Bread is a food that has been a part of culture around the world for centuries. It comes in many different forms, but they all have one thing in common: a mixture of flour and water baked until it is soft and fluffy.
Breads are made through a process called fermentation, which breaks down the starches in flour into sugar and alcohol. This creates carbon dioxide gas, which makes the dough rise. The dough also contains gluten, a gum-like substance that helps to contain the bubbles.
Flour, a finely milled grain, is a key ingredient in bread. Its protein forming components, glutenin and gliadin, provide the structure on a chemical level that allows a bread to rise.
When mixed with water, these proteins are converted into a soft and elastic substance called gluten. It’s the gluten that makes bread chewy and dense.
It also helps give baked goods their characteristic texture and taste, making it a staple in many baking recipes.
There are several types of flour that can be used in bread, including all-purpose and bread flour. Depending on your goals and personal preference, you’ll want to choose a variety that will work well for your recipes.
Choosing the right kind of flour will make all the difference in the world to your finished product. For instance, if you’re looking for tender and fluffy baked goods, all-purpose flour is ideal, but if you prefer a chewy bread, try swapping out the all-purpose for bread flour.
Water is a key ingredient in bread making, and it plays many roles throughout the dough’s baking process. It hydrates flour’s starch particles and proteins to allow the dough to flex into gluten, which helps it form the final crumb structure.
Flour contains small sugar molecules containing three hydroxyl (-OH) groups that are hydrophilic, or friendly to water, and interact with other water-soluble ingredients in the dough. They’re most commonly 12-carbon sugars and six-carbon sugars, but some flours also contain water-soluble pentosans.
These chains of hydroxyl groups mingle together when water is added, and they form sticky globules that help the bread rise. These soluble sugars can also help to give a bread its color and flavor.
Water also plays a role in how bread is stored. A low water activity product like a soft roll should be kept in a sealed packet to keep it moist. But a high water activity product like a sourdough loaf should be left to expel some moisture and be allowed to breathe.
Salt is a common additive in bread making. It is used to enhance the flavor, aroma and texture of bread. It also helps preserve the baked goods from staleing.
Sodium chloride is a mineral that occurs naturally in the ocean and in rock salt mines. It is processed through solar evaporation and other means to produce salt in larger quantities.
It is also essential for the production of gluten, the dough structure that gives bread its strength and ability to hold carbon dioxide gas during fermentation. Without it, the bread dough would not be able to hold sufficient carbon dioxide and it would rise much less efficiently.
It also retards yeast fermentation which allows more sugars from the flour to be available to caramelize during the bake. This gives bread crusts a darker colour.
Yeast is an eukaryotic single-celled microorganism that is an important part of many foods and drinks. It’s used to make bread, beer and wine, as well as kombucha, soy sauce, and miso.
During fermentation, yeast feeds on sugar (sucrose and fructose), producing carbon dioxide and alcohol in the process. These gases are trapped in the elastic web of gluten that makes up bread dough, causing it to rise.
When making bread, yeast is added to the flour mix along with water and salt. The mixture is then kneaded and left to rise. It is usually shaped into loaves and then baked.
You can use either dried granular or fresh yeast to make bread, but it is best to proof the yeast before adding it to the dough mix. This is done by leaving it in a bowl of warm water with a pinch of sugar for about 5-10 minutes, as per the packet instructions.