Sunday, February 19, 2012

Math in Bread Making

Yup, there's math in bread making. The amount of flour used determines the ratio of all the other ingredients in the bread. There's an actual formula professional bakers use to figure out their recipes.

Until recently, I've always just made bread by "feel"--adding water or flour to the dough as needed, but after reading up on bread baking, I purchased a scale as an experiment. I wondered if this would take the fun out of bread making for me. I want bread making to be relaxing and enjoyable, not dogmatic.

What I learned is that I'm, generally, heavy handed with the flour. For example, my 3 1/2 cup of flour is quite a bit more than 16 ounces. I always wondered why I end up adding much more liquid to the dough than called for in recipes. I guess one of the tricks of really good bread is to use just enough yeast to make the dough rise effectively. Changing the flour and liquid ratios affects the yeast's ability to do its job. So, by weighing out the flour, liquids and other ingredients, my doughs are more consistent. I'm moving over to the "weighing the ingredients" camp. It doesn't take that much extra effort and I do think it's making a difference in the quality of my bread.

What do you think? To weigh or not to weigh? That is today's question!


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