When searching high, low and far for the right hobby, there are often some things that come as no question (once, of course, the mysterious nature has been uncovered). And, one of these is bread making. There are many sayings out there such as; “happiness is when your cooking experiment is a success”, “eating makes me happy”, “keep calm and bake bread” and we could go on. But, here’s one directly from The Hobby Kraze bakery; “baking bread brings joy to you and those around you so make it part of everything you love”.
There’s a reason your fine dining experience at a restaurant will almost always begin with an aperitif of a house-style bread baking recipe. And this reason is that, while it can be simple, it is such as versatile food that can be mixed, shaped, coloured, designed and flavoured with a range of worldly spices. Meaning, anything passed the traditional white loaf (which the team will gladly take you through in this beginner’s guide to bread making) is personal, unique and – most likely – delicious.
With that, we would ‘loaf’ the idea of being able to share the bread making basics with you for a new hobby adventure. The guide to dough is far simpler that you might expect, and it can be enjoyed by anyone; from making to eating. This includes the coeliacs out there; as a member of our team members at The Hobby Kraze avoid eating gluten, themselves, they can vouch that home-made gluten-free bread will still beat any loaf bought in store.
Have a look at everything you’ll need to know to get from a dough base to a happy tummy with this beginner’s guide to bread making:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Bread Making and Why You Should Learn it
- How Our Ancestors Took on the Bread Making Basics
- Knowing the Difference Between Hand-Made and Machine Bread Making Basics
- The Core Ingredients of the Break Baking Recipe
- All the Different Tools You Might Need
- The Steps of How to Make Bread as a Beginner
- Proof the Yeast
- Mix the Ingredients
- You Need to Knead Now
- Proof the Dough
- Give it a Punch, a Cut and Proof Again
- Bake Your Bread and Serve Up
- The Guide to Dough and the Types of Bread You Can Make
Normally, this segment is dedicated to a ‘things you should know before reading on’ or ‘one quick myth we wanted to debunk so you can enjoy the rest of your read’. But, on this occasion, there really is no downside to making bread. Yes, you may need to watch a movie with a loved one while your bread is proofing and, yes, you may get a little rotund with the hobby because home-made bread is delicious. But, there’s nothing that would stop you from going ahead. So, without further ado:
The Beginner’s Guide to Bread Making and Why You Should Learn it
Considering how to make bread can often seem like such a messy subject. When watching The Great British Bake Off you see bakers stressing, sweating, proofing and moulding their breads while the magic of camera editing makes it seem like an unattainable task. In reality; bread is made with so few ingredients, it is one of the cheapest hobbies you can have.
The only ingredient with a taste of mystery is yeast. What on Earth is yeast? Is it really alive? And, how can we even begin to think about proofing if it involves warmth but no oven? Luckily, we have all the answers in this ultimate beginner’s guide to bread making.
But, before getting into the nitty-gritty of kneading, we wanted to brighten your day with a whole range of reasons that bread making basics should be part of your know-how as you develop hobbies throughout the years. It is one of those amazing hobbies where you don’t have to harbour tools and equipment in a dark cupboard for years and there’s no need to fuss about organising a team to come out and enjoy it with you. In fact, your bread might be so good that you’ll either share it with everyone or never let anyone close to it.
Aside from being set if the apocalypse occurs, you’ll always be the favourite dinner guest when you turn up with home-made bread. And, the same goes for any other event. Especially when you’re at the stage of experimenting with new flavours and textures. But, it not just about how other people enjoy your bread making bonanza’s, there’s more:
- It’s cheaper
- It’s more nutritious
- It’s better for the environment as there are fewer plastics and chemicals
- It’s better for your belly
- It’s fun to make
- It’s easy and simple to make
- It’s versatile in how you can add new flavours
- It’s better for vegans and coeliacs when trying new bread flavours
- It’s something you can do overnight
- It’s something you can do with friends and family
- It’s a way to provide a heart-felt and finger-licking gift to a loved one
- It’s something you can do on a schedule or in your free time
- It’s a hobby where all the ingredients can be bought from any local food store
- It’s a way to strengthen the arms when kneading
- It’s a fun hobby to have
- It’s a way to release all the happy hormones and endorphins
- It’s not something that needs tools and equipment, but they can be useful
How Our Ancestors Took on the Bread Making Basics
As always, a tradition here at The Hobby Kraze is to give you a brief look back into the origins of your new hobby. When it comes to the beginner’s guide to bread making, there is no exception; there is research through excavation that has shown the early signs of bread making basics to be present over 23,000 years ago. Meaning our tribal ancestors in the palaeolithic period has some of the same taste buds as us, today.
And, as you may have heard from the Bible, bread and the bread baking recipes have been a key part of the diet for centuries. It was back in the Neolithic period (approximately 12,000 years ago) where early humans created simple stone mechanisms to remove the husks from grains of cattail and fern plants. Then, the resulting grains were ground down, mixed with water and left to dry in the sun to create a gruel. This gruel is considered to be the earliest form of cereal which could either be eaten as so or heated above some rocks into a sort of flatbread.
It was during this period, around 10,000 years ago where people began to domesticate grains such as wheat and barley near the River Nile, rice in parts of East Asia and maize in the regions of America. These were the crops that would make way for the bread making we see today. When gruel of wheat or barley was left overnight, wild yeast in the air would make a home in the gruel and eat the sugars in the grain. When they do this, they excrete the CO2 that gives the light and airy texture of leavened bread. Even today, the bread you eat is only so light and fluffy due to the excrement of a fungus flying around the air – sorry.
Moving onto the Ancient Egyptians, it was these pioneers who decided to try and isolate the yeast for a better leavening. A fun fact would be that the Egyptians were large beer lovers and the processes of beer making were often interchanged (as well as the ingredients) to make a better guide to dough.
Centuries later, the Romans took on the bread making basics as well as their invention of water-milling. The grains got finer and the knack of how to make bread became more of an artform. Interestingly, it was the Romans who initiated the trend that whiter bread was of a higher quality and therefore suited to the prestigious people of society.
This mindset continued on into medieval Britain where the rich would have bleached white grains and the poor would be left with the coarser rye breads. Little did they know, the poorer families were on a healthier diet because of this. Another fun fact would be to know that the lords and knights of medieval Britain would use thick slices of bread named ‘trenchers’ to hold their food as platters. A bonus as there was little cleaning required after you ate your plate.
As time went on, more chemicals were added to bread along with other textures and flavours to refine and experiment with what this food had to offer. Then, 19th century Switzerland were able to offer the world the steel mill, a revolutionary system used to crush and separate parts of the grain allowing the coeliacs a break.
There are some sayings floating round the great British vocabulary including the likes of; “Blimey, this is the best thing since sliced bread”. And, while your Uncle Steve could be talking about anything from a new car part to the perfect hot brew on a cold Winter’s morning, the invention of sliced bread truly was exceptional. Plus, you’ll be surprised to hear it’s still a pretty recent creation, too.
An American jeweller named Otto Rohwedder thought that the average housewife could do with a hand in the kitchen. And, in 1928, he created a power-driven machine with multiple blades to slice bread. Within two years, sliced bread was 90% store’s bakery section and still is today.
Knowing the Difference Between Hand-Made and Machine Bread Making Basics
There are two ways you can attack the bread making basics. As this is the beginner’s guide to bread making, we’ll be covering the most basic guide to dough and bread. And, with a standard white bread loaf, there’s two methods to choose from. You can either do all steps by hand or you could enlist the help of a bread maker.
Here at The Hobby Kraze, we like you to enjoy your hobbies to the fullest, but we also like you to understand your hobbies before placing any true investment into them. That’s why the team here would always suggest trying out your first loaf by hand, and if it’s a success, then consider how to make bread with the help of a bread maker.
But, if you do decide to go ahead and buy a bread maker, it’s important you know the differences and the results that both methods will yield.
For example; when you place your ingredients in the bread maker, there’s no way to know if all the measurements are correct and will create the perfect loaf. However, if you’re mixing the ingredients by hand, you know what the weight, feel and texture is supposed to be, and you can add extra ingredients where necessary.
If you stick to the exact bread baking recipe from the bread maker, you’ll get the perfect light and airy bready you’ve been hoping for. But, it gives far less freedom; if you’re constantly sticking to the same recipe to save the hassle of a dry dough with unpresentable unevenness, you’re not going to have the opportunity to try different flavours, ingredients, shapes, sizes, spices, colours and more. So, hand-making would win that round.
The best thing about the bread maker is being able to chuck-in the ingredients and let it do its job. It’ll take almost exactly the same amount of time as mixing, proofing, kneading and baking a loaf by hand, so there’s no clear winner apart from the fact that a bread maker requires no extra attention.
That said, it can be useful to have a bread maker in the house in case you’ve got an armada of children or houseguests with a love of bread; you simply can’t go wrong. Some good brands include; the Panasonic Croustina, the Tower T11002 and the Morphy Richards Homebake.
But, being able to whisp up a guide to dough with unique and special flavours, your hobby will be loved by all. Although, it must be said that hand-baking will win the battle of aesthetics hands-down: those gorgeous slices in the loaf don’t come out of nowhere.
The Core Ingredients of the Bread Baking Recipe
For traditional white loaves, bread makers and bakers across the globe have standardised their baking methods on something called ‘The Baker’s Percentage’. These simply relate to the ratios to allow each baker to scale the recipe up or down where needed. But, luckily, there are only 4 ingredients to a standard bread:
- Flour: 1000g (100%)
- Water: 700g (70%)
- Salt: 20g (2%)
- Yeast: 10g (1%) for fresh yeast, 4g (0.4%) for instant yeast and 5g (0.5%) for active dry yeast.
The total weight of this dough will be 1730g when using fresh yeast meaning it will have an overall percentage of 173% which can be used to create a baker’s dozen and more.
The way the percentage is calculated is by knowing that flour will always be 100%. Then, if you divide the total weight of the flour by the total weight of another ingredient in the bread and multiply it by 100, you’ll get the percentage of that ingredient.
All the Different Tools You Might Need
Now you’ve got your ingredients, it’s time to enlist the help of all the tools and equipment you might need after this beginner’s guide to bread making has ended. Bearing in mind you won’t need all of these ingredients; as long as you have scales, a bowl, your hands, an oven and a tea towel, you’re fine. But, modern bread making can go much further with the addition of fancy mixers or a bread maker. So, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have gathered a list of all the possible items you might need on the day:
- Plain Flour
- Egg Wash Brush
- Cling Film
- Tea Towel
- Proofing Oven
- Bread Maker
- Chopping Board
- Stand Mixer
- Dough Paddle
- Measuring Cups
- Bowl Scraper
- Oven Thermometer
- Cooling Rack
- Loaf Pan
- Bread Knife
- Butter Knife
- Baking Gloves
- Baking Steel
The Steps of How to Make Bread as a Beginner
Next comes the fun bit and, most probably, the part you have skipped to; how to make bread using the bread making basics. In reality, there are only six steps to a bread baking recipe; there are seven if you count slicing the bread and eating it and only five if you’ve bought fresh yeast.
As we wanted to be as in-depth as possible, we’ve shared our bread making recipe that calls for active dry yeast. It is the type most commonly found in the food shops across Britain and it will store in the cupboard far longer than the others. Baker’s, Bake!
Proof the Yeast
So, the first thing you’ll need to do is wake up the yeast leavening agent. This makes sure it is still alive and active in order to eat the sugars and provide the necessary CO2 for a light and airy dough.
To do this, grab a small bowl or ramekin, insert 60ml of warm water and about 1 teaspoon of sugar. The water needs to be warm in order to activate the yeast, but hot water will simply kill it and it won’t be able to guide your dough into its perfectly risen state.
Leave it to prove for about five to ten minutes, but you should read the package of the active dry yeast for specific instructions. A good indication that the yeast is active and ready is a foaming pattern on the water’s surface.
Mix the Ingredients
When your yeast is ready, you can begin the mixing process. Some bakers will simply opt for the all-in method while we suggest taking the gradual approach. Place half of your flour in with your salt, stir together and then and the water and yeast. When you’re mixing, it should come together to make a loose and sticky mixture. Then, slowly add the rest of your flour until it forms a tacky and soft bread dough.
You Need to Knead Now
Once your full guide to dough has come together, roll it onto a floured surface and begin to knead.
The kneading process can be quite laborious and is often the cause of many strong arms or the stand-up mixer with the dough paddle attachment in the corner of your kitchen. In order to knead, take the heel of your hand (whichever you’d like) and push it into the dough stretching the dough forward. Use your other hand to support yourself on the kitchen countertop. Then, grab the top, fold it in on itself, rotate the dough from 12 O’clock to 3 O’clock and start the kneading process again.
You should – try – to continue the kneading process for about 15-minutes. A good way to check would be to do the stretch test. Take a part of your dough, stretch it out and hold it in front of the light. If it creates a very thin film that allows light to shine through but doesn’t crack, snap, or have holes, you’re good to go.
The reason kneading is done is to create air pockets and develop the gluten from the wheat grain flour. It works with the yeast to make sure the bread is light and airy. Otherwise, your dough is likely to be flat and tough, much like a flatbread.
Proof the Dough
Next is the crucial step of proofing that often bewilders the mind. Proofing is a very straight forward step and shouldn’t be feared. You can leave dough to proof overnight or for a few hours, but this will depend on the type of dough. The bread making basics for the white loaf we’re making today, however, only needs a 90-minute proof. Which, leaves the perfect amount of time to enjoy a movie with family on the couch.
The reason proofing is done is to allow the yeast to ferment with the sugar in the dough. As mentioned, it eats the sugar, creates CO2 and allows for large air pockets to form in the dough. During this time, the worked gluten relaxes to make it easier to work with and shape in the next stage.
A guide to dough proofing would be to grease your bowl with some butter or oil. Add the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp tea-towel. If your kitchen is warm (i.e. 25° Celsius or above) then you can simply leave your dough on the side. But, if your kitchen is slightly cold, you can use your oven.
One of the best ways to do this would be to turn your oven on high for two minutes while you knead the dough. Then, turn it off. When you’re ready to proof the dough, place a glass tray of boiling water on the bottom of the oven and pop your bowl on a shelf in the middle. The residual heat from the oven plus the steam from the boiled water will keep your dough in optimum conditions.
A good ballpark to know if the proofing is done, is if the dough has doubled in size (so, make sure your bowl is big!).
Give it a Punch, a Cut and Proof Again
When you next see your dough, it’ll likely have a large dome at the top. And, what you do, might be the best part of how to make bread. Make a fist, picture that person that cut you up in the traffic this morning and punch the dough. It should sink in the middle. When the fun’s over, move the dough onto a floured surface, knead for a couple of minutes and cut with a bowl scraper.
Whether you’re baking a loaf or baking a tray of buns, you’ll need to cut the bread to size, allowing space in the bread tin for the bread to grow even more.
After the bread is cut, shaped and placed into the baking utensil you’ll be using (we suggest a metal tin over a glass tin due to the evenness of the bake), it needs a second proof. This proof in the bread baking recipe should be left for about the same amount of time as the first proof of 60 to 90-minutes.
Bake Your Bread and Serve Up
About 20 minutes prior to your second proof being completed, head over to the oven and whip up the temperature (not on fan) to a snug 180° Celsius.
Then, when the proof is over, you can pop the bread in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. If you’re looking for a glazed and crunchy top to your bread, crack an egg and whisk it into an egg wash. Then, using your egg wash brush, lightly brush over the top of the bread ten minutes before the bread is done. Then, you should be left with a mouth-watering golden tone.
Whether you want to share your loaf or keep it all to yourself is up to you. But, when you’re ready to sink your teeth into your bread, use your bread knife to have a look and make sure the dough is cooked in the middle. If the bread hasn’t cooled enough, don’t be surprised if the centre appears a little dense or uncooked. This will change when the loaf cools. Otherwise, enjoy your new hobby creation!
The Guide to Dough and the Types of Bread You Can Make
Now you’ve completed the first step to the bread making basics, this beginner’s guide to bread making should probably also let you in on a secret; bread doesn’t always need yeast in order to be a successful plate-up. In fact, there two types of leavening agent and ways that modern bread can find their way into a Michelin dish. It can either be yeasted (made with yeast) or quick (made without yeast but with other rising agents such as baking powder).
The main differences between the two include the chemical reaction, taste and the duration in the bread baking recipe. Yeast requires kneading and proofing in order to activate and provide the key airy rise we all know and love. However, other leavening agents such as baking powder don’t need this extra attention and can be made at a far faster pace, hence; quick bread.
The chemical reactions between the two are very different. As yeast is alive it has a living process of consuming and producing; it eats the sugar in the wheat and produces CO2. Baking powder is not alive and simply reacts when in contact with high temperatures and liquid.
The tastes are the big one. While yeast can be slightly more costly and hard to come across with a more time-consuming process in the bread making basics, it tastes far better. At best, baking powder is tasteless, otherwise it can leave a sour aftertaste in the mouth. Here at The Hobby Kraze, we believe you should try all the types of leavening agents as they can provide you with a range of different and interesting results.
Finally, although you’ve mastered the traditional white loaf, there are so many wonderful types of bread that you could be making from around the world. With historical quick bread ties in India to the ‘magnifico’ tastes of yeasted guides to dough from Italy. Have a look at a long, yet non-conclusive, list of the types of bread you could be baking up and munching on after this beginner’s guide to bread making:
- Banana Bread
- Beer Bread
- Christmas Wafer
- Gluten Free
- Pizza Base
- Soda Bread
- Tiger Bread
And, there you have it; the ultimate beginner’s guide to bread making. You’ve got the tools, the know-how and the tastebuds to bake some amazing loaves for friends, family and yourself.
A top tip from the team here at The Hobby Kraze is to make sure you’re able to keep momentous breads and home-bakes to special occasions. While it’s always great to keep experimenting and getting new flavours out there, you want your hobby to remain fun and special. And, seeing the look on people’s faces when you finally knead-up a new batch can make their day and yours. So, whenever you’re ready to whip-out the sour cream and onion biscuits or pina colada and zucchini bread surprise (hint: it’s not a drink), make sure it can be enjoyed with everyone you love.
Before we go, don’t forget to share your bread making basics or bread baking recipe concoctions with the team here at The Hobby Kraze. Or, have a look at some of our other ultimate guides such as; The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Knitting, The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Sewing and The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Model Trains.