Bread is one of the most popular food items in Britain – bought by 99.8% of households – and there’s no denying that the humble loaf has had a bit of a glow up in recent years. From baguettes to brioche, focaccia to fougasse, spelt to sourdough, our tastes have expanded well beyond the sliced white split tin.
The popularity of baking bread at home surged during the lockdowns, leading to flour and yeast shortages as supermarkets struggled to keep up with our enthusiasm for Zoom-based bake offs. And a survey by The Grocer revealed that the pandemic has caused a permanent shift in baking habits, with 56% of respondents saying they will bake more in the future as a result of the lockdowns.
With all the processes and techniques involved in bread making, it can seem intimidating to try out for yourself. But it’s surprisingly easy with a bit of practice and patience – and we can offer you a hack that will make it even more simple. But first, let’s look at the key ingredients and processes.
Bread making ingredients
Bread requires just four main ingredients:
- Flour: Providing the structure in bread, flour contains proteins that interact when liquid is added to form gluten. This gluten forms into a framework that stretches to allow the air bubbles – created by the fermentation of the yeast – to be held within the bread. Strong bread flour contains more protein than ordinary flour, giving the bread structure and texture. Flours such as wholewheat and brown have less protein, so bread made using these tends to be smaller.
- Liquid: Essential for the chemical reactions that make bread rise, different quantities of liquid will be required depending on the type of flour used. Water or milk can be used – water produces a crisper crust, while milk produces a softer crust with improved flavour.
- Salt: As well as enhancing flavour, salt plays a key role in strengthening the gluten and controlling the action of the yeast, ensuring the dough doesn’t rise too quickly.
- Yeast: Yeast is dormant until it comes into contact with liquid. Once reactivated, it feeds on the sugars in the flour, producing carbon dioxide which gets trapped in the dough and causes it to rise. Many recipes will ask for instant or ‘fast-action’ yeast.
Beyond these main ingredients, you can also add fats such as oil or butter, which will enhance flavour, create a softer crumb and keep the bread fresher for longer, and eggs which will enrich the bread. Other possible ingredients include sugar, honey, spices, herbs, nuts, fruits, cheese and olives.
Bread making processes
When making bread by hand, there are several key stages, and the techniques and timeframes for each will depend on the bread type. Once the ingredients are mixed, kneading is essential for developing the gluten structure; the massaging motion elongates the gluten strands to allow for more air bubbles.
Proving gives the yeast time to ferment and produce the air that causes the dough to rise. The dough is then knocked back to remove the large air bubbles and create a more even texture, before being shaped. It’s then left to prove again before it finally goes into the oven.
A simple hack to becoming the best bread maker
With its simple store cupboard ingredients, bread is easy to conjure up at home. However, it’s a time-consuming process, and time is the one ingredient many of us don’t have much of these days. And this is where our Sensio Home Bread Maker comes in – the perfect hack for creating delicious, high-quality homemade bread easily and quickly.
The bread maker’s many preset programmes enable you to bake all manner of tasty breads, such as wholewheat, sourdough, French, sugar-free and multi-grain. And it can turn its automated hand to pizza dough, pasta dough, cakes, jam, yoghurt and sticky rice too.
To create your bread, all you have to do is put in the ingredients, select the programme you require and press start. That’s it – the bread maker will do the mixing, kneading, proving and baking for you – so you can just sit back and dream of spreading melting butter on your fresh warm bread!
If you love the smell of freshly baked bread, made to your liking whenever you want, head to our website to order your Sensio Home Bread Maker.