Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Making Dough by Hand

Why would you want to make dough by hand and not opt out for say a bread machine or even a stand mixer? Haven't you heard that old saying, "the fruits of your labor?" Well incase you haven't, it means the results of one's work. Haha, yah, you get it don't you?

Dough made by hand will yield a more "fruitful" i.e. flavorful bread, and that's a fact! When you knead by hand, the fermentation process is a lot slower than the fermentation that occurs when kneading by machine, thus producing more flavor in your handmade bread. It's a beautiful experience to make something completely with your own hands, ask any craft artist! Also, it's easier to know when your dough needs more water because it's too dry or when it needs more flour because it's too wet. The best way is to feel it with your hands: you can feel the correct level of suppleness that a dough needs. Though learning that point does take a little practice. (And a few good tips)

So without further adieu:

First, pour your flour onto your workspace and make a well in the middle.

In the well add your egg, yeast and water. Mix until everything looks dissolved.
(If your recipe doesn't call for an egg, then you'll just skip that part. And if your recipe calls for milk instead of water, you just substitute the milk for the water.)

*If you're wondering what that yellow stuff is sitting around the wall of flour, I broke up my butter and bread improver into pieces and put it around the wall of flour. You don't have to do it that way, I just do it out of habit and I think it's just nicer visually. ☺

Oh, and in this particular case I happened to have mixed and dissolved my yeast and water first before adding the egg, but it doesn't really matter when you add your egg in just as long as you add it in before mixing the flour with your liquids.

Next slowly begin to incorporate your flour with your liquids in the center by taking flour along the inner rim of the wall. You'll notice what is in the center get's thicker. Continue gradually pulling flour from the inside of the wall to the middle and mixing until thick enough not to run. Notice how the butter and bread improver are not being mixed in yet.
(Tip: Be careful not to break down the 'wall' of flour or else you liquids will run off your table or workspace. It's a big mess that happens)

When you've begun to form a rough dough (in other words when there is no more liquids), it's safe to add in your butter/margarine, sugar and the optional bread improver. Now you just mix everything around.

Continue mixing the dough. Lastly, throw in the salt and mix it in. 

Once the salt seems mixed in well, begin to knead the dough intensively for 10 minutes. Then roll into a ball and let the dough sit and rise under a kitchen towel for 10-15minutes. Continue with your normal bread recipe instructions... 

And that's about it! It's really much more simpler than it sounds isn't it? Let me know if you have any questions. I'd love to hear comments from your own experiences making dough by hand! :) 

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