Better Bread-Making: Get the Flavor You Crave
Welcome to the Better Bread-Making Series!
Why do you love bread? I know why I love it. That intoxicating aroma that dances out of the oven when you open the door is just the beginning. Does it make you swoon a little? Me too. The only thing I love more than baking bread is eating it.
What goes on top? Butter, jam, maybe a drizzle of honey? Great bread can stand on its own without these things – but hey, jam makes things better. And butter. Don’t ever forget the BUTTER!
But Sarah, how do you bring out the flavor in my breads? At the most basic, it comes down to yeast and the length of the fermentation process. There’s more for sure, but this is the foundation.
The fermentation is where the flavor really begins for your bread loaves. Think of beer or liquors like whiskey. The grains and yeast have to ferment for a long time in order for that flavor to develop. It it didn’t, the flavor would probably be bland. Do you want that big yeasty taste or something more subdued?
Longer fermentation = more flavor
Shorter fermentation = less developed yeasty flavor
After you’ve made your dough and let it rise, you have the option to put it through a second rise, and for even more flavor, pop it in the refrigerator for an overnight cold ferment. This allows you to slow the yeast down and protect your gluten from over-developing and exhausting while you build flavor.
Both options require you to de-gas the dough. De-gas: A fun way of saying press the air out of the dough.
- For this step, press the dough with your hands. Some people like to use their fist and punch down the dough. Or push on it with your palms/fingers and watch it go flat.
- Next, reshape the dough into a smooth ball and let it rest in the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap for a second rise before forming it into its final shape.
- And if you want that much deeper flavor, let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. Refrigerating will slow the yeast down considerably.
- When you are ready to make the bread, the trick is to form it while it’s cold, and allow it to rise as it comes to room temperature as it would do naturally. This process of letting it rise may take more than an hour since yeast is slow when it’s cold.
Note: If you want a longer ferment, do not add acid to your recipe. We cover using acid to make the dough rise faster in another post of this Better Bread-Making Series. Acid also adds to the flavor. Catch that post HERE.
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