I was going to post a video for the visual learners, like myself, that would illustrate what Mike meant a couple of posts ago when he said "bread likes it rough." I'm having trouble getting this specific video to upload but I'll keep trying. You'll know when the gluten is starting to develop when it releases from the side of the mixing bowl and begins to slap violently against the metal as it's being kneaded. That's the sign that it's almost there. Then you use a technique called checking the window. Pull a little bit of the dough from the mixer and begin to spread it gently with your fingers. The dough should be able to stretch almost until it's translucent before it breaks. When it's there you can start your first proofing, which is my favorite step because you actually get to see your dough come alive. It allows the dough rest and create gasses through fermentation which causes it to develop flavor and expand so that it's easier to manipulate. Proofing can take from 20 minutes to an hour and a half depending on how warm your surroundings are, how warm the water is that you use, how humid or dry your surroundings are, and the age of your yeast. Yeast that's younger tends to become active quicker than older yeast. Heat and humidity will also speed up the process. I'm in the baking world right now so hopefully more techniques and visual aids to come. This one is a fennel raisin bread that is being shaped into a batard or torpedo.
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