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Ultimate Guide to Understanding Dough In Baking

Baking

  • 7 Min Read
  • 24th December, 2022
Divijaa

By Divijaa

Ultimate Guide to Understanding Dough In Baking

Bread dough is a mixture of flour, water, yeast, and salt that is kneaded together to form a cohesive mass. Making bread dough is a relatively simple process that can be done by hand or with the help of a mixer.

Bread dough

What Is Proofing: Types of Proofing & how to proof

Proofing, also known as fermentation, is the process of allowing bread dough to rise and develop flavor. During proofing, the yeast in the dough consumes sugars and produces carbon dioxide gas, which causes the dough to expand and become lighter and airier.

There Are two types of proofing:

1. Primary Fermentation

This is the first stage of proofing, during which the dough is allowed to rise until it has doubled in size. This usually takes place after the dough has been kneaded and shaped, and before it is baked.

Primary Fermentation

2. Secondary Fermentation

This is the second stage of proofing, during which the dough is allowed to rise a second time after it has been shaped into its final form. This usually takes place after the dough has been placed in a loaf pan or on a baking sheet, and before it is baked.

Secondary Fermentation
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To proof bread dough, you will need a warm, humid environment. The ideal temperature for proofing dough is around 80-85°F, and the humidity should be around 70%. You can create this environment by placing the dough in a covered container, such as a large mixing bowl, and covering it with a damp cloth.

You can also place the dough in a warm, humid place, such as a proofing box or a turned-off oven with a pan of hot water on the bottom rack.

It's important to monitor the dough during the proofing process to ensure that it doesn't overproof or underproof. Overproofed dough will be very soft and may collapse when baked, while under proofed dough will be dense and heavy.

To test if the dough is ready to be baked, gently press your finger into the surface of the dough. If the indentation slowly springs back, the dough is ready to be baked. If the indentation remains or the dough collapses, the dough needs more time to proof.

How to knead the dough

Kneading is the process of working and folding the dough to develop the gluten, which gives bread its structure and texture. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to knead bread dough:

1. Dust your work surface with flour and place the dough on top.

2. Flatten the dough slightly with your palms.

3. Using the heels of your hands, push the dough away from you with a slight rolling motion.

Kneading dough

4. Fold the dough back over itself towards you.

5. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the process.

6. Continue kneading the dough for 5-10 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic.

7. As you knead the dough, it may become sticky. If this happens, dust your work surface and your hands with a little more flour to prevent the dough from sticking. You may also need to add a little more flour to the dough if it is too wet or sticky. On the other hand, if the dough is too dry, you may need to add a little more water to moisten it.

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Kneading by hand can be a bit of a workout, but it's a great way to get a feel for the dough and to develop a sense of how much flour or water it needs. If you prefer, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to knead the dough.

what does gluten do: function of gluten strands

Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. It gives bread its structure and elasticity, and allows it to rise and hold its shape. When flour is mixed with water, the proteins in the flour combine to form gluten strands. These strands help to trap the gases produced by the yeast during the proofing process, which makes the dough rise and become light and airy.

Gluten helps dough to rise

When you knead bread dough, you are working and folding the dough to develop the gluten strands. As you knead the dough, the gluten strands stretch and become more organized, which helps to give the bread its structure and texture. The longer you knead the dough, the stronger and more elastic the gluten strands will become

how to test dough if its ready - window pane test

The window pane test is a way to determine if the dough has been kneaded enough to develop the gluten strands, which gives bread its structure and texture. To perform the window pane test, follow these steps:

1. Flatten a small piece of dough into a rectangle with your palms.

2. Using your fingers, stretch the dough out into a thin, transparent sheet, or "window pane."

window pane test for dough

3. Hold the dough up to a light source and look for any tears or holes.

4. If the dough stretches easily and does not tear or break, it is ready to be proofed. If the dough tears or breaks easily, it needs to be kneaded more.

The window pane test is a good way to check the dough's readiness because the gluten strands should be strong enough to stretch without breaking when the dough is fully kneaded.

It's important to note that the window pane test is not a foolproof method, as the elasticity of the dough can be affected by factors such as the type and amount of flour used, the humidity and temperature of the environment, and the age of the yeast.

However, it can be a useful tool for checking the dough's progress during the kneading process.

how to store dough for proofing

There are a few different ways to store dough for proofing (the process of allowing the dough to rise):

1. At room temperature: If you plan to use the dough within a few hours, you can cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature to rise. This method works best in a warm, draft-free location.

dough can be stored at room temperature

2. In the refrigerator: If you won't be using the dough for a while, you can place it in the refrigerator to rise more slowly. This method works well for dough that requires a longer fermentation time, such as sourdough bread. To refrigerate the dough, simply cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

3. In the freezer: If you want to store the dough for an extended period of time, you can freeze it. To freeze the dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then place it in a resealable plastic bag and seal the bag. The dough can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. To use the frozen dough, thaw it in the refrigerator until it is soft and pliable, then allow it to come to room temperature and continue with the recipe as directed.

Plastic-wrapped dough to store

Regardless of which method you choose, it's important to keep the dough covered to prevent it from drying out. You may also want to lightly oil the surface of the dough to prevent it from sticking to the cover.

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 When you think you're ready, learn to bake bread the easy way!

Faq

Frequently asked questions?

How do I know if my bread dough is ready to be baked?

The dough is ready to be baked when it has doubled in size and passes the "poke test." To do the poke test, gently press your finger into the dough; if the indentation springs back slowly, the dough is ready. If it doesn't spring back at all, the dough has over-proofed and may not rise as much in the oven. If it springs back quickly, the dough needs more time to rise.

To prevent bread dough from getting too sticky, make sure to use the correct amount of flour for the recipe and to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. You can also dust your work surface and hands with a little flour to prevent the dough from sticking.

Yes, you can use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour in most bread recipes, but the bread may not rise as much and may be slightly denser. Bread flour has a higher protein content, which helps to create more gluten and a higher rise.

Bread dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months. To store in the refrigerator, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a resealable plastic bag. To store in the freezer, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then place it in a resealable plastic bag and seal the bag. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator before using.

Yes, you can use a bread machine to make bread dough. Many bread machines have a "dough" setting that will mix and knead the dough for you. You can then remove the dough from the machine, shape it as desired, and bake it in the oven.

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