If you've ever eaten freshly-baked bread, then you know that there's absolutely no comparing it to anything you can purchase from a store. Unless you have a friend who regularly bakes fresh bread, however, your only means of enjoying it regularly is baking it yourself. One advantage of doing this is that you can customise any of several aspects of the bread. If you prefer bread that is soft and chewy rather than firm or hard, you simply need to alter your dough recipe.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- High-protein bread flour
- Dough mixer
Purchase high protein bread flour if you have not already done so. As the name of the protein found in wheat flour ("gluten") suggests, increasing quantities of it increases its stickiness ("glue"), a quality which translates into softer, chewier bread.
Add the flour to your dough in the quantity your recipe specifies. Knead your dough, keeping in mind that you will have to knead much more vigorously than usual to "develop" the large quantities of gluten in the flour -- if you have a dough mixer, you might want to use this type of machine to do your kneading, as properly doing so with your hands may be exhausting.
Bake your dough into bread as normal, taking note of the extent to which the chewiness matches your preferences. If you find the bread too chewy, choose a bread flour with less protein content; if the bread isn't chewy enough, select a higher protein flour.
Tips and warnings
- One primary difference between chewy bread you bake with high-gluten flour and ordinary bread is the ratio of dough rise time to cooking time. Although you may let ordinary bread dough rise only 3-4 hours and then cook it at least an hour, chewy breads require extended rising time--in the order of 10 hours because the high gluten content causes dough to rise more slowly. When it comes to cooking, however, the time required is less--just 45 minutes, for example, using a high gluten recipe from King Arthur Flour.
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