It's long, hard, and tastes nothing like you remember it to be. That's right, beholding badly baked bread ranks as one of the most disappointing moments in life — especially if you've spent all day working on your loaf. It's no secret that baking bread is a true labour of love. While cooking allows you to tweak your recipe along the way if things go wrong, baking is defined by more absolute terms. Failed to knead the dough sufficiently? You can't do anything about it once it's in the oven. Your only option is to start all over again.
If you're truly looking to get your bread game on, there's a new baking school in town where you can sharpen your baking chops. Come 11 April, famed baker, patissier, and author Dean Brettschneider will open the doors to his eponymous baking and cooking school in Bukit Timah. Whether you're looking to turn out your own sourdough or Italian flatbread, let Dean and his team of skilled instructors take you through hands-on classes focused on the art and science of baking.
Here, Dean takes the time to share some tips that'll shape you into a better baker.
1. Precision matters
When weighing out your ingredients, be sure to invest in a digital scale. All baking recipes need to be balanced accurately. If too much of one ingredient is used, the action of the yeast will be affected, which in turn impacts the final outcome of your bread.
2. It's all in the technique
Most home bakers don't knead the dough correctly, resulting in poor gas retention and a very dense, heavy loaf of bread with a brick-like texture. Whether you choose to knead the dough by hand or machine, pay attention to your technique.
3. Water's your best friend
Many home bakers are afraid of adding too much water to their dough and they shouldn't. Water introduces softness, a desirable texture, and lightness. The flour takes time to absorb the water, but home bakers often add extra flour too early because they think the dough is sticky. It is better to take your time in kneading the flour so you can see the dough transform instead of turning into a sticky mess.
4. Practise, practise, practise
Invest the time to perfect your technique, especially when it comes to the final shaping of the dough. This takes time to master. Once you're confident of your technique, the raw dough piece will be firm, properly moulded, and well-shaped, which helps in the final rising and baking of your bread.
5. Ditch the fan
Too many home bakers make the mistake of relying on the fan bake function. Bread and many other baked products should be only baked on the standard bake option. Fan baking tends to dry the product out, create a darker crust colour, and cause the loaf to have a dry skin and dull surface.
Keen to pick up more baking tips? Take a look at the classes offered at Brettschneider's Baking & Cooking School