Saturday, November 7, 2009

Recipe: Basic Bread Techniques

Baking your first loaf of bread can be intimidating. Previously, I wrote about a great no-knead brown batter bread, however, I also wanted to try "the real deal" from scratch. My bread maker was inconsistent with how the bread would turn out and it always seemed too spongy and fluffy for sandwhiches.

The recipe and tips below are detailed and easy to follow. I've made about 20 successful loaves so far so I thought the recipe was worth writing about. I received this recipe years ago from a community center when I lived in Toronto. I now make this recipe as our everyday bread every second day or so... it's that easy!


Prepare yeast: Take the yeast you need for your recipe, and sprinkly it on top of war water (105-115F - just a little warmer than body temperature). Water which is too cold won't "wake up" the yeast, and water which is too hot will kill it. If it doesn't seem to be reacting to the water at all, it probably isn't OK to use. Some people add a little sweetener - what you want to avoid at this stage is salet, which will kill the yeast.

Mix the dough: There are several different ways to do this - a simple one which works is mixing together the liquids, using water which is quite warm, adding half the dry ingredients to get a soupy mix, adding the yeast, and then the rest of the dry ingredients, including the salt.

Knead: Put the flour in front of you on a well-floured board. Push down and away on it - use your whole body! Fold it in half, pulling the back over the front. Turn it a quarter and repeat. Keep the board floured - the dough will absorb it. Knead unti lthe dough is elastic, smooth, and a little shiny.

Rising: Put the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl. Cover it with a warm damp cloth and put it in a warm place away from drafts. Let it rise until about twice its original size. It's ready when it collapses quickly when you push into it.

Punch down: Turn the dough back onto the kneading board and push it down, kneading it again a few times.

Proof: Shape the dough into the right size for your pan. Put it in an oiled pan, and put the pan in a warm place and cover it lightly. Let the bread rise until it's about double in size - if it "overproofs" it will collapse or flow over the edges of the pan, and you have to punch it down again. When it is proofed enough gently push with a finger should leave a mark in the dough.

Bake: Put the bread in a preheated (usually 350) oven. It usually takes about 40 minutes to bake. It's done if it sounds hollow when you take it out of the pan and tap on the bottom. Turn it out of the pan and let it cool on the rack.

Basic White or Brown Bread

1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon oil (I use canola)
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
3 cups flour (I use 2 white, 1 whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt

Put the warm water in a small bowl and spinkle the yeast on top. Put the hot water in a large bowl and add the oil and honey or sugar. Mix in 1 cup flour, then the yeast mix, then the rest of the flour and the salt.

Knead the mix on a floured board, then oil the bowl and put the dough back in. Let it rise in a warm place (I use the microwave) until it is about twice as big. Punch it down, put it in an oiled panand let it rise again. Bake it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Let it cool on a wire rack completely, slice with an electric knife, and place in ziplock bag. Makes 1 loaf, lasts 3-4 days if kept in cool dark place like a bread box.

So, how about you? Do you have any favourite bread recipes? If so, link your recipe in the comments section below and I'll give it a try! Thanks for sharing :)


  1. One day I will try to make my own bread. Now, though, my bread machine is working perfectly for us. The trick is to measure the flour on a kitchen scale rather than using measuring cups. It comes out perfectly every time. (Unless my kitchen is too cold and I forget to increase the yeast a bit to make up for it.)

  2. Do you know how many loaves of bread that I've made from scratch? One.

    Yours looks bee-yoo-tee-ful!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and thanks for your vote! Looks like I'm going to need it...yikes!

    ~The Pirate Mom


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