Toggle navigation
bread-821503_1920.jpg

Bread prepared with direct dough

In this post we analyze the dough with direct method which is by far the oldest and simplest to manage and consists of mixing all the ingredients in one step

25 February 2020

Bread is one of the oldest foods on our tables. Over the millennia, human genius has developed infinite varieties and each continent has produced its own typology. The oldest (unleavened, chapati, tortilla, injera etc.) were composed exclusively of flour (of the most disparate types based on the geographical area) and water, with the addition of salt or not. Subsequently, with the discovery of the fermentative abilities of beer (and thank you for this, as legend has it, an Egyptian woman!), The man began to use the yeast to significantly deflate and soften the bread. From here, prairies opened up endlessly for creativity, additions and additions for a food that is increasingly sophisticated and seasoned. So when we talk about bread we generally mean that product prepared by mixing flour, water, yeast and salt, left to rise for a certain period of time and cooked. In this first post we analyze the dough with a direct method which is by far the oldest and simplest in management and consists in mixing all the ingredients in a single step until the formation of an amalgamated mass, smooth and homogeneous with relatively short processing times. The direct dough, as mentioned, is carried out with all ingredients which can be mixed together in one step or in different sequences. In the direct dough there is no addition of other previously formed and leavened doughs. In this way we obtain products in short and fairly soft times, with an acidulous and little accentuated flavor, while the shelf-life is relatively low.We now briefly see the characteristics that the ingredients must have to prepare a bread with a direct method.

Flour

Flour is the absolute queen of bread making! To make classic (non gluten free) bread, cereals containing gluten are used (therefore wheat, kamut, spelled, durum wheat semolina, rye, etc ...). Gluten is a viscoelastic substance that is formed by putting the proteins naturally present in flour (gliadine and glutenins) in contact with water; gluten is essential for obtaining bread because it is able to retain the water of the dough itself and the CO2 produced by the yeasts in the dough (from mixing the ingredients to cooking). Every baker knows that it is very important to know the amount of protein that flour must have to make bread because, as seen, the absorbency of the liquids and the resistance to pressure of the fermentation gas depend on it. The quantity of flour protein indicates the strength of the flour itself (referring to the subsequent post for a detailed analysis of the topic); less protein means less gluten and therefore a weak flour, more protein more gluten and a strong flour. For the direct method, a flour with an average protein content is normally needed (10-11g per 100g of flour, which can be found on the nutritional table) because the entire production process develops relatively quickly.

Water

Water is an ingredient that is often underestimated. To begin with, thanks to her, gluten is formed and it is also absorbed by the starch present in the flour, generating the general consistency of the dough. 

The water functions are: 

1. Allows the formation of the dough
2. Bulges the starch granules 
3. Dissolve the salt in the dough 
4. Allows enzymatic activity 
5. Allows the life of yeasts 

Also its temperature (we will talk about it in the next posts) is very important and in close relation to the life of the yeasts as we will see shortly.

Yeast

Yeast is the ingredient that generates the swelling of the dough. Yeast is made up of bacteria called saccharomycetes. They need "loving care" to live and reproduce. They need an adequate climate of 24-26°C and nourishment. The comfort climate of the dough is mainly given by the temperature of the water that we add to the dough and the rising temperature. The temperature of the water in the dough must be around 22-25°C in winter and 15-18°C in summer to reach the optimal temperature of the pasta (those blessed 24-26°C) after mixing; the rising temperature must be between 28-30°C. By following these parameters, we guarantee optimal yeast activity. The second necessity of yeasts is food, glucose and fructose to be precise. By feeding on saccharomyces, they produce carbon dioxide and alcohol and, magic, the bread rises. The meal for the yeasts is mainly given by the starch of the flour which, under the disruptive action of the enzymes (amylase) present in the flour, is reduced to sucrose and maltose; in turn the yeasts reduce sucrose and maltose to glucose and fructose and good appetite! Last but not least Yeasts are those which, through their biochemical activities, develop aromatic substances thanks to the formation of lactic and acetic bacteria.

Salt

Salt is a very important ingredient for the preparation of bread even if Tuscan bread is an example of its non-use. Salt has functions of conservation and antiseptic against mold and unwanted fermentative actions; if it is integral then it brings elements such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, etc ... for the dough, salt: 

1. It improves the retention of fermentation gases 
2. It improves the structure of gluten 
3. Slows down and improves the speed of fermentation gas production 
4. Promotes the coloring of the crust and bleaches the crumb 
5. Check the yeast activity

Kneading

The kneading is the mixing of the ingredients with subsequent formation of gluten and incorporation of air. It is normally divided into two phases: a first phase where the ingredients mix together and lasts about 10 minutes and is done at low speed; a second phase done at a faster speed to allow the formation and stabilization of the glutin mesh and the incorporation of a search for air and lasts about 5 minutes. Once the dough is finished, the mass is left to rest (spot welding) well covered for a period that varies according to the types of dough and can vary from 10 to 40 minutes. The spot welding serves on one side to relax the dough from mechanical effort and on the other to allow the onset of fermentative reactions. After that we move on to forming the pieces of bread.

The leavening

The leavening is determined by the transformations made by yeasts and lactic bacteria. These microorganisms, as mentioned, favor the fermentation of sugars, producing carbon dioxide, lactic acid and alcohol. During the leavening, the gases are trapped in the glutin mesh forming bubbles which increase the volume and make the dough soft. Microorganisms produce substances that determine the aroma, digestibility and shelf life of bread. The leavening phase must be done at controlled temperature and humidity; one at 28-30 ° C, the other at 80%, this to create the perfect environment for a "fast" fermentation activity. A bread will be leavened when it has doubled its initial volume and its consistency is soft but still with a certain resistance, that is, by slightly squeezing it the dough opposes a resistance that makes it resume its shape.

Cooking

Baking is the final stage of preparing bread. The piece of dough leavened in the oven undergoes physical and chemical changes; it increases its volume again thanks to the heat of the baking chamber, there is the gelatinization of the starches and the crystallization of the gluten, the aromatic substances are generated, they differ and fix the crumb and crust, the color of the bread is reached. The cooking temperature depends on the shape, size and consistency of the dough and can vary from 220 to 250 even to 280°C. Even the cooking time varies according to the shape of the bread, defined by the relationship between the external and internal surface, small pieces will logically require shorter times than large pieces.

Recipe: bread with potatoes

Ingredients 

- 500 g type 0 flour 
- 375 g water 
- 75 g potato flakes 
- 20 g compressed yeast 
- 9 g salt 

Method

Mix all the ingredients except the salt for 5 minutes at low speed. Raise the speed to 3 ^ -4 ^ position, add the salt and leave to work for another 5 minutes so that a smooth and homogeneous mixture is formed with a well-formed glutinic mesh. Pour the dough into a wooden tablet or a plastic bowl and leave to stand for 60 minutes well covered. Divide the dough into two pieces of 490 g each or into ten pieces of 98 g each. Round well giving it an oval shape, turn them with the seam upwards, arrange on a well floured table and leave to rise for about 60 minutes (depending on the size) at 29°C with humidity. Once leavened, invert, cut with transverse cuts and bake in a preheated oven with a little steam at 210°C for 45-60 minutes.