BREAD-MAKING PROCESSESACQUIRING SKILL IN BREAD MAKING
35. The nature and the quality of the ingredients required to make bread, as well as the utensils that are needed for this purpose, being understood, it is next in order to take up the actual work of making bread. Several processes are included in this work; namely, making the dough, caring for the rising dough, kneading the dough, shaping the dough into loaves, baking the loaves, and caring for the bread after it is baked. When the finished product is obtained, the loaves are ready to be scored and served. A knowledge of how to carry out these processes is of the utmost importance, for much of the success achieved in bread making depends on the proper handling of the ingredients. Of course, skill in manipulation is acquired only by constant practice, so that the more opportunity the housewife has to apply her knowledge of the processes, the more proficient will she become in this phase of cookery. Each one of the processes mentioned is here discussed in the order in which it comes in the actual work of bread making, and while the proper consideration should be given to every one of them, it will be well, before entering into them, to observe the qualities that characterize good wheat bread.
36. Good wheat bread may be described in various ways, but, as has been learned by experience and as is pointed out by United States government authorities, probably the best way in which to think of it, so far as its structure is concerned, is as a mass of tiny bubbles made of flour and water, having very thin walls and fixed in shape by means of heat. The size of the cells and the nature of the bubble walls are points that should not be overlooked.
Each loaf should be light in weight, considering its size, should be regular in form, and should have an unbroken, golden-brown crust. The top crust should be smooth and should have a luster, which is usually spoken of as the "bloom" of the crust. Taken as a whole, the loaf should have a certain sponginess, which is known as its elasticity, and which is evidenced by the way in which the loaf acts when it is pressed slightly out of shape. As soon as the pressure is removed, the loaf should resume its original shape. This test should produce the same results when it is applied to small pieces of the crust and to the cut surface of the loaf.
The internal appearance must also receive consideration. To be right, wheat bread should be creamy white in color and should have a definite "sheen," which can best be seen by looking across a slice, rather than directly down into it. As already explained, the holes in it should be small and evenly distributed and their walls should be very thin. These points can be readily determined by holding a very thin slice up to the light.
The flavor of bread is also a very important factor, but it is somewhat difficult to describe just the exact flavor that bread should have in order to be considered good. Probably the best way in which to explain this is to say that its flavor should be that which is brought about by treating the wheat with salt. While such a flavor may not be known to all, it is familiar to those who have tasted the wheat kernel.