How Low Can You Go
Fitting breadmaking into today’s average hectic schedule will likely take some planning.
And if you’re working to streamline your breadmaking as much as possible, how much time can you shave from the process without sacrificing the quality of your loaf?
Since time is always of the essence for me, I have experimented with bread kneading and first-rise times. My conclusions:
- Two mix/knead cycles of no less than 15 minutes are necessary to producing a quality loaf of bread.
- The reason: both yeast action and gluten activity are necessary to achieve a high, light rise. If either one of these elements falls short, the loaf of bread will too!
That being said, there are multiple ways to streamline your bread baking process to keep your time frame right at 2 hours total.
From my personal experience and testing, the most effective way to shave time off your bread baking activities is to make your own bread mix. Mixing the amounts of flour and salt (gluten if you use it) and storing it in the refrigerator or freezer until you need it really shaves time off bread baking activities.
Creating your own bread mixes also allow you to vary your recipes and use a variety of grains/ingredients to achieve your bread baking goals.
Don’t hesitate to measure your yeast when creating your own bread mix. Just be sure to store it in either a small container or something such as plastic wrap so it doesn’t come in contact with the rest of the bread ingredients. Commercial mixes do this, too.
I wrap my measured yeast in plastic wrap and tuck it on the top of the flour mixture, which I typically store in a 2-quart glass jar.
Other bread-baking shortcuts you can take:
- The night before you know you’re going to bake, assemble all equipment, utensils, and your bread mix on the cupboard. Although this only takes a few minutes, it will still save time when you prepare your dough. It can also head off any unexpected issues such as equipment failure, missing utensils, etc.
- Bread machines are great time savers when it comes to baking bread. If you haven’t been using one, you may consider adding it to your kitchen equipment since you’ll be able to work at numerous other projects while your bread dough is mixed, kneaded, and goes through the first rest. Looking for second-hand bread machines can be an economic way to obtain one. All you really need from it is accurate cycling and thorough mixing/kneading. You can finish your loaf in a bread pan in your oven.
- Timers that remind you when it’s time to prepare your bread pan, check your final rise, pre-heat your oven, etc. can also be great time savers, as they allow you to give your attention to something else while these bread-making activities are underway. A microwave timer, wind-up timer, etc. – and sometimes both – can help you speed through bread baking with ease!
Photo by Loretta Sorensen.
Long time journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! and regularly shares information about whole grains and bread baking. You’ll find her book on her blog site at bakeyourbestever.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine,Our Dakota Horse Tales, and on Pinterest and Facebook.
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