November 20, 2008
If I were a gambler, I would bet heavily that Billy Joel never baked a loaf of bread. However, one of his most famous lyric is one of my favorite dough mixing montras, “Get it right the first, that’s the main thing. Get it right the next time..”.
Whenever I am teaching new employees, or refining my own dough mixing techniques, I am constantly trying to make them, or myself, aware of the measurements. Whether it is the amount of flour or the water, pay attention. Dough, like most of us, does not like to be tortured; it likes to get to its preferred consistently immediately. It does not like to be too wet, then have flour added to make it too dry and then have water added, and so on.
In an effort to develop, or hone, this skill, I think it is a really good idea to start off with a very simple bread recipe. Devote all attention to how much of each ingredient you are using. When adding liquid, do so all at once, with the confidence of a seasoned dough mixer. If the dough is not the desired consistency, (for a light, crispy baguette, I really like a very soft, although, not wet dough) add either flour or water to get the consistency that you want. However, take note on the adjustments that you made, so that the next time, or the time after that, you get it right the first time!