Introduction: Slicing and Serving Bread
This loaf is perfect with just butter or jam - or completely alone, honestly! Sometimes I will whip this loaf up in the evening just to make french toast with it the following morning.
A note on cutting bread. We are going to make some amazing loaves in this class, with beautiful crumb structures and varying levels of crustiness, please be kind to your loaves while slicing. Squished bread is sad bread. We worked really hard to put all that air in there!
In one hand grip the loaf firmly, without compressing or squeezing. Start moving a serrated knife in a sawing motion before you even hit the top of the bread. Slice at a 45-65 degree angle to the bread at the beginning of your cut, and then once you are through the crust you may work your knife to be parallel to the loaf. Cutting a slice of bread is actually very similar to sawing a piece of wood.
How to Store Your Bread
If you aren't going to eat all your bread within a week of baking it, consider freezing it. You can freeze a loaf of bread by wrapping it in aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn, then placing it in a freezer bag to prevent moisture loss. A bread that has no oil in it (like this first loaf) can keep up to 6 months in the freezer before starting to see a real decline in flavor. A bread that is richer, and has some fats, or a higher sugar and salt content, can last up to 2 years in the freezer!
Historically, home-bakers would store their bread in breadboxes. Bread doesn't go stale because moisture is being wicked away from the bread, instead, bread goes stale because moisture in your loaf is moving towards the crust.
Breadboxes prevent bread from going stale because they are designed to keep the baked goods fresh at room temperature, have a lid loose enough to allow airflow, reducing moisture buildup that may occur from storing in plastic bags and thusly, mold-free. The lid of a bread box is also tight enough to protect the breads from common household pests.
Not everybody has room for a breadbox in their kitchen, I know my tiny apartment doesn't. When I was still living in the damp Bay Area, I could store breads on my countertop with just a kitchen towel around the loaf to create micro-breadbox type environment for the bread.
These days in my drier climate, I have had the best luck storing bread in Press'n'Seal. It seems to be a glorious mix of air and protection to maintain a good moisture level that doesn't get stale on the shelf. It also stands up to breads that are wacky shapes and won't fit in a standard kitchen bag. (Like baguettes!)
Taking the Next Steps
Now that you've familiarized yourself with the world of bread making at home, are you ready to try more complex recipes and forming techniques?
Bread is such an amazing staple food and so many bakers are amazing storytellers! Here are some fantastic doughs, loaves, breads, and treats that are great bakes for taking your breadmaking practice to the next level:
Now it's time to tell your DIY story! Share your flour creation with everyone by showing off your process in an Instructable! Perhaps you'll even be eligible to enter one of Instructables' fabulous contests, and win an awesome prize! Can't wait to see what you make :D
Be sure to post your favorite bake from this class in the class project section of this lesson too.
There are literally hundreds, maybe even thousands, of ways to make bread. This course has offered a path towards skill mastery, but only scratches the surface of what is possible with these bread making abilities. The Bread Channel on Instructables is a great place to get inspired.
This course would not be possible without the amazing stories, recipes, and tutorials by bakers, brewers and scientists around the world. Thanks to....
...the Tartine Bread book, for teaching me how to fall in love with the simple science of bread making, and for perpetuating the mindset that the best ingredients and simplest processes are rewarded with time and patience.
...the LA County Library for helping me source great books and research materials. Here is a list of amazing books available to bread baking enthusiasts wanting to push their practice to the next level.
HUGE THANKS to the bloggers around the world who are at-home bakers, brewers, picklers, and Lacto bacteria enthusiasts for your tips on how to manage the factors of fermentation in any climate, for any schedule. Niche internet communities are fascinating, and the ones devoted to just breadmaking provide a deep dive into philosophies and opinions about all facets of the breadmaking process.
Thanks for following along! Hope you were able to build your knowledge of bread making and develop a skillset that will make you the belle of every potluck.
I'd love to hear any feedback you have about this class or see any resultant loaves or bakes (or really anything) that came from skills you learned from these lessons. Reach out and say 'HEY!'.