Bread Making, Part 2: It Tastes Right

nuts-270x167Once you’ve pulled a loaf or two of your own out of the oven, any time is a good time to start experimenting with ingredients. That’s right! It’s time to channel your inner food artist. Adding elements according to your own tastes or swapping them out based on your dietary needs will make you even more fond of the bread making process, and let’s not forget all the baker’s bragging rights you will earn!

Here are a few tips to get you started, based on the advice you are most likely to hear in our bakery-cafes and in our bread making classes.

Adding Hard Ingredients

The key to adding ingredients with substance (such as nuts, dried fruit) is to add them after you get to “the good dough stage,” which is what we call it when you have gotten the feel and consistency just right after mixing and kneading the dough. Use a light hand and not more than a couple of ingredients, as dough needs other dough to stick together. If you are swapping similar ingredients in a recipe, use the same volume as called for in the recipe.

Not Too Cold, Not Too Hot

Dough has to remain a certain temperature in order to bake evenly throughout. Adding frozen or cold items to your dough will keep it from fermenting (rising) and will probably leave it half-baked.  Room temperature is the safest bet. With the minimal extra time you might spend letting items defrost or slightly warm outside of the refrigerator, you’ll save time wondering what happened to your dream loaf.

Substitutions and Reductions

Sometimes people want to substitute flours. Instead of switching cup for cup, we tell them to use no more than 10% of the substitution flour to start. Then the next time they can go 20%, and keep raising the ratio until they have reached the threshold because the texture or flavor is compromised.

This baby-step approach works best with sugars and salt reduction, too. We recommend starting with half the amount. The change will result in substantially less flavor. Sugar can be reduced more easily than salt but might require less liquid, too, or more of another dry ingredient such as flour. If you reduce honey (our sweetener of choice), add more liquid or reduce the flour.

Endless Inspiration

At House of Bread Bakery Cafe, we use Grandma’s White Bread as a wonderful stand-alone that also makes a great building block for a wide variety of artisan bread. Our customers always want to know the secret to our specialty loaves. There’s no secret—just knowledge, which we are happy to share! Trust yourself to customize your own homemade bread in any way imaginable. Feel free to subscribe to our blog or bookmark this section so you can read the latest recipes and tips from House of Bread Bakery Cafe.

photo credit: pähkinöitä via photopin (license)