Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Bread making can quickly become your enemy. Yeast is very hard to work with and very hard to please. So, I am going to share some easy tips with you that I have learned from my time working with different breads and share them with you. (Keep in mind that I am an amateur baker)
Proving the yeast:
Two easy tips: yeast loves sugar and yeast loves to be warm (not cool, not hot; warm!)
So, to begin, make sure your water is warm (roughly around 45C/110F) and make sure the sugar is dissolved in the water before you add the yeast.
When you let the yeast prove while it is just in the water, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a warm environment, but I typically let it rise in the sunlight or on top of a heated oven just to be safe.
Proving the dough:
I’ll say it again because it is so important: yeast loves to be warm!
When I let my dough rise for the first time, I preheat the oven. Once the oven reaches about 115-125F, I turn it off leave it cracked until I am done kneading the dough, cover the dough with a damp, thin towel, and let it rise in the oven which will be around 100-110F at the time.
What I do once I need to preheat the oven to bake but the dough still needs to rise is either sit the bowl/tray in a very sunny and warm place or (if that is not possible or not warm enough) I put the dough in the bathroom with the door closed and a heater on. Weird, I know but trust me it does the trick!
Do not give up on your dough if you get tired. If the recipe says knead the dough for 10 minutes, they mean it. Some doughs need more developed gluten than others (I’m looking at you bagels) which means they need more time to knead. So, be patient and get your arm workout in for the day because your bread will be worth it if you knead it for the correct amount of time. I usually watch some YouTube or Netflix while I knead to pass the time.
Don’t give up!
Breads are so frustrating. They won’t turn out as pretty as store bough. They might fall flat, not be the right consistency, or they might not rise (don’t forget, yeast likes to be warm!). But, don’t let that stop you. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t perfect those sandwich buns in one day either; especially if that is your first go with breads. Just keep trying!
What to do if your bread doesn’t turn out:
- Eat it as is. Your husband, children, or even co-workers won’t care how it looks as long as it tastes good
- Turn them into croutons or bread crumbs