The Twelve Steps of Bread Baking
Step 1: ScalingAll ingredients are measured. We would like to recommend two things for this step:
- Measure all wet and dry ingredients by weight.
- Use a formula that is expressed in "baker's math" or "baker's percentages."
This step concludes when all ingredients are accurately measured and lined up in order of use, as well as all tools and equipment are ready for the second step in the bread-making process.
Step 2: MixingIngredients are combined into a smooth, uniform dough; the yeast and other ingredients are evenly distributed through the dough, the gluten is developed, and fermentation is initiated.
Step 3: Bulk or Primary FermentationThe dough is allowed to ferment. Fermentation is the process by which the yeast acts on the sugar and starches and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Step 4: FoldingThe purpose of this step is to degas the dough, and we do that for four reasons: to expel some of the carbon dioxide, and avoid by that chocking the yeast; to allow the gluten to relax a bit; equalize the temperature of the dough; and to redistribute the nutrients necessary for the yeast’s continued growth.
Step 5: Dividing or ScalingThe dough is divided or scaled into the desired individual portions.
Step 6: Pre-shaping or RoundingThe portioned dough is loosely shaped into smooth, round balls. This organizes the dough into consistent pieces and makes the final shaping easier and more efficient. It also stretches the gluten on the outside of the dough and forms a skin that helps it retain the gases produced by the yeast.
Step 7: RestingThe benching or resting lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes and relaxes the gluten, making the final shaping of the dough easier.
Step 8: Shaping and PanningThe dough is formed into its final shape and placed in the pan or mold that it will be baked in. Hearth breads that will be baked directly on the oven deck are placed in bannetons or between the folds of baker’s linen.
Step 9: Proofing or Final FermentationThe dough goes through one final fermentation. The dough should be placed in a temperature and humidity controlled environment to allow the bread to rise to the desired volume before baking. Optimum rise for this stage is 80 to 85 percent of the dough’s overall volume.
Step 10: BakingThe dough is baked. The dough is often scored with a sharp knife prior to baking. This allows the bread to expand without bursting.
Some of the important changes that occur during the baking process are:
- Ovenspring: The initial, rapid expansion of loaf volume that is caused when the trapped gasses in the dough expand as a result of the high heat of the oven. The yeast remains active in this final fermentation process until it is killed at a temperature of about 145°F (63°C).
- Coagulation of proteins and gelatinization of starches: This contributes to the formation of the crumb and sets the structure of the loaf. This begins at approximately 140°F (60°C) and continues until the temperature reaches between 180°F and 194°F (82°C and 90°C).
- Formation and browning of the crust: This begins when the surface of the dough reaches 212°F (100°C) It occurs in baked goods in the presence of heat, moisture, proteins, and sugars and continues until the surface temperature reaches 350°F (175°C). Further crust color and flavor develop with caramelization that occurs between temperatures of 300°F and 400°F (149°C and 204°C). When the bread reaches a maximum internal temperature of 210°F (99°C) the bread should be properly baked. Other signs that mark the completion of the baking process are a golden brown crust and a hollow sound emitted when the baked loaf is thumped. The baking process is now complete and the bread is ready to be cooled and stored.