Bread 101

Created January 26, 2017
I can tell you firsthand do not fear the bread! You can make a beautiful, flavorful loaf even the very first time in your kitchen. MORE+ LESS-

It seems that if there is one type of recipe people tend to fear, it’s bread. Maybe it’s because of the yeast (living things in your food…yeah, a little weird). Or maybe it’s that common, yet highly untrue, stereotype that bread is a fickle thing and only the finest professional bread bakers can make a beautiful, flavorful loaf.

I can tell you firsthand – do not fear the bread! You can make a beautiful, flavorful loaf even the very first time in your kitchen. Yes, there is yeast. Yes, there is flour. No, there is nothing to fear. It’s easy! I promise.

Let me show you, step by step, how to make a Basic White Bread. You’ll be amazed at how simple the recipe is and how easy it is to make, even in your home kitchen.

First, set out all of your ingredients mise en place, or, “all set up.” It’s easiest to measure and pull out all of your ingredients ahead of time so you don’t forget anything or feel flustered. But, do make sure your measurements are accurate – especially with flours. Some recommend measuring by weight, but I don’t have a scale and have been just fine.

After you’ve followed the directions and combined all the ingredients in their proper order (generally speaking, this means wet ingredients go into the already combined dry ingredients in a stand mixer bowl or a regular bowl, depending on what you have), you can either begin to knead the dough using a dough hook attachment in the stand mixer or by hand on a floured counter. The dough will look shaggy, like this, but not to worry – it’ll turn out smooth and elastic in about 10 minutes.

See? The dough looks better already. If you have one, use a bench scraper to scrape up any bits of dough that stick to the counter. Keep kneading the dough until it stops sticking to the counter (adding a little bit of flour at a time helps with this, but don’t go overboard or the dough will toughen), and until it registers about 80 degrees F in the center (you can use a meat thermometer to gauge this). Also, make sure the dough passes the windowpane test.

Here’s what the dough should look like when first placed in a lightly greased bowl to rise (first photo), and when it is fully risen, or doubled (second photo).

Flatten the dough into a rectangle with your fingers, then roll up, pinching the long seam as you go (don’t pinch the edges – leave them alone).

Then, place the rolled-up dough into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Like this.

It’ll look like this once it’s doubled and ready to bake…

And then, like this when it’s done! You can tell it’s done when a meat thermometer reads 190 degrees F when inserted in the bottom center of the loaf, and when a thwack on the underside of the loaf makes a hollow sound.

Once fully cooled, slice, serve and eat. It’s that easy.

Heck yes – you just made homemade bread.

RECIPE: Basic White Bread

Stephanie (aka Girl versus Dough) joined Tablespoon to share her adventures in the kitchen. Check out Stephanie’s Tablespoon member profile and keep checking back for her own personal recipes on Tablespoon!