Some important lessons i learnt by trying out the same things again and again and which I sometimes forget to mention in the recipes.
Salt kills yeast if it comes in direct contact with it. Add salt after adding the first cup of flour to the yeast mixture and mixing it well.
Kneading the bread dough by hand or in bread machine for 5 minutes or longer gives great gluten strands and hence softer, chewy and air filled bread.
On the other hand, muffins/cakes should not be overmixed as more gluten strands will give you a tougher cake/muffin
Whole wheat flour is the stone ground whole grain flour. I got mine from safeway. The chapatti/roti flour is not all whole wheat and also has some content of farina which usually increases the hardness of the crust of the bread or cake.
For first try of any recipe, use all purpose flour or bread flour.
For softer crusts, use milk instead of water for some added fat.
The dough after rising is usually very sticky to handle. Use a well floured surface and well oiled hands to knead the dough.
If the crusts keep coming out hard in spite of the above tips, then you might be overbaking. Each oven is different and the baking times vary. I used to check every 5 minutes after the first 20 minuted of baking to be sure of the timing.
I usually bake breads on the lower shelf of the oven, muffins on middle level and all pizzas on the upper shelf.
Moist ingredients in Bread (pureed or grated carrots, cauliflower, apples etc) lose moisture during baking, so keep the dough a bit on the dry side.
Moist fruits like strawberries, raspberries etc will make a cake or bread soggy if put in large quantities or big pieces.
Will add more tips after some more thought.
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