From measuring the ingredients to storing the loaves, a step-by-step guide to making bread, plus essential equipment and ingredients and 8 classic recipes
Fresh homemade bread, whether a soft white sandwich loaf, a crusty sourdough, or a rich brioche, is truly a culinary gift. But many cooks-even experienced ones-find the unique requirements of bread baking intimidating. Complicated, scientific-sounding terms like "fermentation" and "proofing" can lead many to conclude that this is a subject best left to professionals. But if you think baking bread at home is beyond you, you may want to reconsider. Once you've mastered a few basic skills, it's actually an easy-and extraordinarily gratifying-experience. In this primer we walk you through the entire process, from kneading, through fermentation, to baking. We explain common words you may have heard, such as "sponge" and "rise," and cover the ingredients and equipment you'll need to get started. With the simple steps we outline, you can produce an almost endless assortment of breads, including the 8 classic types featured here. Read on, and you just might find it hard to go back to store-bought.
EIGHT ESSENTIAL BREADS
gets extra flavor from sponge; enriched with dry milk and butter
contains 50 percent whole-wheat flour; lightened by milk powder and oil
mashed sweet potatoes soften the crumb and add color and flavor
classic sourdough with crunchy crust and subtle sour flavor
sticky dough with just one rise makes for light, fluffy bread with large irregular holes
butter and eggs bake into rich, soft bread
a long, thin loaf with a crisp crust and large interior holes
slipper-shaped, with a crisp crust and huge interior holes
Baking authority Rose Levy Beranbaum is the author of numerous cookbooks, including The Bread Bible and the upcoming Rose's Heavenly Cakes. To learn more about Beranbaum and to read her blog, go to realbakingwithrose.com.
Main photos by Gentl & Hyers / Edge