Bread Baking for Beginners: Everything You Should Know (Including 18 Easy Bread Recipes to Try ASAP)

Making bread for the first time? Super intimidating. But with a little practice and the right recipe, you can definitely make some of your favorite breads at home. We present our beginner's guide to making bread, along with 18 recipes - from sandwich bread to pretzel rolls - that prove how easy it can be. (Really.)
RELATED: 27 Quick Bread Recipes That Are Straightforward and Quick
ingredients
Flour: Sure, all-purpose flour does the job most of the time. But there is no better choice than bread flour when it comes to yeast bread. Bread flour has a higher protein content (around 12 to 14 percent), which leads to high levels of gluten production and additional fluid intake. Extra gluten makes the dough super sturdy and stretchy, a sign that your end product will be perfect and has a soft, fluffy texture. If you're making a yeast-free quickbread, use all-purpose flour instead.
Yeast: Some bakers prefer live wet yeast for taste and texture; You can probably find it near the yogurt in the supermarket. But dry yeast is also perfectly acceptable. If you don't have a moment, substitute an equal amount of active dry yeast instead, says King Arthur Baking.
Salt: In this particular case, table salt is your friend. It reacts with the flour and yeast and gives the bread flavor. But flaky salt always looks prettier on top.
Water: Since water is necessary for yeast fermentation, gluten production could not take place without water. Some recipes also call for hot water to be added to the oven with the bread while it is baking to create steam. Steam helps the crust get just the right color and shine, and promotes a bulkier rise in the batter.
Extras: butter, eggs, herbs and more. Remember that a short list of ingredients doesn't necessarily mean an easy recipe. Some breads, like focaccia, are inherently easy to bake as they don't require a fancy crust or impressive rise (some can even be baked on a baking sheet).
Equipment and tools
Loaf pan: ideal for normal rectangular breads. The depth of the loaf pan and the high walls shape the bread when it rises.
Dutch oven: Artisanal breads have never been so easy to pull off. The lid of the pot creates a lot of steam, which makes the crust cracked and tender. Preheating the pot before baking creates even more steam.
Bread maker: Lazy bakers, rejoice! These machines can mix, knead, rise and bake your dough for you. Bread machines are also easy to clean, save time as you don't have to do everything by hand and your kitchen doesn't heat up like your oven.
Digital scales: Measuring ingredients by weight instead of volume gives the baker more control and leaves less room for error. Bread is a sensitive animal. The more accurate, the greater the chances of success.
Easy to read thermometer: This is the easiest way to tell if your yeast bread is ready. Once it's in the middle of 190 ° F, take the bread out to cool, says King Arthur Baking.
Extras: Proof basket (helps round loaves to keep their shape), lame bread (for notching patterns on the dough), couch (for covering the dough during proofing), baking stone and bowl (creates a large crust like a pizza stone)
How to bake bread
It really depends on the type of bread you are baking, but there are some basic rules of thumb to stick to regardless:
1. If you're not using instant then you probably need to test the yeast. This means that you combine it with warm water (if it's too hot it kills the yeast) and some sugar before using it. In just a few minutes, the yeast will begin to foam as it eats and ferments the sugar. Make sure your yeast hasn't drained or exposed to moisture before you start.
2. Take some time to properly knead the dough. It's so easy to pick up the dough on top, fold it down, and then push it down and forward. Next, turn the dough and repeat from each side. Knead faster while maintaining your shape until the dough can stretch about 4 inches without breaking.
3. Don't underestimate the importance of checking the dough. By checking that the dough rests before it is placed in the oven, the gluten can relax and an airy, fluffy end product is created. However, checking or under-checking can also mean a disaster. If you prick the bread with your finger and the dough slowly springs back, it is almost ready to be baked. Once the dough is about twice the size it was originally, knock it down with your knuckles to let out some excess air. Then shape it in the pan and put it straight in the oven.
4. Always keep an eye on the oven. Watch carefully to make sure the bread is browning evenly, and turn if it doesn't.
5. After all of this hard work, make sure that your homemade bread lasts for as long as possible without getting stale. Store the bread in a bread box if you want to finish the bread in a couple of days, or keep it in the freezer for a few months.
Ready to bake? Here are a few simple recipes that you can easily conquer.
1. Miracle No-Knead Bread
Come on, it only takes four ingredients. It's that easy.
Get the recipe
2. Rosemary bread without kneading
About a billion times better than bought in a store.
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3. Classic sandwich bread
Make a couple of loaves at a time and keep the extras in the freezer. They can be kept for up to three months.
Get the recipe
4. Overnight pull-out brioche and cinnamon bun bread
Prepare everything the night before and bake the next day.
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5. Buttermilk pan with cornbread with tomatoes and spring onions
Quick breads don't need yeast to rise, which means you don't have to wait for the yeast to bloom or for the dough to rest. The cast iron pan also guarantees pretty crispy edges.
Get the recipe
6. Flatbread with spring onions and chives
Now you can finally get into the garden focaccia trend.
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7. Simple buns
No Thanksgiving spread is complete without it.
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8. Cheater's Brioche Buns with a fruity glaze
These rolls use much less butter than traditional brioche, so you don't have to prepare the dough beforehand and refrigerate for hours.
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9. Simple pretzel buns
You can make them like buns, but the larger size is great for hot sandwiches.
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10. Everything Bagel cauliflower rolls
Looking for a roll your gluten free relatives can eat on this vacation? Cauliflower rice has your back free with this yeast-free recipe. The spice mix takes them to a whole new level.
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11. English muffins
Good things come to those who wait. The dough only needs an hour to rise.
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12. Chocolate pinecone buns
Intended for Christmas morning.
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13. Apple focaccia with blue cheese and herbs
The hardest thing about this recipe? Wait overnight for the dough to rise.
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14. Grandma's Irish Soda Bread
Psst: Do you want to know a secret? These St. Patrick's Day staples are quick bread.
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15. Milk Bread (Japanese Shokupan)
So soft. So muddy. So easy. We're in carbohydrate heaven.
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16. Honey Challah
This Hanukkah miracle comes together just fine in the blender - no kneading required.
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17. Sourdough bread
It all depends on your sourdough starter. The naturally occurring bacteria (also known as lactobacilli) give it its characteristic taste.
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18. Homemade bagels
Tough and soft on the inside, crispy and golden brown on the outside.
Get the recipe
RELATED: How to Make Sourdough Bread from scratch because it tastes even better that way

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