There has never been a better time than now to try making bread at home.
Don’t be intimidated! Here is a how-to baking guide that you can use, whether you are baking the old-fashioned way, or using a bread maker:
You don’t need fancy equipment, and your worksurface can be a counter. You’ll need bowls, and measuring cups and spoons.
A must for making bread is yeast. There are a variety of yeasts to use, but the most popular is active dry yeast. You activate the yeast by putting it in warm water a few minutes before use.
Flour is another essential ingredient, and there are different flours, like all purpose. When using all purpose flour, be sure to choose unbleached.
With salt, be sure to stick to what the recipe asks for, because table salt and kosher salt are not interchangeable
Don’t skip salt, either. Salt brightens the flavor of baked goods.
The water used for mixing should be around 80 degrees F, while the water used for activating yeast should be 110 degrees F.
Enriched breads like brioche will include butter, eggs and milk, which not only contribute to hydration, but also to tenderness, flavor and color. Usually, recipes will call for unsalted butter, large eggs and whole milk.
One thing that all breads need is time. Be sure to allow fermentation and proofing the time they need. The longer the dough rests, the more flavorful it will be.
Start by kneading the dough on a lightly floured surface.
Kneading mixes the flour and liquid ingredients to form the gluten structure that will lead to the bread’s final texture.
You can do this with a dough hook on your mixer, or by hand. When kneading by hand, you shouldn’t push hard enough to tear the dough, or knead so long that it toughens the bread. The dough should be soft and supple.
Let the dough sit to ferment and proof. The yeast is doing its magic! It is creating flavor and producing the carbon dioxide that creates a light and airy texture. Fermenting is also known as the first rising, and proofing is the final rising.
When the proofing is done, the dough will look fuller and will have doubled in size.
You can actually take the temperature of bread to see if it is done! It should be 190 degrees F.
Other ways to tell if it is done is by color, which is a few shades darker than golden brown, by feel, which is light, by sound, which is hollow when tapped, and by smell which is toasted and nutty.
5. Bread Makers
Bread makers can give you fresh bread with the same four ingredients and less labor. You load the ingredients into the bread machine tin, then place the bread pan in the machine, and choose the program and bread you want.
The baking process takes between 2 and 5 hours.
There is nothing quite the same as home made bread. Try it!