Autolyse: A period of time when the main ingredients (flour, water, and optionally starter or salt depending on the recipe) are mixed to allow the flour to hydrate and begin enzyme activity.
Baker’s Percentage: The ratio of ingredients compared to the amount of flour in a recipe. Flour is represented as 100%, therefore, a recipe with 1000g of flour and 700g of water would be said to have 70% water (or 70% hydration).
Banneton: A basket used to hold a bread’s shape whilst proofing. Cane bannetons also give that familiar ‘lined’ pattern to a loaf of bread.
Bulk Ferment: The first ‘rise’ of the bread, with all of the ingredients together before the recipe is divided.
Crumb: The interior of the loaf.
Crust: The exterior of the loaf:
Dutch Oven: A large pot, usually cast iron or enamel, such as a Le Creuset or Cassoulet pot. Used when baking to create a hot, moist atmosphere that allows for a good rise and colour.
Enzymes: Proteins that break down the starch in flour into sugars, creating both flavour and colour.
Fold: The technique of stretching a piece of dough and ‘folding’ it back over itself, used to align the gluten in the dough and make the dough more stable.
Gluten: Proteins in the bread which form and line up to ‘trap’ the gas released by the yeast, creating the aerated texture of a light loaf.
Hydration: The amount of liquid in a dough, usually expressed as part of the baker’s percentage. The weight of flour in a loaf is always considered 100%, so, for example, a loaf with 1000g of flour and 600g water would be 60% hydration.
Levain: The French term for a natural or wild yeast ‘starter’.
Proofing: The second rise of the bread, after shaping and prior to baking. This stage gives the bread its final shape and texture.
Overproofing: Proofing the bread for too long results in a slack, occasionally sour tasting dough. This is because the yeast has depleted all of the sugars available in the dough.
Sourdough: A loaf made with natural or ‘wild’ yeast. Sourdough is a generic term: the loaf does not necessarily taste ‘sour’.
Starter: A mix of flour and water that has been allowed to ferment in order to grow ‘wild yeast’. A starter is used to leaven or rise a loaf of bread that does not contain commercial yeast (such as instant dried yeast).
Yeast: A naturally occurring fungus that feeds on the sugar in the dough and releases, amongst other things, carbon dioxide, which causes the dough to rise. Yeast may come in a variety of forms such as instant, dried, baker’s yeast (fresh yeast) or wild yeast in the form of a sourdough starter.