Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Simple Guide to Bread-Making (+ Recipes!)

Last week, I had the opportunity to teach a bread-making class to some of the members of the single's ward. I made a nice little handout with tips and recipes for all the attendees. I thought I'd share a version of it on my blog for all of you!

**Feel free to comment with any great tips or recipes you know for scratch bread-making! I would love to hear them all!**

This is a picture of me checking on my first ever batch of Indian Naan. I did not include my favorite Naan recipe in this post, but I'd be happy to share it if anyone would like it. :)

4 Keys to making good homemade bread every time:
  1. Get the right "lukewarm" water temperature. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast. If the water is too cold, it won't activate it. If you have to pick a side to lean towards, error on the colder than the warmer side - kneading will help with activating yeast.
  2. This is probably one of the most important elements to great bread: add as little flour as possible before the bread gets to the elastic (barely) non-sticky stage. Let your eyes and hands make the decision about the right texture of the dough before you trust the number of cups listed on the recipe.
  3. Knead the dough for 8-10 straight minutes.
  4. Let the dough proof (rise) long enough. Usually about 1 hour, but more importantly - when the bread has doubled in size. Make sure you have a large enough bowl for the dough to rise, and that you don't let it rise too long. . . Hah! :)
(Notice this list does not include a Kitchen-aid, Bosch or any other bread-maker or mixer. Though they take the work out of hand-kneading, you already have all you need to make great homemade bread - two strong hands and the will to succeed!!! Haha. That was a little over-dramatic. But really girls - you don't need a bread-maker to make awesome bread.)
Other fun tips/things to know:
  • Never tear or rip bread. Always cut it.
  • You can speed up the first round of proofing time by keeping the bread in a warmer environment. (i.e. On top of an oven that is warming up, etc.)
  • You can speed up the second set of proofing by putting the bread inside the oven at 200*F and having ice cubes or cold water in a glass bowl below the bread in the oven until ready to bake. This trick is great for getting a nicer texture on the outside of your bread also. I love it for my Cuban bread recipe.
  • If you don't think you will be able to eat all your bread fast enough, you can freeze some of the dough after it has risen through the first round. You can even freeze bread that is already baked and simply let it defrost, or you can reheat it on a lower heat. It does not always taste quite as good as the freshly-baked bread, but it's a nice option to have. I often like to make some extra pizza crust dough and freeze the dough in a gallon-sized freezer Ziploc. Then I just take out the dough and let it defrost and rise in a covered bowl all day, and it is ready to be rolled out and topped by dinner time - all with no extra bread mess.
  • The website www.allrecipes.com is an excellent resource for cooking and baking. There are many video tutorials and articles on all the intricacies of food - and bread-making.
  • Yeast is a whole other element to bread-making. There are some yeasts you can make from scratch starters over time at home. For simplicity's sake though, I just recommend buying a large package of active dry yeast and keeping it in your freezer. It will last a very long time that way. Once you master a variety of simple breads, it may be fun to experiment with other yeasts, but active dry yeast is the most versatile of all the yeast options.
One ingredient every bread-maker should have:
  • CORNMEAL: Spray your pan with PAM, and then sprinkle with cornmeal to give a more professional look and taste to your bread. Great for making pizza on a stone too, because it gives the dough more slide when transferring to the oven.
Suggestions for changing up bread:
  • Brown vs. White sugar - You can try substituting brown sugar for white. This gives the bread a bit of a richer flavor and softer texture. I like using brown sugar instead of white in scratch pizza crust and homemade pretzels. White sugar is better for more simple breads.
  • Bread flour vs. All-purpose flour - Experiment with different amounts of bread flour vs. all-purpose flour. Bread flour has more gluten and makes bread with a chewier texture. It is better for bagels or pretzels. It also like to use it for when I make sandwich bread.
  • Flaxseed -You can add a couple scoops of flaxseed for some extra fiber and Omega-3's..
  • Mix up the flour - You can use half white and half whole wheat (or all whole wheat) flour.
  • Seasonings/Extras in the bread - You can add different seasonings to change the taste of the bread: garlic salt, rosemary, dill, Italian seasoning, dill, oregano, or onion salt. You could us cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves for a sweeter bread. You can also add different nuts, seeds, or dried fruit to give the bread a denser, healthier texture: sesame, poppy or sunflower seeds, raisins, chopped walnuts or pecans, etc.
  • Dressing up the loaf - What you put on top can change the look and flavor as much as what you put in to the bread. You can sprinkle or roll the top of the loaf in flour or cornmeal. Or you could consider brushing the top of your bread with butter, a lightly beaten egg (or egg white), or olive oil and then sprinkling with sesame or poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, rosemary, sea salt, garlic salt, grated parmesan cheese, etc.
  • Change the shape - You can bake your bread in a variety of shapes and sizes. Bread pans are good for traditional sandwich bread, but with a simple baking sheet you can make artisan-style bread by forming long loaves with diagonal cuts, or round loaves with a large "X". You can divide and rolls your bread in to smooth rolls, or knot them, or roll up flat-rolled triangular pieces of dough into a crescent shape. Or, you can roll your bread into homemade cinnamon rolls!
  • Different baking surfaces - You can try cooking your bread with different pans and surfaces: pizza stone, Dutch oven, cast iron skillet, etc.

_____Bread Recipes_____

I usually make this first recipe as a side when we have guests over for dinner. It is very easy to modify, and great as a bread bowl recipe too!
Cuban Bread Recipe (2 long loaves or 4 bread bowls)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 heaping TBL. Yeast
  • 2 TBL. White sugar
  • 1 TBL. Salt
  • 3-4 Cups flour
  • Any other seasonings to taste
Add yeast and sugar to warm water. Let dissolve for several minutes before adding the salt (and any other seasonings you wish). Then stir in the 3-4 cups of flour. Knead for 10min. Adding flour as needed until perfect elastic consistency. The less flour you use the better! Let rise in a bowl covered with saran wrap for one hour or until double in size. Cut bread in two pieces, and gently form into two loaves and place on a pan that you sprayed with PAM and sprinkled with corn meal. Put in the oven at 200*F with a glass bowl of ice cubes or cold water underneath the rack you are baking the bread on. Proof for about 15-20 min. or until doubled. Turn the oven up to 375*F, bake for 15 min., butter bread, and then rotate. Bake for another 10-20min. or until golden brown. Enjoy!
Serving suggestion: Replace the white sugar with brown. Season the basic bread recipe with 3/4 TBL. garlic salt, 1 heaping TBL. Italian seasoning and 1 TBL. of rosemary in addition to the salt. Then serve in thick slices with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dip it!
Other uses for this recipe: This is a great recipe for homemade bread bowls. This recipe should make 4 bread bowls. Just cut the bread and roll into tight balls. They may require a little extra baking and proofing time. When they are done, cut off the tops and scrape out the insides of the bowl. Brush the flat side of the tops with butter and sprinkle garlic powder, some Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese on the top. Broil the bread with the tops up and the insides scraped out until the tops are golden brown and crisp.

Sandwich Bread Recipe (This recipe makes about 4-5 loaves of bread) Check the link!

Mom's Dinner Rolls
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 TBL. yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 TBL. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 6 to 8 cups flour
Dissolve 1 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 cup water and yeast. In big bowl, combine sugar, butter, salt, egg, water and milk. Add yeast to mixture. Add 6 cups of flour to start, stir and knead until smooth and elastic adding more flour as needed. Put in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until double (1 to 1 1/2 hours). Punch down and form into rolls. Let rise until double. Bake at 350* until golden about 15 minutes.
Shape suggestion: Cut the dough in 6 large balls. Roll each one out in a flat round, brush with melted butter, and cut in triangles and roll up into crescent rolls.
Other uses for this recipe: Cinnamon rolls. This dough is a great base for homemade cinnamon rolls. Just roll out the dough, brush with butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar and raisins (optional). Then roll up the dough into one long cylinder and cut into rolls. Bake in a 9x13 pan. Drizzle with icing and enjoy!

Jami's Pizza Crust (makes 2 Medium-Sized Crusts) Adapted from this guy's recipe. :)
  • 1 heaping TBL. yeast
  • 1 TBL. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110*F)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 TBL. Italian seasoning
  • 2 TBL. olive oil
  • 3-4 cups all-purpose flour
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and brown sugar in water, and let sit for 10 min.
2. Stir in salt, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and olive oil in yeast solution. Mix in 2 cups flour.
3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well-floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with saran wrap. Let the dough rise until double. (~1 hour.) Punch down the dough, cut in half and form into two balls. Let dough relax for 1 minute before rolling out.
4. Preheat the oven to 425*F. Bake immediately with toppings if using a pizza stone. If baking in a pan, lightly oil the pan, let dough rise for 15-20 min. before topping and baking it.
5. Bake pizza until cheese and crust are golden brown. (15-20 minutes.)

Mall Pretzels (makes 12 pretzels)
  • 1 heaping TBL. active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.
  2. Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8 inch square pan.
  3. After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape, and dip into the baking soda solution. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets, and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt, garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.
*These are really good brushed with butter, and seasoned with sea salt and rosemary too! :)

Boiled Bagels (makes 8 large or 12 smaller bagels)
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 heaping TBL. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  1. In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour and yeast. Mix water, 3 tablespoons sugar and salt together, and add to the dry ingredients. Beat with a mixer for half a minute at a low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean. Beat at a higher speed for 3 minutes. Then, by hand, mix in enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
  2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Cover, let rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut into 8 portions, shape into smooth balls. Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape. Cover, let rise 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, start a gallon of water boiling. Put 1 tablespoon of sugar in it, mix it around a bit. Reduce to simmering.
  5. When the bagels are ready, put 4 or 5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once. Drain them. Place on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, eat hot or cold.
  6. Broiling option: For a glossier surface, place raised bagels on an ungreased baking sheet prior to boiling them. Broil them five inches from heat for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes on each side. Then put them into the hot water to be boiled as above. Note: do not bake broiled bagels as long as non-broiled ones, 25 minutes should be long enough.
*When I made these bagels, I did them "Costco-Style". I brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese on the tops of them.

No-Knead Bread (makes one 1½-pound loaf.)
I have never made this particular recipe, but it looks awesome so I'm sharing it anyways. :)
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours' rising
  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.


  1. I love this!! I make all our bread from scratch but use a really simple recipe so it is nice to have some new ones to try. And may I please have your Indian naan recipe?? :) Thanks for posting your tips!

  2. Lorren -

    I will post my naan recipe in the near future, just for you! I'm glad you like my tips! :)


  3. You're amazing! Thanks for sharing these! I'm excited to experiment with some new recipes!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...