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Bread Baking  

A guide to the art and science of baking bread
Last Updated: Nov 23, 2015 URL: http://libguides.nccuslis.org/content.php?pid=684405 Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Why Bake Bread?

Bread is eaten all over the world, and it is available almost everywhere to purchase: grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, and local bakeries. If it is so readily available, why bake bread at all? Perhaps people consider bread to be a kind of grocery staple like milk, eggs, or sugar, that they could never produce themselves. Not true! Anyone can bake bread. Baking bread is rewarding, fun, and will result in food more delicious than anything found on a store shelf. 

So why bake bread? 

Improved Health: bread can have a bad rap. The public has become more aware that simple carbohydrates and processed foods can be detrimental to one's health. But homemade bread doesn't have to betray one's good health. Big brand breads are indeed filled with oils and sugars to change textures and taste as well as stabilizers and chemicals to improve shelf life. This strategy is a way of covering up mediocre food that will never be as tasty or as fresh as what can come out of your own oven. At home, bread can be made with conscious health decisions. At its essence, bread is merely comprised of flour, water, salt, and the rising agent, yeast. To follow this simple formula, the home baker can adjust the bread's flours, perhaps with more healthful whole wheats, and bake without any added fats or sweeteners. 

Improved Control: make the bread to your own tastes! At home, you can of course adjust the bread to your own personal preferences. Experiment with new flour mixes, adding as much white flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and so on, as you like it. Perhaps add your own spices, seeds, or nuts. 

Improved Flavor: before you pick up a loaf of bread at the store, it has to first arrive from a factory many miles away. It simply will never be as fresh as what you can produce yourself. And as you find your favorite recipes, nothing will beat the flavors you have tailored to your own preferences.

Fun: baking bread is just plain fun! Be proud of producing food better than anything you can find at the grocery store. It is personally rewarding to gain new skills. And the result of your hard work is something delicious to enjoy and share. 

 

A Loaf of Your Own

This libguide will help users connect with information on how to make delicious bread at home. The guide introduces basic bread baking concepts, outlines how to stock a bread baker's kitchen, and highlights notable titles and online resources for recipes and further reading.

 

The Wheat Kernel

The wheat kernel is where basic flour begins. Nowadays, it is common to find flours made of other grains such as rice or quinoa. But the classic loaf of bread relies on flour crafted from the wheat kernel. The bran at top is the protective shell of the kernel. The bran contains a great deal of fiber. The endosperm contains the kernel's carbohydrates and proteins. The endosperm is ground on its own in order to make white flour. The germ contains the genetic makeup for future propagation. It also contains the kernel's fats and and many minerals, and is quite flavorful. When these three components are ground together, the result is whole wheat flour. 

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R. Scott Frawley
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Challenges & Rewards

Nothing should discourage you from baking bread. But is important to enter the kitchen with the right attitude. At its core, bread is merely composed of flour, water, salt, and yeast. A modest four ingredient recipe can be liberating to the intimidated cook. But keep in mind that with only four ingredients, there is also potential for error. Ultimately, the quality, or lack of quality, of the ingredients will shine in the final bread. And slight changes of one ingredient means a larger change in the final dough overall. Baking is a science, and bread's simplicity also rests on precise techniques and methods. The improvisation common in standard cooking procedures can be detrimental to bread. But at the end of the day, your bread will still be a unique, tasty, handmade creation. After learning a few simple easy formulas and kitchen tricks, it will be easy to move past numbers and math and getting right to pulling your next delicious loaf out of the oven! 

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