Making bread from scratch can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for any home baker. However, not everyone has access to a bread machine or may prefer to make their bread recipes by hand. While using a bread machine can make the process simpler and faster, making bread by hand allows you to connect with the ingredients and the process on a more intimate level. With patience and practice, anyone can learn how to make bread machine recipes by hand. This guide will provide you with a step-by-step method for transforming your favourite bread machine recipes into handmade creations that are sure to impress your friends and family. Whether you’re an experienced baker looking to try something new or a beginner just starting, this guide will give you the skills and confidence to make delicious bread from scratch.
Converting a bread machine recipe to a manual recipe
Suppose you love a bread machine recipe, but the bread maker is broken. Or you would need more room in your kitchen for another gadget.
Thankfully, it is relatively easy to make any bread recipe by hand, even if it is written for a bread machine.
For best results, here are the basic steps for making most yeast bread by hand:
1. How to proof the yeast & Check the yeast activity?
Proofing is a method to ensure that yeast is alive and ready to work in the dough.
2. How to combine the ingredients?
Add anything very cold or very hot last.
Use initially the same amount of liquids and flour as originally called for in the recipe.
As you work with the dough, pay close attention to its consistency and adjust the recipe as required, adding small amounts of flour or liquid to get the right consistency.
3. How to knead bread dough?
Knead the dough until smooth and soft.
Kneading the dough is where most novice bead makers meet their biggest challenges.
Kneading is the process of developing dough into a smooth, elastic ball.
4. How do you know when the first rise is done?
During the first rise, let it rise until it doubled.
Cover it with some plastic wrap or a dishtowel on a baking tray and let it rest for at least 30 to 90 minutes in a warm place until doubled in size.
5. How to release air bubbles from the dough?
Punch down or fold the dough to release air bubbles.
It is essential to get all the air out of the dough, or you could end up with large ugly air pockets in your loaf, and nobody wants that.
Punching down and folding affect the dough’s texture in different ways. See How to fold the dough.
6. How to shape the dough bread
Once your dough ball is ready to be shaped, you should consider what you will bake in your oven.
There are so many options for shaping bread. The recipes vary, so you may already have an idea. With just a few shaping techniques tips and some examples of fun designs, you will be on your way to making expert-level bread in no time!
7. Place dough in a loaf pan or on a baking sheet
If making a traditional sandwich loaf, shape the dough to fit the greased loaf pan, and pop it in.
If making a round loaf, rolls, or snake, form rolls as you wish and place each one, seam side down, on a baking sheet, with the dough distributed as evenly as possible.
You can use muffin pans for rolls as an option.
8. How long should a second rise be?
For the second rise, let it rise again until it nearly doubled.
Once you have finished your final shape, you should let the dough proof for a bit longer in its oven tray before baking.
9. How to finish the crust – glazes, washes, and toppings (Optional)
Now is the time to do it if you are topping loaves with seeds.
Prepare glazes, washes, and toppings while the oven is preheating.
Finishing the crust is the special touch for homemade bread that leaves it so yummy with a beautiful appearance! It adds flavour, affects the crust’s look, taste and crunch, provides an attractive finish, and adds moisture to the bread.
If you do not use glazes or washes, your bread will have a more matte or floury crust. Wash gives it a pretty colour and a bit of sheen.
Read more about:
10. How to Score (slash) bread dough?
Scoring or slashing bread dough before baking has aesthetic and functional benefits. It helps dough rise evenly by creating a place for gas to escape, preventing splitting and creating a desirable crust texture. Learn everything you need to know about scoring, including tools, techniques, and tips for success. With practice, you can take your home-baked bread to the next level.
11. How to bake the best bread
While the bread’s ingredients affect its crust to some degree, baking is arguably a more significant factor in whether your bread is crusty, crunchy, or soft and tender.
Adjusting oven temperature and baking time can yield different effects on your bread, most notably in its crust.
12. How to properly cool bread?
Proper cooling can impact the quality of the loaf.
Remove baked loaves to wire racks to cool. Leaving them on the pan to cool could result in a soggy bottom crust.
Allow sitting for at least 15–30 minutes before you cut into your loaf.
Never cool the bread in the oven. Suppose the baking time concludes, and the bread is in the oven. If you turn off the oven and leave the bread to cool in the oven that is still near baking temperature, you will dry out and possibly burn the bread.
Only wrap loaves once they’re fully cool. If you wrap it warm, condensation will form, causing a soggy crust and promoting spoilage.
13. How to slice the bread
When your bread is ready for slicing, use an electric knife or a sharp serrated knife with deep serrations. It will make it easier and neater to cut even slices.
Sliced bread allows air to come in contact with more of the bread, which causes the bread to dry out and stale faster. Wait to slice your bread until ready to eat it for the best results.
If you plan on storing the bread, cut only the amount to be consumed.
14. How to store bread
After you bake the bread, you need to keep it fresh for as long as possible until it is time to eat or serve it.
Either store it, well-wrapped, in a cool, dry place at room temperature for several days or freeze it for more extended storage.
Never store bread in the refrigerator. A common mistake is storing bread in the fridge. You may think it will stay fresh because it is cool, but refrigeration causes the opposite effect. It will take a long time to develop mould.
Still, unfortunately, it will dry out and go stale approximately six times faster than if you left it in a plastic bag sitting on your counter at room temperature.
15. How to freeze bread? (Optional)
If you want to preserve the flavour and properties of bread, it’s best to freeze it. Even though it may sound weird, freezing is better than putting bread in the fridge.
Freeze whatever you don’t think you will eat within 2–3 days.
Frozen bread will taste the same as freshly baked bread. Freezing bread will stop its clock for a few months. You will restart the clock when you thaw it out.
Soft or crispy and crunchy crust?
While some prefer their bread to have a crunchy crust, you may be among those that prefer bread with a softer crust.
How to make bread with a soft crust
Bread lovers know that the perfect loaf is about a soft and fluffy interior and a tender and delicate crust. A soft crust on homemade bread requires essential techniques and careful attention to detail. Many factors influence the crust. Here are some tips for a tender crust that will make your bread even more delicious.
How to make a crispy and crunchy crust?
One of the most sought-after qualities of bread is a crispy and crunchy crust that adds texture and flavour to the baked goods. Sometimes it can be hard to get it just right, but with good knowledge and skills, it’s possible. This article will give you tips on how to make bread with a perfect crust.
If you’ve tried to use a bread machine without success, consider that bread-making is a skill that usually improves with practice. Expect some failures in the beginning. However, I predict fewer failures with a bread machine than by mixing by hand. Just don’t give up. Keep trying if you are starting your home bread-making adventures.
Or, if you have never baked homemade bread before and find the instructions intimidating, I encourage you to try it. It may seem hard at first, and the various steps take some time to learn, but overall, it is straightforward.
Bread machines enable people to enjoy the pleasure of freshly baked bread with less effort. The aroma and taste of fresh-baked bread are hard to match. Traditional homemade bread requires hours of preparation and hands-on attention from start to finish. A bread machine mixes, kneads, and bakes the dough. It is like a miniature oven that makes a single loaf of bread.
This article is part of “How to bake awesome bread”
I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to step into the kitchen and prepare delicious meals to eat with a handful of close friends.
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