One Basic Bread Recipe
I have been experimenting with a basic white bread recipe that I have used for many years during my cooking career, a basic bread recipe that can be adapted to make numerous different breads and rolls. Basically bread comes down to; flour, leavener, liquid, and oil - cooked. The amounts and types of each plus 'flavor additives', how it is shaped, how it is proofed, and how it is cooked, determine the type of bread that results. Flour, plus the various grains, nuts and fruits, give the bread its body and identification. Leavener, (for these recipes, yeast), give the bread its volume. Liquid, be it water, milk, juices, give the binding quality that makes the paste that allows the dough to be worked and shaped. Oil, whether shortening, lard, butter, or margerine, lubricates the dough and allows for even proofing and baking. 1 regular size loaf takes: 2 1/2 (625 ml) cups of flour, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) active dry yeast, 1 cup (250 ml) of liquid, and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of oil. To this, all that is needed is to add a sweetener, and a flavor enhancer. And of course the proper method so that it all works and cooks and looks and smells and tastes like it was sent from heaven.
When we can master one basic bread recipe and gain an understanding of the types and proportions of ingredients; when we discover how each ingredient works to create the desired loaf; how subtle changes in ingredients and amounts effect the outcome of the finnished product, then we can venture into the full world of breads trusting in our knowledge and craftsmanship to produce any bread we want, without having to refer to a specific recipe. Want a chewier bread; use harder flour. Want softer bread, use softer flour maybe add an egg. Want a heavier crust; mist with water. Softer crust; butter the tops. Add some cereals; decrease the flour. Honey changes the flavor. German and East European breads are generally heavier. Italian breads are most often moister.
The greatest asset to baking quality bread is touch. Getting a feel for the dough, probably the main reason why I won't use our bread machine. I don't know what the result will be until it's cooked. Also I don't find square bread appealing. Please let me know your results, your successes, any discrepencies in the recipes or any ideas you may have that could be of benifit to other readers.
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