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26 July, 2019

5 Essential Ingredients to Make a Homemade Bread

You do not need to stock too many ingredients to bake your favorite pastries at any given time. The vast list of ingredients you can store in your fridge, freezer, and cupboard is only limited by the available space. However, if you’re setting up your new kitchen or you are new to baking, you’ll gladly discover that you can narrow down your list of five essential baking ingredients that you must have on hand for everyday baking.

Yeast

When baking bread, yeast is the most important part of the process. It is essential in the baking process as it makes the dough rise, thus giving the bread a wonderful aroma and taste. Other ingredients complete the baking reactions that ensure your homemade bread is perfectly hot and crusty. 

In every packet of yeast contains living microorganisms and when these are activated and fed by starch or sugar, the ingredient releases carbon dioxide in the form of tiny bubbles. This explains why the dough rises and produces the light texture once the process of baking is completed.

Flour

Wheat flour is the most common type of flour popularly used in baking bread. It includes bread flour, whole wheat flour, and all-purpose flour. Note that wheat is high in gluten – a protein that is attributable to the strength and elasticity of the dough. 

If you want to make bread at home, it is important to note that recipes that incorporate whole wheat flour make denser loaves as they have less gluten. For this reason, you should consider having all-purpose flour as an ingredient to increase the gluten content so that your loaves are lighter and taller.

Salt

Salt is important when baking bread because it helps slow down the rising time, thereby allowing the flavor of dough to develop while adding flavor to the bread. Therefore, do not omit salt in your recipe.

Fat

Oil, margarine, butter, or shortening comes in handy when you need to add flavor. These also make the bread moist and tender. Fat is a critical ingredient because it slows down moisture loss and enables bread to maintain freshness for longer. Never substitute oil for shortening or margarine unless it’s specified.

Liquids

One of the most important ingredients in baking is liquids or wet ingredients that include water, milk, cream, juice, or buttermilk.

Water

Among all the liquids used in baking, water is the most important as it does two important things:
- Blends with flour to form an elastic and sticky dough
- Dissolves and then activates the yeast

Milk, Cream, Juice, or Buttermilk

You may add these to boost the texture or enhance the flavor. Only add warm liquids to your dry ingredients because:

- When the liquid is too hot, it destroys the yeast and prevents rising from happening
- When the liquid is too cool, it will stop or slow yeast action

100°F–110°F is the ideal temperature range when adding liquids in the dry ingredients, especially when you dissolve the yeast directly in water. When you plan to add undissolved yeast to your dry ingredients, then the ideal temperature ranges should be between 120°F-130°F

* * * 
While the list of baking ingredients are vast and almost inexhaustible, the five essential items we list above are the most important when you need to bake bread. As you gain more experience in baking or expand the size of your kitchen, you can start to refine what is essential for you and add more items to the list.

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