As Oprah once famously shouted, “I love bread!” Baking it, eating it, thinking about it. It’s all bread all the time in my house. However, many home bakers find that homemade bread recipes can be hard to decipher or even too intimidating to try.
But never fear! Bread is, after all, just four ingredients—flour, water, yeast, and salt—plus a little time and affection. We’ve gathered a list of important tools that will help you master baking your own bread in no time so you can be the toast of the town.
Gather Your Tools
You really only need a bowl and your hands to make a good loaf of bread. But a few other tools will make the job a whole lot easier. The bread-making kit from BreadSmart includes everything you need to create beautiful artisan loaves at home. A dough whisk and scraper pull together your ingredients and assist in kneading. Use the proofing basket to contain your loaf as the yeast does its work. And the duel-ended lame will let you score beautiful designs while making space for steam to escape. You’ll be a pro in no time!
If you’ve spent any time indulging in the dulcet tones of The Great British Bake Off, you know all about bread’s truest enemy—a bad bake. Ensure your bread is free of soggy bottoms or underbaked middles with a Bread Dome from Sassafras. It evenly disperses heat and vents steam for a crispy, crunchy crust. Bonus: you can use it to make pizzas, pies, and even cook meats, too.
A bread dome certainly comes in handy with one of my favorite homemade bread recipes from Mark Bittman. You do a little bit of mixing, a whole lot of waiting, and are rewarded with perfect homemade bread every time.
No-Knead Crusty White Bread Recipe
- 3 cups all-purpose flour with extra for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
- In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 12 hours (preferably about 18) at warm room temperature.
- Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
- Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface or fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let it rise about two hours. When it’s ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (like a dutch oven) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is finished rising, carefully remove the hot pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up. It may look like a mess, but that’s okay! Shake pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes until loaf is browned. Cool on a rack.
Give it a try and you’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to recreate bakery loaves in your own home.
All in One
Kitchens come in all different sizes and many of us simply don’t have the counter space (or desire) for a full-fledged homemade bread-making operation. Lékué’s solved this problem with a Bread Maker that can mix, proof, and bake all in one container. You can even microwave your loaf in it. Even better? There’s a convenient handle to help you shepherd the maker in and out of the oven with little risk of disaster.
Short on Time?
Want some fresh bread but don’t have the time to knead, proof, score, and bake? Artisan Brew Bread Mixes from SourDough are the way to go. Simply add a beer of your choosing to the prepackaged ingredients, stir, and bake for delicious bread in almost no time.
With flavors like Roasted Garlic, Apple Fritter, or Green Chili Cheddar, you’ll always have something on hand when the craving for fresh bread strikes. Pair it with a freshly brewed beer for a real treat.
Feeling a bit more adventurous than using a mix but don’t want to make a full-on yeasted loaf? Take a stab at the Quick Cheese Bread from America’s Test Kitchen’s Bread Illustrated book. This tried and true recipe has been vetted by a kitchen of test cooks so it’s sure to work out every time.
Quick Cheese Bread Recipe
- 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 2 1/2 cup (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan, then sprinkle 1/2 Parmesan evenly in bottom of the pan.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne together in a large bowl. Stir in cheddar, breaking up clumps, until the cheese is coated in flour. Whisk milk, sour cream, melted butter, and egg together in a separate bowl.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. The batter will be heavy and thick, don’t overmix.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan evenly over the surface.
- Bake the loaf until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.
- Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the loaf from pan and let cool completely on wire rack, about three hours.
Serve this quick bread with anything from chili to pasta to a big salad and you won’t be disappointed.
Serve it Up
Now that you’re ready to share, invite over some friends for a slice or three. Or keep it all to yourself, I won’t tell. Roast some garlic and use it as a spread on a toasted wedge. Or divvy up a loaf and serve it with some spiced olive oil and your favorite cheese. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure to display your bread in style with a Bread Serving Board from Sabbath-Day Woods.
Keep it Fresh
The only thing worse than no bread is stale bread. Unless you’re making croutons, of course. So make sure to keep all that hard work ready to enjoy for days to come by keeping bread covered. A Bread Wrap from Bee’s Wrap is perfect for this important job. Simply place your bread onto the wrap and fold it up—that’s it! The beeswax coating molds to fit around the bread and protects it from moisture in the air making it stale or moldy.
Homemade bread recipes might seem like an impossible thing to make at home, but with a little bit of practice, patience, and the right set of tools, you’ll become an expert in no time. After all, it’s the yeast you could do.