Friday, 3 June 2011

Guide to Making Homemade Bread pt 2

Kneading Dough
Start kneading the dough by turning it over several times and removing unwanted particles.  Fold it in half in your direction.  Use the heels of your hands to push it away from you.  Make a ¼ turn with the dough. 
Keep doing this until your dough has been smoothed out and feels springy.  The dough and your fingers should not be sticking to each other.  Add enough flour so that the dough does not stick to the board or whatever surface you are working on. 

Rising Of the Bread
Lightly grease the mixing bowl that you will use.  You can use butter or shortening.  Turn the kneaded dough into the bowl and make sure every part is greased.  Greasing keeps the dough from drying out as it rises while it's baking.  Use a clean cloth to cover it.  Store it in a warm area.  You can place it on an oven (gas or electric) and allow the dough to rise. 
When the dough rises to double of what it was, press your fingers on the top of it.  There should be an indentation when you are done pressing with your fingers.

Making Loaves
Make a fist and push the dough down in the center.  To remove the air, the dough edges should be pulled in the depressed part and pushed down.  Place it where the flour is spread out and turn it.  Shape the dough according to the instructions.
You can use loaf tins to put the dough in.  Make sure that they are thoroughly greased.  Or if you want free form loaves, use a cookie sheet and it should also be greased.  Cover the dough and watch it until it has risen to twice the size.  Since the dough will have more yeast the second time that it rises, it won't take as long to do that..

Preheat the oven to the specified temperature.  Put it in until you see a golden brown color on the outside.  You will know that the bread is done when you tap it with one or two fingers and it has a hollow sound.  Take the bread from the pans and place on a wire rack to cool.  You can add more butter on the top for flavor and a softer crust.

Baking can be a fun thing to do, especially around the holidays.  It's not difficult to make a loaf of bread, even if it's your first time doing so. Get all of your ingredients together.  For a regular homemade loaf of bread, you will only need flour, water, (or milk) salt, yeast, sugar and butter or vegetable oil for the fat.  
1.      Since you will have wet (liquids) and dry ingredients, you will need measuring cups and spoons.  You can also use a digital kitchen scale for dry ingredients.
2.      Use a measuring spoon to measure the yeast and put it in a large bowl.
3.      Turn on the water and feel it until it gets to room temperature.  Having the water at room temperature is very important because the yeast will work better.  Get a measuring cup and allow the exact measurement to the fill line.  The water should be poured in the same bowl as the yeast.  Stir the yeast and the water together.
4.      Get the milk, sugar, salt and oil and mix them together.  Put them in the bowl with the yeast mixture and stir.
5.      Put the flour (whatever measurement the recipe calls for) lightly in a measuring cup using a spoon.  Level off the capacity with a knife and get rid of any access.  The flour should not be packed in. 
6.      Place one cup of flour at a time in the bowl.  Knead the dough until it has a smooth texture.  You can add additional flour to keep the bowl and the dough from sticking to each other.
It is important that the ingredients are measured exactly as instructed.  If they are not measured correctly, your bread may not turn out right.  It could rise too high or not rise enough.  Or your bread may have a tough texture, being difficult to eat. 
This comes from putting too much flour in the mixture.  You can also have a loaf that is not sturdy enough to hold its own because you did not put enough flour in the mixture.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Guide to Making Homemade Bread pt 1

Guide to Making Homemade Bread
The Secret to Successfully Making & Baking Bread!

By {Chris Pell
Making bread is easy and once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to keep doing it.  There are different ways that you can make and bake bread.  Some people prefer doing it from scratch.  Others prefer using a bread maker.                                                                                  
In order to start making and baking the bread, here are the items that you would need to get started:
·        Flour
·        Yeast
·        Water
·        Large Bowl
·        Sugar
·        Fat
·        Mixing spoon
·        Pans to bake the bread in

Here is a little more information about the ingredients and actions that you’ll have to take when you are getting ready to make the bread:

Using Yeast
The easiest type of yeast to use is active dry yeast.  It should always be fresh, so make sure to look at the expiration date on the packets.  Having and using fresh yeast is important because you want the bread that you make be fresh as well.
For the water, you must get the temperature just right.  Water is used to make the yeast dissolve and added to a mixture of yeast and flour.  In order to get the right water temperature, get a thermometer.  The temperature is supposed to measure between 110 – 115 degrees after the yeast has dissolved in the water.
For a flour and yeast mixture, the temperature for the liquid must be between 120 – 130 degrees. 

Adding Flour
In order for the finished product to have the right quality, you have to choose the right kind of flour.  One of the best kinds of flour that will do your bread justice is bread flour.  Bread flour can make the best kind of bread. 
It has a high content of protein or gluten.  Gluten is important because it can make your bread have a special texture.  Gluten helps the dough to stretch in the form of a web.  When the yeast ferments, air bubbles will try to emerge.  Using gluten will trap them. 
All-purpose flour can also be used to make the bread.  Cake flour is not recommended because it doesn’t contain a lot of protein.  Your bread will not bake right due to the cake flour not being strong enough to deal with the gas pressure from the yeast.
With whole grain flours, there is not enough gluten to justify making a loaf of bread.  You would have to include all-purpose flour or bread flour to provide it with structure.

Using Liquids
Depending on what type of liquid that is used in the dough will determine how it will come out.  If you use water, the crust will be crisper and the bread will have more of a wheat taste to it.  If you use cream or milk, the bread will have a richer taste and a fine texture. 
Using cream or milk will cause the bread to brown quicker.  There is more sugar and butterfat included in the dough.  If orange juice is added, it will still be sweet and will help to kill the strong taste of the whole grain effect.

When you use shortening, oils or butter, the bread will have more flavor.  It's not a good idea to use margarine or whipped butter because they have water.  Water is also found in low fat items, so they are not good to use either.  Your loaf of bread will not hold up very well. 

Using Eggs
Your bread dough will have flavor when you add in the eggs.  Eggs also give the dough richness and color.  Eggs give your bread a nice taste.    

Adding Salt
Whenever you make bread, you should always include salt.  Salt helps with how the yeast is developed and the bread will not rise more than it's supposed to.  The bread will also have a good flavor.  Of course, there are some people who would prefer not to use salt.  They can substitute it with items such as yogurt to help the bread to rise normally.

Using Toppings
You can use different kinds of toppings to change the bread crust.  You can use an egg glaze with just the yolk and add seeds or nuts.  When you use an egg yolk for the bread glaze, it will make the crust shiny.  The crust will still be crisp and golden. 
If you want the bread crust to be crisp and chewy instead, spray a little water on the dough during the baking process.  If you want the bread crust to be soft, brush milk on the dough before baking it.  You can also use butter to make a softer crust.  These are some unique ways that you can experiment with bread crust.

Measuring Ingredients
Include enough water, milk or cream that is needed and heat it at the specified temperature.  Scatter the yeast over the liquid and allow it to sit.  This is to see if the yeast is fresh and active.  You will know if it is if it starts to rise and bubble.  You will be able to measure and mix the remaining ingredients to make the dough.

Mixing Ingredients
Create a round and deep dent in the middle of the flour.  Add the yeast, liquids and eggs.  Beat all of them every well.
You can slowly add the remaining flour that will be used.  When you get to the point where you can't stir with ease, you can stop.  Put flour on your board or surface where you will work with the dough.  Combine all of it into a ball.  If you need more flour, add it so that that your fingers and hands don't stick to the dough.

knife sharpening

Sharpening knives

Why it is most people will cut themselves with a blunt knife
Should a knife be sharpened every time you use it: Yes you should, every time I pick up my knife I will sharpen it, but I'm a Chef. Nearly everyone at home will have knifes in the kitchen and I'm sure most of them are blunt.
What's the different between a blunt knife and a sharp knife?The blunt knife if you have ever felt the blade of a knife to see how sharp it is. If you have you can easily tell if it's sharp or not. The cutting edge on a blunt knife looks more like a big oil tanker, wide and almost round, or if you have chopped without using a chopping knife. Never chop straight on to the work service this can fold one edge over.
The sharp knife:A sharp knife will have a V shape to it, most European manufactures sharpen their blade to 22.5 and the Japanese have there's in between 12-15 giving them a sharper angle giving it the poetical to cut thinner.
A sharp knife is a continue use of a steel the key is to keep the knife in a V shape. The blunter the knife the longer it will take to get sharp as you will have to remove the metal to get an edge back on it.
When to sharpen a knife: You should sharpen your knife every time you go to use it this way your knife will always be sharp. If you are doing a lot of sharpening you might want to sharpen it more that once.
Three ways to sharpen your knifes.
Whetstone: There are two types of stone you have the water one and the oil stone both work in the same way. If you have used them before they are by far the best way to sharpen your knives giving you the best possible edge. If you don't know what you're doing it won't, but don't worry at the bottom there is a short video of me showing you how to.
Steels: there are two types of steels you have the old-fashioned one where its round and you have the diamond steal. With the conventional steel you should keep this near your knifes so you sharpen all the time. To sharpen with a steel you the steel in your none cutting hand, away from you and your hand up at 3 o'clock, then with the heel of the blade you start at the end of the steel keeping it at a 45 degree angle then slowly going down the steel, then do the same on the other side of the blade. The more times you do this the quicker it will take so stick with it.
Ceramic steel: these don't work as well as the diamond steel they are about 70% affective but last a lot longer.
Diamond steel: these are very good for putting an edge back on a knife and you will take a lot less strokes than it would with a ceramic one.
Sharpeners and chantry: the pragmatist handheld models, the handheld knife sharpener, these are good if your not very good a sharpening knifes as they do all the work for you all you do is slide your knife towards you and that's it.
To summaries
· If you like to have sharp knifes the every time you use your knife use the steel before every job.
· If you have the skill to use a stone then this will give you the best edge on your blade
· the easiest way and quickest is to use a handheld sharpener or a chantry, with these you will always have the same angle on your knife
I hope this has helped you in keeping your knives sharp have a look at the short video below on sharpening knifes.
Kind Regards Chris pell