37. The first step in bread making, and without doubt the most important one, is the making of the dough. It consists in moistening the flour by means of a liquid of some kind in order to soften the gluten and the starch, to dissolve the sugar, and to cement all the particles together, and then combining these ingredients. Before the ingredients are combined, however, particularly the flour, the liquid, and the yeast, they must generally be warmed in order to shorten the length of time necessary for the yeast to start growing. Much care should be exercised in heating these materials, for good results will not be obtained unless they are brought to the proper temperature. The flour should feel warm and the liquid, whether it be water or milk, should, when it is added, be of such a temperature that it also will feel warm to the fingers. If water is used, it ought to be just as pure as possible, but if milk is preferred it should be used only after it has been scalded. The yeast should be dissolved in a small quantity of lukewarm water. Hot water used for this purpose is liable to kill the yeast and prevent the bread from rising, whereas cold water will retard the growth of the yeast.
COMBINING THE INGREDIENTS
38. As soon as the bread ingredients have received the proper treatment, they are ready to be combined. Combining may be done by two different methods, one of which is known as the short process and the other as the long process. As their names indicate, these methods are characterized by the length of time required for the bread to rise. Each method has its advantages, and the one to select depends on the amount of time and energy the housewife can afford to give to this part of her work. Persons who use the long process believe that bread made by it tastes better and keeps longer than that made by the short process; whereas, those who favor the short process find that it saves time and labor and are convinced that the quality of the bread is not impaired. The more rapid methods of making breads are possible only when yeast in the active state is used and when more of it than would be necessary in the long process, in which time must be allowed for its growth, is employed. However, regardless of the method followed, all bread mixtures must be begun in the same manner. The liquids, seasonings, and fat are combined, and to these is added the flour, which should be sifted in, as shown in Figure 3.
39. LONG PROCESS.--By the long process, there are two ways of combining the ingredients in order to make bread. One is known as the sponge method and the other as the straight-dough method.
40. The long-process sponge method is employed when sufficient time can be allowed to permit the natural growth of the yeast. To make bread according to this process, start it in the evening by warming the liquid and dissolving the yeast and then adding these ingredients to the sugar, salt, and fat, which should first be placed in the mixing bowl. Stir this mixture well, and then add one-half of the quantity of flour that is to be used, stirring this also. Place this mixture, or sponge, as such a mixture is called, where it will remain warm, or at a temperature of from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, through the night. In the morning, stir the remaining flour into the sponge and knead for a few minutes the dough thus formed. When this is accomplished, put the dough in a warm place and allow it to rise until it doubles in bulk. When the dough is in this condition, it is ready to be kneaded again, after which it may be shaped into loaves, placed in the pans, allowed to double in bulk again, and finally baked.
41. The long-process straight-dough method is a shortened form of the method just explained. It does away with the necessity of one kneading and one rising and consequently saves considerable time and labor. To make bread by this method, combine the ingredients in the evening as for the sponge method, but instead of adding only half of the flour, put all of it into the mixture, make a stiff dough at once, and knead. Then allow this to rise during the night, so that in the morning it can be kneaded again and put directly into the bread pans. After it rises in the pans until it doubles in bulk, it is ready to be baked.
The only disadvantage of the straight-dough method is that a stiff dough rises more slowly than a sponge, but since the entire night is given to the rising no difficulty will be experienced in carrying out this process. A point to remember, however, is that dough made according to this method must be kept warmer than that made by the sponge method.
42. QUICK PROCESS.--In the quick process of combining bread ingredients, there are also two methods of procedure--the sponge method and the straight-dough method. The chief differences between the methods of this process and those of the long process are in the quantity of yeast used and the length of time required for the bread to rise. More yeast must be used and much less time is required for the completion of the entire process. This shorter period of time is doubtless due to the fact that throughout the process, whether the straight-dough or the sponge method is followed, the mixture must be kept at a uniform temperature of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
43. The quick-process sponge method requires only about 5 hours for its completion, and the bread may be started at any time of the day that will allow this amount of time for carrying on the work. For this method, warm the ingredients and then combine the sugar, salt, fat, liquid, and dissolved yeast. Into this mixture, stir enough of the flour to make a sponge and put it where it will keep uniformly warm until it has about doubled in quantity and is full of bubbles. Then add the remainder of the flour, knead the mixture, and return the dough thus formed to a warm place. When the dough has doubled in bulk, remove it from the bowl to the kneading board, knead it slightly, and then shape it into loaves. Place these into the pans, and after allowing them to rise sufficiently, bake them.
44. The quick-process straight-dough method differs from the quick-process sponge method in that the entire amount of flour is added when the ingredients are first mixed, with the result that a stiff dough instead of a sponge is formed. As has already been learned, this stiff dough rises more slowly than a sponge, but it requires one rising less. It must be kept at a uniform temperature as much of the time as possible, so that the rising will not be retarded. When it has doubled in bulk, remove it from the bowl and knead it. Then shape it into loaves, place these in the pans, allow them to rise sufficiently, and proceed with the baking.