Bread Making Process

The six stages of bread making are the same for when bread is made by hand, assisted with a mixer or in a bread machine, using Bread Mix or when making from ‘scratch’. Bread machines and mixers make some of the more physically demanding steps easy. The bread at the end result is the same- fresh, healthy and very appetizing.

1. Accurate weighing of ingredients

The best quality product is achieved when the Bread Mix, water and yeast are used at the recommended proportions, each ingredient relative to the others is more important than the overall quantities.

The instructions with each pack of Laucke Bread Mix provide a recipe with weights and volumes. The use of an accurate set of scales to weigh the Bread Mix and Water will provide the most reliable results, even though weighing ingredients may be more time consuming than using cup measures.

Laucke recommend using Tepid warm water when making bread by hand, mixer or if your bread machine does not have a pre-heat setting.

2. Mixing and kneading the dough

Kneading distributes the yeast evenly through the dough and develops and strengthens the gluten in the flour to form the framework of the bread. A well developed dough can be identified by pressing your finger (firmly) into the surface of the dough - if it springs back, it has been developed/kneaded sufficiently. Underdeveloped dough will result in a holey, crumbly texture and poorly structured bread

Place all dry ingredients into a mixer or bowl keeping the yeast away from the salt where possible, add water and mix/knead the dough until well developed. The time taken will depend on machine or hand as well as temperature of ingredients and quality of ingredients.

Using a Bread Machine: Add all the ingredients to the bread machine in the order recommended by the bread machine manufacturer. Set the machine on the dough setting to make the dough for you.

Using a Mixer: Attach the dough hook to the mixer, and place the yeast, Bread Mix and water into the mixing bowl. For optimum performance, the temperature of the dough after mixing should range from 28 to 30ºC. During warmer weather it is preferable to use cool water, and during colder weather use tepid (warm) water. Turn the mixer on Speed 2 to mix and knead the dough for at least 6 minutes or until it is fully developed. A useful method to determine if the dough has been developed fully, is to conduct a Window Test

Kneading by Hand: When kneading by hand, considerable effort is required to achieve the desired smooth and elastic dough necessary for best results. Hand kneading dough can take up to 10 to 20 minutes to ensure the gluten in the flour is sufficiently developed. Conduct a Window Test to determine if the dough is fully developed. The best way to knead is to use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you and then lift it with your fingertips and fold it over itself towards you. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat.

 Window Test

1. Pinch off a piece of dough.

2. Using both hands, grasp opposite sides of the piece of dough with your fingertips.

3. Slowly pull your hands apart and stretch the dough by approx 3 - 5cm.

4. The dough should look like a window with a thin membrane in the centre.

STOP KNEADING: If the dough forms a window-like membrane and stretches without breaking.

KEEP KNEADING: If the dough doesn't stretch easily and tears.

3. Proofing the dough

When finished mixing and kneading, gently shape the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, that is double the size of the dough to allow for expansion/proofing of the dough and seal with lid, plastic wrap or damp tea towel to prevent a skin from forming on the dough whilst resting as it will affect the proofing process. Then place it in a warm, moist, draught-free place to allow the dough to rise/proof. This could be in an esky or microwave with a bowl of hot water to provide the humid environment. The ideal temperature for proofing/rising bread dough is around 30°C. Leave the dough to proof until it is double its original size.

This can take anywhere between 40-80 minutes, depending on the temperature of the proofing environment, temperature of ingredients and type of recipe. When the dough is ready, it will retain a finger imprint when lightly pressed. If left to rise for too long, the bread texture will be uneven and have large holes. If not left for long enough, it may have a heavy, dense texture. The slower the rising, the more even and close the bread texture will be.

4. Divide, knock back and shape dough

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently degas by pressing the dough out evenly with your hands. Divide the dough into required size pieces. Round the pieces of dough into a ball, this is a gentle “knock back” or degas for the dough as well as an intermediate shape. Cover the dough, allow it to rest before final shape/mould.

The knock back releases excess carbon dioxide produced by the yeast during rising so the final bread won't have a "yeasty" flavour. The intermediate shape brings the dough together and the rest allows the gluten to relax making the final shape/mould easier.

5. Final proof

Shape the dough by flattening out the round of dough and shape or cut into the desired shapes. A light spray of water on the loaf will allow seeds to be sprinkled if desired. Leave the bread to rise in a warm, moist environment until the loaf almost doubles in size. The time may vary depending on environmental conditions - humidity and temperature.

6. Bake

In a hot preheated oven until golden and baked through. The best way to tell when the loaf of bread is baked is to tap it on the base with your knuckle - if it sounds hollow, it is baked. Turn the loaf immediately onto a wire rack to cool. If left in the pan, the loaf will sweat and the crust will become soft and soggy.

A good rule of thumb is time bakes and temperature colours; therefore if bread is too dark and not baked, reduce temperature of oven and increase the baking time.

Bread making machines

Laucke Flour Mills was the first milling company to produce a product designed specifically for the bread machine.

Bread Machines have been designed to replicate, as closely as possible, the traditional process of bread making. Some compromises in design and execution have been made so that the mixing, kneading, proofing and baking processes, temperature and humidity control are all performed in the one container. Some Bread Machines work better than others as manufacturers respond to different marketing and design objectives.

We have found that the best results are obtained on the four hour cycle, or on cycles providing extra kneading and proofing. The shorter cycles often dont allow enough time for the yeast to act on the ingredients, and while extra yeast on a shorter cycle can provide enough volume, the loaf will tend to lack flavour, and will have inferior crumb texture, colour and keeping qualities.

Laucke recommend you learn to monitor and adjust the amount of water used, as this will vary with the water quality, climate and ingredients. Take care to avoid machine damage by mixing too “tight” a dough, or too much dough for your particular machine.

Bread Machine Assisted Hand Made Bread

The bread machine can also be used to mix and knead the dough, leaving the shaping, final proving and baking to be done separately. To bake Tin Loaves, Bread Rolls, Baguettes, Pizza or Cob Loaves by hand; the bread machine recipe may be need to be altered:

YEAST: Superior results may be obtained when baking by hand if you double the yeast quantity from the standard bread machine recipe on the Laucke Bread Mix pack.

WATER: Reduce the water quantity by approximately 10% of the bread machine recipe so the dough will not be too soft and sticky to handle.

BUTTER/OIL: If adding butter, oil or margarine, reduce the water proportionately.