While it can be a time-consuming process, I find that baking my own bread is worth the effort. It’s so much better than anything you’re going to get in the grocery store (although possibly not better than Art Is In for those of you in the Ottawa area… Damn, now I’m craving their walnut and fig sourdough bread). Here are a few things that I’ve figured out through baking bread over the past few years:
- Bread flour will give you a chewier bread than all-purpose flour will.
- Make sure that your liquid is warm but not too warm. If it’s too cold, the yeast won’t be activated. It it’s too hot, you’ll kill the yeast. Test it by holding the tip of your clean index finger in the liquid for about 10 seconds before adding. If it’s the right temperature, you shouldn’t scald yourself but it also shouldn’t be too easy to keep your finger in for that long.
- Ensure that you’ve included sugar for the yeast to feed on. This can be honey, white sugar, molasses, etc.
- Brushing the top of the loaf with an egg white and water wash before baking will give you a really nice crust.
- To check if your bread is cooked through; remove it from the pan and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow then it’s done. Let it cool completely on a rack before slicing and freezing (of course, a warm slice with butter is mandatory!).
- If you’re making gluten-free bread don’t wait for it to finish cooling before you freeze it. This applies to all gluten-free baked goods.
If you have any great bread baking tips please feel free to share them in the comments.