Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Bread Diaries: Bread Baking Terminology A-Z

Who doesn't love fresh baked bread? Bread is heavenly in my home, and I love to bake it as often as I can.

I can bake bread like there is no tomorrow. It took a while of trial and error to learn the ropes to good bread, and I still continue to learn more every day. What I have learned  recently is that I don't use a lot of bread or baking terminology that is crucial in understanding not only recipes, but reasons for various techniques used in bread making. This brought me to the conclusion that I should be blogging more about bread, and the necessary information required to successfully "KNOW" your bread from the smallest ingredient to the reasons behind many techniques used by serious bread Artisans.

With that introduction, I believe my first Bread Diary will consist of common terminology used in bread making. Original sources are listed at the end. I have selected only common terms that I have or would use at this point. Additional terminology will be added as needed, or you can always share more by commenting on this post!


All-purpose flour:  This flour is great for quick breads, cookies, pasties and many other baked goods. It has about 10% gluten protein.

Aspect: The quality of the bread considering aroma, flavor, and crust.

Autolyse: The rest period during or after kneading that encourages gluten bonding, and often minimizes the amount of flour needed.

Baguette: While it is usually French bread, baguettes are long, skinny shaped loaves of bread. I see Italian Baguettes a lot in my area.

Banneton: An oblong wicker basket used for rising dough in a specific pattern.

Batard: Shorter, oblong loaves tapered at each end, torpedo shaped. 

Benching: Resting the dough in order to calm the gluten in fermented dough and make the dough easier to shape.

Biga: Using commercial yeast, this Italian pre ferment is added to enhance flavor and leavening of dough.

Bloom: This is the outer layer of your loaves. The color of the crust as well as the cuts or slashes to it.

Boule: Round loaves of bread. 

Bread Flour: 11 - 13% gluten protein. Good structure for hearth breads and rolls.

Build: The bread making process from starter to finished loaf. 

Caramelization: Browning of sugar at a specific temperature (325 degrees F.) Crust browning.

Convection Oven: Uses air to cook faster than conventional ovens.

Crumb: The texture inside the crust determined by the holes.

Degassing: This is when the dough has risen and is punched down to release the gases produced during the rising process and before shaping the dough. Any remaining holes from the gas that are trapped after punching down/degassing determine the amount and size of the holes in the final rise.

Direct Method: When all ingredients are combined for mixing all at the same time for the mixer to work. AKA: Straight Dough Method.

Docker: This can be any tool used to slash, score, or degas shaped dough.

Elasticity: How stretchable the dough is for shaping. The more it stretches before breaking, the more elasticity you have.

Enriched Dough: The addition of fats, sugars, and milk determines richness of enriched dough.

Fermentation: The yeast in dough feeds on the sugars and produces alcohol and carbondioxide. The gluten traps the gases in bubbles in the dough. The gases expand, and the dough rises.

Gluten: A protein in flour that makes the dough elastic when kneaded. Higher percentage gluten will provide a more elastic dough.

Hydration: How bread ingredients absorb liquid (water). Flour requires water absorbtion to form gluten, and yeast needs water to become active.

Indirect Method: Usually started with sponge or starter, the indirect method of making bread dough is done in stages.

Kneading: Working your dough with your hands to encourage gluten and provide a smooth and elastic dough.

Lame: A blade used to slash bread dough. It is like a rounded or curved razor blade.

Lean Dough: Dough that is void of fats and sugars.

Levain:   An intermediate starter or a type of bread, pain au levain, made from the starter.

Mash: Generally the use of boiling water in grain that activates some enzymes while deactivating others to enhance the flavor of the grain.

Meal: Milled grain that is not as fine as flour but has a sandy texture.

Mixing: Combining ingredients thoroughly either by hand or with an electric mixer.

Mother Starter: A natural yeast starter that is fed flour and water regularly in order to keep the wild yeast active and growing. It is used as yeast and also is a flavor enhancer. Mother can be used to make new starters as well.

Oven Spring: The rising that occurs during the first 15 minutes of putting the dough in the oven as long as the dough has not been over risen.

Poolish: Prefermented starter sponge made with a small amount of commercial yeast. French style.

Proofing: The process of allowing yeast to set until active and bubbly. Also, the final rise before baking.

Scoring: Slashing, or cutting slits in prebaked loaves for appearence and to control expanding.

Sponge: A prefermented starter that is thick and wet. Used to start bread dough. Provides leavening and flavor.

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