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Basic Bread Dough And Variations

BlackBookCooking's picture

There's something quite ethereal about making bread, whether you do it all from scratch and wait the time for the dough to prove, or whether you use a bread machine for all or part of the preparation and cooking process. I'm not sure if it the satisfaction of creating from raw ingredients or the whole growing of the yeast thing, but after making fresh bread, I always feel satisfied, and even more so once I've consumed most of the loaf straight from the oven slathered with creamy butter and honey.

I tend to only use bread machines to make the dough, then I shape and flavour the dough and bake the bread in the oven. You can do whatever suits. The bread machine method below assumes you’re only make to dough stage, so stop after point 2 if you want the machine to also cook the bread.

NB: You can vary the bread itself by changing the flour to a wholemeal or wholegrain.

Here's just a few varieties of bread you can make with a basic bread dough - Chelsea Buns, Cinnamon Loaf, Hot Cross Buns, Pull Apart Bread and Bagels.

Ingredients

3 cups white bread flour
1¼ pkt dried yeast
2 Tbsp powdered milk
2 Tbsp rice bran oil
1¼ tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
310ml water

Method

Method for Bread Machine

Preheat the oven if you plan on only making the dough in the machine.
Place all the ingredients in the following order (flour, powdered milk, oil, sugar, salt, water, yeast) into a bread machine then select the Dough Setting if you plan on making one of the variations below or the appropriate setting if you’re using the machine to do all the work.
Once the dough is made, remove it from the bread pan.
If you’re making a plain loaf, place the dough into a well greased loaf pan.
If you’re making one of the variations over the page, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll according to the style of bread you are making.
Lightly cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
Use the variation instructions to shape and mould or cut your dough and place into the appropriate baking tin.

Method by Hand

Place the plain flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and mix well to combine.
Make a well in the centre and add the water to the dry ingredients. The water needs to be lukewarm to activate the yeast and encourage it to grow. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined and then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8–10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. 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. You can tell when the dough has been kneaded enough by pressing your finger into the surface of the dough – if it springs back, it has been kneaded sufficiently. If the dough hasn’t been kneaded enough, the resulting bread will have a holey, crumbly texture and poor structure.
Shape the dough into a ball.
Oil a bowl then place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to lightly coat the dough surface with the oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and then place it in a warm, draught-free place to allow the dough to rise. The ideal temperature for rising bread dough is around 30°C.
Leave the dough in this spot until it is double its size. This should take between 45–75 minutes. When the dough is ready, it will retain a finger imprint when lightly pressed.
Once the dough has doubled in size. Punch it down in the centre with your fist.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead again for 2–3 minutes or until smooth and elastic and returned to its original size.
If you’re making a plain loaf, place the dough into a well greased loaf pan.
If you’re making one of the variations below, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll according to the style of bread you are making.
Lightly cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until the dough doubles in size again.
Use the variation instructions below to shape and mould or cut your dough and place into the appropriate baking tin.
Brush with a little milk, and bake for 30–35 minutes or until cooked and golden brown.

Variations

Chelsea Buns - Roll to a 35cm x 35 m square. Spread with ground cinnamon, Demerara sugar and either sultanas or mixed dried fruit, then roll the slab as you would for a Swiss roll then cut it into 3-4cm slices and place end side up, close together in a square or round cake tin.
Cinnamon Loaf - Roll to a 35cm x 35 m square. Spread with ground cinnamon and sultanas, then either roll the slab as you would for a Swiss roll and place the entire roll in a loaf pan, or, cut it into 3-4cm slices and place end side up, close together in a square or round cake tin.
Hot Cross Buns - Roll to a 35cm x 35 m square. Spread with ground cinnamon, and mixed dried fruit, then knead the ingredients into the dough. Next, cut the dough into even size amount about the size of your fist and knead each one again, moulding it then into a bun shape. Place the buns close together in a square or round cake tin and glaze with a sugar and water glaze (equal parts sugar and water heated and dissolved).
Pull Apart Bread - Roll to a 35cm x 35 m square. Spread with ingredients of your choice then knead them into the loaf. Then, pull off portions of the whole amount of dough and knead each one individually then place it into the bottom of a loaf tin, adding to the pile with each piece you pull away, until the tin is full of pieces off kneaded dough.
Bagels - divide the dough into 12 balls and allow to rest for 4 minutes.Bring 2 litres of water to boil and add 2 Tbsp golden syrup. With your thumb, make a hole in each ball of dough and pull open about 5cm, making a bagel shape. Place the shaped dough onto a cookie sheet and cover for 10 minutes. Lower heat under water for it to be simmering then drop 2 or 3 bagels at a time into the water for about 45 seconds, turning each once. Drain and place on greased baking sheets. Brush tops with some beaten egg white and top with your favourite toppins. Bake for 35 minutes, turning once for even browning. Bagels are done when they are golden brown and shiny.

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