Techniques of bread dough preparation and leavening have become common heritage of the Italian food industry, but it's possible to make a good loaf of bread or products related to this even at home, respecting required processing and leavening times.
The existing types of bread are many and are available to meet different needs. In recent times cereals other than wheat were revalued which belonged to the poorest rural tradition as kamut, or oats, and which are widely used in the preparation of a type of bread that is richer in fiber.
So even doughs, which are the first and most important step of a good type of bread, are different from each other and different ingredients and leavening times are basic to obtain other tastes and consistency.
Italy is a country that provides a broad overview of the many types of bread and rolls. With the same dough or with very little variation in the dough you will get a good homemade bread, to be offered as an accompaniment to a main dish for lunch or dinner, or soft rolls, useful for the preparation of snacks and quick lunches, as well as brioches or cakes, to fill with chocolate and jam as a good meal for children.
The number of types of doughs that can be made is almost infinite, as the ingredients that can be added. But any kind of bread will include for sure at least four ingredients: flour, yeast, water, salt, although some doughs are not leavened (so-called unleavened bread) and others do not contain salt (such as Tuscan bread): you can however start from this generalization.
The key ingredient of bread is flour, and it's usually bought without much thinking about it. But we often ignore that it's the amount of protein in flour to determine its ability to bake. Many flours in fact contain more starch than protein and therefore they must be mixed with other types to get a fair leavening.
Bread doughs can result different not only for used wheat, but even for the combination with the other main ingredients. A more savory, elastic and hard dough can be obtained with natural yeast (sourdough), and it will need more leavening to become soft.
Using baking powder and brewers yeast in bread dough instead, it will give to the crumb a much more aromatic flavor and the bread will be more porous with a crisper crust, just like pizza dough (Italian use to make rolls with this kind of dough, which are decidedly flat and tasty, suitable to be filled with any type of ingredient).
If milk or olive oil are added replacing water, a different sweet and softer dough can be used to make classical "panini", which remain soft even after baked, good for both salted and sweet fillings.
From these variations, adding eggs, sugar and essences as vanilla and citrus, resulting bread dough will be good to make delicious brioches, which Italians often use to fill with ice cream.
Sour Dough Starter - Time For Fermentation!
Natural bread is based on a sour dough starter or pre-ferment. Here's a recipe.
There are many methods on how to make dough for bread. First rule is that it requires patience and care.