Finished rustic bread on a cooling rack.

Bread Making 101

Bread making has been a craft that I’ve wanting to learn for various years. I have acquired copious books to teach myself the craft. The initial book I acquired was Bread Illustrated: A Step-By-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results At Home. This book was a great first start with some basic recipes for the postulant baker. Directions from this book were straightforward to comprehend and also contained troubleshooting tips in the event your bread didn’t turn out as intended.

The Ingredients

Ingredients to make bread: flour, water, salt, yeast.

Then I stumbled upon the book Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza which in my mind is the pièce de résistance of all baking books. The book is simple to follow, uses bakers ratios for the four ingredients -flour, water, salt, yeast – and is very precise in its measurements down to the temperate of the water you need to use and the protein content of the flour. Below is a summary of a simple White Bread recipe from the book.

Bread Flour with at least 11% protein1000 grams100%
Water (90 F)720 grams72%
Fine Sea Salt21 grams21%
Instant Yeast4 grams4%

The Steps

Step 1: Combine in a large bowl the bread flour and water and let sit for 30 minutes covered. This is the autolyse phase don’t skip this part.

Step 2: After 30 minutes add the salt and yeast and need dough for about 5 minutes and then let rest. You will need the dough again after 10 minutes and 1 hour after 10 minutes. Then let the dough covered for 3 to 5 hours.

Bread dough after 5 hour rise.

Step 3: After the first rise, remove the bread dough from the bowl to a flour-dusted countertop and divide into two equal sizes loaves. Shape into a round ball and place in a proofing basket or a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and lightly dusted with flour. Cover tightly and let rise for 1.5 hours.

Smiley face made out of flour and bread dough.

Step 4: Preheat your oven and a dutch oven to 475 degrees while the bread loaves are proofing. Remove the pre-heated dutch oven and place one loaf seam side down into the dutch oven, cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Bread dough dusted with flour in the shape of a heart.

Step 5: Remove dutch over cover after 30 minutes and bake for another 20 minutes until the bread is dark brown.

Please note the steps above are a high-level summary of the White Bread recipe from the book. If you are interested in making quality loaves of bread at home, the book is worth the small investment.

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