Bread is one of the oldest prepared, artificial foods. In its simplest form, it is basically just flour and water, mixed into a dough, and cooked or baked. It predates recorded history and for centuries it has been considered a basic necessity and staple food of human civilization. It provides energy, can provide nutrition, and is an easy way to maximize on any supply you may have of anything that can be turned into flour, which is almost any organic material if dried and milled.
Since bread can be made from so many different kinds of flours and starches, different kinds of breads were developed all over the world by different cultures. Today, bread is made using a variety of these traditional methods as well as modern techniques. Different flours act differently, and to leaven bread is quite common by adding air to it in order to make it bigger and softer. In order to leaven bread, people usually use a form of yeast to create a reaction that yields gas – if using yeast this will react with the proteins in the starch and release carbon dioxide. This creates air pockets within the dough which allow it to rise and grow in size, also softening the bread making it easier to consume.
Ratios of flour to water can vary based on what works best with particular ingredients, but a good rule of thumb for basic bread is:
6 Parts Flour to 2 Parts Water
To leaven add 1 packet (3 teaspoons) of yeast if the parts were measured in cups.
This basic recipe can be modified in a variety of ways, adding things like salt, milk or butter, fruit, meat, you name it. If you mix this stuff together well and bake it until it solidifies; you have bread.
Yeast can be borrowed from beer or wine, especially during the brewing process. We can teach you how to make yeast here, or you can simply buy it in our store.
Yeast is a kind of living organism that consumes proteins and sugars – it needs to be woken up and activated using water, so it is usually best to mix it with water before you mix that water with the flour. Once you have sufficiently mixed/kneaded the dough together into a uniform paste, allow it to rest for some time. If the yeast is working the bread will grow, but the thicker and denser the dough, the less it will rise. A good practice is to let the dough rise for 3 hours, in a room temperature environment with something covering it in a bowl or container.
Yeast will work quicker when warm, and slower when cold, so modify your time accordingly; if you have to leaven outside in a cool environment, allow more time for the dough to rise. If you are operating in a hot kitchen, the dough may rise quicker than 3 hours. When the dough has leavened to your liking, some would remove it, knead it a bit more and then let it rise again as before for half of the time (1.5 hours in this case). This is known as a second rising, and some people will allow their bread to rise 3 or more times before baking it.
When you are happy with how many times your bread has risen (even one time will suffice), shape it how you would like it to be, place it onto a fire-resistant pan of some sort, or even on a rock, and let it rise or proof one final time (for at least 45 minutes) and bake it with fire or any other supply of ample heat. It is half-traditional to cut lines or slits in the top of the loaf before baking; it can identify the bread after but also helps the top of the bread to spread out evenly while it heats and bakes.
An ideal baking temperature for bread is 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or 205 degrees Celsius). At this temperature a manageable sized loaf will take about 30 minutes to bake until golden-brown. If exposed to direct heat the crust will be tough, this can be countered by periodic steaming with sprayed water, or chipped off after baking.
Ultimately bread can be specialized and baked in so many ways, and derived from the flours of anything from nuts, grains beans or even simple plant starch. Be cautious when dealing with high temperatures in baking. Kneading can be tenuous and for this purpose, humans have developed commercial and industrial mixers, both of which are available here in electric and manual forms.
Furthermore we have also developed bread machines which automatically do mixing, kneading, rising and proofing for you before actually baking it. All you have to do is add the ingredients and power the device. We sell bread machines as well.