Hello iso bakers! NOTHING beats home-baked bread. That aroma, that crust, that slightly dense but oh so terrific crumb … drooool. If you haven’t baked bread before, now is the time with beginner’s guide on how to bake bread. It’s jam-packed full of tips and tricks PLUS an awesome recipe for you to follow. EASY!

If you can’t get your hands on any bread, or perhaps you have a heap of flour you need to use – whatever the case may be, baking bread is a fun, inexpensive baking activity the whole family can enjoy – and eat!

The best bit, you only need a few pantry staples for baking basic white bread – flour, dry yeast and butter for greasing and oiling. Feeling FANCY? Sprinkle the top of your loaf with seeds for added flavour and crunch. #getinmybelly

Pros and cons of homemade bread versus shop bought bread

Apart from the delicious smell that’ll waft through your home, and the butter melting on to a generously cut slice of warm bread, the ONLY downside to homemade bread is its shelf life. It contains no preservatives so is best eaten on the day it’s baked. After that, it’s still great for toasting, bread crumbs, bread and butter pudding … you get my drift.

home made bread
Source: Bigstock

Bread making tips and tricks!

Here’s some awesome tips and tricks to tuck into your apron pocket and get you on your bread baking way:

  1. Always check your dry yeast use by date. If you’ve had your yeast sitting in the cupboard for a while, it’s best to buy a fresh lot . Store it in the fridge or freezer to keep it from losing activity due to heat/air exposure.
  2. Loaf tins differ. Not all tins are created equal, some require more cooking time, some less. Keep an eye on your bread while baking!
  3. Kneading – don’t skip the arm workout! Kneading is super important as it distributes the yeast evenly through the dough, strengthening the gluten.
  4. How to knead – It’s easy when you know how. Use the palm of your hand and push the dough away from you, then pick the edge up with your fingertips, fold it back over the top of itself back towards you. Turn the dough in a clockwise motion and repeat the process.
  5. You can totally cheat and use a stand mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough. Just don’t OVER knead it.
  6. When to STOP kneading –  You’ll know when you’ve kneaded the dough enough when you can poke it with a finger and the dough springs back. Doesn’t spring back? Keep kneading!
  7. Rise baby, RISE! – Brush your dough with melted butter before covering it up and leaving it to prove. If your bread dough dries out, rising is difficult with a dried out crust.
  8. Proving temperature – The ideal temperature for bread dough to prove is 30°C. Anything hotter risks killing the yeast. Excellent bread proving places include: inside the garage, inside the car, on top of the coffee machine or on top of the clothes dryer.
  9. Knock, knock, are you cooked? You’ll know your bread is cooked all the way through when you tap it and it sounds hollow. Do NOT leave your bread in the tin to cool – it’ll sweat and you’ll have a soft, soggy crust.
  10. Clean up – Bread dough and flour can be sticky on the bench. Use a plastic ruler, egg flip or dough scraper to scrape the dough from your bench for easier cleanup.
Source: Unsplash / theme photos

How to make bread – a basic white bread recipe

Time: approximately 2 hours total for prep, prove and cook

Ingredients

  • Melted butter for greasing the tin and brushing the loaf
  • 500g (3⅓ cups) of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of dried yeast (7g)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 375ml (1½ cups) lukewarm water
  • Extra water for brushing
  • Optional: poppy seeds or sesame seeds to sprinkle on top for crunch

Method

  1. Using a 10 x 20cm (base measurement) loaf pan, brush the base and sides with the melted butter to grease.
  2. Place the plain flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre. Add the lukewarm water to the dry ingredients. THE WATER NEEDS TO BE LUKEWARM (not hot or cold) TO ACTIVATE THE YEAST!
  3. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined and then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
  4. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead the bread for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (see kneading tips above!)
  5. Shape the kneaded dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with melted butter, all the way up to the rim. Place the dough into the bowl and lightly brush over the exposed surface of the dough with butter to stop it from drying out. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and then place in a warm place (where there are no draughts) to rise. Refer above for suggestions.
  6. Leave the dough to prove in the warm spot until it has doubled in size (around 45 minutes). The dough will be ready when you can lightly press it and your finger indent remains. Bring it back to the kitchen!
  7. Knock the bread dough down by giving it a punch with your fist in the bowl.
  8. Turn the dough back out on to your lightly floured surface and knead it again for a few minutes or until smooth and returned to its original dough size.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Divide the dough into two even halves. Shape each ball into a smooth round shape. Place them side by side in the greased loaf pan. Brush them lightly with melted butter. Put the loaf tin back in the warm proving spot for 30 minutes or until the dough has risen *just* above the top of the pan.
  10. Brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle the sesame or poppy seeds on top (if using them). Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and cooked through. Turn the bread out on to a wired rack to cool and you’re done!
Source: Unsplash / Rebecca Matthews

We’re trying our darnedest to limit food waste and churn out some delicious family food. Make the most of your pantry and leftovers with 9 clever and delicious ways to serve leftovers.

Author

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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