These notes should answer any questions that come to mind as you venture into breadmaking, and as a beginner having a read through will ease your way nicely.
1 I would encourage you to make your dough by hand, at least initially. That way you become familiar with how the dough feels and changes at different stages in the process.
2 Upon first mixing, the dough will be sticky. This is absolutely normal: please don’t be tempted to add further flour here to alleviate the stickiness – the dough will become stiff and lifeless. Classic schoolboy error, and the number one reason we’re likely to give up on our breadmaking adventure.
3 I don’t knead my doughs (although you can if you wish to) as it’s not necessary (you can’t believe it, I know!). Some of the wetter doughs -focaccia, ciabatta, sourdough – we make require a regular stretch and fold to build the strength and structure in the gluten but doughs with a lower water content tend just to have a couple of brief mixes initially and then the subsequent expansion of the dough will take care of the strengthening.
3 I’ve no preference of dried or fresh yeast and you’ll find me using either throughout this resource. As a general rule, use half as much dried yeast to fresh as, being dehydrated, it’s more concentrated. For a deeper look into yeast, the types available and what it does have a look here .
4 If you’re new to breadmaking I recommend having a warm kitchen in which to work. The yeast in our doughs ferment more quickly in the warmth, and slow down dramatically when the temperature starts to fall. This is great if you’re an experienced baker who’s wanting to slow down and extend the fermentation (because you know that’s where the secret to increasingly better bread lies) but as an absolute beginner we inevitably surmise we’ve done something wrong when our dough is rising oh-so slowly, often becoming impatient and rushing that dough to the oven before it’s had the fermentation it needs to make a good loaf.
5 Throughout this resource, the words fermentation and rising are synonymous and I use them interchangeably: the yeast consumes natural sugars in the dough and gives off carbon dioxide as a by-product (fermentation) which is trapped in the gluten structure of the dough causing it to increase in volume (rise).
6 Salt. I always use Maldon Sea Salt crystals: they are pure and very soluble, dissolving quickly in the dough. Rock salt crystals do not dissolve in the dough so require grinding beforehand.