Bread Baking 101
“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” ― James Beard
Do you feel the same way James Beard does about good bread? Do you love delicious sourdough? Or rye bread? How about a slice of buttery brioche? No matter what type of bread you like, when you take a bite of fresh-baked bread – it’s something special.
And, while you may have a favorite bakery that makes bread, it is extremely satisfying to make your own bread at home. If you’ve never made bread before – don’t worry. It’s actually much easier than you may think.
What Ingredients Do You Need?
Most bread recipes are quite simple and require very few ingredients. But there are a few basics you should have on hand.
- Yeast – When you bite into delicious bread, you may notice all of the little air bubbles inside. These air bubbles are due to the yeast in your bread, which causes your bread to rise. There are two main types of yeast:
- Active Dry – This is a granular yeast that needs to be mixed with lukewarm water to be activated
- Instant/Rapid Rise – This is a finer yeast that does not need to be activated with lukewarm water and can be added directly to your ingredients
- You may also hear about “fresh” and “sourdough starter” – but no need to worry about those if you are just starting as a bread baker.
- Flour – Most recipes will allow for the use of all-purpose flour, but you may want to try some different ones depending on what you are creating.
- Whole Wheat – In addition to the health benefits that whole wheat flour adds, you may notice that your bread is a bit denser when using whole wheat. Also, note that you can not usually substitute whole wheat flour for white flour in equal amounts. It usually requires some finessing to make your bread turn out.
- Bread Flour – This flour is white flour, but has a higher protein content, which leads to better gluten development. You will find your bread to be chewy when using bread flour.
- Other Flours – Your baking aisle may have rye flour, oat flour, and others. Use these after your skills as a baker develop more.
- Salt – Nothing special to note about salt. The salt that’s on your kitchen table will work just fine.
- Water – Once again, nothing special. Tap water works well.
- Other Things – Some recipes may call for milk, butter, oil, honey, or other additions. These will help you create different textures or flavor profiles for your bread.
What Supplies Do You Need?
You probably have most of these items in your kitchen, but here are the basic supplies you need:
- Digital Scale – Most recipes list the amount of flour needed in ounces or grams, and that’s why you need a digital scale. Baking is a science, and a digital scale helps you keep your measurements precise.
- Mixing Bowls – Whatever style you like!
- Measuring Cups/Spoons
- Spatula and Wooden Spoons
- Dutch Oven – Lots of recipes call for you to bake your bread in a Dutch Oven.
And now you’re ready to bake some bread!
Here are a few recipes to get you started:
Whether you want to show off your baking skills to your family or just enjoy a slice of warm bread with some peanut butter, baking bread can be so satisfying. Try one of these recipes today and get ready for your kitchen to smell magical!