I’d love to start baking my own bread, but the whole kneading process seems intimidating. Do you have any bread-making tips for me? – Lex, Appleton
The secret to great bread is the texture, which is developed through both leavening and structure. In bread baking, yeast is the primary leavening agent used and works by feeding yeast cells with sugar. When allowed to reproduce in a warm, moist environment, yeast produces carbon dioxide gas which rises our bread, creating a light texture. The structure of bread is primarily provided by the development of gluten. Gluten, a protein formed from products including wheat, oats, barley and rye, provides an elastic structure that allows the carbon dioxide gas from the yeast to inflate the bread dough like a balloon. Gluten is developed and strengthened through the kneading process. The more dough is kneaded, the more gluten is developed. Gluten is desired in bread unlike cakes, cookies and muffins that we want to have a more delicate texture. Breads like rustic whole wheat are better with more gluten development and breads like focaccia are better with less gluten development. Kneading can be done by hand or completed by a mixer and dough hook. Good luck, Lex!