How to Bake Homemade Bread (and a Shortcut to Make it Faster)

This article was originally published by Jennifer Poindexter  on www.morningchores.com

Love homemade bread?

You walk into your home, and the smell hits you. It’s freshly baked homemade bread. Your mouth begins to water, and your stomach rumbles.

Yes, this can be your reality. Freshly baked bread is a delicious staple which can be made easily, and you could save money in the process.

Would you be interested in having a simple homemade bread recipe? Would you like to know multiple ways to make the recipe?

Then you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to walk you through an old bread recipe I was given many years ago as I started baking bread from scratch.

Truthfully, I don’t remember where it came from or who gave it to me, but I know it’s the same recipe I’ve been making for most of my adult life. It’s easy and delicious.

Here’s a simple recipe for baking homemade bread from scratch:

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

    Baking Homemade Bread from Scratch

    The first method I’m going to share with you is how to bake bread from scratch with no fancy equipment. If you have a bowl, a wooden spoon, an oven, the ingredients listed above, and an adequate way to measure them, you should be good to go.

    1. Let it Bloom

    To begin the process of baking bread, place the warm water in a bowl. Lightly sprinkle the yeast over the water.

    Let the yeast rest on the water for approximately 10 minutes. During this time, you’ll begin to see the yeast bubble.

    Bubbles is a good sign. It lets you know the yeast is active and working. It’ll begin to blossom, bloom, and bubble on top of the water.

    At the end of 10 minutes, if your yeast looks activated, move forward. If it doesn’t, check the date on your yeast. It may have gone bad and no longer be active.

    If it isn’t active, start over with fresh yeast and warm water. Your bread won’t rise properly without this step.

    It’s also important to note; the water should be lukewarm. You don’t want cold water because it won’t activate the yeast properly.

    But if the water is hot, it’ll cause issues with the yeast as well. The water should be the temperature of bath water safe for a baby.

    2. Add in the Liquids

    Once the yeast is activated, add the remaining liquid ingredients to the bowl. You can use any oil. Honey is a great natural sweetener which is why I prefer it.

    You can use store bought honey, or if you raise bees, put the honey your ladies made to work.

    When all of the liquid ingredients have been added, stir them gently with a wooden spoon. When the honey has dissolved into the mixture, you can move forward with the recipe.

    3. Toss in the Dry

After the liquid ingredients have been added to the bowl, it’s time to add the dry ingredients. Place the flour and salt in the bowl.

Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball and is pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

Be sure to use a wooden spoon as the dough won’t stick to it as easily as it would a plastic or metal spoon.

When the dough is mixed and forming a ball, this step is complete.

4. Take Out Your Aggression

This step is my favorite in the entire bread making process. It’s also one of my ‘marital secrets.’ My mother-in-law told me when I first became married, “Jennifer, he’s my son, and I love him. However, I also know how he can be. There’s going to be times when you’ll feel like lashing out at him. Instead, go to the kitchen and knead the dough.”

It was some of the best advice I received, and I’ve used it a few times. Whether you’re baking bread for pleasure or to keep from having a huge fight in your home, this step is great for taking out any aggression you may be feeling.

Be sure to sprinkle a healthy amount of flour on your countertop or cutting board. Dump the dough out of the bowl and onto the floured surface.

Begin folding the dough over and pressing into it. This process is called kneading. You do this for approximately 10 minutes.

The more you knead, the better the crust will turn out, in my experience.

5. Let it Rest

Once you have finished kneading, leave the bread alone. Roll the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl. I like to place a damp dish towel over the bowl.

It’s also a good idea to place the dough in a warmer location. You can turn your oven onto its lowest setting and turn it off after preheating.

Gently, slide the dough into the oven or set it on top of the stove. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

6. Punch it Down

After the 30-minute time slot is up, remove the towel from the top of the bowl. The dough should’ve doubled in size.

Ball your hand up into a fist and punch the dough down. This will deflate the dough. After you’ve finished punching the dough, place the towel back on top of it.

7. The Bread Will Fluff… Again

Place the dough back in a warm location to allow it to rise again. My oven has a bread proof setting. If you have a bread proofer, they’re handy.

However, I’ve made bread for many years where I didn’t have such a fancy oven. I’d place the bread on top of a warm stove, inside a slightly warm oven, or even next to my wood stove.

Wait another 30 minutes before checking on the bread.

8. Prepare for Baking

After the bread has risen for the second time, pull it out of the bowl. Place it onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal parts.

Grease two bread pans and place one section of dough into each pan. Press the dough into the pan until it has filled each corner.

Gently smooth out of the surface of the dough before putting a towel over the bread pans and placing them in a warm location for approximately 20 minutes. The bread will rise again for the final time.

9. Bake Until Hard

When the dough has fully risen, it should look like an uncooked loaf of bread inside the pan. Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Slide the loaves into the oven and bake them for 25 minutes. When you remove the bread from the oven, knock on it. It should sound hollow.

If it doesn’t, the bread isn’t fully baked. Place it back in the oven until you can knock on the loaf, and it sounds hollow.

Cook times may vary depending upon differences in baking equipment.

10. Let It Chill

When your bread is done, consider melting one to two tablespoons of butter and brushing it over the top of the loaves.

Allow the loaves to rest for 45 minutes to make sure they’ve cooled fully before you slice into it. If you slice the bread too early, it can give it a doughy texture.

Once the bread has cooled, cut into it, and enjoy it with friends and family for a delicious treat.

Baking Bread in a Machine

I’ll admit, when I’m in a hurry, I cheat and use my bread machine as a shortcut. I wanted to run over the process, in the event you’d like to bake bread on the fly too.

1. Add Ingredients to Machine

To bake bread in most bread machines, you add the ingredients to the machine and hit a button. This recipe is no different.

Add the ingredients in the order they’re listed above. On my machine, I choose the option for a basic loaf of bread.

From there, close the lid and let the machine go.

2. Let the Machine Work

During the time the bread is in the machine, the machine should mix the ingredients, proof the dough, punch it down, proof it again, and bake the loaf.

However, if you prefer to fresh bake your bread, you can choose the dough option on your bread machine.

This will get the bread through the mixing and proofing process. Once done you can remove the dough, press it into greased bread pans, and allow the loaf to rise once more.

From there, cook the loaves of bread as stated above.

However, if you’re okay with letting the machine finish the loaf out for you, let it. It’ll ding when the bread is done.

3. Let the Bread Cool

Whether you bake bread in a bread machine, or you start the dough in the bread machine and bake it yourself, be sure to allow the bread time to cool.

Again, if the bread is cut too soon, it can come out doughy. This takes away from the integrity of the bread, and you may not enjoy it as much.

4. Store Properly

Storing fresh bread is different from store bought. Be sure you place the bread in an airtight bag. Some will insert a stalk of celery into the bag to keep the bread moist.

Freshly baked bread will only stay fresh (in most cases) for approximately three days. Be sure to eat it quickly and prepare to bake fresh bread multiple times per week, depending on your storage methods and size of the crowd you feed.

You now know how to bake fresh bread from scratch using only basic tools or a bread machine. You’ve also learned how to properly store fresh bread too.

Hopefully, this will help you to save some money and also lead a healthier lifestyle since you’ll know what ingredients are going into what you’re eating.

 

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