#5 . The Windowpane Test
The purpose of kneading is to develop gluten. Gluten is a protein formed when two other proteins, glutenin and gliadin, combine with water and then get agitated--stirred, mixed, or kneaded. (Incidentally, that's why when you make some baked goods, you mix minimally and gently once you add liquid to the flour. You don't want much gluten to form in the case of cakes, pancakes, and muffins).
But how do you know when enough gluten has formed to make your bread rise and get a lovely chew? It's called the windowpane test. After kneading for several minutes, tear off a small piece of dough (if it stretches a lot before pulling away, that is another good indicator of good gluten formation).
Roll the dough into a small ball and flatten it into a disc. Start rotating and stretching the dough as if you are making a tiny pizza. You should be able to get the dough thin enough that it gets nice and translucent before tearing. If the dough tears before stretching out nice and thin, you know you have more kneading.
This test works best on white bread as the sharp edges of bran in whole wheat and other whole grains tend to cut some gluten strands. That's why whole-grain bread tends not to rise as high as white bread. You should still be able to stretch the dough into a windowpane, but you won't be able to get the dough as thin.
thank you for the best recipe for home made bread I have
come across! thanks for all the tips and explanations.
Thank you for all the tips! The only thing I do differently is slicing the bread partially frozen, so that I can get thinner, more even slices.
I'm looking for someone to advise on the best bread roll or bun that can be made. Many years ago, I used to buy a particular high quality bread roll with sesame seeds on it. The roll was firm to grip; the colour of the roll itself was brown/dark brown; the inside was fluffy white; the seeds never fell of the roll, somehow 'glued' on to the surface. The smell and taste of the roll was powerful, like roasted sesame seeds but much stronger; its shape was almost like a ball; the skin was thin and crusty, but not overly 'crunchy'.
The shop closed, and I haven't been able to buy a similar product since. What is available is just a common bread roll, but the quality is just not the same. So, I'm looking to see if I can bake them myself as they may be a costly and perhaps difficult product to make.
If I may please ask if anybody knows the right ingredients and equipment to use to achieve an identical quality? Are we dealing with Italian OO flour, or a particular special oven to bake at a certain temperature, or unique additives such as, perhaps, malt, unique oils, or whatever?
These (and all the other baking questions) are by far the MOST useful tips on baking I have ever read. I have had so many unanswered questions and you have explained them so clearly n simply. I can't thank you enough. I will take a look at the rest of the site .... I am sure it is just as helpful.
I always double bag my bread before freezing. Put the bread in one freezer bag, remove the air and then place in a second, remove the air. Works perfectly and I never get any ice crystals even if I leave it for a couple of month. Excellent tips - Thanks
To vacuum seal the bread: Let it cool to room temp and then wrap well in freezer paper. Freeze for 2-4 hours in the freezer paper (until solid) and then vacuum seal wrapped in the freezer paper just as you do anything else. To thaw, just remove the freezer paper wrapped bread from the vacuum bag and let it come to room temp out of the vacuum bag. Vacuum sealing and freezing can extend the useful life up to six months and is an excellent way to conserve energy and effort by baking up batches at a time. The same method is effective with quick breads, muffins, and biscuits. Just be sure to remove from the vacuum bag while thawing.
The Reluctant Gourmet
Thanks for those tips.
how do you keep the dough from falling when you try to put a slit on the top of the loaf?
We use water to spilt top
Proofing the dough is another important factor while bread making and must be duly given time as well as temperature for complete aeration.
I have been baking multi-grain bread for over 10 years, and it has worked satisfactorily. I'm not aware that I have done anything differently; however recently the bread has been fully raised and ready to bake as always. But something happens after I place it in the oven. After the full backing time, when I remove the loaves from the oven, I discover that the bread has collapsed. I have tried several different things:1. making sure I have fresh yeast; 2. making sure that I don't jar the raised bread pan as I place it in the oven; 3.checking to make sure the temperature of the gas oven is exact. Do you have any suggestions of things I can do to result in a satisfactory product?
Hi John, are you using all-purpose or bread flour? I use bread flour because it has more gluten and rises better. Also, consider decreasing the amount of multi-grains a bit and increasing your proof times. Good luck!
Hi John. I've been making bread for years. What you describe could be the result of letting the dough rise too high before putting it into the oven. Doing so can cause space to develop between the crust and the crumb. It can also the loaf to totally collapse. Try putting the loaf in the oven BEFORE it rises as high as you think it should. It will continue to rise in the oven. Also, preheat your oven to a high enough temperature that the loaf will get an immediate blast of heat. I have an electric stove and usually set my oven to 425F for bread. You might need to experiment, but I've found that cooler oven temperatures don't work well for most types of bread.
G. Stephen Jones
Thank you Skeezix for your help with John's question.