Bake Your Very First Loaf of Bread with This Easy Recipe!

CategoryCooking MethodTagsDifficultyBeginner
Yields10 ServingsPrep Time1 hrCook Time30 mins
Yields10 ServingsPrep Time1 hrCook Time30 mins

Bread is something many people can’t live without. It is versatile, nutritious, gives you energy for the day and is widely accessible. Sliced sandwich bread available in supermarkets is the go-to option for many of us, but nothing comes as close (and as inexpensive) as homemade bread.

Whether it is a humble white loaf or a sourdough made with exotic grains and wild yeast that has been passed down through the years like a precious family heirloom, the flavour difference between homemade bread and store-bought options is dramatic.

After making and tasting their first homemade loaf, many people ditch store-bought bread forever. It smells so good and can taste amazing with just butter. Home bakers take some time off for bread making on the weekends, making sure their families have sufficient bread for the week.

Furthermore, many store-bought bread brands have added milk and sugar for a richer taste and softer texture – not good things to eat if you are vegan or are trying to avoid added sugars.

But it can be daunting for absolute beginners to make their first loaf. They are surrounded by conflicting information and have no idea where to start. Some recipes are geared towards experienced bakers, while others try to run before learning to walk, failing at making more complex bread such as ciabatta and baguettes. They get discouraged and decide to give up their homemade bread goals.

The key is to learn the basics, then work up to more adventurous recipes as you get more familiar with the bread-making process. That is the most important lesson I have learned as a home baker of two years. Beginners need to get used to handling bread dough and not give up on their first failure.

Let’s get started on your bread-making journey with a recipe you can’t go wrong with: the basic white bread.

What you need to make your first loaf of bread

First, go to the supermarket or a bakers’ supply shop to get the following equipment. Don’t scrimp on these items – they will make your life so much easier.

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Spatula
  • Dough scraper
  • A kitchen scale (I use a digital scale as it is more accurate and portable)
  • A sharp knife

After you have bought the above items, it’s time to buy the dry ingredients. A basic bread requires just three ingredients: bread or high protein flour, salt, water and instant yeast. You can use active dry yeast too, but note that the methods of preparation are different for active dry yeast and instant yeast.

Don’t use all-purpose flour or plain flour to make your first loaf of bread. They have lower protein and gluten levels. Higher levels of protein and gluten are what gives bread its soft, airy crumb and its shape.

Use bread flour only. You can use plain flour for flatbreads, but this recipe requires bread flour. You can use any brand of bread flour. I like Bob’s Red Mill as it yields great results every time.

The following recipe is one that I have fine-tuned after a few attempts. I used instant yeast in this recipe.

*Makes 1 loaf of bread or 10 slices

Practice making this bread a few times before moving onto other recipes. You can try using whole wheat flours such as wholemeal flour, rye or spelt to give your bread extra fibre and a nutty flavour.

Just remember to use 50 per cent normal bread flour in the recipe, as whole-grain flours lack gluten and tend to produce a very dense loaf.

Cleanup tips for first-timers

Washing the equipment is another adventure in itself. I made the mistake of using a kitchen sponge to wash my baking equipment. The dough is extremely sticky and ends up sticking to the bristles of sponge. It is next to impossible to remove the bits of dough, so I ended up throwing the sponge out. The dough may also clog the sink over time.

Here are some tips for easier cleanup and to avoid throwing out your sponges.

  1. Place your spatula and dough scraper in the mixing bowl. Fill the bowl with water. Wait about 30 minutes to let any dry bits of dough soften.
  2. Line a large sieve with a paper towel. Using your dough scraper, scrape off any leftover dough from the spatula. Use your fingers to rub the dough off the scraper.
  3. Empty the water from the bowl into the sieve. Use the dough scraper to scrape as much dough as you can from the bowl into the sieve. Do this one more time or until the bowl is clean.
  4. The paper towel will catch the leftover dough. Dispose of the paper towel. Wash your baking equipment as per normal.

Baking bread is supposed to be a fun discovery process. Don’t get discouraged if your bread turns out imperfect, or if there are small cracks on the sides. Just be patient, keep practising and soon, you’ll be wowing your guests with your bread-making skills.

Ingredients

 500 g Bread flour
 300 ml water
 2 tsp table salt or sea salt
 7 g instant yeast
 1 tsp olive oil or vegetable oil

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

2

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the water.

3

Using a spatula, mix the water in. (It will look like a wet mess, but DO NOT add any more flour. The dough will absorb the flour readily, and your bread will turn out too dense and dry. Use the hook attachment on your Kenwood stand mixer on low for this process.)

4

Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel and let it sit for 10 minutes.

5

Empty the dough out onto a floured work surface. A dough scraper will help scrape any remaining dough out.

6

Knock back the dough (in layman’s terms, it simply means lightly punching the air out of the dough) and knead it for 5 minutes. If the dough sticks to your hands, wet your hands, or use a little olive oil to smooth it out. Don’t add too much flour, for the same reason as mentioned above.

7

Use only enough flour to dust the dough and the work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth.

8

Let the dough rise for 1 hour or double in size. It is ready when you press it gently and it springs back.

9

Shape the dough into an oval. To do this, flatten the dough into a rectangle of 1.5 inches in thickness, pick up the end of the dough furthest from you and roll it towards you into the middle. Pinch the dough from the edge closest to you and fold it into the middle to create a seal. Think of it like wrapping a newborn baby in a blanket. Then pinch and fold the ends in.

10

Line a baking sheet with cooking paper or grease lightly with olive oil. Carefully flip the dough over and pick it up on opposite ends and place onto the sheet. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

11

Dust the bread with flour and using a sharp knife, score the bread at an angle. For an extra chewy crust, mist some water on the loaves right before baking.

12

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Bread will sound hollow on the bottom if it is baked through. Try to contain your excitement and let the bread cool before slicing it.

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This recipe uses Kitchen Machines