Adventures in bread baking

Just a few years ago, every time I attempted to make yeast bread, results were – at best – mediocre. I got better with time (see above photo – a loaf of my own bread.) I am at the point now where I make most of my own bread. A couple of things that I learned through practice, trial and error:

  • When you are a beginner, accurate measurements and following directions are key. You will learn what looks and feels right, and can wing it a bit more when you become proficient at baking.
  • Weighing ingredients results in better bread, particularly where the flour is concerned. When measuring flour in cups rather than ounces (or grams), I always ended up with too much flour.
  • Without experience, it is especially important to follow directions.
  • You can make bread without a mixer.
  • There are methods other than kneading that result in the formation of gluten. They are related to time and hydration (moisture).
  • Preferments improve flavor.
  • There are many videos that explain and demonstrate making various kinds of bread, from basic to intricate.

This video explains alternative techniques for gluten formation (stretch and fold, and lamination), and a preferment (in this case, a Biga):

A couple of other tips:

  • I use instant yeast, which can be mixed directly into your dry ingredients, without proofing.
  • I keep most of my yeast in the freezer. It stays good for months and months. I also keep a small amount in a jar in my refrigerator. I buy SAF red package yeast in 1# bricks. SAF also sells a gold package yeast that is designed to be used in sweet doughs.
  • I use King Arthur bread flour and all purpose flour.
  • Good tools to have: A decent scale to weigh ingredients, and an instant read thermometer to check the temp of liquid ingredients and finished loaves.

A good sandwich bread recipe (prompted to the 4:02 mark).

When I am really lazy, I make this bread in a bread maker without a preferment (poolish.) I add liquids first, then dry ingredients and the yeast last (increased to 2 tsp), adding the preferment amount of flour and water to the total.

I think that home bread baking is an important skill to learn – particularly in these times when supply chain problems cause shortages. If you have a supply of flour, water, salt and yeast, you can make bread!



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11 Responses to Adventures in bread baking

  1. Reflection says:

    So many types of bread!
    Starting with your video, I wandered the path of bread making.
    A most enjoyable trip.
    It was refreshing to see the creativity and differing results of just a few ingredients prepared in different ways.
    No oven? Try a skillet, or a grill!
    Crisp crust, soft crust, let your preference be your guide.
    No time? Pancakes? At the ready in minutes. (Savory or sweet.)
    Definitely something for every level of skill.
    Thankful for everyone who shared their talents, tools and favorite recipes.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Menagerie says:

    This is the bread I made at Christmas, and it was a big hit with the family. Very flaky and tasty. And I thought it was fun to do, but time consuming.

    Last night I made beer bread. One Blue Moon Belgium White, 3 cups self rising flour, 3 tbs brown sugar. Mix, top with melted butter, bake at 375 for about 50 minutes. Tastes a lot better than the simplicity implies.

    If you are serving with something like a rich beef stew or roast, use Guinness instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • czarina33 says:

      I bought a package of beer bread in Helena, GA for about $11, without the beer included, came home and made it: good. Looked online and found a recipe like it, made it from what was in the house for free: good.

      Moral to the story: would not have made it the second time had I not made an impulse buy on vacation. Definitely will make it again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • czarina33 says:

      I put the sprinkle seeds for “everything bagel” on top for variety.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Menagerie says:

    This is an all time favorite of mine. Find a good challah recipe, and I recommend the NYT version, and try some braiding for fun. It’s actually easy and a big favorite with my grandchildren. They love to do this.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Menagerie says:

    Last one. I usually make this around Christmas and give it to family members as gifts. It’s a great addition to a Christmas breakfast. It looks very beautiful, and yet it’s super easy to do. This is another one the kids love to do, and they are pretty good with it.

    My grandson nicknamed it sun bread. My daughter in law prefers Nutella for the filling in hers, but I like the original best.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. texan59 says:

    This year for Christmas, I got Mrs. T some bread-making goodies. She’s been making bread for a number of years, but I took it upon myself to help her elevate her game. One of our favorites is sourdough bread, so I got her some wet sourdough starter. I don’t recall how old the starter is, but we’re going to start our starter, and hopefully hand it down some day. Got a couple baking vessels, one oblong, for your traditional long loaves, and a round baker, that you can do all kinds of damage with. The lame (lahm), or cutter for the fancy designs, and a couple starter jars, as we’re waiting on a dry sourdough starter to compare the two. For many years, Momma has made regular white bread, which is delicious, but I am so looking forward to the sourdough. As an aside, all her bread-making has been without a bread maker. All “by hand”. Thank you for posting this, Miss Stella.

    Liked by 3 people

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