People who make bread: Hello! I’m glad you came back to Bread Making 101. The first time you see this column, check out our introduction post. You’ll learn what we’re working on and meet the four stages of bread-making: mixing, proofing and shaping, baking, and eating and storing bread, as well as how to keep your bread fresh for a long time. (stand mixer)
In our last post, we talked about how to mix the workhorse loaf and gave ourselves a primer on how the chemistry works when we mix flour, water, salt, and yeast to make dough.
During this lesson, I will explain how the dough rises, and we’ll get to know our new friends, the billions of yeast cells that make our wet blobs of dough into pillowy and airy things, better. Then, we’ll figure out how to divide and shape the dough, and we’ll try to figure out how to make loaves without making too much of a mess of ourselves, too.
When we last left off, we had just finished making our dough and had just put it in an oiled bowl. This is where our dough will start to rise, or bulk ferment, for the first time. This is also called its bulk proof. That’s a good question. There are many different ways to proofread. During all this, what does a baker do? The dough is rising while we talk about the basics of rising and the words we need to talk about them.
There is a lot of yeast in the process of Yeast Fermentation at its core. Single-celled yeast is a type of fungus that is found all over the world. When we make bread, we usually use Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which isn’t hard to say. There are more than 1,500 different types of yeast, and they can be both helpful and harmful. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about baking yeast that comes in the form of fresh cake yeast, active dry yeast, or instant, it’s all the same species. Different strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae are also used to brew beer, and especially ales, which are a type of beer. For bread, it’s important to remember that commercial yeasts are all the same species and strain. This is important when we choose which one to use. They will all go dormant at 40°F, and they will all die when they are baking at 130°F. Even so, let’s quickly talk about the pros and cons of each of the most common types:
Rising (stand mixer)
Bread that has been baked gets bigger. The reason we call them leavened is that they have been mixed with flour. For a baker, this is called rising. Rising is the most dramatic physical change that a dough makes because of the work of the yeast. Rising is the result of a process called respiration, which happens at the same time as fermentation, which we’ll talk about next. S. cerevisiae, on the other hand, has a real sweet tooth. You can think of it as a tiny Cookie Monster. flour is full of starches, chains of sugars smaller than glucose or sucrose. This is why flour is so good for you: it has a lot of starches.
It was during the autolyze that our flour and water came into contact. Enzymes called amylases started breaking down the flour’s starches into these simple sugars, which the yeast love to eat. As the yeast eat the sugars released by the starch, they spit out carbon dioxide, and that gas gathers in tiny air bubbles as they do so. It’s the same air bubbles that we added to our dough when we mixed it. Our dough has a gluten structure that holds these bubbles in place. This structure will get even stronger during bulk fermentation. It makes bread that is bigger and more open when there is a lot of carbon dioxide and gluten in the dough. As the yeast breathes, our bread grows.
What happens when yeast cells eat and go to the bathroom? It’s about what happens when yeast cells eat sugars and make alcohol and other chemicals. The alcohol made by the yeast during the process of fermentation, as well as a lot of other reactions, are what give great bread its unique flavors and aromas. Most of the time, more fermentation makes bread that tastes better. In the most technical terms, fermentation is an anaerobic reaction, which means it happens without oxygen. After respiration, which is aerobic and needs oxygen, the yeast performs fermentation, which is anaerobic.
Most often, proofing is used to describe the last rise dough has, which happens after it’s been shaped into a loaf and before it’s baked. There are times, however, when the words proof and fermentation are used together. It’s important to know that shaping dough changes its physical shape, but it doesn’t change its internal chemistry. The processes and chemical reactions that happen during our bulk and final rises are the same.
So, let’s take a good, hard look at the dough that all of us have just made and then start working again with a little patience.
How do you fold dough? (stand mixer)
However, we bakers do have some important work to do during the bulk fermentation, which is when the dough is made. During the bulk rise, it’s time to fold or turn our dough. This is one of my favorite parts of making bread because I love folding the dough. A good fold lets us look into a dough’s heart.
So, why do we have to fold dough? The reason for this is many. To start with, folding dough makes it have a lot of gluten structure. First, we stretch and layer our gluten. This helps our dough hold water and air better. Our baked loaves have a more open crumb structure because we trap more air in our dough when we move it. It also helps to fold the dough, which moves the yeast and its food around, so each Cookie Monster gets what they need. The folding dough also helps to keep its temperature stable, so that it stays the same through its weight. When we fold our dough, we can control the activity of the yeast and keep our dough on time.