First, I want to thank all of you who sent me messages to inquire about my well-being and the reasons for not posting any new articles and recipes on my blog for more than a month! I was very touched by your concern! I am well, and really sorry for being so overdue with today’s post. I was immersed in personal matters as we are moving houses, and I am sure you can guess all the hype around that. But, I promise, I will do my best to find a way to at least publish one post a week until my current hectic schedule ceases by the end of summer!
My previous post was Part 1 of the principles to prepare great yeast dough. It covered the various ingredients used in yeast dough recipes, whether it is a pizza dough or bread dough, as well as the role and importance of each ingredient.
At the time, I promised to cover in part two the different techniques used during the preparation of the dough. These techniques will help you get the perfect dough you are looking for; and this is what today’s post will cover.
The first step in getting the perfect dough that meets your needs is choosing the right recipe. For you may find an excellent recipe, but it doesn’t meet your needs or is inappropriate for what you are preparing. If you use it, you will not be satisfied! For example, you want to prepare a thin-crust pizza, but you choose a recipe that contains eggs. Evidently your choice of a recipe is inappropriate as eggs help store gases and thus makes the dough rise more. So a recipe containing eggs will be more appropriate if you are looking to preparing a thick-crust pizza. This doesn’t mean the recipe is not good; it is just not good for your intended use!
To be able to choose the right recipe, you need to know and understand the different ingredients used to prepare dough, and the role of each ingredient. This is what I covered in my previous post, Tips: Great Dough, Part 1. I strongly encourage you to read it before reading this post.
Basic Techniques and Principles for Preparing Great Yeast Dough
After understanding the dough ingredients and the role of each one, we move to the various techniques and steps followed during the preparation of the dough. These techniques may vary depending on the ingredients used in the recipe, but the overall rules and principles are the same. The most important techniques to follow when preparing yeast dough:
- Fluids used to prepare the dough (water, or milk, or a mixture of both) must be lukewarm, meaning of a temperature similar to the heat of our body. To make sure the temperature of the liquid is suitable, dip your figure in the liquid, the temperature of the liquid should be barely warmer than your figure. If the liquid is hot, it could kill the yeast and the dough will not rise. If the liquid is cold, it will not kill the yeast, but the yeast will need more time to grow and reproduce. However, if the liquid is very cold, the yeast, although alive, will not be able to grow and reproduce!
- If the dough recipe requires eggs or milk or butter, make sure that they are of room temperature and not cold when you use them.
- Make sure the yeast is good and alive. It does not matter how good your recipe is, and how well you followed all principals and kneading techniques, if the yeast isn’t good, it will not grow and the dough will not rise! So always, always, always check the expiry date on the pack before you use, and if the pack is open check the shelf-life after opening. Personally, I like to be 100% sure my yeast is good before preparing the dough, so I always mix the yeast with the liquid and sugar and set the mixture aside. Even if the recipe doesn’t require that, I like to see the foamy layer on top of the mixture that is formed as a result of the yeast growing and reproducing. Only after that, do I add the yeast mixture to the other dough ingredients.
- Always mix the sugar with the liquid and yeast. For sugar, or honey, provides the food that the yeast needs to grow and reproduce.
- Don’t add the salt to the yeast, sugar and liquid mixture. Salt inhibits the growth of yeast! Mix the salt with the other dry ingredients. If you are using a bread machine to prepare your dough, add the salt to one corner and the sugar and yeast to the opposite corner far from the salt.
- Kneading the dough is a very important step and should be given attention and time. Knead the dough vigorously for a period between five and ten minutes, by that time you should get a soft, pliable and elastic dough. The magic word is knead, then knead, then knead! Kneading helps develop the protein in the flour into gluten, and gluten is what gives the dough its elasticity and strength allowing it to expand and trap the gases produced by the yeast. To test that we have kneaded the dough enough, we take a small piece of dough and stretch it between our hands (the same as we pull on a gum when we want to make a balloon). If the dough breaks easily, it means we need to knead it more, but if it stretches and forms a thin layer of dough, it is ready.
- After kneading the dough we place it in a bowl greased with a little bit of oil. We then cover the bowl with a damp cotton towel and place it in a warm place. Providing the perfect conditions for yeast growth, speeds up the process of dough fermentation. I usually put the bowl inside the oven, as the oven is warm from the pilot heat. If your oven is not equipped with a pilot, before preparing the dough switch the oven on low heat for 5 minutes. Then TURN OFF the oven and prepare your dough. By the time you finish kneading the dough, the oven will have cooled but be warm enough to provide the perfect living conditions for the yeast. Make sure that the oven is not hot when you put the dough, as it will kill the yeast.
- Dough needs time to rise and double its size. It is important to give the dough the time it needs to rest and ferment! To test if the dough has had enough time to rest, press your thumb in the dough and remove it. It the dough springs back quickly then it needs more time to rest, if the hole made by your figure doesn’t fade, then your dough is ready.
- After the dough ferments and rises, we have to knead it once more. This is called punching down the dough. This time we knead the dough for a minute, and we let it rest and rise again. The second resting time is much shorter. This second kneading is important as gets the carbon dioxide out of the dough, redistributes the gluten, and stimulates yeast growth. If you don’t do this step, your baked dough may have large empty holes! When I prepare pizza dough, I do this step once, so I knead the dough then let it rise then knead it again and let it rise for a second time. But, there are some bread recipes that require you to punch down the dough and let it rise more than once.
- After the second resting, we divide the dough into portions and shape it the way we want. If we are using the dough to prepare pizza or Arabic pastry (muajanat), we leave the dough to rest for 5 – 10. If we are preparing bread, we put the dough in the baking trays and we leave the dough to rest and rise for half an hour.
- Bake according to the time and temperature specified in your recipe.
Hope you enjoyed today’s tip: Great Dough, Part 2 and found it useful. Together with part 1, I hope it will equip you with the information to prepare great quality baked yeast goodies that you can serve with pride.
Did you find the two post on Tips for Great Dough useful? Do you like to read similar post, or you favor recipes?
اضغط الرابط للحصول على طريقة عمل العجينة، الجزء ثاني باللغة العربية