Bread is one of the most common foods to eat but one of the hardest to make. The first step to being able to bake bread is to understand all the ingredients. If the baker knows the purpose of each ingredient then it will be easier to understand the process and it will be easier to bake the bread.
The flour is the first ingredient but there are a few different types of flour that are often used. White flour is used to create gluten and to cause the flour to rise. Gluten flour is similar to white flour but has a higher percentage of gluten proteins. Whole wheat flower contains little to no gluten but contains plenty of nutrition fibers.
Leaveners are substances used in dough that results in a foaming that softens the finished bread. The most common leaveners are bakers’ yeast, natural yeast and baking soda or baking powder. All of these leaveners are similar but natural yeast imparts even more flavor than the others without sacrificing the good qualities of the leaveners.
Liquids that are used in bread making usually have a similar role. The liquids combine with the leaveners to form the gluten. The liquid also help the dough rise and certain liquids will make the bread appear to be lighter.
Another important ingredient in making bread is the sweetener. Sweeteners include ingredients such as sugar, syrups and honeys. Obviously sweeteners add flavor to the bread but their job goes beyond that. Sweeteners are also important for making the bread heavier, the crumb moister and the crust darker.
Any good bread recipe will also have some sort of dairy product. Dairy products in a bread recipe have three roles. The dairy products will ad protein to the bread, dairy products will tenderize the bread and dairy product will enhance the color of the bread’s crust.
Eggs are another must for making bread. Each part of the egg has its own role in making bread. The whites of the eggs are used to lighten and strengthen the bread dough while the yolks of the eggs are present to moisten the bread and provide emulsifiers. Together the entire egg will lighten and strengthen the bread without making it too dry.
There are several spices that are added to bread to add flavoring. Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, allspice, cardamom and ground caraway are not only used to enhance flavor but also improve yeast activity. Other spices, like dry mustard and salt, will add flavor but actually slow down the yeast activity.