Bread making basics

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These notes are condensed from 'Beard on Bread' by James Beard, 1974, Alfred A. Knopf, NY

Flour:

To make yeast bread we need wheat flour, which contains a protein called "gluten." When we stir and knead dough, gluten is the ingredient that makes the elasticity, holds the gas caused by the fermenting yeast, and creates the architectural plan of the bread.

The flour called 'all-purpose' is wheat flour. It comes as both bleached and unbleached and the sturdier unbleached is preferable.

All-purpose flour is not the best flour for making breads. The choicest kind is the hard wheat flour used by professional bakers.

There is no standardization of flours from one brand to another or from one part of the country to another. No two flours on the market really react alike, experience is the best teacher to the right flour to use for a particular bread.

Barley Meal is a coarsely ground version of the whole barley kernel. Barley flour is a finer milling of the kernel and is generally used mixed with wheat flour.

Whole-wheat flour is different in texture from whole meal flour; meal flour is more coarsely ground and contains rough bit of bran and crushed kernels.

Rye meal is differentiated from rye meal in the same way; it is rough and bakes into a more crunchy loaf.

Bran is found in whole-wheat flours and meal and is also sold by itself. It is very coarse and has little to offer save its' texture.

Graham flour is whole-wheat flour that includes the bran.

Gluten is the protein component of the grain. Gluten flour has had practically all the starch removed and is widely used in diatetic breads.

Wheat germ is the sprouting part of the seed and is often removed from flours because it contains fat and limits the storage properties of the bread.

Whole-wheat kernels are the whole seeds of the wheat plant and contain germ, the bran, and the gluten. Some people like them whole in breads to add texture, but they must be cooked first.

Cracked wheat is a coarsely ground whole-wheat; it adds a crunchy taste and nutty flavor to breads.

Buckwheat is a triangular seed (originally called beechwheat) that is native to Russia and was brought to Europe during the Crusades.

Buckwheat can be ground in your blender, and is used mainly in buckwheat cakes and pancakes, and for blini.

Stone ground flour has been milled by stone rollers. It is apt to be coarser and heavier than modern milled flour; you will find that you need about double the yeast when you are making bread with stone ground flours.

Hard-wheat flour is usually made from spring wheat and is noted for its' mineral content and for making firm, rather elastic breads.

It is called 'Strong flour' in England.

Soft flour comes mainly from the Midwest and is noted for its' smoothness, which is an asset in making pastries and cakes.

Soybean flour is finely ground soybeans. It is generally added as an enrichment rather than used as a flour, and it has a low fat content.

Brown rice is milled into a heavy, dark flour which has a very rich flavor and gives a heavy character to anything to which it is added.

Submitted By ROBERT WHITE On 03-03-95

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