April 11, 2011

Delectable Tuesday Blog Hop 4/12 - From the Archives: Basic Bread Tutorial

Hi and happy Tuesday!

I am sitting here trying desperately not to fall asleep and it's not working. I had an absolutely fabulous day at a carding seminar with one of my favorite fiber artists. It was a long day and I am still recovering, but it was great! I'll deal with being exhausted.

I didn't have the time or the energy to make something new this week so I am sharing my basic bread tutorial from a loooong time ago. Enjoy!

Recipe of the week -- Basic Bread 101

There is something soul satisfying about making bread from scratch. I know so many of you shy away from it because you think it's too hard or takes too long, but honestly it's neither and so much more fun than using a bread machine. I think the bread tastes better as well. So here's a basic white bread recipe, from scratch, with detailed instructions and pics. Oh, and it's best if you get all the ingredients together before you start.

Basic White Bread

2 cups warm water (approx. 100*F)
2 tbls. honey
1 tbls. active dry yeast
2 tbls. vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk

The most critical part of bread baking actually comes in the beginning. Check the temperature of your water! If you have a thermometer, use it. If not, run the water over your wrist; if it feels definitely warm but not uncomfortably warm, it's okay.
Put the 2 cups of warm water in a large mixing bowl (the bowl from your mixer is perfect because you'll be using the mixer soon). Add the honey and dry yeast; stir together. Set the bowl aside for a few minutes. It can take anywhere from 3 minutes to 15 minutes depending on the temperature of your water, but as the grains of yeast activate they will begin to foam. Cool!
When the yeast is bubbly, add the oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour. Using your electric mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes or longer. This stimulates early development of gluten. What's gluten? It's the magic ingredient in the flour that gives your bread lightness and a fine texture. When you have finished mixing, the surface of the dough may have a glossy look - a good sign.

Add the dry milk and mix it in. Then add 2 to 3 cups more of the flour, a little at a time, mixing on low speed until the dough is stiff and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (Stop putting flour in at this point even if you have some left)
If you have a heavy-duty mixer with a dough hook you can use it to knead, but personally I like to do it by hand. I have a large island in my kitchen that works really well for this, but a tabletop or other large surface will work too. Just make sure it's not too high or your arms will tire quickly.

Sprinkle the kneading surface with flour. Dip your hands in the flour and lightly coat them. Dump the dough out of the bowl onto the floured surface. Turn the dough around and over to coat the outside with flour, patting into a cohesive mass (big ball). Begin to knead.

There is no perfect way to knead, but whatever you do, be decisive. This is not a time to be gentle. Take all your frustration out on the dough. It'll be better for it and so will you. If you still want some direction here is a basic kneading pattern.

Take the far side of the dough and fold it toward you, stretching it and then folding it. With the heels of your floury hands, push the folded portion down and away from you. Give the whole piece of dough a quarter turn, fold and push. Repeat. Each time you will be folding and pushing a different segment of dough. Do it over and over. Ten minutes is a nice ball park figure. The dough will be rough and sticky at first. You may have to keep dipping your hands in the flour and sprinkling flour onto the kneading surface. Add only as much flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking; too much flour makes a dry loaf. You should end up with a dough that is soft and pliable. When you push it, it springs back. Eventually, it will become smooth and satiny.

Rub a large bowl with soft butter or brush it with melted butter. Don't use oil. The dough will absorb the oil and then become sticky which is exactly what you're trying to avoid.

Place the dough in the bowl and turn until all sides are coated with a thin layer of butter. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size. You have time to do something else now, just check on your dough once in awhile. You can test it by poking a finger into the top of the dough, about an inch down. If the hole you have made stays, it has risen enough. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours.
Give the dough a good punch with you fist. This is called punching down the dough. Take the dough over to your lightly floured work surface and dump or pull it out of the bowl. Knead it a few times to press out gas bubbles, then take a sharp knife and cut the dough into 2 equal pieces. Cover them with a towel and do something else for 15 minutes while the dough rests.

Now to shape the dough. Take one piece of dough, pat it with your hands into a rough ball, and flatten it to a size about twice as wide as your loaf pan and slightly longer. No need to be exact, your not being graded. Just get close. Fold the 2 long ends under so they meet in the middle of the bottom. Tuck the 2 short ends under. Place the dough in a greased (butter again) loaf pan. It should fill the pan no more than half full. Repeat the process with the other piece of dough.

Cover the pans with the towel and put in a draft-free place to rise again until they double in size. This is usually 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375*F.

When doubled in size, place the pans in the oven and bake about 25 to 30 minutes. Check the bread after the minimum amount of time. If the loaves are well browned and the sides have shrunk slightly from the sides, remove from oven. If not, give the bread a few more minutes.

When done, turn out the loaves onto a wire rack to cool. Bread doesn't slice well when hot so you might want to resist the urge to eat it right away.

For more great recipes visit Hearth and Soul, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, What's Cooking Wednesday and Tuesdays at the Table.

Home Sweet Farm


  1. that bread looks so beautiful & yummy! the loaves came out perfectly... something i definitely need to work on! :D

    thanks for hosting!

  2. Thanks for re-posting this tutorial! I have never worked with yeast; but, it's a goal for me for this year. Just as soon as we get moved into our new home, I'm going to give it a shot. I've linked up my Roasted Pepper Risotto tonight. Thanks so much for hosting! Have a great Tuesday, Candace

  3. Thanks for sharing.I always have a problem when making bread. I am your newest follower and I just linked my pork cracklings

  4. I think it great that you like to knead by hand, whereas I (on the other hand) do not and love letting my stand mixer do all the work. :) Your bread looks really tasty as do all the other recipes linked up this week. Hope you will join me for Aprils Iron Chef Challenge starting this Friday. The themed ingredient is baking powder which is perfect for all your Easter baking.

  5. Hi, and thanks for hosting.

    I've included a link to your hop on my site - there's a page devoted to hops for every day of the week. Go to the top of my sidebar for the link.

    Thank you, and have a great week!


  6. Lovely bread!
    I'm linking up the Cookies and Cream Cupcakes that I made for my daughter's Wizards of Waverly Place themed party last weekend!
    Thanks for another week of hosting! More power!

  7. I've spent the past few days working on my sourdough starter and baking up a few delicious loaves of bread. I'll be posting a tutorial for making your own SD starter and an easy peasy SD bread recipe later this week so stop on by and give it a try!

    I'm sharing my daughter's and my latest Muffin Monday recipe: Applesauce Spice Muffins. So easy and so good! Thanks for hosting!

  8. Oh my goodness, you are making me drool with the bread pictures. My mother in law makes bread from scratch and it smells soooooo wonderful. She is in an assisted living facility now and when she bakes everyone shows up at her door for bread and coffee. :)

  9. What a great post. Thanks for sharing. The bread looks fantastic.

  10. Thank you so much for this wonderful post and hosting the blog hop party. Your bread looks amazing!

  11. i love to make breads of any kind, yours looks yummy

  12. I love homemade bread!! Especially hot out of oven! This week I shared my Mahi Mahi Lettuce Wraps....a perfectly light dinner for this time of year, and super easy! Thanks SO much for hosting!!

    Denise @ Creative Kitchen

  13. Fantastic tutorial! So many people (including me) are intimidated by anything with yeast. You make it look so easy :0

    Thanks for linking to the Hearth and Soul Hop!

  14. Great step-by-step for breadmaking.
    I'm linking up for the first time--thanks for hosting! Linking one of my current favorites: Pan Roasted Carrots w/ Thyme.

  15. What a great tutorial for making bread! I wanted to make bread all Winer and the closest I got was beer bread - so easy it doesn't feel like real bread making!

    Thanks so much for linking up.

  16. This is a great tutorial. We love homemade bread. We make it almost nightly.

    Thanks for sharing at What's Cooking Thursdays!


  17. What perfect loaves of bread ... I can just imagine them warm out of the oven with a dollop of butter!!!

  18. HI Stephani, I totally understand using an older recipe when you are exhausted! I am having a week like that so I apologize for not linking up this week. Will be back soon! I do not know another thing that is as good as a freshly baked loaf coming out of the oven! Thanks so much for sharing this great tutorial on the hearth and soul hop! all the best, Alex

  19. That was excellent. And looks really easy to do. I am trying this out this weekend. :) Thanks for sharing.



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