Have you ever tried baking bread from scratch and found out too late that you made a simple, yet fatal, error? Even experienced bakers can mess up in the kitchen, and small mistakes can lead to some unpleasant results. Baking bread is a wonderful experience. It’s a simple process yet you get to work with dough and you get to choose the shape this food is going to be when you are done. Here are a few common mistakes that bakers of all skill levels can have happen to them, and some suggestions to help you avoid these mistakes.
Killing The Yeast
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Yeast is a living organism and it has to be handled properly. Activating the yeast with warm water and sugar is the start of the rising process, the most important step in creating bread. Many bakers make the mistake of using water that is too hot, killing the yeast and stopping the activation before it gets started.
There is a simple solution to this problem. Pick up a good kitchen thermometer and use it when you are getting warm water to add to the yeast. A thermometer is a basic kitchen utensil, is usually inexpensive and most can give you an instant temperature reading. If the water is at the correct temperature the yeast will activate and your bread will rise perfectly.
Using The Wrong Flour
If you are trying to bake a loaf of whole wheat bread, you can’t add rye flour to the ingredients. While there is nothing wrong with mixing types of flours from a recipe standpoint, you probably won’t like the end result. Different flours will bake faster or slower, and some won’t absorb liquids as well as others. Follow your recipe and use the type of flour that is called for.
Forgetting The Salt
We have all done this, it is so easy to forget about the salt. Most bread recipes don’t use a lot of salt but you do need salt, both for taste and to make the dough rise properly. Forgetting to add salt results in very bland bread, and even effects the rising of the dough. Making your whole wheat bread flat on top.
The best solution for this is to use a post it note as a reminder to yourself, to add the salt to the whole wheat bread dough.
You can stick the post it note where ever you’re most likely to see it (fridge, recipe book, etc.).
Letting The Dough Rise Too Much
Another common mistake is when the bread dough is allowed to rise too much and it starts to sag over the edge of the loaf pan.
When the whole wheat bread dough is forgotten about, this usually happens.
Don’t fret, there is a solution: If the whole wheat bread is already in the bread pans when it over rises simply use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the excess dough off the sides of the unbaked loaves.
Separate and roll this dough into a few small balls of dough. Allow them to rise 20 minutes to 30 minutes on a small oiled baking sheet, and then bake them on 350 Fahrenheit, for 15 to 20 minutes as whole wheat rolls.
Another solution to help you keep from forgetting about your bread, is to use a timer which will beep loudly after the selected time period is up.
Using a timer can also help stop other bread baking catastrophes from happening. It’s little things like a timer and a thermometer that can help a lot as you learn how to bake like a pro.
Making Too Much Bread Dough
Fear not if the recipe you use makes too much dough for your family’s needs and you worry that the extra bread will grow stale before you use it.
It is perfectly safe to refrigerate unused dough for a few days and allow the whole wheat bread dough to finish it’s rising time once you get it out to use it.
You can use a freezer bag or plastic wrap over bowls that contain your whole wheat bread dough, to store it in your fridge and still prevent oxidation.
Over Baking The Bread
This happens to the best of bakers but it can be easily avoided. Be sure you follow baking temperatures and times strictly. When it’s time to remove your whole wheat bread from the oven, and again use a timer to remind yourself.
Remember that gas ovens and electric ovens vary in their temperatures. , if you’re using an electric oven you should bake almost all pastries on 350 Fahrenheit.
Sometimes a recipe will call for you to start baking a loaf of bread on a higher temperature, but will also usually tell you to turn the heat down after a certain amount of time.
Baking bread is fairly basic; you mix flour and salt with liquids (yeast, water, sugar and oil) in the correct steps, knead, let rise and bake. Problems can arise when you don’t pay enough attention to the recipe.
One good suggestion is to use your stand up mixer for mixing and kneading the bread dough. It will save you a lot of work, the ingredients get mixed together very well and you have the kneading done for you. Another suggestion is to get a loud kitchen timer. Use it to let you know when the bread is done rising and when the bread is ready to come out of the oven.