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How to Bake Bread


Baking the Bread
The dough rose. Now it's time to get out your aggression and punch it back down. Then, we'll show you how to create quick breads.

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Here are a few bread recipes from our collection:
Quick breads are breads that are leavened without yeast. Baking powder and baking soda are often used as the leavening elements. Steam can also be used to act as a leavening agent, as with popovers.

Punching Down the Dough

After the dough has risen, it is full of air pockets.

To work out the excess carbon dioxide and redistribute the yeast, the dough is punched down.

The most common way to punch down the down dough is to pound the dough with your fist. (A side benefit is that it helps people feel more calm after a stressful week.)

To punch down the dough for baking bread:
  1. Push down the center of the dough with your fist. (Soft, sticky dough is stirred down with a wooden spoon rather than punched.)

    Punching down the dough removes air pockets when baking bread.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Punching down the dough
    removes air pockets.

  2. Push the edges of the dough into the center using your fingertips. The dough is now ready to rise again or to shape, depending on the bread recipe you are using.

    When baking bread, all the dough is rolled back into the center, it's ready to rise again.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    When all the dough is rolled back
    into the center, it's ready to rise again.


Quick Breads

Unlike the yeast dough above, quick breads contain baking powder or baking soda to make the dough rise. They require very little mixing or kneading and no rising time prior to baking. Bake these breads immediately after they are mixed so the leavening agents do not lose their power.

Quick Dough Breads

Biscuits and scones are the most common quick dough breads. Solid fat, such as butter, margarine, or shortening, is cut into dry ingredients to start the process.
These breads may be kneaded very briefly to bring the dough together for shaping. Too much kneading will make the breads mealy and tough.

To make quick dough breads:
  1. Cut the solid fat into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

  2. Add the combined liquid ingredients and stir the mixture just until the dough clings together.

  3. Biscuits and scones are ready to eat when their top and bottom crusts are an even golden brown color. Follow specific cooling instructions in each recipe.
Quick Batter Breads

Muffins, coffee cakes, tea breads, and pancakes are the most popular quick batter breads. Pancakes, also known as flapjacks, are one of the world's simplest and versatile forms of bread.

To make quick batter breads:
  1. Add the combined liquid ingredients to the combined dry ingredients and stir only until the mixture is evenly moistened.

    Stir until mixture is evenly moistened when making quick breads.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Stir until mixture is evenly moistened.

  2. Pour onto prepared pans. The batter should look lumpy; too much stirring or beating will give the breads a tough texture with lots of holes and tunnels.

    Quick bread batter should look lumpy when poured.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Batter should look lumpy when poured.

  3. If cooking pancakes, flip to cook on both sides.

    Flip pancakes for even cooking on both sides when making quick breads.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Flip pancakes for even cooking.

  4. These quick breads are completely baked when a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Follow specific cooling instructions in each recipe.
Storing Quick Breads

Quick breads can keep up to three months if stored correctly.

To store quick breads:

Store quick breads in plastic bags at room temperature for up to three days. Freeze them tightly wrapped in freezer bags or heavy-duty foil for up to three months. Reheat frozen breads wrapped in foil in a 300°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes.

The last steps before eating fresh bread are to shape the bread and finish the crust. The final section tells you how.


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