Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bread Basics - Forming Loaves

When I described the rising and baking process, I omitted the loaf forming step! I'm not sure I can describe this in words! I'd much rather have you all over and show you! It is so much easier then it sounds! But I'll give an attempt and hope you ask questions if it doesn't make sense!

There really is no wrong way to form a loaf of bread. I enjoyed seeing different methods described in various cook books. You really can just pull off a ball of dough, place it in your bread pan and smooch it into the corners! Here is the way I form a loaf that seems to result in a smooth evenly shaped loaf.

Loaf Bread

First divide your dough into as many loaves as you plan to make. Cutting the dough with a knife is better then pulling it apart, but both work. Grease your bread pan. I find that solid shortening like Crisco works better because vegetable oil is just absorbed in the dough. Slightly grease your counter top with some vegetable oil. You may flour the counter if you like but I prefer oil.

With a rolling pin, roll your dough flat, pushing out the air bubbles. My goal is to make the dough about as wide as my bread pan, and as long as needed.

Roll up the dough from the short end, squeezing the dough together with your fingers as your roll.

Then, tuck the ends of the dough underneath.

Place it in the greased bread pan, seam down.

Smash the dough down into the corners, until it's well flattened. Now you are ready to sit the dough in a warm place to rise! (The whole paragraph took you much longer to read then it ever takes me to actually do it!)

Long Loaves (such as French bread)

Grease a baking pan.

Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, squeezing out the air bubbles.

Roll up the dough beginning on the long side. When rolled, squeeze the seam tightly to seal it and place the dough seam down on the baking sheet.

Add topping, such as sesame seeds and slit. Allow to rise.

Round Loaves

Grease a baking sheet. Divide dough into as many loaves as desired. Oil your hands and pick up one lump of dough. Form into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough and pulling around to the bottom. Keep rotating the ball in your hands and stretching until you have a smooth ball on top. The bottom with be lumpy. Place the ball of dough onto the greased pan. (Is that clear as mud?)

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