Autolyse: Developed by Professor Raymond Calvel:  A method for mixing certain wheat breads and sourdough breads, in which the flour and water are mixed very lightly, after which the dough rests before the remaining ingredients are added and the final mix begins. Extensibility, dough volume and potential improvements in aroma and flavor result from this technique. 

Baker’s percentage: The standard method of calculating the proportion of ingredients in a bread dough. The flour is always considered 100%. If several flours are incorporated, the sum of all flour will be 100% and each of the other ingredients are expressed as a percentage of the flour weight.

Bàtard: An oval shaped loaf.

Biga: The Italian term for a preferment, it can be either stiff or loose. It is made from flour, water and a small amount of yeast.

Boule: A round loaf

Bran: The outermost edible layer of the wheat kernel, consisting mainly of minerals and cellulose (insoluble fiber or cell wall).

Chef: This refers to a piece of ripe sourdough culture which is set aside before the final mix in order to perpetuate the culture.

Crumb: The inner portion of a loaf of bread.

Elasticity: The characteristic that allows the dough to spring back after being stretched. It contributes significantly to volume and structure. In wheat flour, the protein gluten chiefly provides it.

Endosperm: The innermost, starchy portion of cereal grain. The gluten forming protein is located in this portion of the cereal grain or berry.

Extensibility: The ability of dough to be stretched. This is provided by gliadin in wheat flour.

Fermentation: In bread baking, fermentation refers to the conversion of sugars into carbon dioxide, alcohol, heat and organic acids by yeast.

Folding: A technique, used to degas bread dough, which can also strengthen the dough. This takes place during bulk fermentation. The dough is placed on the bench, stretched out, and then folded.  The process is similar to folding an envelope.

Germ: This is the embryo of the cereal grain.  In the case of wheat and rye, it is the berry. The roots and shoots come from this section of the grain. It is high in fats and vitamins and contains 2-4 % of the grain’s protein content.

Gliadin: A flour protein that provides extensibility to the dough.

Gluten: The combination of proteins that contribute, particularly in wheat,  to dough elasticity, extensibility and strength. Gluten’s ability to trap gasses helps to produce structure and volume to bread dough.

Hard Wheat: One of the six classes of wheat that is high in protein and is generally used in bread production.

Hydration: The percentage of liquid ingredients in a bread dough relative to flour weight (bakers percentage in practice baby!)

Kamut: Grain, originally from Egypt, occasionally used in bread baking. See Kamut Levain post.

Levain: A French term for sourdough bread. It can also refer to the final stage of building before a dough is mixed.

Miche: A French term for a large round loaf, originally close to 5 kilograms in weight. For centuries it was the most prevalent type of bread eaten in Europe.

Mickey-Mouse: Something that is unnecessary to do, but dave does it anyways; idiosyncrasy. 

Oven spring: The rapid expansion in loaf volume that occurs during the first few minutes of baking.

Pàte fermentèe: A pre-ferment also known as old dough. It can be prepared separately or it can also be simply taken from unbaked dough and saved to be used during the next day’s formulas.

Peel: A flat shovel made of wood often with a long handle. It is used to unload bread from an oven. It can also be used to load bread in an oven. (I use a wooden cutting board)

Poolish: a 100% hydrated preferment made from equal parts flour and water. Used in both bread and pastry production. The high hydration in these breads often gives them a nutty flavor.

Pre-ferment: A portion of a dough’s overall ingredients that are mixed together and allowed to ferment before being added to the final dough.

Proofing: A term referring to the “rise” after the bread has been shaped.

Pullman bread: Loaves baked in straight sided loaf pans which are often lidded. The finished product is typically rectangular.

Pumpernickel: a course flour ground from the entire rye berry. It also refers to bread made using mostly pumpernickel flour and baked for 12 or more hours in a low oven. In the united states pumpernickel is darkened with artificial ingredients such as caramel color.

Retarding: The process of slowing down the fermentation process by refrigerating bread dough. This often takes 16 hours or more.

Sourdough Starter: A culture of microorganisms often kept going for many years and even generations. It contains wild yeast and bacteria. It provides both leavening and flavor to breads.

Spelt flour: A flour with good bread making characteristics. It is known as Dinkel in Germany and Farro in Italy. It can be tolerated by people with certain bread allergies.

Starter: A general term for sourdough culture.

Straight dough: A style of mixing, in which all of the ingredients are mixed at once; no preferment is employed.

Vollkornbrot: Literally, full grain bread. This refers to a German class of breads, which are made entirely with whole grains.

Yeast: A unicellular fungus of which thousands of strain exists (I call my personal strain “boiler room yeast” for obvious reasons) In bread baking, the metabolic action of yeast converts sugar to carbon dioxide and alcohol during the fermentation process.

All definitions are courtesy of Jeffery Hamelman1 with my own minor adaptations and comments.
1. Hamelman J. Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. 1st ed. Wiley; 2004.

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