Yesterday I made a vague attempt at getting you to try baking homemade bread. Hopefully I got a few of you thinking about it. Today I’d like to tell you how to make the bread. If you decide to give it a try and have ANY problems I hope you’ll contact me or find me on Twitter because I’d LOVE to help you out.
There are some basic rules to follow when making yeast breads. I have not gone to culinary school and am not an expert by any means, but I do have a small homemade bread business and people seem to like the bread I bake, so here’s what I’ve learned.
- When dissolving yeast … the water or milk needs to be warm, but not hot or cold. I don’t use a thermometer and I don’t ever have a problem. Pour your water/milk in the bowl, then the sugar and salt. Let it sit for a minute, whisk it gently and briefly with a fork or wire wisk, then let it sit. It takes about 10 minutes for yeast to dissolve. You are watching for it to begin to look almost frothy and start to bubble a little, at that point you’ve dissolved your yeast and may continue to the next step in your recipe.
- When kneading … the technique is basically folding the dough from the back on top of itself and pressing it down with the heal of one or both hands, then turning the dough and repeating, over and over and over and over. You are trying to attain dough that is uniform in consistency, very smooth and springy. To test it, stop kneading for a moment and see what it does. If it ‘springs’ back then you’re pretty much done. Plan on at least 8 minutes for this step. The consistency of your bread depends almost entirely on the kneading, so don’t stop until you’re sure it’s done. Check out this video for a more visual instruction.
- When rising … be sure you’ve greased your bowl (I use cooking spray) and turned your dough over in the bowl to coat the whole thing. Loosely cover it with something. The two best options are a smooth, cotton cloth (I use these) or plastic wrap, but NOT a towel or something with linty fibers that could stick to your dough. I let me dough rise on top of my preheating oven. Your first rise will be for about an hour. If your finger leaves an indentation then it’s finished and you can it down; yes literally stick your fist into the middle of it to deflate. Once deflated, turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and separate into number of loaves you are making. Individually roll out each loaf into a vertical rectangle to get the air bubbles out. Then start at the edge near you and tightly roll it up. Once you’ve rolled it up pinch the end of it onto itself to seal, and then turn it over making the sealed edge the bottom. Press open edges closed to seal and place the whole thing in the bread pan to rise, covering it again. Your second rise will not take as long. Usually no more than 40 minutes. Once it has risen to your desired height pop it in the oven.
- When it’s done … the best way to tell if it’s finished cooking is to lightly ‘knock’ on the top of the loaf and if it sounds hollow you’re good. To double check, flip the loaf out of the pan, upside down into your pot holdered-hand and lightly ‘knock’ on the bottom. If that produces a hollow sound also then it’s done for sure. Over-cooking dries it out and under-cooking, well … yuck. So once you get the time right, write it down!
There you have it; my basic rules for yeast breads. Here’s one of my favorite recipes. It yields a slightly sweet bread. Let me know if you give it a try. Good luck!
Granola Wheat Bread
adapted from allrecipes
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. yeast (or 1 packet)
- 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (at room temp.)
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 cup granola
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
Directions: Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm milk. Add applesauce, butter, granola, salt and cinnamon; stir. Add whole wheat flour and mix well. Add white flour, slowly until it makes a ball of dough. Turn out on floured surface and knead. Let rise in a greased bowl in a warm place for about an hour. Turn out on floured surface and shape into 1 loaf then place in a greased bread pan. Allow to rise for about 40 minutes then bake in a 375F degree oven for about 23-26 minutes.
Why I do what I do ~ I LOVE homemade bread and so do my hubby and daughter. We always have plenty of it in the house – we’re big toast eaters. And I like to think I have myself to thank that my daughter happily eats wheat bread, and even most of her crust!