The Ultimate Guide to Baking Homemade Bread Like A Pro
But we also know that baking bread at home is real science that requires discipline, commitment, and patience! Many of us have tried to follow at least once an easy homemade bread recipe but still failed. A lot goes into it, so don’t let yourself down by one small failure because we’ve got your back!
We’ve carefully put together this guide that will take you through every step you need to take from your kitchen’s comfort to baking homemade bread of your dreams in no time! We will teach you how to bake homemade bread, what different types of bread are out there, and we will end with a bang by giving away our best tips and tricks to help you make your bread and enjoy the magic that comes with the whole process.
How to Bake Homemade Bread
Let’s start with the basics by gathering just a few ingredients to pull your bread together. What you will need is:
● 6-¼ to 6-¾ cups of bread flour (1 cup meaning 250ml)
● 1 pack of active dry yeast (¼ ounce)
● 1 tablespoon of salt
● 2 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon of sugar
● 2-¼ cups of warm water (around 37 C)
● 2 tablespoons of canola oil
In terms of bread baking tools, you will need:
● Rolling Pin – to roll out your dough so you can form it into desired shapes (our favourite is the one that has a tapered end and no handles)
● Digital Thermometer – super handy when you will have to check the temperature of your liquids before adding the yeast
● Dough Container – you can use a large mixing bowl to hold your dough whilst it rises, however, a bread dough container that has measurements on its sides will make it a lot easier to tell when the dough has doubled in size
● Pastry Mat – an essential whenever you are making any type of homemade bread
● Loaf Pan – great for quick bread
● Bowl Scraper – a good trick when you need to get your dough out of the bowl
● Bench Knife – to divide your dough
● Stand Mixer – it makes it a speedy work especially when lifting and kneading dough
● Dough Whisk – this is for old fashioned ones that want to make their bread dough by hand, as it will make it light and beautiful
● Bread Lame – to slash through the top of a proofing bread to create a gorgeous design on the top of your bread loaf (but you can also simply use a kitchen knife, however, that won’t get you the aesthetics you want)
Step 1. Proofing the Yeast
Right before you can start mixing and kneading your bread, you have to proof your yeast. How to do this? Easy-peasy!
Dissolve the yeast in your chosen dish and add ½ a teaspoon of sugar, and warm a bit of warm water. Don’t make your water too hot as you will risk killing your poor yeast. When the yeast is starting to bubble and make foam, you are ready to go!
You can try the excellent PAUL homemade bread baking kits which contain Fresh Yeast and White Bread Flour.
Step 2. Stirring the Bread Dough
Now add your rapeseed oil to the yeast mix, whilst in another large bowl, mix the dry ingredients (½ of the flour, sugar and salt).
Next, combine the dry with the wet mixture and convert it into a sticky dough. You will notice that slowly, the bread mix will start coming together, and that’s the perfect moment to add ½ cup of flour slowly until your bread dough will soften.
Step 3. Get kneading
Kneading bread is an essential part of breadmaking as it aids in creating structure and strength in the bread dough. It also leaves it silky and very soft, with a little cushiony feel (we told you in the beginning that baking bread is magic).
Fun fact? Bread flour contains two proteins that combine to form the famous gluten (fierce by many), ultimately responsible for creating the elastic texture in the bread dough that everyone strives for.
By kneading your dough correctly, you will be able to trap the gas that has been created by the yeast, helping your dough to rise gracefully. Inappropriate kneading will lead to a tough bread as it won’t grow properly, so try to avoid this if you want to impress your guests at your next hosted dinner!
There are three ways you can knead your bread dough:
- With the Stand Mixer – but we recommend doing it by hand to save time (if your choice is to use the mixer, usually it takes around 10 minutes or so)
Tip? Don’t forget to use your dough hook attachment for this specific kneading method!
- With a Bread Machine – if you have one, all your worries are gone
- Our favourite way, by hand – not only is the traditional way of kneading the perfect homemade bread, but it is also extremely satisfying (you won’t know until you try!)
Step by Step Kneading Instructions
- Add plenty of flour on your work surface – but don’t overdo it! Lightly sprinkle some flour to start with, and avoid washing your hands during the process. In case your hands get too sticky, take a bit more flour and rub your hands together until the unnecessary dough has fallen from your hands
- Turn your bread dough upside down on the board and start moulding – do this by hand or use a bench scraper
- Fold the dough – make sure you fold it in half towards you, not the other way around
- Push the dough away using your palm heels – by all means, don’t use your fingers, and be very gentle
- Add a little quarter turn – and maybe even use a little more flour to polish it up (if your bread dough gets stuck on the board, there’s no need to panic, just simply use your bench scraper and get it out of the surface, slowly)
- Repeat the whole process for about 10 minutes – do so until the dough is smooth and elastic (but we have a feeling you will want to do it for longer!)
Tip? Do the poke test by poking the bread dough with your finger. If it springs back, you are all good, but if it doesn’t, you’ll have to go back to kneading for a little longer.
Step 4. Proofing the Bread Dough
Now set your bread dough aside so the yeast can start its magic in creating air bubbles. Coat your bread dough with a little oil (or cooking spray), place it in a large container and cover it with a slightly moist cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rest until the dough doubles in size, and make sure you keep your kitchen warm and humid to get the best results (this will usually take between 1 to 2 hours, so go for a walk in nature meantime!)
When the bread has doubled in size, give it a good punch down (but not speaking, so try to not take your bad day out on the dough!). Use your knuckles to press out some of the air that has been trapped inside the bread dough, and divide it into two equal portions.
Now let’s get shaping! There are loads of different ways to shape your dough depending on what you want your final product to look like.
You can choose from shapes such as:
● Straight-Line Cut
● … and much more
But if you want to have more fun, start thinking out of the box and create your own shapes!
Step 5. Bake your Homemade Bread
When the bread has grown a second time, and your shape is exactly as you wanted it to be, pop your loaf into the oven, at a temperature of 375 F, and bake it for roughly 34 to 40 minutes (or until its internal temperature reads 200 F). You will aim to get golden brown bread (not black!).
Step 6. Enjoy
Remove your bread from the oven and let it cool down in the pan for roughly 10 to 15 minutes. After that, remove the bread loaf from the pan and let it cool completely.
What you must do next is crucial! Grab a knife, slice the loaf and enjoy a slightly warm and fresh homemade bread, it’s gorgeous smell and flavours.
Now that you’ve successfully mastered the basic homemade bread recipe, you can get down to business and start exploring more. We think you’ll enjoy a great blog from Taste of Home on a wide variety of Bread Recipes to wow your taste buds and advance your bread baking skills!
Types of baked homemade bread
Well, this is a topic that we could write and talk about forever, as the list goes on and on. Considering that bread has been a staple of the human diet since the Neolithic period, bread remains “the staff of life”, even though low-carb diets try to cut bread from people’s eating habits.
We can tell you one thing – there is a significant and wonderful world of homemade bread beyond the basic white bread, so why not liven up your kitchen and dining table with other bread types?
An all-time favourite type of bread, and extremely easy to make too! It’s a dense, moist and sweet treat that you can delight everyone with, from small children up to your grandparents. It is usually leavened with baking soda or powder.
Banana bread is so popular, that it even has its own holiday on February 23rd, named the National Banana Bread Day!
Rumour has it that one of our favourite bakeries, Britain Loves Baking has recently launched a more creative version for banana bread you can have delivered at your front door! And we are talking about your first banana cupcake baking box (in case you want to spice things up a little bit and go beyond the traditional banana bread).
Nothing compares to the French way of enjoying a lovely homemade bread than a baguette! It is also called french-bread, and it’s made with flour, yeast, water and salt. From thoroughly mixing those ingredients, you can rise your iconic baguette, with a chewy crust and feather-like interior in no time!
If not, you can order your classic baguette (and it comes in a duo!) from PAUL bakery.
This type of bread can include flax seeds, oats and barley, however, a note is that any bread made from wheat and a smidge of flour from other grains can be called multigrain.
If you are looking to get a dense and hearty multigrain bread, always check the labels before purchasing one (this is why making your homemade bread is still better!).
As we said before, the list can go on and on, so just to mention a few more types of bread to try, you could opt for:
● Breadsticks – for an Italian touch
● Brioche – for another French touch
● Challah – integral to the Jewish faith
● Ciabatta – another all-time Italian favourite
● Cornbread – originating from America
● Focaccia – a splendid Italian bread
● Pita – originating from the Middle East
● Pumpernickel – a type of rye bread originating from Germany
● Rye – crucial to beloved deli-sandwiches
● Sourdough – originated from Egypt
● Whole Wheat
● …. and more
We’ve also found a fantastic blog from CountryLiving on 100 recipes for homemade bread that we recommend you to check out and get busy with!
Tips and tricks
And here we are, we’ve made it together! How does it feel to be equipped with all the knowledge you need to craft your perfect homemade bread? Pretty good, right?
But we do have some last thoughts that we wanted to share with you for an extra touch of magic!
Tip 1. Use the right yeast
There are three main types of yeast (fresh, fast-acting dried and active dried), so make sure that you always check your recipe before purchasing your yeast. Most recipes, however, use fast-acting yeast as it’s the most comfortable type to use in home baking.
Also, store your yeast correctly and make sure that it is on the date. Old yeast won’t work, and your hard work will be in vain as a result.
Tip 2. Treat salt with care
Too much salt in your diet can contribute to high blood pressure, so make sure to measure it very carefully so you won’t use more than you need.
Tip 3. Take your time
The best results when it comes to homemade bread also come with time. Allow your dough the time it needs to rise, don’t rush it!
Tip 4. Try out different flours
The quality of the flour that you use will make a massive difference to your homemade bread. You can try the four different wheat flour types available (all-purpose, bread, whole-wheat and white whole-wheat flours), or you can opt for gluten-free ones (almond, buckwheat, sorghum, amaranth, teff, brown rice, or oat flours).
Tip 5. Practice makes perfect
When you make your homemade bread by hand, kneading and shaping the loaf allows you to get a perfect feel of your dough and its elasticity. If it’s too sticky, remember to leave it for 10 minutes after mixing it.
Also, don’t let it prove for too long (longer than 1 hour and a half), and if you are making your bread with toppings, always prove it twice! Once before and once after adding the toppings and shaping it in the loaf tin or tray.
Our top favourite toppings for your homemade bread could be:
● Sprinkles of sugar
● Olive Oil
As long as you know how to bake, life is sure to be sweet! We love saying this, and soon you will see this for yourself too!
And to end our homemade bread baking guide with a bang (as promised), we want to introduce you to an exciting opportunity to start baking like a real chef! PAUL bakery has a wide variety of Bake at-home kits which can be delivered nationwide! They are specifically designed for keen bakers just like you, offering you all that you need (and more) to start baking your perfect homemade bread.
Did you know that Bakers Market is the UK’s online marketplace for all things baked, where you can easily order from a wide selection of freshly baked bread and many other delicacies? We can get your own bread delivered straight to your front door from our finest local bakeries to treat yourself and all your loved ones in no time!
We are keen to bring all our consumers closer to their much loved, and fine quality baked products through stories of the ingredients used, the baked goodies themselves and the lovely people who make them.
—Alice Lidell Editorial Team