Learn how to make bread! It’s one of the best things in life.
Is there anything better than the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven?
Unless, of course, it’s the taste of that fresh, warm bread slathered with butter. Oh my!
If you’re excited to learn how to make bread, we can’t blame you. It’s actually pretty easy, and so worth it!
How to Make Bread Without Yeast
The trickiest part of making yeast breads is figuring out the amount of flour you need. It’ll depend on the humidity of your kitchen.
Start with the lowest amount given in the recipe, then check if your dough is coming together nicely. If using a stand mixer, the dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball.
If the dough is very sticky and not coming together, you’ll need to add a bit more flour. Add an extra ¼ cup at a time until the dough comes together.
If your dough seems dry and crumbly, you’ll need to add a little extra liquid. You can add a tablespoon or so of water to see if that does the trick.
Active Yeast vs. Instant Yeast
In general, you can use active yeast and instant yeast interchangeably, with a little tweak to the method. When using active yeast, you’ll need to dissolve it first in the water called for in the recipe.
You can test whether the yeast is active (proof it) by mixing it with ½ cup of water and a pinch of sugar. If bubbles form after a few minutes, the yeast is active. If not, the yeast is not working and should be tossed.
When using instant or quick-rise yeast, you don’t need to dissolve it first. You can simply mix the yeast with the other ingredients and proceed with your bread recipe.
All Purpose Flour vs. Bread Flour
It’s perfectly fine to bake bread with all-purpose flour. Bread flour contains more protein and will produce a more dense, chewy and elastic result, so use it if you prefer.
Either works well.
Do You Need a Stand Mixer to Make Bread?
A stand mixer with dough hooks comes in handy for making yeast bread and will spare you a few minutes, since it takes longer to knead by hand. But a stand mixer isn’t necessary.
Remember, people have been kneading dough by hand for ages. It’s actually quite therapeutic.
Do You Need Special Pans to Make Bread?
You don’t need a special loaf pan to make bread. You can simply shape the loaf and bake the bread on a half sheet pan. You can even make skillet bread.
How to Make a Crispy Crust
If you want a loaf with a crispy crust, such as for French Bread or Homemade Italian Bread, you’ll need steam. Fill a metal or cast-iron pan halfway with hot water and place it on the bottom oven rack below your pan of dough, then bake.
How to Know When Bread is Done
When baking bread, follow the recipe and check to see when your bread is golden brown. Take it out at that point, and wearing an oven glove or mitt, turn the bread over.
Use a bare fingernail to gently tap the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, the bread is done. If not, bake the bread a little longer.
How to Store Homemade Bread
Store the bread in plastic bread bags or zipper bags at room temperature for a couple days. Homemade bread is best eaten within a day or two.
For longer storage, you can freeze bread to maintain freshness. Place the bread (sliced if you prefer), in freezer bags, then defrost when you’re ready to enjoy it.
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