Far and away, I get more questions regarding yeast and baking bread than any other. It can be tricky to know when to stop adding flour, how long to knead, what yeast to use, etc, especially when you are just starting down the bread making road. A few years ago, I wrote up a tutorial on yeast which answers many of those questions. However, I have yet to do a step-by-step picture tutorial on simple bread making. Enter today’s post!
About two years ago I transitioned to making all of our bread. Not only has it saved us money but we have come to far prefer the taste of homemade bread to storebought. Even if you aren’t up to making all of your bread, conquering a loaf of bread for special occasions or an occasional indulgence is surely worth it! And I promise, it isn’t hard. In my carb-centered world, there is nothing more divine than a piece of warm, homemade bread fresh out of the oven slathered with butter.
A few notes:
1) For the purposes of the step-by-step instructions below, I used Darcy’s Whole Wheat Bread recipe from this whole wheat bread post. Because I make five loaves of bread about every 8-10 days, I alternate between all three of the recipes I included in that post, although I probably make Darcy’s recipe a little more often than the others. Bread bakers are very loyal to their preferred recipe – I can’t claim to have the perfect or the best bread recipes, but I can assure you that any of those recipes will produce a deliciously soft, tender loaf of bread. And they are the only recipes I use.
2) I have a Bosch mixer which is pictured in the instructions below and which I use to make all of my breads/rolls. You might need to tailor each bread recipe you try to the size of your stand mixer (or the size of the motor in the mixer) or to what you can accomplish by hand. The pictures below are a simple guideline to follow – adapt according to your equipment or lack of.
3) I grind my own wheat flour (with the Wolfgang Grain Mill) when I make bread although you can definitely use storebought wheat flour. I prefer hard white wheat over hard red wheat for it’s delicate texture and flavor but either can be used. When using freshly ground wheat flour, you will need to add more cups of flour than if using flour that has settled in a bag since the flour is more aerated and fluffy from being freshly ground. That is a minor issue since I harp on the fact that when making yeast doughs the flour amount given in the recipe should be a guideline only – the real test is the look and feel of the dough.
4) My preferred method of baking bread is to place it in a cold oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, letting the bread finish it’s rise and bake. You can adapt the recipe accordingly if you like to let your bread rise fully and then place it in an already preheated oven. To each his own, I say!
5) Just to restate from an earlier post, I use these bread pans and once the bread is cooled, I package it in these lovely bread bags with the plastic bag clips from IKEA and freeze until we are ready to eat.
6) As always, please let me know if you have any questions! I hope this tutorial is helpful for those of you wanting to conquer the art of bread making.
Click here for a printable PDF version of the picture tutorial.