By Nick Ambeliotis
Homemade bread is sweeping the nation as people look to baking to fill their time in quarantine. Whether you are baking a cake, cookies or a fresh loaf of sourdough, incorporating these tips and tricks will help bakers of any skill level make delicacies at home.
- Choose your source wisely
Finding a well written recipe is key. Not all recipes are tested and accurate. I like to choose an established cookbook author or reputable food website that has tested the recipe. Once you choose the recipe read it from start to finish before you begin. This may seem like common sense, but it is important to learn the whole process before tackling the individual steps. It can prevent mistakes once you are in the baking process.
- Prepare your ingredients before you begin
A good first tip to follow is to have all the ingredients on hand and measured before you begin baking. High-quality and the correct ingredients are the foundation for any recipe. I recommend using heritage grain flour, if you can find it, when baking bread.
- Invest in a home digital scale
After sourcing the best ingredients, measuring them accurately is critical. Measuring spoons and cups are not as accurate as a scale. Most recipes today will provide volume measurements. Learning to use the scale’s taring feature can also be handy when weighing different ingredients into the same bowl.
- Invest in an oven thermometer
The temperature gauge in your home oven is not always accurate. The thermometer might say one temperature but be baking at a completely different temperature the whole time. Oven thermometers are cheap and read more accurately. Once you know if your oven is a few degrees off, you can then set it and correct it as needed. Also, monitor the loaf when it is baking. If it is getting too dark on one side, rotate it. Don’t just put it into the oven and forget it.
- Take your time
Making and baking bread takes time. Longer proofs allow for the dough to develop more flavor. I recommend allowing the dough to proof for up to three hours. Then when kneading it, take your time. Rushing the kneading will result in a poor structure crumb.
Bread dough can be forgiving so if you don’t get it perfect don’t stress. Keep practicing and learn new techniques. Pulling a hot, fresh loaf from your oven is a great joy.
Nick Ambeliotis is the founder and owner of Mediterra Bakehouse. Mediterra Bakehouse produces more than 20 flavors of bread plus seasonal options and is sold at stores throughout the Valley and served at the finest resorts.