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All bread making goes through specific stages, from raw ingredients to a baked loaf to storage. I have outlined what happens when making a bread loaf recipe, from start to finish:
Stage I: Mise en Place - Ingredients and Equipment
Stage II: Mixing and Kneading
Stage III: Primary Fermentation and Punching Down
Stage IV: Dividing, Rounding and Benching
Stage V: Shaping and Panning
Stage VI: Secondary or Final Fermentation (Proofing)
Stage VII: Final Touches and Baking
Stage VIII: Cooling and Storing
Depending on the type of bread and type of fermentation technique used, some happen at the same time, while there may be slight variations within or across others. However, keep in mind that 80% of the quality of the finished bread will be determined during the primary fermentation stage, in which most of the flavor is developed, and 20% during the baking stage, which also includes scoring the dough and steaming, if applicable. The in-between stages affect the bread in subtle, but important ways.
SARAH SAYS: If you encounter bread-making problems, we offer solutions.