2. Pre-Fermentation; Not all bread use a pre-fermentaion method in the recipe. Usually done in advance of baking, part of the flour is mixed with a liquid to allow the enzymes and gluten to start developing. Most of us are familiar with a sour dough starter this is a form of pre-fermentation.
3. Mixing; This refers to the kneading, weather if be done by hand or machine the gluten needs to be developed to a window pane or the bread will not raise properly.
4. Bulk fermentation; Great bread really comes down to one skill, how to manipulate time and temperature to control the outcome. If one or the other is off the bread will suffer in the end. This is where the flavor of the bread is developed with the braking down of the sugars in the grain.
5. Punching Down; Often called de-gasing, this allows for redistribution of the nutrients to the yeast and enzymes in the bread along with allowing the gluten to relax. Once the gluten is relaxed and the nutrients moved around the gluten will have greater stretch resulting in a higher loaf.
6. Dividing; Is the preparation for the final product, the loaf or rolls each is weighed.
7. Rounding; Stretches the gluten again and forms a tight surface tension or skin on the dough. This will help the dough to keep its shape during the final rise.
8. Benching; Is another term for resting. This main purpose for this stage is to relax the gluten after it's workout. If the gluten is relaxed it will allow more stretch in the baking stage which means a nice oven spring.
9. Shaping and Panning; The final shape is given to the dough. How well the dough is shaped will effect the final height of your loaf. Good shaping results in good internal structure for the dough.
10. Proofing; Also called the second fermentation, time and temperature again are very critical. The food for the yeast is running low so don't over proof.
11. Baking; If all went right with the above steps your loaf will have an oven spring. The first 10 minutes of baking are the most critical. This is when the bread height is set before the temperature kills off the yeast.
12. Cooling; Bread is best if it's cooled to room temperature before slicing into it. During the cooling the flavors are still intensifying and the moisture is stabilizing in the loaf.
13. Storing and Eating; Lean bread can be stored at room temperature in paper but must be eaten within a day or two. Enriched bread are best store in plastic or frozen right away. Sandwich bread I find is best to cool, slice and freeze.