I love the process, and I find it very therapeutic, it’s like working with a live being.
I love the feel of the dough forming in my hands, the kneaded dough rising, that will soon transform into baked bread.
There are all kinds of ways and methods, from using bread machines to the good old fashioned two hand way.
Bread machines have come a long way, and some people swear by them.
I wouldn’t bake my bread in them, but they are good for mixing and kneading dough.
Learning all the different methods of baking, and the different bread recipes can be a fun hobby.
However, it is a hobby that is well worth pursuing in my opinion.
Bread Baking for Beginners
The first thing I would say about making bread is to relax.
This is because you can always fix things if they go wrong, and in the worst case scenario you just start again.
In my book, any kind of bread is good bread, and worth at least trying.
First off there are different types of flour to consider, from bread flours, to rye, and whole wheat flours.
Each will have a different flavor and will react differently when incorporated in bread baking.
There is a place for every loaf that is baked, and I very rarely won’t eat one.
It is possibly best to start with making a simple white bread loaf using bread flour.
This has a higher gluten content than other flours.
Next you will need a warm place where you can cover your dough to proof.
Proofing is the process in which dough is left to rest and rise before it is put in the oven for baking.
I would recommend investing in a baking stone for your oven.
This will ensure a better than good chance to get a superior loaf.
The stone absorbs heat which allows for your loaf of bread to bake at a higher temperature.
The higher heat allows the bread to rise and expand, and will help give your loaf a crunchier crust.
How to Make Homemade Bread
Wheat, bread and all purpose flours can be used and will all have different characteristics.
Whisk to mix well, make a well in the middle and pour in the water.
Begin to mix with your hands by slowly bringing the flour from the edges to incorporate with the water.
As the dough begins to form you will want to keep a balance between a dough that is too dry and hard, and too wet and sticky.
It is preferable to have a dough that is a bit more on the wet side rather than one that is too dry.
It is very common for dough to be adjusted as you are in the middle of making it.
If too dry add liquid, and if too wet, add flour.
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” —M.F.K. Fisher
Once your dough has formed to the consistency you want it, knead it for a few minutes to help develop the gluten.
Then allow it to rise for at least an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch down the bread dough and knead again for a few minutes.
Cut the dough into the loaves sizes you want and shape or put them in greased loaf pans.
Dough that is not going in a tin can be placed on parchment paper, covered with a damp kitchen towel.
Another way to bake the dough is in a cast iron pan.
But whatever you decide, allow the loaves to rise for at least an hour.
Once the loaves have risen, uncover and use a very sharp knife to make a slit or two on the top.
Preheat the oven to a hot temperature of 450ºF (230ºC), and best to use a baking stone if you have one.
Bake the bread for roughly 30 minutes until the loaf is golden brown.
When turned over, it sounds hollow when knocked on.
Remove bread and place it on a cooling rack, and allow it to cool to room temperature before slicing into the bread.
Tips for Making
- Have plenty of flour on hand to be sure things don’t get too sticky on the sides of the bowl you are using.
- For yeasted homemade breads try and use instant yeast so that it’s not necessary to activate the yeast before getting started.
- Knead bread using a stand mixer with a dough hook if you have one, otherwise hands are fine.
Bread Types From Around the World for Inspiration
Marquette bread from Chile is fluffy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and shaped to split into four easily.
Libba bread made by Egyptian tribesmen and cooked directly on the embers of a fire.
Injera bread found in Ethiopia, made from Teff and doubles as a plate, and is a great vehicle for the sauce heavy cuisine.
Damper bread, found in Australia, is a simple loaf either using self rising flour or baking soda, and cooked between hot coals.
Bolani from Afghanistan is baked quickly on a very hot surface on the internal side of a special oven.
Baguette, the world famous iconic bread, baked in long ‘baton’ shapes and enjoyed fresh daily.
“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” —Omar Khayyam
Khachapuri bread found in Georgia, baked into boat shaped flatbread overflowing with various fillings.
Paratha, is a very well known Indian flatbread that is fried, and comes with or without a filling.
Sangak bread from Iran is a flatbread bread commonly eaten at breakfast, and good for rolling foods into.
Ciabatta is an Italian bread that is baked to be crunchy on the outside with lots of holes on the inside for sopping up sauces.
Pumpernickel bread is the ubiquitous German loaf, typically with a heavy characteristic, with a slightly sweet rye flavor.
Dökkt Rúgbrauõ is a dark rye bread that comes from Iceland, traditionally baked or steamed by burying near a hot spring.
Lefse bread from Norway is a potato flatbread cooked on a griddle and enjoyed during the holidays.
Roti canai is a Malaysian flatbread with its roots in India, used to sop up the lovely curries and dips.
“How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?”
Limpa bread or Vörtbröd originates from Sweden, sweetened with molasses and brown sugar.
Balep korkun bread is from Tibet, and made with tsampa which is derived from barley, and fried in a griddle.
Pita bread is a flatbread that originated in what is today the Middle East, characterized by the pocket formed in the middle.
English muffins are a type of bread invented in the US by a British expat trying to create a bread similar to the English crumpet.
Melonpan is a Japanese sweetbread, made from an enriched dough covered with a layer of cookie dough.
Pane carasau bread from Sardinia in Italy is made thin as a razor, giving it a crunchy texture.
“Two things only the people desire: bread, and the circus games.”
Karavai bread from Russia is nothing sort of a work of art and enjoyed during weddings and holidays.
Podplomyk bread is an unleavened flatbread from Poland, and comes in thin sheets making it perfect to wrap food in.
Tortillas from Mexico are made with the simplest ingredients and come in corn or flour versions.
Soda Bread is again a simple loaf originating in Ireland, and made with baking soda as the leavening agent.
Pai bao bread originated in Hong Kong, with its unique characteristics of including cooked flour and water in the dough to create a moist loaf.
Shaobing is an unleavened, layered, flaky flatbread from Northern China, that is filled with a variety of fillings and rolled before cooking.
“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” – James Beard
Homemade Bread Recipe
- Mix all dry ingredients together.
- Add the water and mix until a dough forms. Knead for five to ten minutes.
- Place in a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place to allow the dough to rise.
- After about an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Pour the dough out on a floured surface and knead for 5 more minutes.
- Remove the cloth and make a slit on the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.
- Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow when knocking on the bottom.