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Old 03-16-2007, 10:47 AM   #14
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Buttermilk White Bread - part 4 - Instructions (rising and baking)

My post #13 discussed mixing and kneading. We now proceed to...

Instructions (rising and baking)

The mixer bowl was lightly oiled and the dough was set to rise in it, covered with plastic wrap. BTW, rising dough gives off heat, so I always put a big rubber band around the plastic wrap in order to trap that heat. That way the dough itself creates the perfect temperature for it's own rise.

Rising temperatures were at all times in the low 70s F (probable range 70 - 73 F).

After about 1 hour, the dough had risen about 1-1/2 times the original bulk. At this point I scooped the dough on the board and gave it a few strech and folds. This is a well-known technique for assisting the rise of bread dough. It gently redistributes the yeast (so they have a new food source), strengthens the gluten and deflates any large air bubbles. Most bread doughs react very well to it and here's how it works...
The Stretch and Fold Technique
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When the dough has risen to about 1-1/2 times it's original size, gently scoop it out onto an unfloured board. You are going to gently stretch and fold it 2 to 4 times.
Fold One > Stretch the dough horizontally to the left, pick it up and fold it over like this
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Fold Two > Stretch the dough vertically from the top and fold it over like this
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You may stop at this point or do two more folds. Fold Three would be horizontally to the right and Fold Four would be vertically from the bottom.
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I gave the dough four folds and then returned it to the oiled bowl, recovered it (with that rubber band in place!) and let rise again to about 2 times the original bulk.

In the meantime I greased my pans. I also decided to give the dough an egg wash and sprinke it with poppy seeds so I cracked another egg into a small bowl and beat it a bit so it would be ready.

It took about an additional 30 minutes for the dough to double. It was now ready to be shaped for the second (and last) rise in the pans.

The dough weighed 2 pounds. I divided it in half using my scale. I shaped each half into a rough ball, covered them loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest on the board for about 15 minutes to relax the gluten so the dough would be easy to shape. (I used this time to wash the bowl and tidy up.) After the dough had rested, on an unfloured board, I gently patted and pulled the dough ball into a rough rectangle about the width of my pan and about 3 times as long as the pan's bottom width.
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It was then shaped and placed, seam side down, in the pan. The dough at this stage filled the pan's capacity by about one half.
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Both pans were lightly covered with plastic wrap and left to rise at room temperature. In about 1-1/2 hours the dough was cresting about 1 inch over the top. The oven had already been preheated to 350 F.

The top of the dough was lightly brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with poppy seeds.
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The bread baked for 45 minutes at 350 F and was then turned out onto a rack to cool. There was very little oven spring ("oven spring" is when the dough continues to rise somewhat in the oven during baking).

The DC forum seems to limit the number of photos per post, so pictures of the finished loaf plus my evaluation of the recipe will have to wait for one more post.

Stay tuned...
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