Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tutorial on bread making

     Growing up, my mom always made homemade bread. I learned how to make bread from her when I was little and have been making bread for years. It is absolutely delicious and so much better for you! Have you ever looked at the ingredients in store bought bread? Even the "healthy" brands have an ingredient list a mile long.
     I have tried all different types and recipes. The one below is my favorite for sandwiches or if I need a long, Italian style type of loaf. My mom and I have only ever used an electric mixer for bread making. I have no clue how to use a bread machine but you may be able to use 1/2 of this recipe (since it makes 2 loaves) to make the same bread in a machine. There are lots of pictures of each step to help explain the process. Just overlook my hideous counter tops. They desperately need to be replaced....one day.
     One more thing before we get to the bread! I use a Kitchenaide mixer with its kneader attachment. I LOVE my mixer! I got it with wedding gift money 6 1/2 years ago and I use it all the time for so many recipes. There are many other mixers that would work just fine though. Or there is the old fashioned do-it-by-hand method which could also double as your work out for the day!

Crusty Wheat Bread

2 packages, or 2 Tbsp, active dry yeast
1 ¾ cups warm water (105° – 115°)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 – 3 cups bread flour
Olive oil 

 The yeast I use comes from Sam's Club. You can get 2lbs of yeast for around $4. This is much cheaper than the packets from the grocery store. So if you really want to get into bread making, buying yeast in bulk is your best bet. 

Step 1: Pour the warm water into mixing bowl and add the yeast and sugar. Stir and allow to sit for about 5 minutes to proof. It will get frothy and bubbly:

Step 2: Add the salt, lemon juice, and oatmeal to the yeast mixture, stir. Add the wheat flour and vital wheat gluten (if using). Stir just until slightly combined. 

     On a side note, vital wheat gluten I get from Kroger in the baking section. It has vitamin C and gluten which makes the bread a little softer texture and it helps it stay fresher longer. The bread will certainly turn out fine without it, I have just noticed the bread tasting fresher longer when I use it. Now for flour, the King Arthur Flour is my favorite and I have found it cheapest at Walmart (3.60ish a bag). Lately I have been using the type of wheat below on the right. It is a little denser than their white wheat type of wheat flour. I tend to use just under 2 cups of this type of wheat. Of course, the very best type of flour is freshly ground, if you have the resources to that.

Here is how it should look at this point:

My baby{#2} loves to "help". It surprisingly still turns out every time!

Step 3: Add 2 cups of bread of flour and allow mixer to knead until dough comes together in a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If still very sticky once the 2 cups of flour have been kneaded in, add ½ cup of bread flour at a time until dough comes together, allowing each addition of flour to be kneaded in before adding more. The amount of flour needed can vary from day to day. It all has to do with how much moisture is in the air and such.
This is how it should look when done kneading:

Step 4: Using a rubber spatula, scrape dough in the bowl into a ball. Drizzle olive oil (about a Tbsp) around the edges of the dough and use the spatula to turn the dough ball in the oil so that the entire ball is lightly covered in oil. Put a clean towel over the bowl and set aside to rise for about an hour. Optional: skip ahead to quick rise method.

 After rising:

Quick rise method: Let dough rest in bowl for 5-10 minutes, then skip to step 5 to shape loaves and place in sprayed or oiled pans. Instead of rising on the counter, place in the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Then continue to normal baking at 450 degrees for 16-18 minutes. 

Step 5: Once dough has risen to about double, turn out dough on to a clean and lightly floured surface.
 Cut pile of dough in half, then lightly knead and shape each ½ into desired loaf shape. Make sure to get air bubbles out. Once loaf is shaped, cut a few slits across the top with a knife and place in sprayed or oiled loaf pans.

 I really like my stoneware pans from Pampered Chef:

Step 6: Unless using the quick rise method, cover with clean towel again and let rise for about another hour. 

Here is how the loaves look after rising in pans:
 Step 7: Once loaves have risen, place in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 16-18 minutes. Bread is done when top is crusty brown and loaf makes a “thump” sound when tapped with a finger. Immediately turn out loaves onto a wire rack to cool (leaving in hot pans causes the bread to “sweat” and get soggy).

And...Ta-da! The bread is done! I wish you could smell how wonderful my kitchen smells right now!

The loaf on the right looks like it has an air bubble under the crust...oops

 It tastes absolutely delicious too! Have you ever tried Horizon cream cheese? It is so good! It is best to let the bread cool a bit before trying to cut. But sometimes you just can't wait :-)

"Is it ready yet? I'm ready for lunch!" 
 Today I definitely used the quick rise method. Notice the changed outfit due to a diaper disaster. 
It was one of those mornings! 
Storing bread: Don’t store bread in the fridge because this causes it to dry out. It is best to keep one loaf out to eat (in a sealed bag or container) and put the other (once completely cooled) in a Ziploc freezer bag in the freezer. Whenever you are ready to eat the other loaf, remove from freezer and place on a plate or rack to thaw. It will taste just as fresh as when it was first made!

I hope this helps you to make delicious bread for your family! If you have any questions about any of it, please let me know - I would be glad to explain more if needed. Happy baking!

Here is the recipe without the tutorial and pictures. 


  1. Thank you!! This looks great!

  2. I hope you know that I just read through this entire thing when I should have been studying. How's that for family loyalty? haha love you :)

  3. I'm definitely going to try this! I do use my Kitchen Aid mixer and Pampered Chef loaf pans to make my bread but I like trying new recipes. Thanks for sharing, Kristen!

  4. I haven't made my own bread since I had #3, which is pathetic. I love making bread though, and dont' have a mixer, so do it by hand, which isn't bad. I did find a cool website that shows how to freeze bread before you cook it so you can have fresh, warm bread anytime you want. So, next week, after I go grocery shopping, i'm making bread! also, I used to buy the HUGE bag of bread flour from Sams and split it with someone who makes bread. Saves a lot of $$.

  5. I'll have to try this recipe. It seem like it would be good.:) I like your blog. I am always on the look out for healthy eating tips.