The Twelve Stages of Bread

The folowing is a basic primer for the creation of bread. It comes directly from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart, so if you have any issue with it, you need to take it up with him… (need.. get it?!? It’s a PUN!!).

I’m publishing this mostly for reference purposes. Remember, this is a brief over view of the 12 steps. If you want more detail, get the book.

1. Mise en place: Setting up your workspace/kitchen with all measured ingredients and tools at the ready.

2. Mixing: Kneading, either by hand or machine.

3. Primary Fermentation:Allowing the yeast or other leavening agents to do their duty. This is one of the more crucial aspects of making bread.

4. Punching Down (Degassing): Burping the bread dough in order to release some stress from the dough.

5. Dividing: Dividing the dough into appropriate sizes and weights.

6. Rounding: Giving the dough its initial shape…usually a boule(ball) or bâtard (torpedo).

7. Benching: Resting the dough, allowing the gluten to rest and de-stress.

8. Shaping: Shaping the dough to give it the distinctive look.

9. Proofing (Secondary Fermentation): Allowing the dough to rise a bit before baking. It’s also the time you put any wash you wish to put on.

10. Baking: Scoring the dough and placing into the appropriate oven.

11. Cooling: Allowing the dough to cool down enough to set. The bread is still cooking even after it leave the oven.

12. Storing and Eating: Pretty much self-explanatory, no?


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