There are a different methods for making a Dough: Kneading by hand, Folding, kneading with a kitchen machine? Which method is the best?
In my eyes there is not “best” method, each method will develop a gluten network and that’s what we aiming for. So it is up to you to choose the method you like most.
When Kneading by Hand I like to use Bertinets kneading technique because you will get fast a nice developed dough.
When Kneading with a kitchen machine you should keep an eye on the kneading time. The longer you knead the stronger the gluten network will be. A completely developed gluten network is fine when you need a regular and fine crumb for breads like sandwich breads. But if you want an open crumb with large irregular holes as in baguettes you should only knead until a middle gluten development or knead only a short time and develop the gluten network with folding the dough.
Folding is a very useful technique when working with higher hydrated dough like ciabatta dough. During proofing fold the dough every 30 or 45 min: Flour your countertop and put the dough on it. Flat the dough carefully to a square. Now fold the right and the left side to the middle, then from button and top, too.
What is the different between a long, cold fermentation in the fridge and a short, warm fermentation?
A long, cold fermentation creates a more aromatic bread and retarding the dough can be useful when you have not so much time. You can ferment your dough or proof the loaves (use a proofing basket) in the fridge. The next morning I bake the proofed loaves directly out of the fridge or, if I fermented the dough in the fridge, I form the loaves and let them rise. Because I do not wait for the dough to warm up, I add then 30 min more for proofing.
What can I do when my dough is very elastic and shorten every time I try to roll it out?
If the dough shorten every time you stretch it you should allow the gluten network to relax. After dividing the dough preshape the dough roughly in the desired shape, then rest it for about 20 min. After that handling the dough is much easier.
How can I prevent a skin forming on my loaves?
Something that work very fine: Take a big, clean plastic bag and place the tray / proofing basket in the bag. Bloat it a little bit, then seal it with a knot so that the bag does not touch the loaves. If you need a higher humidity and temperature you can place a bowl with hot water in the bag, too.
But often it is enough to cover the bread with some linen tea towel.
Glazing? What should I use: Egg, Cream, Milk, Water?
I do not glaze bread because I like the rustic look of floured crust.
Sweet bread and pastry I normally glaze with egg which I mixed with a pinch of salt and sugar. Egg makes the crust shine in a dark golden hue which I like very much. You can use milk or cream to, but both did not add such a golden hue and shine to the crust.
Can I store / freeze the dough?
Freezing dough is possible but did not work so good in my hands. The only exception for me are Croissants, which I freeze after proofing. But normally I prefer to freeze the bread after baking.
In the fridge you can store dough up to a week but you should keep in mind that it will gets more and more sour. The proteases in the flour will start to turn down the Gluten network, which will soften the dough so forming a loaf will be not so easy. That’s why I normally store only pizza dough in the fridge.