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How to Make Bread

Dec
19

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Homemade bread makes a house smell like home–and it tastes soooo good. I love baking homemade bread. When I talk to people about baking bread, I find that sometimes people are afraid to make bread. They think it’s too hard, or that it takes too long. Bread is actually very easy to make and the time involved is mostly in the rising process. The actual preparation takes very little time–and the reward, fresh bread coming out of your oven, is huge. If you’ve never tried baking bread at home, learn how with a nine-year-old. If she can do it, so can you. Here are the simple techniques, with pictures:

Grandmother Bread is a good recipe to start with if you’ve never baked bread before. It’s easy, and quick. Read the history behind Grandmother Bread here. I taught my daughter to make this bread when she was nine.

How to Make Bread:

Start with the warm water, yeast, salt, and any other ingredients called for in your recipe before adding the flour. Let the water-yeast mixture sit for five minutes while the yeast activates. Start adding flour, one cup at a time at first, then in smaller and smaller amounts. Usually a recipe will need a range of flour and the exact amount will vary slightly, so don’t add it all at once.

Continue stirring in flour until the dough becomes too stiff to stir.

My daughter (age nine, left) wasn’t too enthusiastic at first. That stirring thing is hard!

She liked kneading better. Lots of fun punching action and getting her hands gooey.

When the dough is too stiff to stir, start kneading. Making bread is a messy job. Don’t plan on answering the phone. Kneading is no mystery–just get your hands in there and start turning and punching the dough, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the bowl.

Keep kneading until the dough is ready. When is the dough ready? When the dough feels smooth and elastic in your hands. When it doesn’t stick to the bowl and your hands anymore. When you are tired of kneading. When you just feel it in your bones. Usually, kneading takes a few minutes. No more than five. Don’t put in too much flour! That will make your bread heavy. Over-kneading isn’t good for the bread, either. Just knead till it doesn’t stick anymore. (Or, at least, it doesn’t stick much.)

Learning to know just when your dough is ready is something that takes practice. If your first batch of bread doesn’t come out perfect, try again. Every time you make bread, it will get better. It’s just a little flour, yeast, water, and a few other simple, cheap ingredients. Nobody’s gonna die if your first attempt at bread doesn’t work out. Try again.

Place prepared dough in a greased bowl. Turn once. Cover. I like to use plastic wrap sprayed with oil to cover. Let rise till doubled, usually an hour, depending on the temperature inside your house.

When dough has risen, remove cover, sprinkle with a little flour, and punch dough down. Continue as per the instructions in your recipe.

*If using rapid-rise yeast, in some recipes like this one you won’t need a second rise. In most cases, such as with Grandmother Bread, even if using rapid-rise yeast, a second rise is required. If the directions in your recipe don’t tell you specifically that a second rise isn’t needed with rapid-rise yeast, go ahead and give the bread a second rise. It won’t hurt anything.

Go bake some bread. And let me know how it comes out!

Check out the main Grandmother Bread page for many, many delicious ideas using this one simple recipe!

Also see: How to Make Homemade Dough Enhancer for lighter, fresher bread!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 19, 2007  

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  1. 2-7
    2:55
    pm

    Thanks so much for the bread recipe and insturction. I have always wanted to bake bread and I knew that if a 9 yr old could do it so could I. It turn out great I had to make another batch the next day because my family loved it so much!

  2. 4-3
    12:23
    pm

    I love your chickens in the road web site. I stumbled on it when trying to make home made pots out of toilet paper rolls via mother earth news. Speaking of ME news have you tried making bread with this method

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-12-01/Easy-No-Knead-Dutch-Oven-Crusty-Bread.aspx

    I tried this and it is wonderful! I think you have to have a large enough dutch oven so the dough doesn’t flow over.

    tlg

  3. 4-23
    5:14
    pm

    This was VERY helpful to me..I have made French bread before, but I needed the tips you give above. Princess is adorable and I love how you call your sons “14” and “16”. LOL

  4. 5-2
    12:28
    pm

    :shocked:

    My first attempt has yeilded barely brown doughy bricks! I beleive I over kneaded and MAY have used too much flour in the proccess as well. :no:

  5. 5-3
    6:30
    am

    Amanda, try again! Sometimes it just takes a little bit of practice.

  6. 5-3
    1:18
    pm

    :shimmy:

    Okay fingers crossed…have 2 more loaves in the oven right now! I did better this time…let them rise longer…made the water hotter for the yeast..didn’t knead so much..It’s a lot better looking, and light, not brick like. We will know soon!

  7. 5-3
    3:02
    pm

    Good luck, Amanda! I hope they come out great this time! Good for you for trying again–all it takes is a little practice, and then it’s easy–and so good!

  8. 5-4
    5:22
    pm

    I see Princess is doing what I thought about doing, after I made this bread, this time. I am going to hold the bowl with one hand and knead with the other, so I have a free hand to add mroe flour. I think I need a bit more flour because my dough stuck all over my hands and I had to sort of pry it off and plop it in the pans. I think I’ll knead softer next time too, not get in there, like I am pulling it every which way and then all over. LOL It looks good anyway…just very square shaped. I’ll let you know!

  9. 5-18
    3:12
    pm

    Ah HA…I wondered about that…adding more flour as you knead…it’s been a LONG time since Home Ec cooking classes for me. LOL No wonder I had to POUR my bread into the pans yesterday, because when I tried to pick up the dough, it fell through my fingers like very thick cake batter…I KNEW IT…should have kept putting in more flour…maybe then it would have been taller..

    Plus, I am not sure if I should have let my yeast sit ten and then added the oil, honey and cup and a fourth of flour (for Mormon bread recipe)…she talked like add it all together and the lukewarm water, at one time.

  10. 9-3
    7:21
    pm

    :wave:
    I am trying the grandmother bread recipe. It appeared to be more sticky than the french bread sandwich recipe. Hopefully it will be as tasty as my last loaf. Thanks for the tips and recipes.

    ~Syl~

  11. 9-3
    8:25
    pm

    Hi, Syl! If your dough is sticky, add more flour!

  12. 9-22
    10:43
    pm

    I tried making the grandmother bread and mine didn’t rise. Did I add to much flour? I added until it no longer stuck to my fingers. Or maybe I kneaded to much? Didn’t think I took much time at that process but maybe I kneaded longer than I thought. I added boiling water to the yeast. Does that make a difference? Also, when it didn’t rise I put a bowl of hot water in the oven with the bread in a bowl above it and left it in the over to rise. Unfortunately it never did. My hubby and I decided to bake the bread on a pan as rolls, but even they were heavy and hard. Kinda like hockey pucks. I’d like to try again but would like some input on what I might be doing wrong before I attempt again. Any help is appreciated.

  13. 9-22
    10:52
    pm

    Hi, Laurin! It was the boiling water!! You want to use warm water, warmer than lukewarm, but not hot. You should still be able to comfortably touch it. Really hot (boiling) water will kill your yeast. Try again with nice warm water and let me know how it comes out!

  14. 9-23
    7:52
    pm

    Thank you Suzanne for letting me know it was something so simple that I did wrong. I’ve never made bread before (always used the frozen kind from the grocery store) so when I tried this and it didn’t work I thought I’m just not a bread baker. But, I am going to try again and will definitely let you know how I make out. I’ll keep my fingers crossed (after I get the dough kneaded and in the oven).
    Thanks again,
    Laurin

  15. 11-23
    1:22
    pm

    Hi,
    I was looking around on different sites to find out how to make bread lighter and airier> because Im making polish Bobka bread which I added the little dried fruits and pecans and a just a tad of mixed dried fruits too, to make it different. Its rising as I speak. Ive made it lots, and its a delicious bread with butter and homogenized milk and sugar. I usually make it for Christmas gifts as Im 70 now but worked in the medical field for years. But I enjoy cooking and baking, but wanted to tell you , your sight is very nice. If only all the young people would get home economics in schools again. Thats where I learned to cook, but they seem to be cutting costs and taken it out of our schools here in Michigan. Thank you and God Bless ya

  16. 12-5
    2:12
    pm

    Hi all …. I used to have the same trouble as Laurin with the water temp. Maybe my hands are just not sensitive enough, but I discovered a new way to get it just right. Instead of guessing on the temp I heat the liquid and oil or butter to 125 degrees on a candy thermometer and then add it to 1 or 2 cups of the flour mixed with the yeast and salt and/or sugar. I use my mixer. Comes out perfect everytime. I remember watching my Mother making bread and mixing the yeast with warm water, but I could never master it. Hope this helps and happy bread baking …..

  17. 1-7
    9:23
    pm

    Suzanne,
    Grandmother Bread is great–I baked my first around Christmas, and each try is better than the last. I’m not employed at the moment, and I swear that making this bread is therapeutic! I bake two or three times a week right now. We’ll miss the frequency when (if) I ever get another job. By the way, you should add a donkey and/or mule to your menagerie. They are wonderful, gentle creatures that make great neighbors! Google Lake Nowhere Mule & Donkey Farm. Our neighbors own it.

  18. 3-19
    9:39
    pm

    Hello! I have a problem!!! Have you ever tried to make braided egg bread? I have tried and tried and it always comes out flat!! Can you help me???

  19. 3-20
    4:18
    am

    Hi, Christine! Well, I can’t imagine why your braided breads are flat….. I don’t have a problem with braided breads rising. Do your other yeast breads rise all right? There are various reasons bread doesn’t rise, such as bad yeast or using water too hot, etc. Is it just this one particular recipe where you have the problem?

  20. 3-25
    11:56
    am

    I made your dough enhancer. I’m really looking forward to using it today, but I’m wondering how to use it. I’ve read elsewhere that when adding lecithin, you should decrease the oils. Should I do this with the enhancer? I love the idea of making my own enhancer. I’m going to give some to my son. Oh, could you add alittle about making grandmother bread with a bread machine. Thanks a lot.

  21. 3-25
    12:12
    pm

    Hi, Patricia! Are you using it in Grandmother Bread? If so, the standard Grandmother Recipe doesn’t include oil. For use in recipes that do include oil, I have to say right now that I don’t know as I haven’t tried that.

    I get a lot of questions about bread machines, and I have to tell you that I don’t have one so I can’t answer bread machine questions. Sorry about that! You might try asking in my forum, http://chickensintheroad.com/forum (or click the Forum button in the menu above). There are a lot of good cooks there and if you open a topic thread under the Farmhouse Table forum to ask about Grandmother Bread using a bread machine, someone there should have some experiences to share.

  22. 5-28
    2:14
    am

    Hello!
    Love your page! Stumbled upon it while searching for a doughnut recipe. Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes and your tips. The doughnuts were great!

    Thanks again.

  23. 6-24
    10:53
    am

    I made this recipe yesterday and everyone loved it. I didn’t get pretty round tops on my loaves. I sprayed my saran wrap with Pam and it stuck a bit when I removed it for baking and the loaves fell some. I suppose it is one of two things my bread pans were too big for the recipe or my dough was too sticky and needed more flour. It was yummy, though.

  24. 7-26
    5:28
    pm

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I have been working on some of my old and new bread recipes for the past few month and they have turned out HORRIBLE! YOUR GRANDMA’S BREAD TURNED OUT WONDERFUL!I so admire the Mormon people and feel like everything I learn enriches mine and my family so much. I will try to fast one day a month and either give to the needy or continue to build my emergency supply of food etc.
    My greandson is 16 and is so fond of a Mormon family and especially their daughter. I have received the Book of Mormon and am eager to learn more and more .
    Again, Thank you for this Bread Recipe! This wonderful bread is so easy to make and will enrich our lives this evening.
    Maye Cunningham
    pecanac@cumbytel.com

  25. 8-27
    1:57
    am

    DEar Master of the Bread, I’m happy I came across your blog I just recently starting making homemade bread or rolls . I’ve wanted to make homemade bread for years and was afraid to try.I waqnted homemade rolls like my grandmother used to make ,but nobody in the family had her recipe.My wife has recently got her a part time job and I recently became partially disabled from work .My wife and I have a deal I”ll cook on the days she works ,I don’t have a problem with cookin In love to cook ,just don’t like cleaaning up . I guess thats a man thing ,but i’ve been better at cleaning lately.Anyway back to the bread making I found a decent recipe and tried for the 1st time the other day.Turned out great so I made more tonight and they were just as good, but still not as light and fluffy as my Grandmas and that lead me to your site. I was wondering how to make them more lighter? I also just started my own blog it’s about cooking and outdoor life too.If you could help me to make lighter rolls I’d be very thankful!!!! Thank you My blog is pokechopcharlies.blogspot.com Hope yoy check it out .Thanks again poke chop

  26. 12-11
    7:22
    pm

    I have tried several times to make bread,( with no success), but perhaps I will give this a try, if your daughter can at 9, then surely a 40 something woman should be abel to.

  27. 1-1
    8:22
    pm

    I have been making bread for 40 or so years and for the last year or so the bread is BAD. The appearance and texture are usually pretty good but there is NO odor of yeast. Have tried dried and yeast cakes (about 6 kinds and none work.) My husband loved the bread for years and in desperation he tried to make a loaf and it was even worse. What is wrong? gwen

  28. 1-1
    8:39
    pm

    Gwen, I don’t know, I can’t tell from what you said. Does the bread rise??

  29. 1-1
    8:54
    pm

    Suzanne – Yes the bread will rise in the normal amount of time and the loaf usually is perfect looking. It will toast nicely but just doe not taste like bread and there is NO nice yeasty aroma. It used to have a great yeasty aroma – clear out into the garage. gwen

  30. 1-1
    9:07
    pm

    I would say it sounds like something is wrong with your yeast, but I know you said you tried several different kinds and I’m going to assume you checked that the yeast wasn’t expired. You’d have to look at other various points–is your water the right temperature to activate the yeast properly? Your water should be 110-115 degrees (fingertip hot but still bearable). Are you adding the sugar with your yeast? (Sugar is a yeast helper.) And what type of recipe are you using?

  31. 1-1
    9:43
    pm

    Suzanne – thanks for trying to help. water temperature should be OK (it was for 40 years.} I do add sugar to the yeast and it appears very active. I always had used the recipe from “Joy of Cooking”. After these problems started I did try various methods found on the internet and even the cold rise method,Also tried Better Homes and Gardens recipe which was particularly bad. I do not use a bread machine.
    Just about to give up. We have found only one bakery that has bread that is good and if it goes out of the area we will be lost. gwen

  32. 6-26
    3:28
    pm

    Dear Suzanne,
    What a pleasure to be making Grandmother Bread for the first time today. I have five men out in my husband’s shop welding and grinding on metal in the 95+ degree heat. They will soon be in and hungry, so it’s steak and baked potatoes, green beans picked this morning, deviled eggs from my own little flock (15!) of barred Plymouth Rock hens and peach pie. They’ll smell that wonderful bread on their way in and they’ll fall on their meal. Don’t you love to cook for folks who love to eat!! Thank you for your recipe and your blog. I enjoy visiting with you from my home (and from my office) in North Carolina.

  33. 6-2
    4:54
    pm

    Hi – I am new here, but I bake bread regularly and have had some success by trying a few different tactics. Making great bread is much more about technique than ingredients.

    Regarding the lack of ‘yeasty’ aroma from breads: whenever I make my bread dough, I make it a day or so before, and let it rest in the fridge (oiled and covered). This provides sleep time for the yeast and other ingredients to come together and begin fermenting a little. That is what helps develop the flavor essence of bread. Also helps with the gluten progress.

    Leave it a bit loose (don’t add all the flour called for in recipe – hold out about half the flour). This slack is also called a ‘poolish’. It’ll bubble up a bit in the fridge, but it is similar in concept to making a sourdough starter. I’ve also been known to slip a little beer into the liquid portion, (oh a few tablespoons or so), just to boost it a little. http://chickensintheroad.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_biggrin.gif

    When you are ready to bake bread, just let it come up nearly to room temperature, add in whatever flour you need to bring about a smooth, cushion-y dough; too much flour will make it feel like a ‘dough ball’. Mine usually sags just a little bit in my hand when I pick it up to go in the pan. If I am making rolls, I’ll add a little more flour so they’ll stand up on their own and not slouch so much after rising.

    Anyway, those are some of my hints… anyone have any others we can try?

    Thanks for listening! Now – go bake some bread!http://chickensintheroad.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/shimmy.gif

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