Baking, long before COVID-19, has always held a kind of calm, reassuring, even “therapeutic” energy for those who do it.
The Maya Kitchen/Released
Quarantine baking wave: 5 things first-time bakers 'knead' to know
(Philstar.com) - June 25, 2020 - 6:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — Due to lockdowns to crackdown the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, suddenly, people are baking bread.

From sourdough starters to swapping tips, making bread from scratch has been gaining popularity.

Baking, long before COVID-19, has always held a kind of calm, reassuring, even “therapeutic” energy for those who do it. So it may not be at all surprising that many have turned to this activity while trying to deal with everything the community quarantine has both brought and barred us from.

Right now, it’s also a great way to feel like you are doing the same thing with friends, except apart and at home.

If you’ve decided to join in the bread baking frenzy, but don’t know where to start, The Maya Kitchen gives tips for first-time bread bakers. 

There are only four ingredients you absolutely need to make bread.

Three of these you probably already have in your kitchen – water, flour, salt. The last item is yeast, which you can pick up on your next grocery run. Yeast is essential as it produces gas while it feeds off the carbohydrates in the flour, making the dough rise. 

Speaking of flour, different kinds will have different levels of gluten and protein that affect how your bread turns out. Maya’s All-Purpose Flour is a safe choice for beginners, and can be used for baked goods other than bread.  

Follow a recipe so you don’t mess up your measurements

There’s no such thing as “winging it” when it comes to baking bread. The amounts of ingredients you’ll be using will depend on the type of bread you’re making, and anything more or less than indicated is going to throw the whole thing off. Those measurements aren’t recommendations, they’re hard rules to follow. It would be best to choose a recipe that lists simple, familiar ingredients to start, like French Bread and Pandesal.

There are some basic equipment you should have

A large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon (to mix the flour with). Some scrapers are pretty useful to have like a plastic bowl scraper to get the dough out of the bowl easier, or a metal dough scraper to help remove sticky dough from your countertop, but these are not must-haves for making bread.

You may find mention of stand mixers or Dutch ovens in certain bread recipes, but The Maya Kitchen assures us that those aren’t necessary – with almost every great bread being possible to be mixed by hand, and a loaf pan or baking sheet working just as well as any Dutch oven (which is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid). 

Why you need to knead your dough

Kneading helps produce bread’s chewy texture by developing the gluten proteins in the dough. It only takes a few minutes and you’ll just need a flat surface, a bit of flour to prevent your dough from sticking, plus your hands. If your recipe calls for it, here’s how to knead: Fold your dough in half and push down and outward using the heels of your hands to press it flat. Turn the dough slightly, and repeat for as long as directed. 

You should let the dough rise

Most, if not all, breads — especially yeasted ones — require several hours before it’s ready to bake. It’s not unusual for recipes to ask you to let your dough rest for a few hours at room temperature on the kitchen counter or inside the fridge. This step lets the dough ferment further, which is essential in developing your bread’s distinct flavor and aroma to make it tastier.

RELATED: Bored with usual lockdown fare? Try these immune system-boosting recipes

COOKING AND BAKING
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