Bread Making 101


Making yeast bread is, in my opinion, a true art.  It takes time to learn to recognize dough that has the gluten developed and if your bread has risen high enough and what was the problem if the loaf turned out flat, etc…  But I would encourage you to not let this type of thing stop you from trying.  I would hope with my very basic “how-to’s” in this section to give you enough information to get you started.  If I don’t cover something and you have questions, please
email me and I will try and give you an answer and this will help me to have directions that address more situations.

First off I make whole wheat bread.  For various reasons which I will talk about it can be helpful while learning to use some white flour.  White flour, although not healthy in any way, does help with the learning process because it is easier to get the gluten developed this way. 

There are different ways to make bread, by hand, in a stand up type mixer like a Kitchen Aid or in the heavy duty type mixes like a Bosch.  With each of these different methods comes different instructions and kneading and rising, etc.. 

For starters we will discuss the basic ingredients needed to make bread.  You will need flour, a fat of some kind like oil or butter (I can’t recommend shortening because I think shortening is very bad for you!), yeast of course, you can buy yeast at the grocery store in little packets or a jar or better yet at stores like Costco you can buy it a large 2# bag for additional savings. Yeast can be stored in the freezer or refrigerator after you have opened it, a sweetener, which can be optional but does help the yeast to rise, liquid such as water or milk and salt.  That is all that is required, some recipes may call for an egg or other spices but for basic bread the above is all that is needed.  I think it is best to find a very basic recipe that has been proven and then to work with this until you get the desired results before moving on to other specialty breads.  Working on a basic recipe will be where you develop your art and skill. 

Now here is a very basic and tried and true white bread recipe. This was my tried and true bread recipe for many years.  My oldest daughter even won first place at the county fair for this bread. From a health stand point it is not at all healthy! So if you want to make changes in the recipe I would start by changing the flour to half whole wheat. Make sure you buy Hard Red (or white) Wheat or that the package of flour says “Bread Flour” on it.  You could also exchange the sugar for Sucanat or honey, say about ¼ cup honey. If you just want to have a successful loaf of bread from a successful recipe then for starters, make it as stated!!  :)

Moms Basic Bread
Crystal Miller
Makes 3 loaves

3 cups warm water
2T yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
3 t. salt
9 cups flour

Let rise once for 1 hour. Punch down and shape into 3 loaves. Place in 3 greased loaf pans and let rise about 30 to 40 minutes. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.

I will share another recipe that is healthier.  For now here are the basic instructions as to what to do.  I will give the ‘by hand’ instructions first and then follow with any changes that need to be made if you are using a mixer.

First in a large bowl put your 3 cups of warm water.  Without having to get the thermometer out to make sure your water is just the right temperature I will tell you how I gauge it.  I get the water so that is a warmer than baby’s bath water.  You want it to be a tad more than comfortably warm on your wrist.  If your kitchen is cool then you can warm up you measuring cup first and even your bowl by running them under warm water to get them warm enough so when you put your water in there it does not cool the temp down.  O.K. now you have your warm water in your bowl.  Sprinkle your yeast and sugar in the bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  It should get foamy and bubbly.  If it does not then your yeast is not working.  You can try again or get some new yeast.  Old yeast sitting in a cupboard will eventually not work (that is open packages of yeast, sealed ones should be fine).  After it has bubbled it is now time to add your oil and salt and begin to add your flour.  At first you can mix with a large wooden spoon but soon as you add flour it will get much too thick for that.  As soon as it can not be mixed with a spoon, dump it all out on a clean counter that has been dusted with flour.  Keep adding flour and mixing and then kneading the dough. Kneading is the process that develops the gluten in the bread. << If you would like a definition of gluten click
here >>.  You knead your dough by pushing the heels of your palms into the dough and then grabbing your dough and folding or pulling it forward and pushing with your hand again.  You can rotate the position of your dough and continue the process.  You will need to do this for about 12 to 15 minutes.  If you do not your bread will not rise and be light and delicious.  After your bread has been kneaded it is time to let it rise.  Put a dishtowel over it and let sit for about 1 hour.  After your hour is up you punch the down and knead it some more to get all the air bubbles out.  Now it is time to cut the dough into 3 pieces and shape them into loaves.  I don’t do anything really fancy for this.  I simply roll and shape and make it look like a loaf.  Kind of like playing with play dough :).  Then put your dough in a greased loaf pan (I spray with non-stick cooking spray) and do this for the next 2 loaves.  Then it needs to rise once again.  This time you let it rise for 30 to 40 minutes.  When the bread is almost done rising you can pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the loaves for 30 to 35 minutes. 

Now if you have a mixer the process is a little easier.  If you have a Kitchen Aid type mixer then you can proceed as stated above only using the dough hook for the mixer and letting the mixer do the kneading for you.  You will need to let the machine knead the dough for about 7 to 10 minutes.  I like to just leave the dough in the mixer and when the rise time is over then simply turn it back on to punch the dough down and continue on as above.

If you have a high powered mixer like a Bosch then the process gets easier.  Simply put all ingredients in the bowl (start with about 7 cups of flour an add flour as needed until the dough cleans off the sides of the mixer).  Knead on the setting 1 or 2 for 5 to 7 minutes and that is it.  You can take the dough out and proceed to form loaves and let them rise and then bake.  The reason is that the Bosch incorporates a lot of air into the mixing process and the additional rise time is not needed.

Now if you have made a successful loaf of bread and are ready to try something that is healthier, click
here for a simple whole wheat bread that is really delicious! 

The more you make bread the more you will learn all the details of this fine art.  I taught myself how to make bread using a Better Homes and Garden cookbook about 20 years ago.  It has taken time to get good at this process and I have had my share of flops along the way.  Just keep at it and you will learn too!  :)




Would you like a little extra help in making bread? 


Homemaking Class on CD:

How to Make Whole Wheat Bread

For ordering information click here:





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