Introduction to my book: The Fun of Baking Bread!

This delightful book of creative bread recipes will be launching on Monday, November 14, 2016.


INTRODUCTION
 

"A slice of bread eaten is a million times more nourishing than a loaf of bread imagined." –Mokokoma Mokhonoana (quote used with permission)

Slow(er) Fermentation

BREAD IS more nutritious, delicious and shelf-stable when it has fermented slowly. I’m sure it will be no surprise to hear that the mass-produced bread we buy from the grocery store is wildly inferior to bread you can make at home.

Wheat bread has recently become unpopular – and for some good reasons. Aside from the quality of ingredients, readily available commercial bread is manufactured using industrial strength power mixing and lots of yeast – a method designed to make bread as fast as possible. The addition of sugar also speeds up the process. Unfortunately, wheat dough needs time to develop a culture of healthful bacteria, which contributes to flavour, shelf life and nutrition.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from one of these commercial loaves would be a sourdough loaf – raised only with "wild yeast." In terms of quality, flavour and nutrition, these artisanal loaves are exceptional. But – for most people, the level of commitment required to maintain a sourdough starter makes it impractical to make at home (see below: "Start a Sourdough?").

The bread we are making in this book falls somewhere in between these extremes. Here are some of the ways in which we will attempt to slow down fermentation, and thereby improve the quality of our yeasted breads:

  • Including an easy pre-ferment (see page 13)
  • Developing the dough slowly
  • Using minimal yeast
  • Refraining from the inclusion of sugar (even for traditionally sweet doughs)
  • Using room temperature water (instead of warm or hot water)
  • Optionally, sticking dough in the fridge overnight to ferment for a longer period of time

Start a sourdough?

If you are interested in starting, maintaining & baking with a sour starter, please do so! Baking bread with "wild yeast" and lactic acid bacteria is fascinating, rewarding and delicious – and there are numerous resources on the web to get you going. Just be aware that a sour starter requires devotion and regular attention – not unlike adopting a pet. If you already have a sour starter, feel free to try using it with these recipes (although please note that I haven't tested the recipes with a sour starter). Experiment using your starter (activated the night before) in place of the pre-ferment – even adding a tablespoon (or more) to the main dough and reducing (or eliminating) the instant yeast.