Baking bread from scratch

Okay so every time I have made bread, it has been a failure. I follow the recipe and the bread would come out rock solid, or it would become almost a liquidy mess. I tried adding more flour, less flour, more yeast, love, nothing would work.

Because of my numerous failures in the past, I have stayed away from making any recipe involving yeast for a very long time.

Today was the day I broke the curse and made an edible loaf of bread that tasted decent and would smell amazing. The bar was really low.

I watched countless YouTube videos, looked up very simple recipes with step-by-step photos to guide me through the process and I just went for it.

To start, I mixed the yeast with warm water and sugar and waited for it to rise. I added the flour, mixed the ingredients together with a light amount of oil and let the dough rise.

After waiting for half an hour, it rose! I cut the dough into two pieces, let rest in the pans I would use to cook them in and let rise for half an hour again. Here's a look: 

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I put those two miracles into the oven and the result was a gorgeous golden brown crust. But most importantly, edible bread!

Since baking these two loafs I have learned a lot about baking bread. For all it is worth, these turned out okay. The bread tasted well, but there could be more improvements.

That said, here are some ways to prevent making the same mistakes I made:

 

Yeast is a beast

The yeast is the life of your bread, literally. Letting the yeast activate is crucial to making a rich, delicious bread.

Recipes are more like guidelines

This took me a really long time to understand. Every time I made bread, I followed the recipe to the exact measurement and something would go wrong. This was what I couldn't understand and it kept ending in an inedible loaf of bread. To make bread has a lot to do with the look and feel of the dough. When it proofs the first time, it should be sticky, with a lot of pull and should bounce back if you poke it.

There is also no set time for proofing. The recipe I followed actually told me to let rise for 15 minutes, but when I looked at the dough, there was barely any growth happening. When I left it for half an hour, it doubled in size and that was ideal.

Bread also needs moisture. If it is too dry, you can feel this uncooked hardness that won't let the bread grow properly, this can be fixed by rubbing oil around it. By doing so, the bread rose really nicely.

Get a bread lame

For those really nice cuts a bread lame would look great, or just a really sharp knife would be good. I thought I could make a leaf design on my first loaf and that didn't go as planned.

 

Baking tips

Making fresh baked bread for me wasn't easy. In fact, it has been the one thing I was scared about because of how technical it can be (as well as my past failures). But with practice, it could turn out really well done and when done perfectly the end result is absolutely amazing. I intend to keep making more fresh bread and work on making them better every time.

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