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Rules to Live By!

~~~Rules to Live By!~~~ 
Good Food from Good Knowhow!

I decided to put up a few of my little How tos and knowhow snippets here on a separate page! Call it "Knowhow Notes" :) How to bits list that will grow as we go!

~The Wall Test~ 
(pie crusts and short crusts/doughs)

As the name would suggest, when the proper moisture level is established you will be able to make a reasonably stable "wall" by pressing the moistened dough against the side of the mixing bowl or just squeezing it to form a wall shape. A good, high wall that doesn't immediately fall apart is what you're looking for and represents a minimum acceptable moisture level.

To test for OVER saturated dough, poke and crumble the dough wall with your fingers. If your right on the money, the shape you've formed should crumble into moistened (but NOT sticky) chunks about the size of large grapes.

~The Windowpane Test~
(Kneaded Breads and Risen Glutenous Pastry)

This test is to see if the glutens are developed properly. Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball or large marble and gently stretch and squeeze it thin as possible. The dough will have passed the test if you can stretch it thin enough to see plenty of light through it without breaking.

~Shaping Techniques~
(Shaped Breads and Hearty Baked Goods)
These notes on shaping adapted partly from The Bread Bakers Apprentice

When it comes to fine breads and baked goods, there are many different looks you can go with for presentation and for proper baking!  Here are a few of the basic shapes.  More advanced shapes will be added as we move through them on the blog!

(Basic Ball Shape)

Gather dough into a rough ball shape then take and stretch the surface around to the back, creating surface tension.  Turn and repeat the process to form an even round ball, pinching the crease at the bottom to seal.  Rest and proof seal-down to maintain shape.

Dinner Roll
(Small Boule Shape)

Cut your dough into uniform pieces.  Wipe your counter down to increase drag on the dough.  Place your piece on the surface and cup your hand over it, forming a "C" shape with your thumb and fingers.  Press the dough into the surface while making a circle motion, pressing and pushing the dough with the outside ridge of your palm.  The dough should flip into your hand in a tight ball.

Variation (Hamburger buns):  Form as above and simply press down on the tops to compress slightly before baking.

Sandwich Loaf
(Evened Cylinder)

Working from a properly relaxed Boule shape, turn the shape seam side up and gently press it into a rectangle about 6 inches wide and just a bit longer.  Start with a short side toward you.  Starting from the far side, fold the dough toward you and seal the edge with the edge of your hand.  Repeat until you have a sealed cylinder.  Roll the loaf back and forth to even out the thickness.  The ends should have no taper.

(Hoagie Roll - Short, Tapered Torpedo)

Measure out a piece (about 4 oz) of dough and flatten with the heel of your hand.  Fold the long edges in to the center to make a squared off shape.  Press the edges to stick them.  Fold the long edge over the top and press to seal with the edge of your hand.  Roll gently to shape, adding just a bit of taper to the edges.

Variation (Hotdog Buns): Form as above, omitting the end taper.

(Medium, Tapered "Torpedo")

Working from a properly relaxed Boule shape, press out into a slightly elongated rectangle.  Starting from a long side, fold the bottom third up to the center line, forming surface tension.  Press to seal then fold the last third over the top and press once more to seal and complete.  

(Long Taper Cylinder)

Working from a properly relaxed Bâtard shape, take the ends and gently pull them out to the proper length.  Press the shape down the center and fold one long side over the other, pressing to seal the edge and create surface tension.  Working with your fingers from the center outward, gently roll the dough out to the proper length.  If the dough resists lengthening, give it a short rest then try again.


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