Yeast bread does not have to be complicated or take all day. If you’ve ever wondered what parts of a bread recipe are necessary or not, read on to see what I do when I make bread. I have successfully made hundreds of loaves now, so I know these tips really work.
It’s not usually necessary to sift the flour. I never do.
Try molasses or honey as sweeteners in the place of sugar. I particularly love molasses.
With wheat bread, there are actually 2 kinds of hard wheat: red and white. They taste a little different from each other. White is more mild and makes better soft breads (rolls, pretzels, bagels).
Freshly ground whole wheat flour tastes a lot better and is a finer grind than what you buy at the store. Keep that in mind for making wheat bread. Fresh flour makes lighter loaves that rise faster, too.
There is no need for the dough to rise twice. Instead, shape it into loaves immediately after mixing it up, put it in the pans, and let it rise only once. I have done this with all of my bread recipes and can’t tell a difference in texture. I am certain this works for loaves, but not so certain about rolls. They are not my area of expertise.
Let the bread rise in a warm oven. You can do this by turning the oven on 350 for 2-3 minutes and then turning it off. It makes the dough rise really fast. Most loaves take less than an hour, usually about 30 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t accidentally bake anything!
Shape the dough on an oiled, not floured, counter. Not only is cleanup much easier, your dough stay moist as it rises. You only need a few seconds of the spray oil.
It’s not necessary to remove the loaves to preheat the oven. Just add some time on to the baking to make up for the preheat time of your oven. My oven tends to heat slowly, so I add at least 10 minutes onto a 30-minute baking time. Once you’ve figured out what works, just change that part of your recipe so you don’t forget!
Get yourself a bench knife/scraper. (Like these.) Cleanup is 1,000 times easier and you will wonder how you lived without one. It’s also handy for cutting the dough into loaves and scraping dough off the counter if it sticks while you’re kneading it.
The next time you look at a recipe for any yeast bread, keep these tips in mind. Most recipes can be tweaked to be much faster and easier.
See my recipes for yeast breads here.