Just Good Food

Bread Dough Tips


In breadmaking there are no prizes for using the most flour. Actually, it's almost the opposite; you want to use only as much as you need to keep the dough from sticking.

Dusting—Bakers are always dusting stuff, dusting dough with flour, dusting the counter with flour, dusting a pan with cornmeal and so on. There's even a move they work on. It's a flick of the wrist as they toss a pinch of flour across the counter so the flour spreads out nicely. When dough sticks, a baker picks it up with one hand, takes a pinch of flour with the other and tosses it across the counter.

Tip—Keep a bowl, like a cereal bowl, of flour on the counter and reach in to take what you need.

Shrinking dough—You rolled the dough out to just the right size, then, when you picked it up it shrank. Right? That's what bread dough does. If you don't shrink it on the counter, it'll shrink in the oven. Experienced bakers expect this, so they roll dough out a bit bigger than they want it, then give it a little shake—like they're trying to move a big rug—before they use it for pizza or anything else.

Dough scraper—This is an invaluable tool for dealing with dough. Bakers use it to cut dough, to slide under dough when it sticks to the counter, to lift an item from counter to cookie sheet, and finally, to scrape the counter and clean up—this last purpose is particularly useful.

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John Ryan

Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.

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