Hearty Homemade Bread - Recipe for 6-8 Loaves
Who Wants a Thick Slice?
It has been said that bread-making is an art, and this is true. When you make your own bread, you control what goes into it, so you can bump up nutrition and flavor. By adding interesting ingredients, you can ensure your bread has a wonderful texture. Best of all, you can have fun with it! Unleashing your creativity by forming your loaves into interesting shapes and adding tasty toppers.
It All Starts With a Good Recipe
This article offers a fantastic bread recipe and how-to tips, with pictures to guide you step-by-step, but more than that, we'll go a step beyond and discuss ways to make your bread truly special by looking at how to add texture and delicious toppers.
Use this one master recipe to make many different types of bread and bread buns.
Rest assured, making yeast bread isn't difficult. Once you get onto the process, setting a batch of bread to rise only takes about 10-15 minutes. From there, it's simply a matter of a couple of risings and a couple of punch-downs, until you are ready to pop your bread into the oven.
There's Nothing Nicer Than Homemade Bread
But Isn't it Hard to Make Bread?
Not at all. By following the tips in this article, you, too, can make your own.
Ready to Get Started?
Bread can be made using a few simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand. You will need a large bowl and regular yeast before you begin.
Rising the Yeast
I use a large measuring cup for this but you can use a small mixing bowl. You want to make sure your water is hot enough to activate the yeast but not scalding, which will kill the yeast.
into a measuring cup or bowl:
- 2 tbsp. yeast
- 2 tsp. of white sugar
- 1 cup of warm water
If your water cools off and yeast stops working, simply fill a bowl with hot water and place your measuring cup into it. The "heat boost" will get your yeast bubbling and foaming again.
Adding Fat, Sugar, Salt
Into a Large Bowl, Add:
While your yeast is rising, into a second large bowl add:
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of fat
- 2 tsp. salt
- 3 cups of hot water. Stir until fat is dissolved.
- 3 cups of cold water to achieve the right temperature before you add the yeast. Water should be warm but not hot enough to kill the yeast.
I like the flavor of brown sugar, so often use it instead of white sugar when I'm making bread--especially brown bread (and as is pictured here). Brown sugar is moist, so it's not a stretch to see why your bread would also turn out moist.
Add in yeast mixture, from your first bowl or your measuring cup, which should be foamy and bubbling, and stir to mix ingredients.
I prefer a large rubber tub for mixing my bread dough in because it is easier to scrape the dough from the sides. Whatever you use, make sure you use a large enough bowl.
Wash Basins Do the Trick
For years, I used a sturdy round Rubbermaid wash basin to make my bread in. It worked wonderfully well and I found that the dough didn't stick to the sides as much as it does when using stainless steel, so clean-up was easier. If you can find one of these, I highly recommend it or a heavy plastic wash basin. Wash basins really do the trick for making large batches of bread.
Adding Flour & Mixing Bread Dough
- Start adding in the flour, using either a soup bowl or a flour scoop. You don't need to measure your flour because you will go by how your dough feels.
- Keep adding flour and stirring with a wooden spoon until your dough becomes stiff and too hard to stir.
- Sprinkle flour liberally over the top of the dough and start kneading the bread dough with your hands.
- Keep adding flour and kneading each time dough starts to feel sticky.
- When dough becomes firm, start folding bread dough inward with the heel of your hand, folding and heeling, working in a circle. Dough will develop an elastic feel.
- Continue kneading and heeling and adding flour until dough no longer sticks to your hands.
- Dough will form into a large ball. Add flour to any sticky spots.
Kneading & Heeling
Only 10-20 Minutes to Set a Batch to Rise
Once you know how to do it, you can put up a batch of dough in no time.
Setting Your Dough to Rise
Once you've mixed in all your flour, smooth liquid oil over the top of your dough ball, running your hand around sides of bowl to grease, as well. This prevents dough from sticking to bowl as it rises. Place a tea towel over your bowl (to prevent a crust forming on the dough) and set in a warm place to rise.
You will want to check your dough often. Allow to double in volume and punch down, let rise and punch down a second time and then shape into loaves and put in pans.
Bread Rising in Pans
Shaping Bread Loaves
- Cut bread dough into 6-8 portions (depending on the size of your pans or your desired size).
- Place dough portions on a floured counter and shape into oblongs, tucking dough under at the sides.
- Place dough in greased pans, cover, and set to rise.
Make sure to leave space between pans because if the dough sticks together, when pulled apart, it could deflate.
Olive Bread Set to Rise
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Baking Your Bread
When dough has risen 1/2-3/4 in pans, bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for approximately an hour.
- Double-pan so that bottoms of loaves don't over-brown.
- You may choose to reduce your heat to 300-250 degrees last 15-30 minutes of cooking time.
A Word About Flours
If you want a white bread, a better choice from a health standpoint is to use an unbleached white flour.
I like to make nutritious whole grain bread and I use a mixture of flours, often using oat flour, Kamut flour, whole wheat flour or any other flour I have on hand.
You can use a combo of flours or use half white, half whole wheat.
Adding Texture to Brown Bread
A look through the home pantry can yield extra ingredients to add a pleasing wholesome texture to your brown bread.
- Bran adds extra goodness and a flaky texture and goes very well in brown bread.
- Chopped walnuts make a nice addition to homemade bread
- Flax seeds add goodness and crunch to brown bread
- Oatmeal makes a good filler ingredient, which saves on using so much flour, and makes for a denser bread
- Sunflower seeds add a pleasing chewy texture to homemade bread
- Wheat germ adds extra goodness to homemade bread and adds to the denseness
Bread Crusted With Sesame Seeds, Crunchy and So Good!
I love crusting my white and whole grain bread with toppers, which add both flavor and crunch.
Add any of the following toppers, after you put your bread dough in pans to rise. I lightly press these into the dough.
Toppers stick better by brushing bread with oil or beaten egg before sprinkling them on the dough.
- Cornmeal--Cornmeal adds a slightly crunchy texture.
- Large oats--Large oats make an interesting and wholesome-looking topper for bread loaves.
- Poppy seeds--Poppy seeds add a lovely color and an exotic look to the top of bread. They have a pleasing flavor and go well with any bread.
- Sesame seeds--Bread crusted with sesame seeds tastes so good! The sesame seeds develop a toasted flavor as bread bakes and they add a delightful crunch.
- Sifted flour--It's amazing how something so simple makes such a nice topper for bread. Many bakeries do this. As seen in the photo, I like adding sifted flour to the tops of loaves.
Adding toppers takes only seconds but it is so worth it becauseyour bread will look and taste so much better.
Poppy Seeds Make Such a Nice Topper
Sifted Flour Sifted Flour Makes a Surprisingly Nice Topper for Bread
Bread Scored on the Top
Scoring the Top of Your Bread Loaves Before Baking
A neat touch is to score the tops of your loaves prior to baking. You often see this done in bakeries. It is important to do this as soon as you put the dough in the pans and to not cut the dough later (because it would deflat).
Making cuts in the top of your bread can add an interesting visual element to your bread.
- Slice straight across
- Slice on the diagonal
- Slice in a criss-cross pattern
Do You Make Your Own Bread?
Bread Baking Tips
- Use shortening to grease pans (Do not use oil as bread may stick to pans)
- Double-pan so that bottoms do not over-brown
- Leave spaces between bread pans when in oven for air flow
- Do not allow baked bread to cool in pans, as bottoms will become soggy
- Remove baked bread from pans and place loaves on a tea towel on their sides to cool.
You can also make buns from this bread recipe. A good combination is 4 loaves and 1-2 pans of buns.
Cut palm-sized balls and place on counter. Bring together thumb and middle finger, and start rolling bun dough in a counter-clockwise motion. Perfectly formed balls will form. Place balls in greased pans and cook for a shorter period, 15-20 minutes at 325, then 300 degrees until golden brown.
A Word About Clean-Up
A rubber scraper is a must-have tool to make short work of clean-up. These cost pennies but I always have a couple in my kitchen. You can use a scraper to remove stuck on dough from your bowl and for getting hardened bits of dough off the counter.
Fresh From the Oven
Why Make Your Own Bread?
People are always surprised I make my own bread. I've been doing so for years. Once you get on to the process, setting a batch of bread dough takes about 10-15 minutes. Once mastered, the whole process is actually very easy.
Perhaps, no other undertaking offers this level of satisfaction: you get a number of loaves that last for awhile, you control what goes into your bread, AND, you can be as creative as you like.
Still Have Questions?
- How to Make Bread: Bread-Making Tips & Tricks
Got a question about breadmaking? Visit this page for FAQs about how to make bread, troubleshooting and tips.
© 2013 Athlyn Green