain thickness, this will create a kind of barrier that will prevent the bread from growing further.
Precisely for this reason, cuts are necessary on the surface that allow the heat to enter also inside, before it involves only the upper part. The beneficial effects are seen immediately due to the continuous expansion of the mass, without encountering any resistance.
2. Do not use the “steamer”
Another secret well kept by the experts is that, trivially, the steam helps the formation of the crust.
What does this mean? To have a crunchy and crumbly crust at the same time it is necessary to use steam, since it is precisely at 50 ° C that the yeasts and gases continue to expand the mass and if the surface is already rigid, this will stop the increase. of volume.
To accompany this process in an even better way, it is possible to spray the bread with water just before it is placed inside the oven, so having a professional oven that allows the insertion of a “steamer” helps the process.
In addition, it makes the final product of high quality, ready for the knife test, i.e. it will be crunchy and will not crumble when a slice is cut.
3. Temperature too high
If the crust is too hard and the inside is undercooked, this is the clear symptom of having chosen a cooking temperature that is too high.
On average, in a professional bakery oven the baking of bread is set between 220 and 275°C, the advice is to lower it by 20 ° C each time to fully understand what type of adjustment each type of dough needs.
The more the dough is moist, the more it will be possible to play with a high temperature, moreover it is also necessary to evaluate the shape of the bread in order to correctly set the cooking process, the ratio between the external surface and the internal mass indicates the right temperature to be adopted.
4. Wrong time to bake
After giving the dough its shape, the surface is very compact, this is because the gluten mesh at this moment is at its maximum strength and prevents the further development of bubbles that allow the bread to have greater softness.
If the bread were baked at this time, the crust would immediately form and this would prevent it from growing in volume any further, remaining excessively dense.
Otherwise, if it is inserted when too much time has passed and too many bubbles have formed, the yeasts will break the fragile barriers, consequently the bread will collapse becoming excessively stiff and heavy.
So when to bake? The perfect moment is when the volume will be double the starting one, so we will define it as the crucial moment.
Latest tips for leavening and baking bread
After evaluating these mistakes, there are certainly some tricks that can help you create the perfect baked product. As for leavening, the use of a professional mixer certainly contributes to making the job easier and more successful.
In addition, choosing the oven with the right features, such as the possibility of inserting the “steamer” and cooking on refractory stone, help to give the browning and smell of baked bread that everyone dreams of entering a bakery or biting into a slice.