Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Making Bread

Basic Instructions That Work with All Recipes:

Mix all dry ingredients only adding half of the flour in your mixer bowl.

Add wet ingredients and begin mixing using the dough hook following the suggested speed in your mixer 
instruction book for bread. (Water should be about 115°–120° F to allow the yeast to rise.)

If using a Kitchen-aid mixer, set it on 2 for the entire bread mixing and kneading process

Gradually add additional flour until dough cleans the sides of the bowl. The exact amount of flour you will add will depend on the humidity in the air and whether you are using all whole wheat flour. Be patient as you add the flour. Only add ¼–½ cup at a time and watch to see if the dough pulls together and leaves the sides of the bowl basically clean. Remember that when making bread by hand, you are to knead the dough for 6–8 minutes. The mixer doesn't necessarily do it any faster, it just does the work for you. The mistake that often 
makes bread too heavy is adding too much flour.

There is not enough flour yet - the sides of the bowl are not clean.
This is good - stop adding flour and allow the mixer to knead 2-3 minutes.

Once the dough is pulling together and leaving the sides of the bowl clean, stop adding flour and just allow the 
mixer to knead the dough until smooth, elastic, and resistant. (About 2–3 minutes.)

Lightly oil top of dough (or spray with cooking spray), cover with a cloth and let rise until double in size. You can speed this step up by turning your oven to 150° F. Once it is hot, turn the oven off and set your bowl of dough into the oven. (If your mixer has a plastic bowl, you will want to transfer the dough to an oven safe bowl first.) On the counter, it usually takes an hour or more to let your dough rise. In the oven, it is double in size in about 20 minutes.

I spray the bowl before removing the bread hook so it can rise without sticking to the sides.

Remove the dough hook and spray the top of the dough as well.

Cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in a warm oven or on the counter.

I use the oven method most of the time.

Punch dough down and remove from bowl. (You can allow the dough to rise multiple times. Sometimes you just can't get to it when it's ready. Maybe the turkey is still in the oven or the baby needs to be fed or the phone rings. You know you have days like this. Just keep punching it down each time it is double in size. 
Letting it rise a few times actually makes for a fluffier, lighter texture.) When you punch the dough down, turn the oven on to preheat to the right baking temperature for your recipe.

My kids love to be the ones to punch it down - they always wind up a little before giving it their best punch!
Pour it out on the counter - it should leave your bowl pretty clean.

Shape into loaves or rolls on an oiled countertop and place in greased pans.
I oil the counter tops by just spraying them. You can spread a little oil with your hands if you want to. I love my solid surface counter for bread making, but we had laminate counters at our other homes and they were good to.

Grease your pans using pan spray. I store pan spray in my food storage for bread making. It makes it much more convenient.

Divide your dough into the number of loaves you will be making.

Make them as even as possible - some people actually weigh them with a kitchen scale. I don't get that technical.

Shape by grabbing and rolling back and forth a little to lengthen it into a loaf shape and round out the top. You want to manhandle the dough a little to get the air out so you don't end up with large bubbles in your bread.

Here's what it looks like on the top.

Place into greased pans.

Spray the tops of the loaves.

Cover with a cloth and let rise until almost double, about 20 minutes.

I like to pop them in the oven when they reach the top of the pans. You can see the my third loaf was a little smaller - I didn't use a scale.

Bake according to specific recipe instructions. Bread is done when it is golden brown and sounds hollow 
when you tap it.

Take bread out of pans when done and cool on a cooling rack. Spread melted butter over the tops of the bread if you want a soft crust.

Take a step back and admire your work - go ahead feel provident today! Homemade bread costs less than $.50 a loaf to make and you can control the ingredients. Find a favorite recipe and make up a few mixes to keep in your pantry to speed up the process another time. Only put half the flour in your mix along with the other dry ingredients and then you are ready to just dump it in your mixer and begin.

I'll post some of my favorite recipes soon.

Making Bread by Hand - you don't have to have a mixer!

Follow the basic instructions as above. You are just going to do the work the mixer usually would. It will take a few times of trying bread to determine just how much flour to add. It is better to add a little less flour than a little too much. Many women who bake bread all the time for their families find that they can do a larger batch by hand than they can do in a mixer so they prefer doing it by hand all the time. Don't let not having a mixer be an excuse not to bake bread!


  1. Another idea for soft crust on top that I usually use is basting the top with milk when it first comes out of the oven. It doesn't taste as yummy as butter, but is a more economic and less caloric option and works beautifully.

  2. I love to learn new ideas! Thank you for sharing this quick tip. I will try it next time I bake bread.