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How to make bread
Bread is easy to make!
It's one of the things we often end up eating every day. It's a popular food worldwide and it's a great source of the grains we need so many servings of daily.
Conveniently, bread is also rather simple to make.
There is such a variety of different breads in the world that it is exciting to think about all the options open to you that you can create right in your kitchen.
I used to make bread with my mom all the time, with and without a machine, and now I've finally learned to make it by myself in a bunch of different ways and with a bunch of different ingredients..
This HubPage will give the basics on making bread, different methods and tips on how to do it. Note that there are different methods with different measurements and varying ingredients featured here. You can use bread machines or just your hands, and make it according to your tastes or the occasion.
Good luck and have fun!
Before you start baking bread, make sure you have the right stuff:
- Yeast: Make sure it's fresh! Active dry yeast is good to have because it's sold in individual packets and is easy to maintain. Also, cake yeast can make for a great loaf of bread. Pay attention to expiration dates! Try to use yeast within a day or two of purchasing it or it may mold.
- Water (and other liquids): You can use water to dissolve yeast or add it to the mixture. If a recipe calls for water of a certain temperature, you should adhere to it and use a thermometer... sometimes to dissolve yeast, 110-115 degrees, and to combine with other ingredients, 120-130 degrees.
While water makes for a crisper crust, milk and cream adds richness and a finer texture; they also make bread brown faster because of the sugars and fats in them.
Hard as well as very soft water can affect yeast growth. Changes in your water source can affect the size of the loaf. In these cases, you might want to try using bottled water.
- Flour: This is obviously a biggie and has a big impact on the final quality of your bread. You want science? Bread flour has more protein for bread's unique texture; when water is added, two of the protein types (glutanin and gliadin) combine and form gluten, which traps air bubbles formed when yeast ferments... that's how the air holes in bread are created!
Whole-grain flours add color, texture and flavor that you can't get from regular bread flour. However, they usually don't have enough gluten, so you have to mix all-purpose or bread flour to it.
You can also use all-purpose flour, but don't use cake flour because there isn't enough protein in it and the bread will collapse when it's baking!
- Fats, oils, butter, shortening: These add softness, flavor and moistness. No whipped butters or margarine; these have water and the loaf won't work!
- Eggs: These also add richness, color and flavor to the bread.
- Sugar: This produces carbon dioxide, allowing the bread to rise. Sometimes this isn't included in bread recipes, but the sugar in the flour will account for added sugar.
- Salt: You need salt for every bread recipe! It helps control yeast development and keeps bread for rising too much. It also adds to the texture and flavor of bread.
- Toppings: Sometimes you can add things to the outside of the bread, such as glazes for taste and appearance. You can spray water to the top of the dough for a crisper crust. The crust will be softer if you brush it with butter after it's been baked.
One way to make bread at home
- Read the recipe carefully and make sure you have everything you need. It's best to start with a simple recipe before getting into something more complicated.
- Preheat the oven according to directions.
- Proof the yeast by measuring liquid as directed by the yeast package and sprinkling yeast on top. This is to make sure the yeast is fresh and active. If it bubbles and rises, the yeast is fine and you can continue with the recipe.
- Measure part of the flour in a bowl with other dry ingredients and flavorings. Create a well in the middle and pour the yeast and other liquids.
- Beat it well with a whisk.
- Add the rest of the flour until it's hard to stir. This is a good time to add any other ingredients you'd like, such as nuts.
- Dump the dough on a hard, flat surface and begin kneading with your hands, palms, fists, etc. Turn the dough over several times, keeping it all in one clump. Fold half of it toward you and push away with your palms. Rotate the dough and repeat kneading until the dough is smooth and springy, not sticky... 5-10 minutes is good.
- Grease a large bowl with shortening and put the dough inside. Turn it upside down so both sides are greased... this way it won't dry when it's baking.
- Cover the bowl with a cloth and put it someplace warm, such as an oven. This allows the dough to rise.
- Let the dough rise until it's double its original size. Punch it down and put it on a floured surface. Shape however you want or according to the recipe.
- Put the dough in tins, a cookie sheet, or whatever the recipe calls for. Cover it again and let it rise until it's double the size. This should take less time because there's more yeast in the dough.
- Finally, bake the bread in the oven. It should continue rising a little. Keep it baking as long as you like; when it's done, it should sound hollow when you tap it.
- When it's finished, put it on a wire rack so it can cool. Eat it hot or at room temperature.
- NOTE: Sometimes you stir yeast in flour instead of proofing it... in this case, water is supposed to be warmer.
- Batter breads start with wet doughs/batters. You don't knead it but stir it instead; also, stir it down instead of punching it. You spoon it into baking containers, too.
- Sweet and other similar breads are shaped specially, according to instructions.
- Preferrably knead the dough by hand; it makes for higher-quality bread.
- Punching down the dough means some air can be inside; you don't want to punch it all out.
- Let dough rise so the gluten can rest.
- Use a bread knife to cut the bread.
- You can
- It's okay to make a large recipe if you are forced to buy a lot of one ingredient and the recipe only calls for a little. You can always give them away. Just remember that each one takes a while...
- Don't cut too early! You may be impatient, but however good the bread looks, don't make it too dense by cutting it when it's still too warm and smashing it :(
- You can eat a little dough, but not too much.
- Don't burn yourself!
Make bread with a bread machine
It's ok to use a breadmaker when you don't have the time or energy to make bread the old-fashioned way... even though it probably won't taste as good.
However, there are a few tips specific to breadmakers to know before starting:
- Keep the receipt!
- Use a surge protector with your machine because the microchip in the machine is very sensitive to voltage changes. Unplug the machine when it is not in use.
- Make sure to completely end any program you are on before you unplug your bread maker; this will protect the computer chip.
The dryness of winter can dry out flours, so check while the dough kneads to see if more moisture needs to be added.
High altitudes can also dry out flour. After about 5 minutes of the machine kneading the dough, open it and check the dough's consistency (it should be slightly tacky). If it's too dry, add 1 tablespoon of liquid at a time, letting it work into the dough. Count the number of tablespoons you use to get an idea of how much liquid you need to use for your bread maker generally.
When you are getting ready to bake and need eggs at room temperature, put cold eggs in a bowl of very warm (not hot) water.
If you have a Quick Bread cycle on your bread machine, you should use baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast.
My favorite breads
Hawaiian sweet bread - Very sweet, light and flexible... you can eat it for any occasion.
Herb bread - This tastes so good with butter, even flavored butters.
Cheddar bread - A little heavier, but if you love cheese, this bread is a good thing. Try melting cheddar cheese on top of the loaf!
Chocolate-chip pumpkin bread - This is great for holidays, especially Halloween and Thanksgiving. It's not even really like bread, but more like a lighter dessert.
Mom's zucchini bread - I used to make this with my mom all the time with zucchinis from our garden. It's unusually sweet but soo good!
Additional information and sources
- How to Make Bread from Scratch - wikiHow
This site is a clean, simple way to learn to bake a basic loaf of bread. There are a list of ingredients, steps and tips to complete your project. There are also links to related pages and an option to send the page to friends.
- How To Make Bread (without a bread machine)
This page from The World’s Biggest Show & Tell is an alternative way of showing how to bake bread; it’s like a slideshow and each slide is a different step in the process. The pictures are very helpful.
- How to Make Bread from Scratch
Bread making tips, hints and recipes from About.com’s Basics of Cooking Lesson Series. One page has ingredient information, another has methods, and so on. Very in-depth descriptions of the process.
The link says it all, right? Everything you need to know about bread, from recipes, info on bread machines and other products, and instructions on how to make your own bread and even your own flour!
- Bread Recipes
The well-known Web site All Recipes has more than 3,200 bread recipes, including ratings, reviews and tips. There are special holiday breads and other specific bread sections, including flat breads, bagels and those meant for machines.
- Sunset Magazine bread recipes
The one and only Sunset Magazine features various and unusual bread recipes on their Web site myrecipes. Some include a-dilly-of-an-onion bread, braided egg bread and bacon-cheddar grits bread… very original.
- Bread machine reviews
ConsumerSearch offers aspiring bread-machine owners the chance to review different machines to choose from. Each includes prices, descriptions and user reviews with the star system; all information is in great detail.
- Bread - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Always an interesting resource, Wikipedia offers everything you could want to know about bread itself, including its etymology, history, composition and presence across cultures. There is even basic nutritional information!
- Howstuffworks "How Bread Works"
Learn how bread works! You can read about what is included in bread, bread basics, how it is made and even experiments involving bread. Finally there is a bread Q&A to dismiss any bread myths you may have held onto.