The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking Exploratorium
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Bread LoafBasic Raised Bread
When you make this basic bread, you can see many of the principles of bread science at work.

Recipe Conversions

CAUTION
Kids, please don’t try this at home without the help of an adult.

   
What Do I Need? .

1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil (plus a little extra to grease a bowl)
1/2 ounce fresh, active yeast (compressed), at room temperature
1 1/4 cup warm water (approximately 80° F)
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
butter (optional)

Did You Know?
That different flours produce different textures? Chef Joan, who gave us this recipe, likes to combine both all-purpose and bread flour in this recipe because she says that the all-purpose flour absorbs more liquid, and results in a fluffy, light texture. The bread flour has more gluten, which gives the dough elasticity and makes it more dense.


• two bowls, preferably ceramic (ceramic bowls conduct heat more evenly than metal bowls)
• cutting board or marble slab (for kneading dough)
• plastic wrap
• a rolling pin
• a pan
• a towel
• a pastry brush

• a wire rack

   
What Do I Do?

 

1. Mix the sugar, oil, and yeast in warm water in a bowl. The yeast will “bloom” and grow.

Yeast Blooming

Did You Know?
According to Chef Joan, after you crumble the room-temperature yeast into a bowl with the sugar, oil, and warm water, the mixture activates. Chefs often refer to this process by saying the yeast has
bloomed, meaning it’s now ready to make dough.

 

2. In another bowl, mix the flours and salt. Put this bowl aside for a minute.

 
 

3. When the yeast has bloomed, put it and the other liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Mixing

 

4. Put the mixture onto a cutting board or a marble slab and knead it until the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic.

 
 

5. Grease a ceramic bowl with olive or canola oil, place the dough in this bowl, and turn the dough until there’s a thin coat of oil all over the dough.

 
 

6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl in a warm spot.

 
 
7. Wait about an hour, or until the dough doubles in size.

Tip
When you knead bread by hand, choose a surface that allows you some leverage; you’ll be using your arms and your full-body strength to achieve the final texture. Put some flour on the surface and keep some more nearby‚ as you may need a light dusting while you’re working.

   
8. After the dough has doubled in size, put it on a lightly floured surface and punch it down.

9. Knead the dough several times.

 
10. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, then roll the rectangle up into a round roll and place it into a well-greased, 9-inch loaf pan.
 
11. Set the loaf pan in a warm place, cover it lightly with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes. It should almost double in size.  
 
12. For a soft crust, use a pastry brush and coat the top of the dough with butter. For a hard crust, brush the top with water.
13. Bake the bread for about 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is brown. When you remove the loaf from the pan, it should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

14. Cool the loaf on a wire rack.

What’s Going On? .

The warm water reactives the yeast, which begins feeding on the sugar, creating carbon dioxide as a by-product. Adding water to the flour forms gluten, which helps hold the carbon dioxide inside the baking bread, giving it its lofty structure.

Share & Discuss
Talk about your results.
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