Bread Baking Tips

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Why is baking bread from scratch so much better than baking bread with a bread machine?

Bake Bread to Feel Better

Remember when you asked for a bread machine for Christmas, your birthday, or Mother's Day? You couldn't wait to get it and you had all kinds of ideas. Oh, there was going to be a whole lot of bread baking in your house. And for a while…there was! After a while, the novelty wore off, and now that bread maker doubles as a planter. The main reason for the disinterest has a lot to do with the dissatisfaction of using a bread maker. Sure, it's easy, but there's no art to it. A chef's motto (amateur or professional) should be, “If you can't beat it, don't bake it.”

Bread baking is a cathartic experience. Where else can you punch something in your kitchen and not get arrested? You could punch your bread machine, but that would just hurt. Not only is bread baking cathartic, it's also a great stress reliever. You know those squeezy balls you can buy for the office? They're soft and pliable and feel so good when you squish them in the palm of your hand. Bread baking does the exact same thing, only better, and you get the benefit of that heavenly aroma. You can't eat a squishy ball. You can eat your own homemade bread. Convinced yet? The next time your hands ache to strangle something, get out the bread dough and ply-till-you-die.

Why should I even bother learning to bake my own bread?

Making Bread a Priority

Foiled again! Have you completely sworn off baking your own bread? Tried every trick in the book and still can't get it right? There are a lot of variables that go into bread baking and a lot of little mistakes that can wreck an otherwise perfect bread recipe. Precise measurements, the proper flour, and room temperature can impact the quality of the bread. You could be doing everything right, with the exception of one little thing. The problem is, unless someone tells you what that one little thing is, you're just going to frustrate yourself.

Don't give up! Visit a culinary school and look into registering for a part-time evening class, a bread making workshop, or hire a chef to work with you one-on-one to perfect the bread of your dreams. Yes, you can throw in the proverbial towel and the world won't come to an end. You can go out to the nearest department store and buy the most expensive bread machine on the market. You're going to love reading a book by the gentle hum of the bread maker, watching and waiting while those casually tossed ingredients mix and churn, mix and churn. Just wait until you see that perfectly formed bread bullet. The only time you'll ever have to touch it is to slice it up. Sounds satisfying, doesn't it? No, it really doesn't.

Get out your priority list and write at the top of the page, Learn to Bake Bread. Then go out and do it! The best part of life are all the little accomplishments along the way, including mastering the art of bread making.

Won't eating bread make me gain weight?

Craving Those Nutritious Carbs

For a while, practically everyone on the planet was on a low-carb, or no-carb, diet kick. While pastry chefs cringed in disgust, the world set out to slowly starve themselves by depriving their busy bodies of important carbohydrates. While the pendulum has swung back a bit, there are still those out there who tout low-carbing it as the way to go.

In reality, every diet book out there should be taken from the shelves and replaced with a new one that focuses only on eating certain foods in moderation. The fact that you eat bread doesn't determine your weight; the amount of bread you consume does. What's a glorious plate of pasta without freshly baked garlic bread, or a hearty sandwich made from homemade rye bread? If you've shunned the wholesome carbs of freshly baked bread, it might be time to rethink the plan.

By taking amateur bread baking courses, you can learn to do it yourself, add your own nutritious “extras” and avoid the highly processed, bleached bread from market shelves. When you're baking your own breads, you get to be your own nutritionist. The more comfortable you get with baking breads, the more you'll be able to experiment with ingredients. That means you know exactly what's going into your own food. There's no reason not to enjoy the flavor and nutrition of home-baked bread!

What's the best way to learn how to bake bread?

Bread Baking Learning Styles

Oh the things you can do with bread! If Dr. Seuss had written a book called Brown Breads and Jam, every chef in the country would have been lined up for a signed copy. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available for fantastic bread recipes. They're not written in clever rhymes, but they're a great way to try out your bread baking skills, especially if you're a beginner chef.

Different learning styles might dictate the kinds of resources you use to try your hand at bread baking. For example, if you're a visual learner, you might be able to pick up some basic skills by watching a professional chef on television. Likewise, if you're a hands-on kind of learner, you might do best by registering for amateur bread baking lessons. There's no harm in trying it on your own, but if you're serious about being an amateur, take a course.

Once you get the taste for your own homemade bread, you'll never turn back. Imagine making a batch of garlic bread or zucchini bread to freeze for when company comes. You can easily pop a loaf out of the freezer when needed, or even use bread loaves as unique gifts. If you've got even the slightest interest in bread baking, determine your best learning style, and then get to it!

Is the art of bread baking really becoming extinct?

CSI - The Bread Baking Crime Scene

CSI has a team on a massive manhunt for the best zucchini bread recipe around. Apparently that recipe was handed down to an undisclosed recipient, at which time the recipe was severely butchered and left to dry out in a dank closet somewhere. If you know anything about badly botched zucchini bread recipes, contact CSI (otherwise known as the Culinary School Investigation team) to register for courses. Your involvement in part-time studies, or amateur cooking classes, might just go a long way in avoiding the unnecessary slaughter of innocent zucchini bread recipes.

Okay, okay…there really is no Culinary School Investigation team. There are, however, culinary schools ready to take registrations for amateur baking classes. If the plight of zucchini bread recipes isn't your biggest concern, you could always sign up for other bread baking specialties like pastries, breakfast breads, Parisian breads, Italian breads, and more!

Bread baking is becoming an extinct art form in many kitchens across North America, but you can help. Dig out your wallet, register for a bread baking course, and let the world know that you're not going to allow bread baking to settle quietly into the history books.

How many steps go into baking bread?

Bread Baking in 13 Steps

The next time someone rings your doorbell, walks into your kitchen, and catches you with white flour all over your nose, tell them you're in the 13-step program. That's right, the 13 steps to bread baking program!

Mixing, fermentation, punching, scaling dough, rounding, benching, panning, proofing, baking, cooling, and storing are all key components in bread baking. There was a time not so far back in history when daily bread making was the norm. If bread wasn't made daily, it was at least made on a regular basis, maybe weekly or monthly. Large chain grocery stores cater to most people's baking needs, but even with that “home style” label on the package, it isn't nearly the same as baking your own bread.

Make sure to buy a big bread box because as soon as you taste your own homemade bread, you're going to want to make a lot of it. Would it be great to make your own baguettes, pita, or sour dough focaccia? There's no need to be intimidated with bread baking. Once you've got an amateur cooking class under your apron, you'll be able to reacquaint yourself with your kitchen. Pretty soon, your friends and family will be lining up down the block for a taste of your freshly baked homemade bread.

What's the biggest motivator for wanting to learn how to bake bread?

Getting Motivated for Bread Baking

If the most action your kitchen has seen lately is a big ball of tumbleweed rolling across the floor, it's time to reclaim your space. Don't be scared, those big things along the wall are appliances and if you open the cupboards, you might even find the basic ingredients required to bake your own bread.

One of the biggest motivators for wanting to create sweet, sticky, pastries and breads is an upcoming holiday or social gathering. You could hire a caterer, or you could take a course and learn to bake your own breads and pastries. Why not take it a step further and enroll in enough cooking courses to start your own catering business?

Even if the prospect of running your own catering business is a little over the top for the time being, the thrill of serving your friends bread from your own oven is worth the cost of an amateur cooking class. If you're taking a course in preparation for an upcoming event (wedding, anniversary, milestone birthday party, Christmas, etc.) that you happen to be hosting, keep in mind the type of bread you want to make. Even though you're bound by the curriculum being used by the school, keep in mind the type of specialized bread you want to make. That way, you'll be ready to ask specific questions and take lots of notes. The basic skills you learn in class should be enough to get you on your way.

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William Pirraglia