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This article is part of “Everything You Need to Know to Start Baking Awesome Bread Using a Bread Maker.”
Everybody knows that I love to bake homemade bread from scratch. Using a bread machine couldn’t be easier, and it makes some fantastic bread! A bread machine combines convenience with flexibility. If you enjoy a fresh loaf of bread, but don’t have the time or space to bake from scratch, a bread machine is for you.
If you have never baked homemade bread before and find the instructions a wee bit intimidating, I encourage you to try it. It may seem intimidating at first, and the various steps take a bit of time to learn, but overall, it is truly easy.
The simplest way to learn how to bake bread is to follow a basic recipe. Try Fast2eat Bread Recipes (much more to be published – keep checking; they are kind of foolproof 😉 really easy, and the bread is delicious.
Topping bread dough
Using toppings is a great way to add variety to bread you might bake often.
Toppings often consist of dry ingredients, such as seeds, grains, nuts, cheese, herbs, sugar, or salt. They are sprinkled on the dough, providing added flavour and creating a decorative appearance. It is a simple and effective way to increase nutrition, taste, and texture in baked bread.
Let’s look at the most pleasant way to top our bread dough.
There are several methods by which you can apply toppings to the dough before baking.
- Using your fingers, sprinkle the ingredients over the surface of the bread.
- When using powdered ingredients such as flour, use a sieve or flour duster to dust the surface.
- Some toppings may be more manageable to apply using a spoon.
Applying the toppings in a single, even layer on the outside of your shaped dough can be tricky. After all, the last thing we want is to mangle the dough. We just spent part of a day coaxing it into a beautiful shape.
Here we’ll look at a few approaches to smoothly coating a shaped dough. These methods will not only keep your workspace clean but will also help you keep your dough structure intact.
Topping rolling the dough on a towel
- Spread a thin layer with the ingredients on a towel.
- Scoop up the dough and transfer it to your towel with toppings. Invert it onto the toppings, so the smooth side faces down, and the seam faces up.
- Then, rock it back and forth to pick up a thin layer of toppings. Use your hands to swing the dough to cover the sides well.
- When sufficiently coated, gently scoop up and transfer the dough to the pan, seam-side down.
If the dough is sufficiently moist, the toppings will stick, and you’ll get an even layer on the outside of the dough.
However, if the toppings won’t cling to the outside of the dough, you can moisten the exterior of your dough by spritzing the dough with a spray bottle after it’s shaped. Once moist, proceed with rolling the dough on the towel with toppings.
Note: While this approach works, it can also wet the rest of your workspace.
Another approach is to lay a damp towel next to your towel with toppings. After you shape your dough, transfer it to the wet towel first, then roll it on the towel with toppings.
Topping using a filled basket or bowl
Using a large bowl or basket filled with toppings has several benefits.
- First, it helps you keep your work surface clean, as the toppings are contained.
- Second, your toppings can be left in the bowl if it’s a commonly used topping or you have many loaves to top.
- Finally, you can easily combine a mixture of seeds and grains directly in the bowl. For example, you could mix black sesame and flax or pumpkin seeds and flax.
The procedure is the same:
- Shape your dough,
- Scoop it up, and
- Lay it inside the larger basket with toppings smooth-side down (seam up).
- Use your hands to rock the loaf, coaxing some toppings onto the sides if necessary.
Place the dough into the pan and sprinkle ingredients on top
An alternative method is to place the dough into the pan and then sprinkle them on top, but a sprinkle after the dough is in the pan could be challenging.
Rolling on a towel spread them in a more uniform distribution.
Choosing seeds and grains
Seeds are a tasty and healthy addition to homemade bread. Adding seeds to bread will give extra flavour and texture.
With the above techniques and some of these toppings as new inspiration, experiment and have fun!
You can focus on just one type of seed or mix different seeds.
Roll your dough in whole seeds before baking to add visual interest to your loaf.
Note: There’s one thing you need to keep in mind. Whatever topping you choose, they will be toasted in the oven as your dough is baked. Therefore, there’s no need to toast seeds or grains before using them; they’ll be just right by the time your bread is fully baked. If you toast them ahead of time, they might be overly done, or even burned, by the end of baking.
There are so many seeds and grains that work well as bread toppers.
Suggested seeds and grains
- Sesame Seeds
- Chia seeds
- Raw sunflower seeds
- Poppy Seeds
- Caraway seeds
- Dill seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Flaked barley
- Wheat germs
Rolled oats & Rolled oat flakes
In addition to seeds, the humble rolled oat is one of my favourites. When you bake bread topped with oats, they’re toasted a dark brown and become a crunchy minefield on the crust. This added texture, coupled with their nutty flavour, would be absent had the oats been mixed into the dough directly, where they’d become soft and almost invisible.
Raw wheat bran
Raw wheat bran is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a more rustic appearance with a crunchy texture. Like flaxseed, wheat bran is rich in dietary fibre, essential fatty acids, nutritional minerals and other vitamins.
Choosing herbs, cheese, and spices
There is nothing like the fragrance of hot, homemade bread wafting out of the oven. And that fragrance is even more vibrant and enjoyable when there are herbs in the bread.
You can adapt almost any basic bread recipe into a custom herb bread by tossing a few tablespoons of your favourite herbs. Choose either one herb or a blend of herbs.
The flavours will become even more pleasing and sophisticated if you add cheese and other additions. Add mild, creamy cheeses for herbs such as chives and dill and more pungent cheeses for more assertive herbs such as rosemary and basil.
- Tuscan herbs
- Provincial herbs
- Greek herbs
- Fines herbs
- Italian Seasoning
Other possible additions
Nuts, such as walnuts and pecans, are other extraordinary additions.
Vegetables/Fruit: Sun-dried tomatoes, dried onion flakes (or minced onion), lemon zest, olives, pepper flakes (or minced hot peppers), roasted garlic.
Meat: Crumbled Bacon or diced pepperoni
- Finishing the crust – glazes, washes, and toppings
- How to create an Artisan bread with a rustic crust
- How to make a crispy and crunchy crust?
- Everything You Need to Know to Start Baking Awesome Bread Using a Bread Maker
- Fast2eat Bread Recipes
- How to make bread with a soft crust
* (“Long-term dietary intake of gluten was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease. However, the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.” Source: http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1892)
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