How to make it

  • I would recommend reading this twice before attempting - so as to put the ingredients in the correct order which will help your bread success.
  • Divide flour in half and place into two bowls - one for mixer with added active yeast and the other to add in a little bit.
  • In with bowl that will be under the mix master beater that has only one half of the flour (with yeast), add special dry seasonings such as the herbs if your recipe calls for it but NOT THE SALT, that goes in the sauce pan first.
  • The other "special ingredients your recipe calls for i.e.: sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, garlic or nuts, etc. will be added in a bit.
  • With spoon, mix 1/2 flour, your yeast and dry herbs till really well incorporated.
  • In sauce pan, heat slowly and stir your liquids such as milk and/or water as mentioned in your recipe, sugar/honey, shortening of your choice and salt.
  • Heat this till just warm (120-130 degrees) and the butter has almost melted. Do not make this too hot -or you will kill the "yeast"! Use that instant thermometer to read temperature.
  • Add what's in sauce pan now into bowl that includes half of the flour and all of the yeast that's under the mixer.
  • Beat on low to medium speed for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl as you can.
  • Then beat on high for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, add remaining flour as you can.
  • Then add your "special ingredients" like the sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, nuts, whatever and continue beating at a medium speed till well incorporated -beat about 2 minutes more.
  • Turn dough out from bowl underneath mixer onto the clean working surface that is lightly floured - use some of the 1/2 cup of the extra flour I mentioned above.
  • Knead in enough of any remaining flour you had divided in half and you were adding to mixing bowl to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic - this is going to take 8 to 10 minutes and lot's of arm strength!
  • Hey but you are getting exercise here and it's so worth the effort!
  • You may have to add more flour depending upon your bread, this is ok and normal.
  • Shape dough into a ball and placed into a greased bowl. Cover with clean dish towel and let rise in warm place till double in size.
  • This can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending upon warmth of your kitchen.
  • You can place this in your oven (which is turned off) to help keep it away from prying eyes or from cool air that may come from your kitchen door opening.
  • Once doubled, then comes the fun and violent part of the bread making chore...
  • You will know when its ready and has doubled when gently pressing two fingers down on the dough, if your indentations remain, the dough is ready to be "punched down".
  • Important tip, creating indentations may not work for the more dense breads - for accuracy when the dough has risen properly, use that thermometer again, put it inside the dough and read.
  • Dense breads (like my sun-dried tomato) should read 210 degrees while regular white and italian-styled breads should read 200 degrees.
  • When all is said and done, get punchy.
  • Punch down the dough with your fist...yes, I said punch it down. (you should have seen my grandmother do this - the little thing she was!)
  • Only one punch will do. Simply take fist and punch directly down on the dough in the bowl.
  • Then cover again and let dough rest again another 10 minutes
  • Hey wouldn't you like to get covered to rest if you just got punched?!? Yeah, I thought so!
  • In the meantime, take your loaf pan if using that and grease up that baby. Tell the loaf pan that it's going to make the best bread it ever did make!
  • Making a baguette shape? Then sprinkle the cookie sheet with cornmeal - ahh yes so that's what the cornmeal was for...
  • Take dough and gently (yeah, now that you just punched the living "$^%!" out of your dough) and gently shape into the shape you want.
  • Are you putting it in a loaf pan? Then gently roll it out using a rolling pin into a rectangular shape, then with your hands, roll up like a jelly roll, piercing the ends underneath. Place dough upside down into loaf pan so that the smooth side is facing up.
  • If making a baguette styled loaf, roll out into rectangular shape, then roll dough up like a jelly roll and place the seam-side down onto cookie sheet on the diagonal, then pinch ends underneath.
  • With all this work, guess what, it's time to rest again - I know - more resting time - but check your dryer - the clothes must be dry by this time.
  • Let dough rest 30-40 minutes in a warm place till nearly doubled in size.
  • Follow baking instructions closely from your bread recipe - but if you haven't a clue bread recipes usually takes about 30 minutes to bake one loaf of bread at a 375 degree oven.
  • Want the bread to look artisan? Sprinkle a little flour on the top of the bread before you create your slashes.
  • Want your bread shiny like a new penny? Add egg white wash and using pastry brush, wash bread on top if you would like a shiny look to your bread which also enhances the browning process.
  • You may also like to create and cut (more violence here) a few slashes with a knife after it has doubled on the top of the bread which will allow it have beautiful marks when finished baking.
  • Want an extra crispy crust? Use this method ONLY if you have a gas oven! Throw a few ice cubes onto the bottom of your preheated oven when placing the bread into the oven- the steam will help create a extra crunchy crust! You can also use your water mister you use on your plants (minus the miracle grow of course) and mist clean water all over your bread just prior to putting it in the oven. This is a good alternative is you have an electric oven.
  • Check after 20 minutes at first - then again at 30 minutes and knock on your bread (not to see if anyone's home) but to see if it sounds hollow - if it does - you know then that your bread doesn't have any brains - (just kidding - just seeing if you are paying any attention here) - you will know your bread is done when is sounds hollow.
  • Once out of the oven, after 2 minutes, immediately remove bread from loaf pans, and off cookie sheets and let cool on a rack.
  • It is best to wait at least an hour prior to slicing your first slice, albeit very difficult not to. Like you need anymore resting time!
  • But it will allow the moisture in your bread to distribute properly (like resting meat), since if you cut into it right out of the oven, you will allow all that steam to run out of your loaf. It might dry out faster than you had planned.
  • Enjoy the smells of freshly baked bread.
  • After all of, what's the cost of a bread machine anyhow? - you MUST BE THINKING NOW! rofl - but these tips are for real, from my grandma to me to you, despite my lame attempts at making you laugh while learning a few things and tricks about bread tips and tricks that came from my Grandma Nelle.

Reviews & Comments 11

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    " It was excellent "
    spinach1948 ate it and said...
    This is fantastic, better than the frozen in the supermarket.
    Hi 5
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  • capedread 10 years ago
    nice post, I make my bread or rolls crunchy by sifting a little rice flour on top before throwing into the top half of the oven
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  • divaliscious 10 years ago
    Bread Machine Tricks - UPDATE
    I love to make my bread look more homemade - so I choose the option of making only the dough - it will be important though since your machine will start immediately when you press start to have all the ingredients at room temperature so and the water at the right temperature- once the bread machine has done its thing - I will pour out the dough onto a well floured surface. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then attack it - kneading in any extra flour if I have to and putting it into the shape I want - round, baguette styled or into a loaf pan - then place a clean dish towel over the top and let it rise one more time. Then baking it up in the oven. For rounds and baguette shaped breads I like to sprinkle a little corn meal on the cookie sheet - you can also use a milk or egg wash and lightly dust with flour. Do not forget to score your bread for the lovely artisan look.
    cheers and enjoy baking your bread!
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  • frankieanne 10 years ago
    I just saw this. How did I miss it? :) Great post! I have a bread machine and love it but the instructions here are wonderful! Thank you.
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    " It was excellent "
    trigger ate it and said...
    I love the humor in the directions.
    Great post

    I have a stand mixer that I use for the mixing and kneading process and use it for making baguettes.

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  • divaliscious 11 years ago
    Cooper emailed me and gave the suggestions on the instant thermometer when checking dough is ready for "punching stage" and to see if it has doubled correctly. She (I assume) also gave me the correct temperatures needed - Many thanks Cooper! - and check out Cooper's soon the be seen bread recipes, this person is one heck of a bread baker from the sounds of it - baking over 10 loaves in a week. They know their stuff!
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  • divaliscious 11 years ago
    If by chance, you did not finish your bread and it has become hard, do not throw it away to the pigeons! Make croûtons instead or even crustini or great french toast. I am about ready to make croûtons out of the savory sun-dried tomato bread I made this weekend into croûtons for salads.Once baked, they last several weeks in the fridge at least!
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  • divaliscious 11 years ago
    WOW Such an excellent point - many many thanks... I am so used to a gas stove, I totally forgot! And heck, it was 2am when I posted this...
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  • chefjeb 11 years ago
    Don't put ice cubes in an electric oven unless you want to buy a new heating element. A neighbor did that two weeks ago. ZAP! And the little bit of steam that a couple of cubes makes won't do anything to the bread. Bread is kneaded when you can take a golf ball size piece and stretch it without tearing.
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  • coffeebean53 11 years ago
    Wow Thank you so much for posting this. :)
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  • divaliscious 11 years ago
    Even more tips and tricks of the bread making trade:

    1) Recipes can give a range of amounts of flour to use, always start with the minimum first - you can always add, but it's hard to take away flour...
    2) Yeast is try using fresh active yeast (which is quicker than the cake styled yeast) and keep it in the fridge until ready to use - check the dates on it as well)
    3) Do you live in CO? or other place with high altitude, expect your dough to rise faster than at sea level.
    4) When storing your homemade bread, keep it covered in a clean dishtowel on the counter, homemade yeast breads become quickly stale if kept in the refrigerator.
    4) After slicing your first slice, slice an extra and adhere with toothpicks to bread, this will ensure your next slice is moist and not dried out.
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