Photo Guide: Braided Garlic Bread

I’m back again with another photo guide; this time for my braided garlic bread! Today I wanted to share some pictures from the bread making process so you all can know what your dough should look like. I’m really excited to finally debut this entry because I’ve been buzzing about my “photo guide” series for a while. This was a joint effort between my roommate, Shawn and myself.

When I’m crunched for time I like to speed up my kneading process by turning up the oven to the lowest temperature so the heating element is warmed and the entire oven is toasty. Then, I turn the oven off and let it cool down slightly and use the residual heat in the elements to speed the proofing process up.

When I have the time, I let the bread take its time to rise so I can develop some nice flavors in the bread dough as the yeast breaks the gluten and sugar down.

In my kitchen, I always keep a jar of Active Dry Yeast in the refrigerator so I can whip up some bread when I’m craving some carbs. I sprinkle the yeast on top of warm sugary water and then stir to let it dissolve. The water should be heated so that its very warm, but you should still be able to submerge your hands in the water without wanting to pull them out. If you aren’t sure, keep it on the cooler side. By heating the water up, the yeast becomes active faster. I usually end up with some clumps, which is fine because they dissolve after letting it sit for a minute. You want to let it become nice and foamy which usually takes about 5 minutes. This is the “proofing” process.

Just to save some time I get started on the flour and spices while my yeast proofs. I find that tossing the spices together with my hands tenses to be more efficient than using a dough hook. I promise I washed my hands before hand! I like to add my oil into the flour ahead of time because it is a lot easier to combine chunks of flour and oil with water than it is to add oil to dough. This technique is also used in the Japanese Water-Roux technique –it is said that adding part of the liquids into the flour actually helps the water to be absorbed more evenly. Make sure you use bread flour because it will make kneading a lot easier. The higher gluten content makes for faster kneading times a better “crumb”.

more after the break! Continue reading