Autolyze: Rest period early on in dough-making cycle which allows the Gluten proteins to bond.
Bakers Percentage: Also called formula percentage. A convention for listing the ingredients in a dough in which the quantity of each ingredient is expressed as a percentage of the total amount of flour.
Banneton: A round or Oblong basket used to give the bread shape as it proofs. Normally made of wood and is covered in canvas.
Batard: A loaf of bread that has an oval or oblong shape.
Benching: Also called resting or intermediate proofing, during which time the gluten relaxes.
Bench Rest: Dough rest period after fermintation, but before shaping, this allows for the gluten in the dough to relax and makes it easier for shaping.
Biga: A type of pre-ferment used in Italian baking. Many popular Italian breads, including ciabatta, are made using a biga. Using a biga adds complexity to the bread’s flavor and is often used in breads which need a light, open texture with holes. Apart from adding to flavor and texture, a biga also helps to preserve bread by making it less perishable. Biga techniques were developed after the introduction of baker’s yeast as bakers in Italy moved away from the use of sourdough and needed to recover some of the flavor. A biga is usually very firm, between 50 and 60% hydration. The firmness gives the biga a nutty taste.
Boule: A round loaf of bread (meaning “ball” in French).
Bulk Proof/Fermentation: Rest period after kneading dough, necessary in order to allow the yeast to break down sugars in the dough in order to create alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Couche: A linen which is draped on or around dough in order to help keep its shape during proofing.
Crumb: Interior of bread, defined by holes in the bread.
DDT or Desired Dough Temperature: The ideal dough temperature for optimal fermentation for most bread dough is around 24 degrees Celsius / 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ears: The result of scoring the top of the bread, which, when baked, produces lifted pieces of crisp crust that look like ears and make for an attractive appearance.
Elasticity: The property of dough to retract to its initial position after being stretched.
Enriched dough: Also called rich dough because it contains enhancements such as eggs, butter, sugar or cream
Fermentation: The process by which yeast metabolizes sugars to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Folding: One of the best ways of encouraging gluten development in slack doughs. Folding the dough consists of taking a wet dough out of the bowl, spreading it out a little on a clean, well-floured surface, folding it in thirds like a letter, rotating it 90 degrees and folding it up again, picking it up and dusting the loose flour off of it, and then returning the dough to the bowl and covering it again. Like punching down, folding degases the dough some, but it also encourages gluten development.
Gluten: “A strong elastic protein of wheat flour that gives cohesiveness to dough.” Gluten is what allows bread dough to develop those long, beautiful strands and create large open pockets of air (think about the inside of Ciabatta). Bread flours tend to be made from hard wheats that are higher in protein than regular flour, providing more gluten.
Grigne: La Grigne [pronounced (very roughly) la green-yeh], noun: In baking terms, this refers to the little lip of crust that pulls away from the body of the baking loaf right along the score-marks slashed in the surface. In french, this literally means “the grin.”
Hydration: The ratio of liquid ingredients (primarily water) to flour in the dough. A dough with 500g of flour and 310g of water has a hydration of 62% (310/500).
Kneading: the process of working the bread dough in order to strengthen the Gluten fibers with in the bread in order for the yeast’s carbon dioxide to be trapped during the proofing process.
Lame: a double edged blade used to score bread before baking.
Levain: A leavening agent or bread starter, also known as sourdough, leavening, wild yeast or a chef It is frequently used in place of yeast to rise dough. It’s French in origin, but people have been using these types of leavening agents for thousands of years.
‘Mise en place’: Putting everything ‘in its place’ before you start with the bread making.
Pâte fermentée (aka prefermented dough): A type of preferment in which the ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt) are mixed in the same proportion as (usually) a basic white bread dough at about 65% hydration. Basically it’s a piece of dough that is reserved after mixing and incorporated into the next batch of bread.
Poolish: A type of sponge. Typically quite wet, an equal weight of water and flour with an extremely small amount of yeast. Mix it, cover the bowl, and leave it at room temperature overnight.
Primery fermentation: Traditionally, bread is fermented twice, before and after the loaves are formed. The first cycle of fermentation is called “primary fermentation”. This process is also called bulk fermentation. It is the stage in which most of the flavor of the bread is determined.
Proof or Proofing: (1) The final rise of the shaped loaves before baking (2) the hydration of dry active yeast in water before it is added to the dough. Also called secondary fermentation or final fermentation.
Score (aka slash or dock): To cut the surface of the loaf prior to baking. This provides for controlled expansion of the loaves during baking so they do not “break” undesirably. Scoring is also used to enhance the appearance of the bread. It is usually done with a lame or bread scoring tool (see also Lame).
Sourdough: A preferment that is a culture of wild yeast and bacteria that is perpetuated by the periodic addition of flour and water, or a bread leavened in whole or part by this culture.
Sponge: Also known as a “preferment,” a sponge is a portion of the ingredients that is mixed ahead of time, typically overnight. Using a sponge extends the fermentation process longer and generally releases more complex flavors in your loaf. It can also be used to soften dry ingredients (such as whole grains) and release sugars from the grains.