The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Your First Loaf - A Primer for the New Baker

Your First Loaf - A Primer for the New Baker

The Fresh Loaf
Pocket Book of Bread Baking

Now available for Kindle

When I tell people I am into bread baking, people often respond by telling me that they wish they could bake bread but it just seems too complicated. I find this discouraging, because baking a basic loaf of bread is about the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. Once you understand what is going on in a simple loaf of bread you should be able to look at 90% of more difficult bread recipes and have a sense of what that loaf will taste and feel like.

Bread, at its core, is just four things:


That's it. There are even methods to cut out at least two more of those (yeast and salt), but the end product is unlikely to come out tasting like a typical loaf of bread.

Each ingredient and step in the process of making bread serves a distinct purpose. Once you understand what role each ingredient performs and what is occurring in each step of the process you will feel liberated to experiment and create your own recipes.

Understanding the Ingredients

  • Flour. There are a million different types of flour. Among them are those made from different grains, those made from different types of wheat, bleached and unbleached flour, enriched flour, blended flours, whole grain flours, and on and on. Don't let this intimidate you! Realize that your standard grocery store, All-Purpose Enriched Unbleached Flour that comes in a ten pound bag for under two bucks is good enough to produce an excellent loaf of bread. It is probably higher quality than the flour that 90% of bakers throughout history have ever gotten their hands on. Ok, you are unlikely to win the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (The Bread Baker's World Cup) using it, but that isn't what most of us are aiming for.

    Flour forms the basis for your loaf of bread. No flour, no bread.

  • Water. You can probably find some of this around the house, can't you?

    Water activates the yeast and dissolves all of the other ingredients. Adding more water results is a stickier, flatter loaf with less regular holes in it, like a Ciabatta. Too little water restricts the expansion of the dough and results in a tight, dry, hard loaf.

  • Yeast. Once again, basic Instant Yeast (also known as Bread Machine Yeast) from the grocery store that comes in those little packets is good enough for all but the most elite baker.

    Active Dry Yeast, another kind commonly found in grocery stores, needs to be activated by pouring it in warm water prior to mixing it into the dough. So read the back of the packet before adding it to your mixture.

    Yeast is what causes the dough to rise. Adding more yeast will cause the loaf to rise more quickly. Adding too much yeast can cause a beery, off taste in your loaf. A teaspoon or two of yeast per loaf is typically called for.

  • Salt. Table salt works well enough. The kosher salt or sea salt that most grocery stores carry tastes a little better, but it isn't worth picking any up just for baking your first loaf: use whatever you've got in the house.

    Salt retards the yeast and helps control the fermentation process. It also adds flavor that most of us expect in even the simplest of breads.

These are the fundamental ingredients for making a decent loaf of bread. Additional ingredients add flavor or complexity to your bread. These will be discussed in a later article.

Once you understand the way these four principle ingredients function, you can look at any recipe and realize that the basic rules of how bread works don't change.

Understanding The Process

For a basic loaf, all you need to do is put the ingredients together in a large bowl, mix them together with a wooden spoon, and then knead the dough on a hard surface for approximately 10 minutes.


before rising

Kneading is more than just stirring: kneading actually releases and aligns a protein in the flour called gluten. Gluten strands are what allow bread to form irregular pockets of carbon dioxide. Without this step your bread will have uniformly small holes, more like a muffin or loaf of banana bread.

As long as you aren't tearing or cutting the dough it is hard to go wrong with kneading. Squish and roll, squish and fold, applying a fair amount of pressure on the dough, is a basic kneading technique.

At some point, typically around seven or eight minutes into the process, the consistency of the dough will change. It'll become silky and smooth. You should feel it change. This is a good sign that you've kneaded enough. I typically give it another 2 or 3 minutes before calling it quits.

At this point, drop the dough into a bowl (it's helpful if the bowl is greased to keep your dough from sticking to the bottom - regular spray oil will usually do the trick) and throw a towel over the bowl, and leave it alone to let it rise.


after rising

Status check: by the time you are ready to let your loaf rise the yeast should be activated and the gluten should be aligned. The yeast does what any organism does after a long nap: it eats. The yeast feeds on the simple sugars that occur naturally in the flour. The yeast then releases carbon dioxide, which causes the bread to swell and form pockets.

If you have kneaded properly the dough will form long strands of gluten which allow large air pockets to form in your loaf. If not you will end up with numerous smaller holes. No holes in your dough means your yeast failed to activate.

The loaf must rise until it is approximately double in size. This typically takes from 45 minutes to a couple of hours, all depending on how much yeast the recipe called for. Temperature too is a factor: the warmer the room is the quicker the yeast will rise.

Punching Down and Shaping

shaped loaf

Some recipes call for one rise before shaping the loaf. Other recipes call for punching down the loaf to allow two or more rises. Punching down means simply to squish the risen dough down and re-knead it so that it is smaller again.

The purpose of punching down is to free up more food for the yeast. The longer the yeast feeds, the more complex the flavor of the loaf. Too many rises, however, can result in off flavors, such as bitterness and a beery flavor, to occur in your bread. As well as carbon dioxide yeast releases alcohol and acids. Too much acid in your loaf can actually cause the yeast to die off.

You do not shape the loaf until you are ready for the final rise. Either you place the loaf in a loaf pan or you shape it into a baguette, batard, round, or whatever shape you want. Then you give it another hour or so to double in size again.

scored loaf

Scoring the bread is just slicing it. You'll want to use something really sharp so that the dough doesn't fall and collapse again. A razor blade does the trick if you don't have fancy knives. The purpose of this is to release some of the trapped gases in your loaf so that it doesn't tear open while baking. It also makes your loaf look nice.


In the first five minutes in the oven your loaf will have one last growth spurt. This is called oven spring. Think of it as the yeast feeding itself quicker and quicker as it heats up until the rising temperature finally kills it off.


Many bakers use baking stones, which retain heat, to try to maximize the oven spring. This is helpful but not necessary when starting out.

Let's Make a Loaf!

OK, now that you have the basic idea, let's try it out with a really simple basic recipe. I tried this one today while stuck inside during an ice storm. This worked out well, since the freezing rain hit before we had realized that our refrigerator was lacking eggs and milk, along with a variety of other grocery items!

A Generic Recipe

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/8 cup water

Mix everything together. If it is too wet and won't come free from the sides of the bowl or keeps sticking to your hands, add a little more flour. If it is too dry and won't form into a ball, add a bit of water.

Knead it for 10 minutes. Cover and set it aside to rise until it doubles in size, approximately 90 minutes. Punch it down and let it rise again. Shape it, either by putting it in a greased loaf pan or by rolling it out into a long loaf and putting it on the back of a cookie sheet.

Ready to eat!

After it has risen to twice it size again, another hour or so, put the loaf into a preheated oven at 375 degrees. Let it bake for 45 minutes and then pull it out. If you made it into a long skinny loaf, it may cook 5 or 10 minutes quicker, so adjust the time based on what shape you chose. I baked the loaf in these photos for 40 minutes). 350-375°F for 45 minutes is typical for a loaf in a loaf pan.


Wrap Up

Well, how was it? It may not be the best loaf of bread you've ever had, but it ain't bad.

There are many additional ingredients and techniques that are used in creating world class breads (some of which I will talk about in future articles), and each step of the process that we discussed (kneading, rising, shaping, scoring, baking) can be further elaborated on, but the approach used in this recipe is at the core of almost every other recipe you will encounter.

Continue to Lesson Two: Adding Something More to Your Loaf.


mvonahn's picture

My 7 yr old daughter saw me looking through the site and asked about it. She asked if she could make some bread so I showed her the recipe and supervised her through the process. She loved "punching it down". We have a kitchenaide so she didn't have to worry about kneading it (being only 60 lbs she would have had trouble). The bread came out very satisfactory and she can't wait to make more. Thanks for posting this information.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

hey! just had a little peak at this site, it is cool!! i want to start making my own bread as my dad used to when i was a kid and i miss that smell in the kitchin and the taste of nice bread not stodgy bought stuff. i will recomend it to people i know!! and i will be on regularly!! take care Emma! (birmingham uk)

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have old yeast left over from 1999 and use one packet of that with one packet of new yeast and the results have been fine in each of the 4 bakes I have done this winter.

My basic "French" bread recipe is the same as the one here in this Lesson, except it calls for sugar. I wonder how that changes the end product?

My dough is probably "dry" too because I find it to be a big headache when it is real sticky and gets all over your hands and kneading board like glue so I add considerable dry flour while kneading. But my results have been good, so it's okay!

Floydm's picture

I wrote about what sugar does in the next lesson: sugar adds a little more food for the yeast, a touch of sweetness, and something that will caramelize in the oven and give the crust a nice brown color. It isn't necessary but it is nice to add.

I'm finding I like to start with a fairly wet dough. I pour it onto a heavily floured cutting board and then sprinkle flour on top of it. As I work it in, if my hands start to stick or if it sticks to the cutting board I sprinkle more flour on and under it. I keep doing this until it stops being sticky.

BvN's picture

Sugar? It's all a matter of what flavor you like. I think that sucrose (table sugar) gives the bread a cloying mouth (the taste in the front of your mouth - where the tounge moves around). Others like the fullness of flavor resulting from the combination of the sugar and salt. Who is right? We all are.

If the dough sticks to everything in sight, it's too wet. Flour, added after the first rise, doesn't get worked on by the yeast as much. Since you will have to add it sometime, might as well add it to the original mix. This "issue" is all about feel and texture. To misquote "Pirates of the Carribean" The measuring cup is more like guidelines.

I think that the best advise is to fool around a bit. After 3 years of fooling around, I found an idea on the Wikipedia regarding the first American cookbook (1798). I now use maltose and sponge ferment to get the "full mouth" while avoiding what I consider the cloying flavor of sucrose. Is this the perfect solution? I don't know, as I am still fooling around.

While we are on this topic. I normally can't tell the difference between sea salt and mined salt. In bread, I can - especially when sugars are involved.

Burlkraft's picture

I am 50 and I can't bake bread to save my life.

I'm trying this today!

I hope it works

lrvalentin's picture

It was incredible!!  I've tried some many recipes but never made as good a loaf as the one I made today.  Kneeding for 10 minutes did it.  I never kneeded that long before and the bread always had a focchia type crumb.  This truely was bread.  My partner tasted one bite and said "this tastes like some really good white bread", end quote.

I'm gonna make a sandiwch.

Anyone have some advice on storage?

jmdgni's picture

Location: Pune, India
Flour used : Wheat Flour [we dont get all purpose flour in India in local stores. There might be specialty stores selling it]
Yeast used : Active Dry Yeast [2 months old]
2 Cups of Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon of Active Dry Yeast, dissolved in warm water 1/4 of a coffee mug. Water warmed in the microwave for 20 seconds. Additional tap water, used to knead dough

Dough consistency is right after kneading

Set the dough out in the sun [its not very warm] for 2 hours. Did not see any sizeable "rise". Went ahead and baked it anyways. 200 deg C == 400 deg F for 30 minutes, in a convection mode of the microwave. I get a nice thick crust [tastes good too], but the insides of the bread does has not cooked well.

JohnnyX's picture

mmm.. a 1/4th of a coffe mug of water..20 seconds in the microwave.. did you take the temp of the water before you proofed your yeast? It might have been too warm and killed your yeast. I know all microwaves are different, but in mine the water would've gotten way to hot. The water should be at about 100 deg F.
Best of Luck and keep at it!

jmdgni's picture

I am pretty sure the problem is the yeast. I made 2 batches of dough over the weekend.

Batch 1.) 2 cups of whole wheat flour
Batch 2.) 2 cups of whole wheat flour + 1 cup of maida flour

I set the water out in the sun to warm and then added the yeast.

After 2 hours, neither batch had risen.

Then i tried another experiment. In another cup of sun warmed water, I added 1 tea spoon of sugar and 1 tea spoon of yeast and dissolved them.

After 10 minutes, there was very little foaming in the cup though the mixture in the cup did smell "alcoholic".

AtlantaTerry's picture


When your yeast was foaming that is a good sign. It is called "proofing" yeast. In other words, the yeast is giving you proof that it is good.

I always proof my yeast. I put it in warm liquid (milk, water, etc.) and stick a clean finger in the fluid. If it is just barely warm to the touch that tells me it is a bit warmer than body temperature. Then I put in the yeast and a pinch of sugar for the yeast to feed on. If it proofs then I put it in the bread mix. If, for some reason, the yeast does not proof I start over again. The advantage of this step is you will always know your yeast is good. If you do not know about bad yeast you will have a bad loaf of bread and all the other ingredients will be wasted.

Proofing yeast is so easy to do I am surprised everyone using yeast does not take this extra step.

I learned this technique from the first book on bread that I bought: James Beard's "Beard on Bread".

Terry Thomas...
the photographer
(and bread baker since 1975)
Atlanta, Georgia USA


Novice Baker's picture
Novice Baker

Always proofing the yeast is great advice. I wish I had seen it yesterday before I wasted all the ingredients for sweet potato rolls. Thanks for posting!

Ricardo's picture

FYI maida flour is all purpose flour

jeffbrook1's picture


What do you mean by the window pane test? Is that similar to throwing spaghtti against the wall?


Baking in Africa

Suiseiseki's picture

Stretch out a handful portion of your dough very thinly. If it does not tear or break in any way, it is ready. :)

nearlythere's picture

we just got an oven 3 weeks ago, and i'm just starting to get into making yeast breads (and pizza crusts). but i'm starting to get so frustrated, doing searches for recipes online -- most do not have metric measurements, it seems most are done in US cups, which i don't have access to. but i do have a fine kitchen scale, and ml liquid measuring cups.

i've seen many different 'conversions' for flour cups to grams. anywhere from 110-156 grams for a US cup. crazy! when i go back to the US, i'm bringing my baking scale with me!

there seem to be others on this site in various threads talking about metric weights (and even the benefits of weighing ingredients as more accurate)... has anyone converted this recipe to metric... can you share the measures for this basic bread recipe?

and, if anyone has other metric equivalents for other recipes, i'd love to see them! this looks like such a cool site, and interesting community, i'd love to try some of the recipes out, and learn some basics.

thanks! - heather

sphealey's picture

If you tell me what type of flour you are using, I will convert it using the conversion factors in The Bread Bible. Rose lists therein ~35 different conversion factors for different types of flour ranging from whole wheat (wholemeal) to black bean flour. Each type has a different density which may account for the number of different factors you are finding.

sphealey's picture

Assuming what is called in the United States "bread flour" (typically ~10% protein):

468 grams flour
11 grams salt
7 grams yeast
260 ml water

I didn't convert the water measurement - I filled my conical measure to 1-1/8 cup and eyeballed it.
If you need more conversion factors let me know. You could also visit Rose Levy's web site and ask her what copyright she holds in her conversion table. If she says that the table is public domain I would be happy to enter it in a spreadsheet for posting here.
edithsz's picture

Hello everyone, newbie here.

Heather, I kinda feel your pain, I went through all this when I tried to convert my favorite recipes from my mom to US measurements, so I found this site that can help a lot.

It takes in consideration the density of the different ingredients, so it is a really good little tool. Hope you find it helpful and good luck with baking.

BvN's picture

Personally, I like the PDS measurment system of my grandmother {Pinch, Dab, and Smidgeon} although the "handful" often proves useful. The only ingredient I actually measure, for bread, is water because it uniquely determines the final mass of the dough and bread. This, I do with a portion scale. A portion scale has a very adjustable zero, so that you can quickly null out the weight of containers, spoons, and previously added ingredients. Conversion of weights is much easier than volumes.

Salt, I measure in my hand. I probably have an accuracy of + or - 10%

Flour, a 1/2 cup is anything between 1/4 and 3/4 of a cup - somewhere around a generous handful. The right feel, texture, stickyness, and elasticity will override "the correct amount" every time. This all problematic, when youve never made the product before. In such times. you must accept that what your are doing is an experiment, and experiments are allowed to fail. Keep good notes on how things look, feel, and smell - always find new ways to fail.

Being an engineer, I do not have personal recipes, I have "best practices" which contain phrases like "add water up the the bottom rivet of my soup pot" or "dump in more flour, a hanfull at a time, untill the dough pulls away from the sides". This way, I get more reliable and repeatable results then I could ever get with a recipe - be it MKS, CGS (both metric), SAE. BEU (both sort of British). In school, when we got fed up with units of measure, we reverted to "furlongs per fortnight". Look up the "FFF" system of measurement in the Wikipedia for a good laugh. FYI. the "british" system is based on halves and doubles.

Liquid Units of Measure
U.S.          Ounces   Pounds   US Gallons Alternate Names
Mouthful          ½         Tablespoon
Ounce             1
Jack                2      ¼    cup  Jackpot
Gill                  4      ¼    ½ cup Jill Pail Noggin
Cup                 8      ½
Pint                16       1
Quart             32       2     ¼
Pottle            64       4     ½    Bottle
Gallon          128       8    1
Peck            256      16 2
Bucket         512      32 4
Bushel        1024     64 8     Strike
Cask          2048    128 16
Barrel         4096    256 32
Hogshead   8192    512 64
Pipe          16384  1024 128  Butt
Tun           32768  2048 256  Ton

A liquid ton is "2 raised to the 15th power" ounces - how is that for useless?

AtlantaTerry's picture


I'll bet you can find some US Standard measuring cups at a nearby US military store called a Base Exchange (Air Force) or Post Exchange (Army). Not sure what the US Navy's stores are called. These stores are like a large US department store and carry everything from shoes to cameras so I'll just bet they have kitchen supplies as well.

BTW, I used to be stationed at Tachikawa Air Force Base (now closed).

A couple phone calls and it's quite likely you will find a friend of a friend who knows somebody stationed on a military base in Japan.

Another thought: go online and you should be able to find sets of US measuring cups and spoons. The fee + shipping should be minimal.

One additional thought: check with restaurant supply firms in Tokyo. I do not know, but it's possible they might have US Standard measuring devices.

If all else fails, I will send you a couple sets!  :-)

Terry Thomas...
the photographer
(and bread baker since 1975)
Atlanta, Georgia USA



nearlythere's picture

the type of flour is 'strong bread flour'. it is white. (i can't get wheat). i guess i want to start with a basic bread recipe, and learn how to do other things with it. i'm interested in making bread rolls with seeds on top and on the bottom, like ones i've had in Germany.

i'm just after "kneading" a batch of german weck rolls... and it's the wettest dough on the planet, i had to fold instead of knead. i'm sure that means well when they convert to metric for you, but i just know there is something wrong with this recipe conversion. they converted 3-1/2 cups bread flour to 480 g bread flour... does that sound right?

anyway, i'd like to try the 'first loaf' recipe here.

thanks very much for the offer of your help.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Your Recipe looks like a Kaiser roll or semmeln recipe to me only there is too much yeast (unless it's cake yeast). One Tablespoon plus one teaspoon should be enough. You just have to work in more flour, It should not be too wet when your're done kneading. What I like is the direction for making the 5 point rolls. Thanks a million! :) Mini Oven

Paddyscake's picture

I just tried the conversion calculator that I use "Gourmet sleuth"
and it converted 3.5 cups bread flour to 479.5 grams..the same
as you got from the Allrecipe.COM site.

BvN's picture

Youv'e been hoodwinked. How many minutes in a pound? How many litres to a meter? You need to make a lot of assumptions to convert a volume of flour to a weight of flour. A pound of flour is between 3 to 5 US cups. You can equate 3 1/2 cups to 0.8 liters (4.4 cups to the litre). As to how many grams that might be ???

If you assume that 3.5 cups is a pound, then 480 grams is about right. High protein, pre sifted, un-bleached, white, bread flour is in that range.

Speaking of German wet doughs, ever tried spaetzel? Kneed? Fold? Try stir.

Lauri an's picture
Lauri an

I enjoyed reading this recipe and the comments that followed.
My breadmaking experience has taught me to measure the flour and water out separately, then take about 1/6th of the flour and put it to one side.
This is what I use to adjust my recipe in the kneeding process. (not adding additional flour as this can make the bread heavy) Rub your (clean) hands with this extra flour and incorporate as you are kneeding to bring the mixture to the right consistency.
Feel and watch the mixture as you are going and you can't go wrong It should not be sticky but should feel & look moist. Add just what you need. Atmospheric conditions will make a difference, so you could make the same loaf two days in a row and need a different amount of flour.
To have good bread the rising is the single most important process. It would be rare for commercial yeast to be at fault, as long as it is not past its used by date.
The temperature is a far more likely cause of failure. Make sure your bowl and utensils are warm when mixing. A cold ceramic bowl can have a very negative effect. I rinse mine out with hot tap water before starting and dry it thoroughly.
Summer and winter I use my oven to get the bread to rise. I preheat to 40dC (about 100F), turn the oven off and place my mixture in there to rise.
I find an hour is plenty this way. When I pull it out, I turn the oven to 200c for the final baking, while I am punching, second kneeding and shaping.
For those who want to have exact measurement convesions, there is a free download called 'calculator plus' that converts everything from weights, measures, volume, currency, length, you name it. A small programme it is worth having on your computer.
The other point is perservere. Home made bread is worth the learning process.

BvN's picture

I have had no positive results from measuring flour. I measure the hydration by weight. For sponge, I add flour by the handful until I get a thin batter. My basic mix is done with a measuring scoop, but I pay no attention to filling it nor to removing any heaping. I add flour to the mix by the handful until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and does not stick when it settles back.

For kneeding I just scatter flour about the couche and replace it when it incorporates. I stick my hands into the flour bowl whenever the dough starts to stick.

I am not sloppy. I have a two and three page, single spaced, "best practice"s for each kind of bread I make. My brewing practice is over 20 pages long. I get consistant and repeatable results every time I want to - except for my stuck sponge ferment, which I am still trying to figure out. Meanwhile, I have a reliable and repeatable intervention that assures the intended result.

I pay a lot of attention to temperature, feel, time, stickyness, elasticity, appearance, smell, and texture. I also make every effort to avoid mechanical and thermal shock to my yeast and to use good sanitary methods.

My other points are: take good notes regarding the use of tools, timing, feel, appearance, & smell. Never fail the same way twice. the learning process is not the price, it is the reward. Fool around, change something every once in a while. Have fun. Alway try to share the process with someone. If the "help" gets annoying, make some tea or hot chocolate.

Every day that is not a brewing day, is a bread day (sponge day, bake day, sponge day, ...). Both the bread and beer dissapear as if by magic.

louellapar's picture

Thanks for this tip! I can't wait to bake my very first bread and your tip on using just the flour in the recipe even for dusting the dough is something I've never thought would be possible. In my head I'm like "follow everything to the tiniest detail".  I'm gonna incorporate this in my first attempt and see how it goes. As for rising the dough, it's a good thing I live in a tropical country. That way I still have a warm temp lest the oven at 40C, saves on fuel :D

Thegreenbaker's picture

I used Spelt flour.


2 cups wholemeal to one cup white unbleached.

I also made a starter. I think I have the yeast that needs to be woken up, so I added 1 teaspoon of Dark raw honey to the water.

I kneaded for 6 mins as I have read alot that too much kneading breaks down the delicate gluten structure.

I know it needed more water in the initial mixing but then the dough was sticky when kneeding so I just added more flour during the kneading. By the end it was a good consistency and was as elastic as I have ever had my bread dough go.


The first proofing it more than doubled in size, the second proofing did the same, the third time when I put it in the loaf pan it didnt rise much as all. In fact it didnt reach the top of the loaf pan........which is quite shallow anyway. :(

I also think I need to place a moist tea towel over the top when it is proofing as it dried out alot on top.

I baked it for 40 mins and it came out lovely in taste and texture.

My guests enjoyed it none the less :)

It actually was elastic/chewy like "real bakers bread" is. I was proud of myself for that.

I wonder if the third proof was a mistake? Was I meant to let it rise 3 times? I might have misunderstood the lesson :S


I am going to try again.

helend's picture

Spelt wheat has a more fragile gluten structure so a third rise may be too much - this is my everyday flour and I rarely knead it for as long as any standard wheat recipe would suggest. I also tend to skip the second rise if three are suggested and shape and proof after first rise - also never go for "double" on final rise - 40-50% and then massive oven spring is better.



Thegreenbaker's picture

Thank you! :)


I usually kneed for half as long. I keeded it for about 5 or 6 mins. 


SO after the first rise I should not punch it down and let just shape it and proof it till it rises about 50%?  

If so, I will try it this afternoon. :)


Thanks again :)  I appreciate your information!




helend's picture

Hi the greenbaker so sorry I have only just logged on having been tooo busy with paperwork to cope with anything else so I only just saw your question.

I saw your blog too.  Agree about shocking cost of spelt but then some wheat flour very cheap and very bad quality too ..  here in UK I pay not just for the spelt but also decent and accountable organic grower/miller.

The only other thing I can say is you may want less water with spelt than ordinary wheat flour - hard to guess at exactly but for ordinary rustic I use approx 1 cup water plus 1tbs oil to 3 cups wholemeal/white spelt mix.

Am off to start a simple rustic spelt loaf with sponge.

Hope your next bake turn out better. :)


Morn's picture

How long should I be leaving bread to cool after baking it, before eating it?  Is leaving it until it's cool enough to eat long enough, or will I get a better loaf by leaving it for longer?

Floydm's picture

A sourdough loaf or a loaf with long, slow development is probably at its best the day after it is baked. But a French Bread like this one that has a fair amount of yeast and a short development period I would plan on eating the same day it is baked; it stales very quickly. Give it half an hour after being out of the oven then eat it still warm.

lynn7359's picture

I am new to baking bread. I tried this recipe and it turned out great.  I should have let it rise more on the second rise though. It still turned out good. I liked it because it was a simple recipe and easy to do. Thanks. Now I move onto second lesson!

ydavis's picture

I am so glad I found this site! Thank you for doing the Lessons.

I "studied" the first lesson and decided to make my first loaf this past Saturday. I finally made my first successful loaf of bread! Now I can't wait to bake more. My husband ate at least 1/2 of the loaf after it was done and still warm. We finished the rest at dinner time.

I used the Active Dry Yeast package. I read some previously posted comments regarding this and the water temp. On the back of the package it does tell you that if you are mixing all the ingredients in at once then have the water temp at 120-130. If mixng yeast with water before adding to flour mixture, then have the water temp at 110-120.

Thanks again!

Samz's picture

Hi Floyd,

Tried out the first loaf recipe today. I ended up with a loaf that had hardly risen. Very pale on the outside, dense-ish inside and v salty. I

 followed the recipe as closely as I could - I had active dry yeast initially but then bought the instant yeast to make sure the recipe is easier to follow. I used the exact ingredient quantities, the dough rose the first time, and the second time, then i shaped it into a loaf (without knocking it down much - as the recipe didn't really mention doing that again), and then let it rise again, then I turned on the oven at the temp. mentioned, and I think it was on for about 5 mins before i put the loaf in (the oven felt quite hot when I put the loaf in). (The size of the loaf is a bit narrower than that in the pics. )Baked it for 45 mins.Since it was dense and pale i just kept it in the oven for about 7 more minutes. And then switched the oven off - took the loaf out and tried cutting another piece, it felt drier this time, but still dense and not risen).

Any feedback on what may have gone wrong would be really great.

 Many thanks,


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

why your loaf was so pale?  Sounds like the oven didn't reach temperature but more than likely  a problem with over proofing the final rise.  Sorry you've waited so long for an answer.  After shaping the loaf, one doesn't have to wait 'til it's "doubled," sometimes that can be hard to judge, try putting it into the oven sooner.  Since you were so gentle with your shaping, you also won't have to wait very long for that final rise.  Have you tried another loaf since June?  -- Mini Oven

misslicorice's picture

Your claim that bread making is simple is the foulest lie I have ever read. GRAGH!!!!!!!!! *shakes fist in frustration and rage*
Sorry, I just had to get that out.
My loaf was a flat, salty, crusty pancake of evil. I used the kind of yeast that you have to put in warm water first. The initial yeast/water mixture doubled in volume, just like the package said it would. I dumped that into the flour and salt mixture. Then I added 3/4 cup of water... it was dry so I added some more water. Probably too much. But it rose, it rose! I don't get it.

jeramy576's picture

Try adding just half the yeast/water mixture to the dry ingredients first. Incorporate that then add the rest and it should be fine. If not add a little water if dry and flour of wet.

shiawase's picture

I made this bread for Thanksgiving yesterday following the above recipe and I used instant yeast. I put a tad too much salt in and the crust was too hard. So today, I tried the recipe again but used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar instead of two teaspoons of salt and I had some pretty good results. The crust was browner like the bread in the second lesson and the taste of the salt wasn't as noticable.

Thanks for providing the lessons! They were really informative for my first loaf of bread.

woefulbaker's picture

Hi Floyd, 

I tried twice and completely failed to make this bread. 

No idea what I'm doing wrong.

I did find the dough almost impossible to handle - sticky and too soft to shape into anything approaching a loaf or any other shape for that matter. Needless to say I couldn't slash it either (and I was using a damned sharp blade too)  I guess I should put that down to my lack of skill.

My bread was uber dense (hardly any air) and the crust was...well...what crust??  Ok it got brown on the top but that's about it.

I'd post pictures but the bin seemed really the only decent place for my failure.

Not sure where to go from here.

Thanks for the lesson, sorry I couldn't do it justice! 






Thegreenbaker's picture

If you post pictures, we can use it as a visual guide.


I still suspect your oven as you said it was not working properly.......  That would be the problem right there in my opinion.



DMF's picture

Your dough was way too wet.  That obviously kept you from kneading it enough so gluten did not form to trap the gas bubbles from the yeast.  (Your yeast could have been bad, too.)

If the dough is goopy like yours, add more flour until it firms up enough to handle (should still be kinda wet).  Then kneed the heck out of it, using flour or a little oil on your hands if it wants to stick.



KaliDog's picture

I made this loaf today for the first time. I guess it came out ok, less then 1/4 left. I have a KitchenAid to do all the mixing and kneading but I'm not real sure how long I need to let the machine knead the dough. The booklet that came with the machine says 2 min on speed 2 but the dough only climbed half way up the hook. I baked it for 40 min, it sounded hollow and it's internal temp was about 145°F. It cooled for about 40 mins till dinner was ready. When I sliced it, the crust wasn't as crunchy as it was when it first came out of the oven and it might have been a little too moist inside.

I did however find out a few mins ago that it is excellent sliced about 1/2 inch thick and toasted under the broiler then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

I live in FL and we had high humidity today, I know that afftect the amount of flour to use, so I am going to make another loaf tomorrow before I move on to lesson 2.

Paddyscake's picture

For this type of bread I would knead for about 8 minutes on speed 2. Then check the dough for window pane. Your internal temp should be about 200-210. Hope this helps.. 

mrgreen's picture

Just popped the first loaf ever into the oven.  Here I goooooooo :)


jaymenna78734's picture

Oh Boy.  Another obsessin.  

There is a Zen like quality to all of this.

My second loaf is in the oven now.   The smell is perfect.  


qwiksilver's picture

Nice, quick, down and dirty way to make bread.  I totally forgot the shaping step and so I just dumped the ball out of the bowl on to a scorching hot pizza stone (that never leaves the oven) and got a cute round bread with a chewy center.  Bit saltier than I like (will adjust that) but delicious.  Now if only my yeast had been better at multiplying.  Still, we had it with homemade chili beans and rice.  Worked well at sopping up that spicy concoction.  I might even try dutch ovening this at camp.  Thank you for the lesson and the recipe. Next lesson this Friday night so I have fresh bread for the weekend.  (Second loaf on Sunday for my morning toast at work during the weekday?  Hmmmm)

EngineeringOnly's picture

I'm currently trying to follow this recipe but I have some issues with its level of clarity.

It seems to be written to be followed by somebody who already knows how to make bread. For example: "If it is too wet and won't come free from the sides of the bowl or keeps sticking to your hands, add a little more flour. If it is too dry and won't form into a ball, add a bit of water." I have a dough that forms a ball and didn't stick to my hands until I was kneeding. By this point I can't figure out how to mix in more flour and since it forms a ball I'm not sure if I should add any more anyway. Please rewrite this description to reflect some factor that distinguishes the three states: Too wet, Too dry, Just right.

Also, you give the recipe with measures of "cups" and "teaspoons". My cups are all different sizes, as are my teaspoons. Please rewrite this with standardised measures as I do not have access to your personal kitchen. I have just used these quantities but I've no idea how it relates to what you intended:

500g plain flour

300ml water

20g sea salt

15g yeast


Furthermore you describe the level of growth as a doubling but no beginner has advanced volumetric analysis devices. Is there a measurable metric that can be given instead?

EngineeringOnly's picture

Well, I've let the bread rise and it is somewhat bigger but I have no idea if it has doubled or not. So after scraping with a flexible fish-slice I've got the dough out of the bowl (it wasn't anything like this sticky after kneading - is this normal?).

After punching down I eventually got it off of the work surface. I have now shaped it and am leaving it to rise again. I will bake it in a while and post back along with how many mouthfuls I ate before I had to throw it away.

EngineeringOnly's picture

I'm about to put my dough in the oven which I am preheating to it's highest temperature - 250 degC. Hope that's enough - it doesn't go up to the 375 degrees you ask for.

It is now shaped like the roasting dish I've sat it in for it's second rise. The exposed surface is no longer sticky but the bottom is.

Fingers crossed.

EngineeringOnly's picture

I had to take the bread out after 15 minutes because of the smoke.

If you're wondering how many mouthfuls... I can't cut into the loaf so... none.

EngineeringOnly's picture

Apparently yeast requires sugar too. Which would probably explain the rather lacklustre rising performance.

gilesb's picture

The thing I found difficult when first trying to make bread was the kneading. I wasn't sure of the correct action, ten minutes seemed like a long time and the dough would stick so I'd keep flouring the board. The result would be a close-texured loaf that was nice warm, straight out of the oven, but was dense and heavy when cold. I thought that was what homemade bread was like. But then I discovered Dan Lepard's method of 3 very short kneads on an oiled board over the course of 30 minutes, and suddenly my bread was light and I haven't looked back since. I know different people prefer different techniques but I think this minimal-kneading one can be a good one for a beginner.

louellapar's picture

Thanks so much for sharing this tip on kneading! I will give this a try. :)

Juniper's picture

I tried the basic loaf recipe.  I made flour with wheatberries that I milled in a flour mill.  The first rise worked well.  I punched it down, but then the second rise in the loaf shape did not rise very much.  I waited an hour.  It was a short bread - not big and fluffy.  What should I do?

Rajee's picture

I think this bread is eaten in fresh. Let me know howlong it can be soft. Will it remain soft if it's stored in the air tight container? I was thinking it'll become very hard the next day. Pls help.

Doesnt Do Dishes's picture
Doesnt Do Dishes

What's next?  Will I be able to play the piano and skydive?

Seriously, if you had told me one week ago that I would be baking bread that tastes like my neighbourhood bakery, I would have laughed out loud.  Then I found this site and I am posessed.  I have made the basic loaf recipe above twice now.  However, I don't follow instruction very well. 

The first time I made it I used multigrain bread flour and just formed a loaf on a baking sheet.  I couldn't believe how well it was recieved by the whole family.

Tonight I made it with white all purpose flour.  The twist tonight was that I formed a rectangle by hand and rolled the dough French style and after it had risen brushed it with melted butter before putting it in the oven.

Both times I had a pan of water in the bottom of the oven to help with the crust.

The thing that is amazing to me is that we have had 2 bread machines in the last 10 years and given up on them both after about 12 attempts each.  The output was just not worth even the minimal effort required.

Your lesson has opened my eyes to the wonder of bread (yes, the pun was intended).  I can hardly wait for lesson 2.

louellapar's picture

Thanks for this post. I'm getting ready for my first loaf and want to get as much tips as I can. How long did you preheat the oven before baking the bread?

althetrainer's picture

Thank you so much for writing this tutorial.  It's very well organized and easy to understand.  Love the pictures!  I hope you don't mind me sharing this page with some of my online friends.  Keep up the good work! 



jjneitling's picture

Although I have made bread for quite awhile, I wanted to do the lesson plan.  I made my lesson 1 bread today and it turned out really well.  However, how brown is brown enough?  I baked it for 45 minutes and it turned out light brown.  Tastes great.  Looking forward to doing lesson 2.

louellapar's picture

Wow, great job! I hope mine turns out well, too!

ejay's picture

Thanks to TFL for encouraging me to bake my first bread. It also prodded me to get serious and purchase a 6 qt. professional series KA stand mixer! I no longer have any excuse left but to get started and get the oven churning some delicious bread.  Well, here goes my first loaf!

My professional tasters (my hubby and son) both gave a high five and a thumbs up on my first loaf.  It came out perfectly golden and totally delicious.  Here's to the start of my kitchen adventures... 

Michael 2003's picture
Michael 2003

Most often I get rock hard loaves.
They do rise, but NEVER has it ever "doubled in size" even after letting it rise 12 hours!
I had tried all three types of yeast and it reacts to proofing like it should.
When I kneed it it acts like rubber and springs right back making kneading hard as all get out!
If the bread does not taste like beer, it has no flavor at all!
The dough usually forms a near rock hard crust while rising.
Today was the first time I had a crust soft enough not to break teeth and that's only because I washed it with starch and water (advise from a book).
I have only had one loaf that was not only edible, it was somewhat palatable, but not decent enough to be considered tasty.
So far I have purchased 3 book on baking bread and they all had some good info, but none had a list of "if this happened, this is what you did wrong" chapter.
I have even looked for a bread baking class, but unless I want to enter a culinary institute, there is nothing out there local to me.
King Arthur in VT had a class while I was visiting last year, but it was $400 for a 2 day class!!!!!!!!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ok, first of all welcome to TFL.   Welcome to the Techical Difficulties pages!

I'm glad you are still motivated to keep going.  Good sign.  I also suggest that you check out some of the videos on site, sometimes a moving picture can help. 

To start....  It does sound like you have too much flour in your dough or too little moisture.  If the dough is too dry, your dough will not be stretchy and therefore not rise as it should. 

It happens to many of us in the beginning, we use too much flour kneading the dough so that it isn't sticky.  Big mistake,  good dough consistancy will always have a bit of stickiness.  Get used to it.  It can be fun. 

I suggest that if you like to knead in flour, don't add the last cup of flour in a recipe and use it for kneading.  Try to keep your dough soft.  Oiling your hands (when you oil a bowl) before you knead may help.  Also I find that after mixing the dough together, let it just sit 20-30 min before kneading.  You will find the resulting dough will come together much easier and generally it's less sticky and requires less flour. 

The other solution is to knead with wet hands.  Yes, wet hands! Keep a large bowl of water near you so that you can dunk your hands into it.  Very lightly oil the counter top first and try it.  You may find you like this method more!

Don't forget to cover your dough to prevent it from drying out when you're not handling it.  This can be done in a number of ways. 

Hope to hear back from you soon,


Dragonbones's picture

You don't need a $400 class. You just need a change in concept.

I'm pretty sure you're putting too much flour in it. This happens in two ways. First, if you are scooping or packing the flour into your measuring cup, you can get a lot more flour (by weight) than what the recipe intended. Try using recipes that call for measurement by weight, in order to eliminate this. Kitchen scales aren't expensive. Second, realize that it's ok for dough to be sticky or tacky. Some, dependng on the recipe, are even soupy! (a loose description of ciabatta dough here, in beginner's terms) I used to (wrongly) imagine that dough should be firm and dry in feel, simply because I didn't learn to bake bread with Mom. 

Once I started putting NO more flour in than what the recipe called for, and started just accepting that dough might be sticky, my bread suddenly started rising and even looking and tasting nice! Give it a try!

pitapieface's picture

Can I use bread flour? Or does it have to be all purpose flour?


xaipete's picture

You can use bread flour.


pitapieface's picture

thanks! I am going to try it today. :)

Scottyj's picture

This si my first loaf here. I followed the directions and what do you know it came out very good. This is a great first loaf to try. It was out of the oven for 10 minutes and was half gone.



SusanWozniak's picture

i baked bread for 20 years then stopped for several and returned to baking bread this year.  I am experimenting with starters and have yet to turn out a good loaf. 

I may give up and go back to plain yeast bread for awhile although I love the web like crumb of a bread made with a starter.

At the beginning of this thread was a comment on sugar.  I always put a little brown sugar in my bread but never add salt.  I dislike salt period and find that only eggs, mushrooms and potatoes really need it.  I've even avoided salting pasta water.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If you are using a recipe that asks for salt, then you might want to look for a spicific recipe that is formulated for salt free.  Salt does have a reason for being in the dough.  I know that it is easier to just leave the salt out but your loaf may improve by including some salt.  I suggest reducing the salt to (1/4 to 1/2 stated in the recipe)  or the amounts  .6% to 1% of the flour weight.   (Normal salt ranges are between 1.8% to 2% for most recipes.)

Salt in the pasta water is to maintain firmness and prevent sogginess.   Boiling corn ears in unsalted water is to keep the corn tender as salt would toughen the kernels.  Salt has an effect on starches beyond just flavour.

There are more threads on the subject.  Just type "salt free" into the search box in the upper left corner of the page for more information.

sava's picture

Greetings from Egypt,

Great website! Great community! Just signed up and just started my first attempt at lesson one! The lessons are awesome, I can't thank Floyd enough for providing them.

The kneading went fairly easy, I guess it's my beginner's luck, I left it for exactly 90 min and the dough actually rose pretty well. I'm not sure about the second rise though, I guess I won't be getting a quick reply, so I think I will let it sit for about 45 min for the second rise. But really, how long should I leave it?


JBarrett's picture

I'm trying to get serious about home bread baking; I've spent a month devouring P Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.I'm pretty sure I followed his directions for making pate fermentee and pain de campagne - except that I made a boule instead of batard/ etc. I measured the dough temperature, made sure of my flour weights. I even became anal-retentive and measured the bould diameter at the begining of proofing.  After they doubled, I waited for a couple hours more.


My loafs came out just as Floyd describes in his lesson 3, including the lack of holes. boo-hoo.

Also I've read that what I as a newbie consider wet and sticky may one day seem dry and tacky.


Jim Barrett

in Virginia

teegr's picture

Hi, new to web site but have baked breads for 40+ years at home and even a few years as a baker for a large Texas school district in the 70's.  Is it just me or is it common for breadies to prefer all purpose flour taste over bread flour taste?  After all for the first 20 years of my baking you couldn't get flour labeled as "bread flour" so I didn't know there was such a thing.  LOL

Perhaps the fact I orginally only experienced southern farm style softer type breads is the issue...but I just *think* the taste is better even when preparing recipes that specify "BREAD" flour.  I've read most of the Artisan books (if not currently owning them)...since the "artisan movement" but dang it,  I just prefer the taste of the simplest methods and the plain ole all purpose (white) flours with or without other added flours.  Am I alone? 


peppy's picture

Thanks for the guide. I tried this out and it worked very simpily for me. The bread turned out great and tasted delicious!

I will recommend this guide to anyone else who is just learning how to make bread as well.

mhickey31's picture

Like many I'm s first timer. My biggest issue is how to introduce the yeast for this recipe. I used bread machine yeast, 2 tbls, with water and sugar.

Should the amount of water used for the yeast activation deducted be from the water needed (1 1/8 cup) in this recipe? Should the entire amount of water be used to activate the yeast?  (118degrees; 1 1/8 cups. The dough did double but after punching down raised very little.the second time The result was very dense and very little browning. i feel like I'm close. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

NewMichele's picture

For health reasons, my husband and I do not use ANY refined flour. Our favorite flour is Dakota Maid, they make a 100% whole wheat stone ground flour that is very finely milled. We also have some hand milled flour from whole wheat berries we got from our neighbors. What changes should I make to this loaf?

LLM777's picture

I did this loaf using all whole wheat flour (although mine is freshly milled) and from what I remember all I had to do was add more liquid. It is not my favorite loaf of Floyd's but it turned out fine.

If you want a whole wheat loaf similar to this, make Floyd's Honey Whole Wheat from May 2006. Do a search on site. Don't use the white flour just substitute for more whole wheat. I did have to add more liquid to this but it turned out really delicious.

Use a stretch and fold every 30 minutes for the 90 minute rise to help. 


cavali's picture

I am sure I am close BUT it came out super dense, super heavy in weight, paler than your pics. and a little chewier on the inside. a little low on salt as well.

The first rise went excelent, I then knead it for 10 more minutes, and it rised again, then I knead it for a couple of min. shape it and set it to for 1 more hour, IT DIDNT Rised as much as before.

45 min @ 375.

Thanks for your site by the way I am really enjoying it.

punainenkettu's picture

Thank you so much for creating this page and sharing your passion! I LOVE bread in all it's yeasty goodness. Bread, rolls, buns, biscuits, you name it, I love it. We had been living abroad in England for a number of years and I frequented my favorite local bakery often but now we are back in the states and have no access to that wonderful selection of artisan breads, so I decided to put a bit more effort into learning about bread so I can make them myself. While I am certainly not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I do seem to have a natural knack for breads (as opposed to pastry to which I resemble a plague). I have enjoyed reading this lesson and all the comments and have identified a number of areas in my own baking that need improvement. I can't wait to read the next lesson and tackle my next loaf!

alan169's picture

Hello I've have just joined your site after reading all the lessons yesterday i found it very goood the best I have read about bread on the internet. I have been baking bread for three weeks and have been baking about 4  a week since i have a lot of time on my hands at the moment, but every time i seem to fail its not the flavour of the bread thats ok its just I can't seem to make it rise like you do!!! I will say im not the person to give up on something even if it takes me the rest of my life I will keep on doing it until i CAN. Today for the first time threw a cup of hot water in a hot tray at the bottom of the oven just like you said but still failed to make it rise my bread just seems so small and heavy i just dont know what to do.


In your recipe you use cups to measure the ingreadiants im not to good with cups soI go by grams and ml I found a site and I use 500 grams of flour 15 grams of yeast 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon sugar  300 ml water and a little oil I use live yeast as it is the only one i can get my hands on at the moment i always put the yeast and sugar in a cup for 15 mins with water to wake the yeast up (walm water) sometimes I think my oven is a bit crap as it is not a very good one do you think that could bethe problem or maybe in not putting enough water in i really don't know I will say im getting very frustrated but like I said I we not give up. Also it seems when I slice the bread just before I put it in the oven it just sinks i've tried many different ways and every time it sinks is this normal???? CAN YOU HELP??



sublime's picture

When talking to people who bake with yeast I always hear the water added to the yeast needs to be warmed to a certain temp. or the yeast will die? In this basic bread recipe I'm about to try there is no mention of warming the water, so I assume I use it right out of the tap. Correct? Thank you

pmccool's picture

Hi sublime,

In recipes that call for active dry yeast (often abbreviated as ADY), there is frequently the instruction to soften or prove the yeast in water.  "Prove" refers to proving that the yeast is alive and able to grow.  Warm water (think baby bottle temperatures) is more hospitable to the yeast's growth than cold water.

Newer recipes that call for instant dry yeast (often abbreviated as IDY) skip that step and usually instruct you to stir the dry yeast directly into the flour, and then add the liquid ingredients.  This is because the manufacturing process for IDY produces a thinner layer of dead yeast cells on each particle, making it easier for the water in the dough to penetrate and rehydrate the live cells inside each particle.  There are some cookbook writers who state that IDY actually likes higher temperatures (still under 120ºF) than ADY, although I haven't seen any research literature on the topic.

If you aren't sure which kind you have, read the label closely.  ADY will usually feature the words "Active Dry Yeast".  IDY may have the words "Instant Dry Yeast" or may have some other brand name, like RapidRise.  If the instructions on the packaging call for mixing the yeast with water prior to stirring it into the dough, you definitely have ADY.  In the absence of such instruction, it's safe to assume that you have IDY.  Some posters here have noted that they successfully stir ADY directly into the flour, bypassing the step of proving the yeast in water just as they would with IDY.

Like most organisms, yeast has a range of temperatures in which it thrives.  Colder temperatures will slow, or even stop it's growth.  Higher temperatures will kill it.  So, water from the tap should be at a temperature that is optimum for the yeast to grow.  Unless the instructions for the bread you are making specify a temperature for the water, go with something in the 75ºF to 90ºF range.  The cooler temps will be helpful when your kitchen is warm to keep the dough from fermenting too rapidly.  The warmer temps will be helpful when your kitchen is cooler to help the yeast thrive.

I would suggest that you click on the Handbook link at the top of this page.  It contains a lot of information that will be valuable to you as a beginning (or experienced) baker.  And you can use the Search box at the upper left-hand corner of the page to troll for specific topics.  In this case, you might want to search for "desired dough temperature" or "DDT".  Note that the quotation marks aren't necessary for the search; I just used them to set off that text from the rest of the sentence.

Good luck with your baking and keep us posted on your triumphs and failures.


lzr1001's picture

I Love this site! I started using it about a month ago, and now I'm making bread almost daily. I'm still experimenting with the lessons, trying out different ingredients and baking methods. For the bread below, I used lesson one with a few adjustments: 1/2 wheat flour, brushed with milk for glaze, and added sesame seeds. It was sooooo good.

I often pair my bread with recipes from Hope this inspires you to bake your own loaf!

shalitar's picture

I have never made bread before, so this was my first time.  last night I made pizza dough for the first time.  Today was the loaf of bread.

All went well and it tastes good, however it was smaller than the pictures.  The dough seemed to double, or almost, but maybe I did not let it rise enough.  I did not dissolve the yeast first.  I just added it with all the other ingredents together.

I did use whole wheat flour, which I like.

What should I be doing differently?

Floydm's picture

If you did 100% whole wheat flour you are going to end up with a denser loaf.  You can add an extra teaspoon of yeast to partially offset the extra weight from the bran, but ... well, whole grain baking is a different beast.  Check out the Whole Grain forum here and you'll find lots of tips and advice.

Good luck!


shalitar's picture

Thanks!!  I just found this site today so i will definitely check that other forum out. 

SuzeLuna's picture

Hi All,

I plan on making this bread over the weekend. I've had all the ingredients for over a month now but haven't found a good bread recipe for a first time bread baker until now. I made pizza dough many times, cinnamon rolls and a damper bread but this will be my first true bread. I'm so glad I found this website.

By the way, I just baked the banana bread recipe and is cooling off at this moment. It smells wonderful. Can't wait until I have a slice with a glass of milk!

Macgyver54's picture

I was looking at some the recipies for bread and they were talikng about the percentage of hydration what were they talking about ?

Floydm's picture

Hydration means the percentage of water in relationship to the amount of flour.  See this page for an intro to baker's math:

KneadToKnow's picture

Wow, I'm glad you posted that. I made a loaf of this last night and that is exactly what I am experiencing. WAY too much salt, to the point it was inedible. It looked great, but the taste was quite bad.

I'm trying a 2nd loaf tonight. As I type this I'm on the second rise after forming the loaf. This time I only used 1tsp of salt (1/2 of what's listed).

So the bread came out Great using just 1tsp salt, and I'm very happy. Is it possible the recipe is calling for Kosher salt and the reason a few of us have turned out overly salty versions is due to using table salt? I believe that would give more salt when measured volumetrically.

mrtasan's picture

I followed the directions to the very single word and mine hardly rised at all. It was also too salty.

I used table salt, AP flour, room temp water, and feischmann's instant dry yeast.

I tried to optimize the temperature conditions by place the dough next to source of heat and I gave it extra time and kneeding. It was to a point where I placed it in a lightly warmed oven, that non-existant rising pissed me off. So I just baked it and in the end, it didn't rise at all.

It might be that additional flour was added to the kneading but I doubt that was the issue. I will try it with 1 tsp salt to see if any new effects. Maybe I will proof the yeast as well.

BakerBailey's picture

Ok so i'm new to this site but im already hooked. I'm seventeen and so interested in baking. Today I baked my first loaf, following lesson one except that I halfed everything because i was running low on flour. My bread turned out a bit dense and the flavor was a bit odd....not exactly sure how to describe it...but not bad or inedible just not amazing. Hey my mom loved it though.. 

Possible reasons could have been not kneading enough, not enough or long enough rises or cooking time.

I do have a few questions: 

1. If I halfed the quantities of the ingredients do I also half the rising times? 

-I let it rise about 80 minutes for the first and then about an hr the 2nd 

2. Was lesson one calling for two rises or three? I only did two- the first til it had doubled then punched it down, rekneaded, shaped and let rise again (about an hr) then baked. Maybe I should have done three....

3. Would more kneading have given me a less dense bread? -the texture of mine was very uniform.

Thanks! and thank you for these lessons... inspiring!

emunch's picture

Hi there. I followed lesson 1 recipe completely, with the exception of the oven at 400 ºF and used a water pan at the bottom. I started kneading it with a Kitchenaid mixer (I have a back problem so I can`t do it by hand for more than a few minutes) and after like 7 min. the dough was still sticking to the sides of the bowl and the hook like a circus tent.  I added a little flour and improved for a little while and did again. Since I wanted to follow the recipe as closely as possible, decided to knead by hand as you suggested somewhere in the site, so I could "feel it changing", still needed more flour, but not as much as I usually have to add to the mixer (about a 1/4 - 1/3 of a cup). I liked the result so much, that I am very enthusiastic about bread making now; but would like to solve the mixer problem, I am not sure about the right consistency of the dough in the mixer. I have looked in the web and KA claims  all there is needed is about 2 min. and it should be clearing from the sides of the bowl. I am afraid that if I keep adding flour the dough may be too stiff. By the way, here in my country there is nothing like Bread Flour (at least in the supermarkets) and AP flour has 4,5% protein content; don´t know if that should account for the additional flour. Take a look at my first Lesson 1 loaf. It was incrdible, I just hope it was,`t a"lucky mistake".

Thanks, really, for this excellent website and your help !.


Lesson 1 crumb

 Lesson 1 crumb

Xyst's picture

Okay, so this is my first attempt at making bread ever.  I did put a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven for the first 5 minutes (I read somewhere that is supposed to help, but I don't know if it's true).  The crust of this bread is really hard and thick!  Not in a bad way, but I have nice knives and had trouble slicing through it.  


The bread is a little bit dense and has a hint of that beery flavor..perhaps a heavy yeast tone is a better way to describe it.


pmccool's picture

Congratulations!  The really good news is that it gets even better as you have more practice!

You mention that the bread has a dense texture, which your photo corroborates.  The dough probably wanted a bit more time to rise in the pan before going into the oven.  And it isn't so much a matter of clock time as it is a matter of dough readiness.  Higher or lower temperatures can have just as much influence as time.  So, on your next bake, look for the dough to nearly double in volume (ignoring the clock) before putting it into the oven.  You can also use the "poke test" to determine readiness: gently press a fingertip a little way into the dough, say 1/2 inch or 1 cm, approximately.  Pull your finger back and watch how the dough responds.  If it bounces right back, it isn't ready to bake so let it rise some more.  If it slowly fills back in, it's just right; put it into the oven.  If it does not rebound at all, it is probably over-proofed.  You can bake it but there's a good possibility that the dough will partially deflate from handling or from thermal shock when it goes into the oven.  Best to take it out of the pan, knead it lightly, reshape, and put it back in the pan to rise again.

Since the bread's crumb in your photo also looks a bit moist and sticky, I'm guessing that you might have sliced into it while it was still hot.  ;-)  Allowing the bread to cool all the way down to room temperature allows the bread to finish baking (kind of like letting a roast stand for a few minutes before carving after taking it out of the oven), permits some moisture to evaporate and allows the rest of the moisture to be evenly distributed in the bread.

You can probably get rid of the beery flavor in your next bake by reducing the yeast to half the quantity that you used in this bake.  It may take a bit longer to rise but that's a good thing.  You'll taste more of the flavors in the flour and less of yeast's flavors.

Keep on baking.  You are off to a very good start.


Xyst's picture

Thanks for the reply Paul, I really appreciate it!  

I will give the poke test a try on my next attempt this weekend, along with trying to gauge the rise of the dough a little better.

Yes, I definitely cut into the bread while it was still warm, my patience there wasn't the greatest, haha, and next time I'll try and exhibit "some" self control.  The roast comparison is a good one that I can relate to, really any type of good meat requires a resting period before serving.  It's good to know that bread needs the same respect.

Upwards and onwards I suppose, and it is nice not having to buy sandwich bread at the store anymore...this stuff is WAY better!

Xyst's picture

Okay, just as a follow up, I used the poke test for lesson two to great success.  If you're interested, I've posted up some photos of the end result here.

Quick Ben's picture
Quick Ben

I'm so glad I found this site. I baked my first loaf last night. I followed the directions above. I threw everything in a bowl at the same time and added warm water, I let it rise for 90 min, punched down, let it rise for another 90 and threw it in the oven for 40 minutes. It tastes great... though it is a bit on the heavy side. Thanks to everyone who posts good advice in these threads. 

gHuLzEr's picture

Hey all! Really really excited bout starting my bread-baking adventure after finding this site! But I have some confusion over the flour that I can use. My local grocery doesn't carry bread flour or all purpose-flour. Rather I have to choose between plain ol' wheat flour or self-raising flour. If I'm using self-raising flour, am I correct to say I don't need to use yeast? Can I just use plain ol' wheat flour instead? Or should I just compare protein content and take the flour with the highest one? Appreciate some help on this as I'm still very cautious and nervous before my first loaf. Thanks all!

pmccool's picture


Don't use the self-raising flour for yeasted breads.  It contains salt and chemical leaveners (baking powder, soda) to produce a rise in baked goods.  It is fine for biscuits, scones, pancakes, cakes and quick breads (e.g., banana bread or corn bread) that don't call for yeast.

For yeasted breads, such as in this First Loaf, those additions won't be desirable.  I'm not sure how flours are labeled in Australia.  If your "plain ol' wheat flour" is a white flour, then odds are good that it will be similar to an American AP flour.  

If it is a whole-wheat flour instead, you can still use it but the results will be different.  You would need to increase the liquid content somewhat to compensate for the water-absorbing capacity of the bran in the whole-wheat flour and the finished bread will (probably) be heavier in texture and not achieve as much of a rise as a white flour bread.  It will still be delicious bread, just different.

Flour protein contents are all over the map.  The French are/were renowned for their bread, which is made with flours of relatively low protein content, some below 10%.  Canadians and Americans have access to flours with that can run as high as 15% protein.  Those flours also make good breads.

The best advice I can give is to dive in.  If the result is a train wreck, you haven't lost much in financial terms and you'll have learned a few things.  Then try again.  And again.  Before long, you will be turning out breads that satisfy both eye and tongue.  

Best of luck with your first loaf!  Stop by for advice and critiques and pats on the back any time you need to.  We all start from zero and build from there. 


Loafer Jo's picture
Loafer Jo

gHuLzEr, both Coles and Woolies stock bread flour - it's usually on the bottom shelf below the normal flour, and comes in 5kg bags. The brand I bought at Woolies was Defiance, and Coles had a different brand, can't remember the name sorry.

Auten's picture

I'm a brand-spankin-new breadmaker, and I've tried this recipe 3 times this week, but every time the final loaf is very dense and chewy, but with great flavor.  I've used the same proportion of ingredients (with instant yeast), but have varied the development process in the following ways after reading through this site:

1. Mixed dry ingred with 1 1/8 C. cool water, immediately kneaded by hand (using the method I always used for pasta dough) for 10 min (added quite a bit of flour while kneading), rise 2h, scooped out of the bowl and shaped for a bread pan as shown in the 1st video in the site's Handbook, rise for 1.5h, baked @ 375 til the interior temp was 200 or so, and removed.

Results: VERY dense, not much of a crust.

2. Used 1 1/8 C very warm water from the tap, let sit 25 min, kneaded by hand for 10 min (added much less flour this time), rise for 1.5h (til doubled), shaped a boule, rise in a bowl (not a good idea) but had to leave in fridge overnight, then let come to room temp in the morning for 2h, managed to scoop it onto a preheated pizza stone @ 430F, added some water to the stove and turned down to 375.

Results: somewhat less dense, great crust, but very tight crumb overall.

3. Mixed ingred as in #2, dough was very sticky, so let sit 15 min, kneaded with NO extra flour, just a little oil on my hands, using the technique shown in the video on this site ("slap and fold"?) for 5 min, let sit 5 min, repeated for 2 min, and dough didn't seem to be changing texture anymore, so rise for 1.5h, then shaped a boule and let sit on an oiled board to rise for 1.5h (less than doubled), transfered to preheated pizza stone @ 430F, added water, baked 45 min.

Results: Same as #2

I get a good rise during the preferment and 1st rise, but there is very little oven spring.  I use 100% KA white-wheat, so I expect it to be a little denser and chewier from what I've read, but all 3 loaves have been only slightly larger than the dough I put into the oven!  Maybe I'm not developing the dough enough initially?

Any tips from the bread-Jedi's here (Bread-i's?)

Sorry it's so long, thanks for your help!  This has become a personal vendetta, er, I mean, mission for me.

Auten's picture

In #3 above, I turned oven temp down to 375 after putting the dough in, as in #2.


Hobbes's picture

I stumbled onto this lesson earlier this week and gave it a shot, with mediocre results - it was during a rainstorm and I actually overcompensated by adding too much flour. The crumb was very dense, the loaves had seams everywhere, but it rose, which was more than I'd been able to get before. But I spent a couple of weeks in France earlier this summer, and grew massively fond of the baguettes there. Lacking a bakery here, I wanted a good way to get my French bread fix.

So here's what I did this second time:

Combine ALL 1 1/8c warm water (I only used about a cup last time) and yeast for about 10 minutes. Measure 3c flour by using my 1/4c to scoop into my 1c (so it doesn't pack down), and then add only 1tsp salt (the earlier try was, as many say here, a bit on the salty side). Mix, knead for 10 minutes and look it actually forms a ball, not a stiff oval thing! Used the poke test to judge rising, punched down; used the poke test to judge rising, divided into two balls and let rise for another half hour or so (again with the poke test).

Formed into baguettes, let rise about a half an hour whilst the oven preheated to 500F with my ceramic saucepan inside. Slashed the tops with a box cutter (all I had!). Poured a cup of hot water into saucepan (which immediately began to boil) and put bread in oven. Took saucepan out about 7 minutes later and turned oven down to 375F; another 10 minutes later I had baguettes that sounded hollow when I tapped their bottoms! I let them cool for about 20 minutes and cut off a small piece to check the crumb - it was squishy and hole-y and delicious. I only meant to eat the one piece, but I'm very nearly done with an entire baguette now.

This is absolutely going to be my standby method!

Immature's picture

I started baking bread just a few weeks ago, and I really have to say that I find the tips here to be VERY useful.

Also, I found something out during my own little experiments with bread:
I just use the general all-purpose flour sold in most grocery stores, which works just fine considering I just bake at home and such. However, I found that during my 2nd week of baking, my dough felt a little strange under my fingers as I kneaded it. And the bread during that period of time didn't taste as good and didn't rise as nicely

The solution: I sifted the flour before mixing it with the other ingredients.

I don't quite understand why, but suddenly the quality of my bread went up again. XD

Forestwoman's picture

I tried this recipe today...I've waited 90 minutes and there is no change in the dough. The dough has not risen at all. Just sitting there doing nothing.  Any suggestions?



Floydm's picture

Toss it out and start over.

Is your yeast fresh?  Is it active dry yeast that performs better if it has been activated first?  Those are the first two issues that come to mind.

Forestwoman's picture

I used Rapid Rise Highly Active Yeast.   Yeah, it's only a few months old.  I guess I need to put it in the water first instead of just putting it into the flour?


Floydm's picture

I think Rapid Rise should be fine just mixed in with the flour.  You could try putting the dough in a warm place and giving it another hour or two.

davidcwilliams's picture


In the first five minutes in the oven your loaf will have one last growth spurt. This is called oven spring. Think of it as the yeast feeding itself quicker and quicker as it heats up until the rising temperature finally kills it off.


I don't think this is correct.  I believe oven spring occurs due to the rapid increase in temperature resulting in the moisture in the dough being converted to steam.  Much the way a pancake or waffle will 'spring' when it hits the pan or iron.


nelliecupcakes's picture

Hi ! Heres my first loaf of homemade bread ! it tasted pretty good but the exterior was really rough sooo yeah . but it was really fun & my mom told me i kept looking at it like a diamond ring LOL

subrosa's picture

Thanks Floyd.

We appreciate the measurements being in cups teaspoons etc.

The enables us to bake at home without having to change our weights and measurements standards.

nmazze72's picture


First of I wanted to say thanks for the great lessons on here in one evening I've tried both loafs lesson 1 and then lesson 2. Both turned out pretty good but I have to admit the 1st loaf was a bit salty for me! Otherwise I'm real happy with my results and will defiantly continue trying out new recipes until I master the bread baking progress!

Thanks Nicole1st and 2nd loaf

Lauren08's picture

I tried my hand at making a seed loaf yesterday and it was horrid, then today I found your site and now I cannot wait to start lesson 1.  I will post my results.



pmccool's picture

and welcome to TFL!  Best of luck with Lesson 1.  You will be turning out delicious breads in no time, I'm sure.  I look forward to seeing your results.

Feel free to ask for advice, help, or critiques.  There are lots of helpful people who will be glad to give you a hand.


Lauren08's picture

Hi Paul,

Made my first loaf yesterday and it was awesome, was so proud.  I have a question, do you have a recipe for a loaf using Spelt flour and also, Rye, could I use the basic recipe and substitute Rye flour?


Kindest regards,


pmccool's picture

Hello Lauren,

I think I've only ever used spelt on one, possibly two, occasions.  Based on what I've seen from other bakers, you could probably use the Lesson 1 recipe, but substitue 1/2 to 1 cup of spelt flour for an equal amount of white flour.  You might also try the recipe for Honey-Whole Wheat Bread at the left-hand side of this page, substituting whole spelt for the whole wheat or white spelt for the white flour.

Rye is a very different thing than wheat, particularly when the rye flour comprises more than 50% of the flour in a dough.  Most high-percentage rye doughs are really more of a paste than a dough.  You'll see allusions to mortar or concrete when people try to describe the texture.  That said, "Levy's Real Jewish Rye Bread" from Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Bread Bible is a good bread and a good starting point fo a novice rye baker.  Although I like caraway, I find that half the amount she prescribes is more to my tastes.  If you don't have that book, check to see if your local library has it.  There was also a Swedish Limpa Rye from a years-ago Pillsbury Bake-Off contest that I greatly enjoy but I'm a long way from home and can't look it up.  They have a similar bread on their web site.  The bread I'm thinking of also included a teaspoon or two of shredded orange zest and a tablespoon or so of caraway seeds.

The other thing that I should point you to is the Search tool at the upper left-hand corner of the page.  You can find reams of information here on TFL with that tool.  And some recipes, too.

Happy baking!


pjaj's picture

Just a minor observation.

Water. You can probably find some of this around the house, can't you?

Yes, and for most people ordinary tap water is good enough, but if you are having rising problems, try using something that hasn't got chlorine in it. Whilst I'm not an advocate of bottled water, you could use water that has been boiled or that from a filter jug (Britta for example).

tempe's picture


I am attempting this loaf today.I have just finished kneading the dough for the specified time, but it kept tearing with each knead after about five minutes, I did keep going to ten minutes assuming/hoping that this would help, but nope still tearing.  I let it sit for ten minutes, thinking I would let it rest and knead some more.  When I came back to it, it was already almost doubled in size, I did knead some more for about four minutes but it kept tearing again.  The dough seemed smooth initially and not sticky at all,  I didn't need to put any dough on my hands or fingers to work with the dough.  Should I add more water at the start of putting all the ingredients together next time?  I was using the heel of my hand for the kneading and turning after each time.  Any advice would be great.  tempe

Floydm's picture

This recipe isn't meant to be a great bread, just an easy bread.   Yes, I would certainly suggest moving on to a wetter dough.   

tempe's picture

Thanks for your reply, I will do just that.  I went ahead and baked the loaf and it came out better than I thought it would, must have been as the family seemed to enjoy it.  And thanks very much for all the info you have taken the time put up here, I really appreciate it.

Krimmy's picture

I have made bread before that has turned out perfectly. I recently decided I wanted to really learn the process inside and out and really know how to make bread. I have started with "lesson 1" and I am trying to perfect it before I move on to the next step. The problem I am having is that my loaves keep coming out completely colorless, dense and very heavy. the inside is soft and moist, but flavorless and the crust is terriblly hard and pale. My dough seems to have a good consistency, no problems with the rising process and a nice yeasty smell. What am I doing wrong?


mlledufarge's picture

While it was not my first attempt at making a bread-type recipe, it was my first actual loaf. (previous attempts involved making dinner rolls for Thanksgiving, and cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning - different recipes, softer breads.)

It certainly was not the best bread I've ever tasted. In fact, one slice was enough for me.

I think I messed up somewhere, but I do not know where. I used recently purchased (with an expiration date of 2014) active dry yeast, and I activated it prior to mixing. The flour was recently purchased all purpose, the water was filtered, and the salt was ground sea salt.

When I mixed the dough together, it separated into lots of little bits. I mean lots of bits. Rather like biscuit dough when you cut the shortening into the flour - it was kind of riced. I thought that was a bit weird, but it came together when I used my hands and began kneading the dough. The dough was not dry, it stuck a tiny bit to my hands and my work surface, so I added maybe a teaspoon of flour, and it stopped sticking, but it was so tough. Like kneading a new brick of clay. Very difficult to work with. I kneaded for 8 minutes, still hadn't reached that silky smooth phase. I went ahead and completed a full 10 minutes of kneading, and by that point, my hands just couldn't take anymore. The dough felt hard and incredibly heavy.

I let the dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl until it doubled in size, then I punched it down and let it rise again. Then I kneaded it a bit and shaped it into a loaf, and let it rise a third time. I was a bit confused if I was supposed to let it rise once, then shape, or let it rise twice, then shape. Either way, my dough rose 3 times. I baked it for about 45 minutes. The loaf was small and very heavy. I let it cool completely, and then went to slice it. It was incredibly difficult to slice. The crust was thick and hard. The bread inside was soft, but with those really dense uniform holes (which I expected from the description), and a very strong beery smell. I assumed right then that 3 rises were too much.

The bread had a very strong yeasty flavor, and was really rather inedible.

Any ideas where I went wrong?

jcking's picture

Sorry someone hasn't replied sooned. Seems like not enough water and oven too hot. With the mix, the dough should come together and be shaggy. Let rest 5 minutes. When you begin to knead the dough will feel very wet and stick to your hands. The more you knead the more it will firm up. It's okay to take a break, 5 minutes, along the way. Kneading is done when the dough barely sticks to your fingers. Like a post-it note.


Prescottalex's picture

Tonight I attempted to make a loaf of bread for a second time. Just like the first time my dough is not rising. The first time I did not use warm water and just put all of my ingredients in a bowl together at once. It did not rise. My second go, I put the yeast in some warm water before adding it to the mixture and it still did not rise. I do not understand. Does anyone have any ideas?

Floydm's picture

Is your yeast expired?  Or is your house really cold?  It shouldn't take much to get at least some rise out of this amount of yeast at room temperature. 

Prescottalex's picture

The yeast is not expired. Now that you mention it i do have a fairly cold apartment. When I went to knead the dough again it was very cold to the touch. The thought did cross my mind that it may be too cold so I put it near an "on" oven to have it stay warmer. This actually made it rise. Psyched. Thanks for the advice. 

BedazzledLV's picture

Your website helped me greatly.  Just got my magimix food processor and being that i've never made bread(though I'm a bread addict).  I have been reading for days now, so that I could learn what i was doing wrong since my bread, though tasty was too heavy.  Just followed your recipe exactly... Did do an egg yolk/dash of water glaze since thats what I love.  Also used the steam tips and boy does my bread look insane!  I can't wait to taste.  Will repost with pictures once its done baking lol.

I did forget to slash the dough after glazing....and slashed it after the first 15mins(when removing) the water pan.

Sophiebeth23's picture

I have finished my first loaf


tuffett's picture

I'm confused. Are there three rises or only two? The recipe says to let it rise, punch it down and let it rise again, and then shape it and let it rise again, but I'm not sure if the last two are really just one rise. Sorry, but I've never made bread by hand before!

paulaa's picture

I've made basic Italian and French bread a few times with what I think you call the "preferment" and it's come out decently, although I want to improve.

So I just put together the ingredients for your basic dough, and it was way too dry - that's happened before, so I didn't hesitate to put in more water, but now no matter what I do, it's too wet (adding more flour didn't help).  I can't get it into a ball for the life of me.

It may be the climate -I'm just writing so if any else tries this as a first attempt and it doesn't work, don't give up - I'd try a recipe where you make a starter and then you add more dry ingredients later. 

Floydm's picture

Sorry to hear it didn't work out for you.

This recipe is not nearly as good as the other French and Italian breads you can find on the site, the ones with preferments, so if you have something that you are happy with I'd stick with and work forward from that one rather than switch over to this one.  

Happy baking!


Sheps's picture


Thank you so much for these lessons; I'm delighted to have found this site and have since much improvement in my bread making this week. I have only tried a couple of times before and I have not been very successful.


Attached are pictures of my second attempt at lesson one. The first attempt had a very similar result, except all the seeds fell off it and is was even a little flatter. Apart from adding the seeds to the top (which I can now successfully do having looked that up elsewhere on this site!) I did not change the recipe or method at all. However, as you can see I'm getting a very flat result that's a little too dense. It tastes great however (and my other half agrees!) and has a good crisp crust and a soft crumb. It does show good signs of the yeast still being active throughout the kneeding and proofing process and it does increase in size, it's just that after shaping it seems to do all of it's growing sideways rather than up, and has no 'spring' once in the oven.


I feel like I might not be kneeding it for long enough; even though I do so for at least 10 minutes perhaps I move too slowly in that time and therefore do less in that time! The reason I wonder this is that although I definitely notice the consistency of the dough change while kneeding, it doesn't look as beautiful and silky as the pictures I see here and elsewhere, but I'm afraid of continuing too much and over-kneeding.

The other thing I wonder about is mixing; I add my water a little at a time so that there is just enough to form a ball, but when kneeding I find I'm having to add quite a lot of flour every few moments to prevent the dough sticking to the board and to my hands. It would be easily another cup that I add, incrementally, if not more.


When I try again I'm going to note carefully what I do at every stage; that way if my result hasn't improved much perhaps I'll have more to go on to get better the next time :-)


I would be very grateful for any suggestions...

Thank you!

DChristi's picture

I'm kind of in love with your site right now! Lol. I do have a question though. I'm living in Germany right now and it's easier to get a hold of the fresh yeast instead of the dry stuff. It's called "frisch-backhefe" and comes in 42g blocks. I have a few of these around since I recently went to a pretzel making class and that's what we were taught to use. It works great for that (yummy but oh so ugly!) but I can't seem to find any basic bread recipes that call for that. If I were to use that in this recipe instead of the dry stuff how much would I use? Looking forward to trying this out!

jcking's picture

        In ARTISAN BAKING ACROSS AMERICA, Maggie Glezer says for every 150 g (5.3oz, 1 cup) of flour in the recipe to use either of:

3 gm compressed fresh yeast (0.1 oz, 1/6 cake)
2 gm active dry yeast (0.05oz, 1/2 tsp)
1 gm instant active dry yeast (0.04oz, 3/8 tsp)
    * 1 tsp instant = 3.1 g
    * 1 g instant = 1.25 g active dry = 2.5 g fresh
    * 1 tsp instant = 1.3 tsp active dry = 0.4 cake fresh
    * ——–
    * 1 tsp active dry = 2.9 g
    * 1 g active dry = 0.8 g instant = 2 g fresh
    * 1 tsp active dry = 0.75 tsp instant = 0.3 cake fresh
    * ——–
    * 1 g fresh = 0.5 g active dry = 0.4 g instant
    * 1 cake fresh = 3 tsp active dry (8.7g) = 2.25 tsp instant (7g)
    1 teaspoon instant (aka instant active dry ) =1-1/4 teaspoons active dry or 1-1/2 packed teaspoons [0.75 ounce] fresh cake yeast

Novice Baker's picture
Novice Baker

I tried your Sweet Potato Rolls yesterday & posted in the comments how they didn't turn out (no rise). Today I was going to try again but decided to poke around the site a bit more since I'm new here. Just found the Primer and read about yeast. Now I know what happened to my rolls! I used active dry yeast and it never got activated - you would think active dry yeast would already be active. So, there you go, my first lesson in baking. I'm off to the store for some more flour so I can do a second pass at the sweet potato rolls & use my abundance of herbs to make the Pain de Provence (sp?). Thank so much for such a wonderful & informative site!

hamadaaman's picture

Thank you very much, can not thank you enough.Good luck all the way.

fatpilot's picture

thank you very much for this great lesson. I am living in China. I have a oven and I have kitchenaid. but I don't have anyone could teach me to bake a bread. you know, the bread in china's store is not safe for eating... I always use my kitchenaid to make noodle. I am glad I could study some real baking knowledge here.

thanks again.^^

ndunkin's picture

I have been wanting to make my own bread for some time now without my bread machine.  I made my first loaf in the lesson and after about a day, I was able to get it into the oven last night.  The house smelled great.  I lett it cool and then cut a couple of slices.  I only had butter, no jam or jelly.  I did try some with molasses.  It was amazing!  I toasted some this morning and once again, the house smelled great.  Tomorrow I am progressing onto Lesson 2 and on Saturday I am going to give the Cinnamon Rolls a shot.  Thanks again Floyd for putting this site together.  I am looking forward to many great loaves in the future. 

P.S. I'm not getting much work done these days as I spend a lot of time reading the recipes and drooling.

Bazza123's picture

Tried this one yesterday - but have a few questions. I did the first rise in a mixing bowl and the second rise on a pizza peel . Then I shaped and allowed it to rise again on the pizza peel before placing it in the oven and baking it.  I believe I overproofed it  during that third and final rise ( after shaping)  and also I had a little difficulty getting it off the pizza peel onto the breadstone in the oven because of the weight of the dough.  Hence the loaf lost much of its round shape and flattened out.  

Would it be best to do the second rise in a bowl? Should I do the shaping on the (cold) plate that I will be baking it on?? How do people place a well risen shaped loaf into a hot oven (and hot baking stone) without destroying the rise. 


Anonymous123's picture

What type and size pan do you use for baking it?

Floydm's picture

Typically I bake this one free-form on a cookie sheet rather than in a pan.  You can bake it in a pan though, just be aware that it may take a bit longer to bake through (particularly if your pans are large).

Good luck!


Jonno34's picture

I use a kenwood mixer, let it rise in the bowl, no problem, knock it back but on the second rise it spreads rather than rises and i get a  thin loaf, any suggestions please.

Anonymous123's picture

Thank you!

KimV's picture

Wow, Thank you so much for this easy to follow guide to making a white loaf!I love baking and after many failed attempts at pies, cakes biscuits, buns and rolls, I finally got pretty good at it. The only thing I just coulnd't get right was the white loaf.

I tried this recipe yesterday and the result was absolutely amazing! I got a lovely fluffy white loaf with a perfect crust.

I loved it so much that I doubled the recipe today and started making some more.

I whish I'd have come accross this site sooner, it would've saved me a lot of frustration and flour!

hip_throne's picture

YAY! I just pulled my first loaf out of the oven and it is MAGNIFICENT! 

To say that I'm a bread-baking virgin would be a lie. My Mum has been baking bread for as long as I can remember, but I never appreciated those dense, fluffy sandwhich loaves as much as I do now. I watched her a lot and helped her on many on occassion, and I've baked pizza crust and other stuff before, so this wasn't really difficult for me. I knew how to knead, and how to proof yeast (which really is the secret to the success of this first loaf!). I admit, I added a teensy tiny bit of sugar to this one, because I knew the crust would be just a bit more golden, and the rise would be better. Result? AWESOME! Not as good as Mum's slightly-sour white loaves, but this isn't her recipe (which has shortening in it!). The added sugar alos made the crust very crackery, which I love. The inside is white and soft and sponge-like, and just MELTS under the butter. It's a wonderful contrast!

Baking bread is difficult at first. Baking in general, that is. I used to burn everything! But after a lot of practice (and some sensuous stroking of dough), anyone can master this. It's amazing!


Food-o-Mania's picture

I made small variations in the original recipe to make my personal best ever home made bread till date :) Thank you for sharing this wonderful resource with amateur bread bakers like me. The lessons & tips are invaluable :)

My recipe had - 4 cups  -All purpose flower, 2.5 tsp - Instant yeast, 2 tsp - Salt, 2 tbsp - Olive oil, 1/2 cup - Water, 3/4 cup - Lukewarm milk, 3 tbps - Flaxseeds

shoshanna673's picture

Loved the look of your loaf. Have copied down your ingreds to give it a try.  Does  this make just one loaf .. it is just for me and I don't eat that much bread .. it goes stale before I can eat it all!  What sized tin did you use?  Looking forward to trying this .. love that it uses milk as I prefer milk bread and I love flaxseeds.  Thx for your post.

Sondra in Sth Oz

Jen D.'s picture
Jen D.

Yesterday I made this recipe (turned out pretty ok if I do say so myself!) and tonight I made a cross between this one and lesson two (I omitted the butter and maybe something else?) and it also turned out decent. Since it doesn't keep so hot for more than a day, 1400 calories per loaf it is a LOT of bread for the 2 1/2 people in our household. Can I just halve the amounts? I am only 2 days into bread baking so I am not sure of any ratios/rules/the chemistry behaind all this. My goal is to make a loaf a day for the next few weeks and see if we can save money over buying the ever-increasing-in-cost french baguetts from Publix while learning a new skill. :)

Floydm's picture

Yup.  It should work fine.  Good luck!


Jen D.'s picture
Jen D.

Thanks for the fast response! I'll give the reduced recipe a shot tomorrow. Many thanks for this site; I have had the ingredients for bread sitting in my pantry for 3 months now but was paralyzed by uncertainty. I had my countertop prepped and the dough mixing 10 minutes after reading this post!

madamlalo's picture

Hi Floyd! Are there a total of 3 rises including the last one in the pan? How long should I knead after punching the dough? What am I looking for as far as appearance of dough after second kneading? Thanks.


Floydm's picture

Yes, three rises is good.  You don't really need to knead, just degas for a few seconds.  And... uh... risen?  

This recipe is intentionally low on details because it isn't supposed to be great, just simple.  If you are ready to take on more concerns then you are probably also ready to move on to more sophisticated recipes, which there are plenty of here.

Good luck!


Amanda8's picture

I have just found your site and I am so excited!  I am waiting for my first loaf to rise.  Somewhat impatiently.  Thanks for this great site!


ch40sum's picture

Hi, would it be possible to use Strong White Flour for this recipe, i can not seem to get any all purpose  anywhere? 

Floydm's picture

Absolutely, that would be fine.

Good luck!


ch40sum's picture

Thanks for that Floyd. I like to explore all avenues when baking, and this loaf was made with the yeast (fast acting dried), added straight into the flour, salt and water. The result which I am posting now was a little flat and I did not get the rise I expected. So tomorrow's loaf will be exactly the same recipe, but I will activate the yeast first. 


shirleyendesaxe's picture

Thanks for the guidance. I was thinking I had to add ALL the flour indicated on the recipe, but it didn't feel right and didn't rise worth a hoot. I checked your site and the advice about moisture to dry put my doubts to rest. I will trust my hands from now on. Oh, and my 8th loaf looks, smells and tastes terrific.

pjohnson's picture

Can olive oil be substituted for butter in all bread recipes?  Also, when dividing dough in half for baking, is it better to cut the dough or twist it in two?..or does it matter?... this site

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that is just one hit in the search box searching for: substitute oil for butter

kellymooreclark's picture

Hello!  So glad I found this site!  Ok, I have a question. I'm sure I'm overthinking this and making it way to hard.....BUT, 

I know you mix, knead, rise, punch.....but do you knead again after the punch down?
you let it rise again, and then shape.  Do you punch and/or knead before you shape, rise, bake?

Thanks for your help!

Floydm's picture

No, you don't need to knead again when punching down.

Before shaping, no, not really.  The dough will get degassed a bit during the shaping process.

Happy baking!


valentine21463's picture

Thank you!!! This may be where I'm going wrong. I've been kneading again after punching it down. So just to get this right you say punch it down shape back into a ball and let rise again? or would I punch it down after 1st rise and put in pan?

wannabbaker's picture

Hi all

Here is my first attempt at baking using the generic recipe above. I followed the instructions and this is what I got. I was pleased with the structure and the yeasty taste, but the shape was a disaster. I wanted an artisan style bread (no tin) so just put on a cookie tray for the final rise.

This got me thinking about a cool video I saw that had bread put into baskets while they were rising. 

Do you guys use these baskets? Would it have made a difference to my bread?

wannabbaker :) 

Okieannie's picture

i tried to rush my loaf and ended up with the same results.  i also had been trying to make breadsticks to go with our salads.  When my bread looked like this, I simply sliced the bread, heated up my griddle, butter the bread and threw it on the hot griddle.  Great toast and it was just crispy enoug for breadsticks.  Love what you can do with mistakes.  Love this website and helpful tips and recipes.

Justkneadit's picture

I was sick and tired of trying to decipher ingredients on the packing of bread so I thought I would give it a try. I found this website, which is awesome, and it made baking my first loaf a cinch. I followed the directions to a tee and my loaf turned out great. Tasty too! Thanks


bsmith2407's picture

Hello ! I have just stumbled across this site and your lessons! I am in love with baking and i am wanting to do your lessons ! my only thing is on lesson one i want to shape my loaf like you and i dont know how .. Can you please tell me ? Thanks have a great day !

Floydm's picture

Hi hi,

Check out these videos that Jeff and others put together, as well as Khalid's (Mebakes) really helpful diagrams.

They'll help you get a sense of how to do it.  

More than anything it just takes practice though, so just get in there and get your hands doughy!  You'll get a hang of it.




bsmith2407's picture

Thanks for link !! I am getting arm deep in dough today !! (i love ) and i will take pictures and let you know how it turns out ! Thank you so much 


Bakergirl2010's picture

Hi, Everyone.

I've been baking bread on and off for the past few months. The texture and taste of the finished product is nice, and the color is good too. But my loaves are vertically challenged. Not sure if it's not enough liquid, or if it's too much yeast. My yeast proofs, and the flour is from a new bag. I’m using Grandma Vandoren’s White Bread recipe from <>. I scaled it back to make only one loaf.

I'm using 2-2/3 C flour, 1 C water, 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast, 1 tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. sugar, and 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. oil. Here’s a picture of the most recent loaf.

Looking forward to any enlightenment.



Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

I've tried this recipe twice. The only alteration I made was to substitue about 1/2 cup of the flour with whole wheat.Otherwise, I was careful to follow the recipe faithfully. The process of making this bread seems to go well, in that the first two rises double in about the expected time. However, having shaped the loaf (long loaf on cookie sheet) and left it to rise again, while it does increase in volume, this is not directed upward, but more in a sprawl, and when baking there is little or no oven spring. The result is a rather wide, flat loaf that is a little too dense and heavy.

So - both times the yeast seemed to proof well. I probably kneaded in a little more flour the first time, resulting in a slightly drier dough, and the second time, I let the dough rise in a slightly warmer place, as the house was rather cool both times, and I wondered whether this would help.

Is the small amount of whole wheat flour I'm using to blame?

I only kneaded the dough briefly after the punching down, and not at all before shaping the loaf after the 2nd rise. Was this correct?

I am determined to become a regular bread baker!



huskerfoos's picture

Are all these recipes in these lessons containing instant yeast?  And, since these are made to help the beginners (like me) to understand and aid in baking with the simplest of instructions, can active be used with these if I proof the yeast?  

I was planning on trying out a loaf for the first time and all I have is actve, but if I need to start out with instant, that is fine, I will just do it tomorrow.




Floydm's picture

Yes, active dry yeast will work fine.  It is a little less concentrated than instant, so round up a tad or expect it to take a little bit longer.  And, yes, proof it first.

Good luck!


huskerfoos's picture

thank you

alpenrose's picture

In the videos provided by TFL there are what appears to be two different instructions. In the epicurious video it tells you that you can tell when you are finished with the kneading because if you put two fingers into the dough it will stay dented. In the other videos the instructions are to knead until the two finger dents bounce back immediately. Which is it--do the finger holes bounce back when you have kneaded enough, or do they stay indented when you are finished?

Thank you,

heyitsmebobbyd's picture

the dents should spring back after kneading.


heyitsmebobbyd's picture

what is the weight of your loaf before and after baking?


ex99125b's picture

I used:

369 grams of KA organic AP flour, ~3c

235 ml room temp water (63.7%) ~ 1c

6 g Instant Yeast (1.6%) ~2 tsp

10 g table salt (2.7%) ~2 tsp

I mixed the flour, yeast and water in a bowl and added the salt. Kneaded for 10 minutes, I did see the transformation from a thready, rough ball into a more silky ball, but texture was never completely smooth (maybe more kneading?).

Its now covered sitting on the fridge. Will post on progress.

UPDATE: rise- 90 mins, punch down, rise 60 mins, shape and final rise underway

UPDATE: in oven...we'll see!

UPDATE: looks and tastes OK to me!

Hopeful's picture

I made this bread today. Excellent 1st and 2nd rise but only a slight rise for the 3rd.

It was baked on a preheated cookie sheet, covered with parchment paper, at 375 F.  Within 25 minutes of bake time, the bread was hollow sounding when tapped with internal temp just over 200.

For a basic bread recipe, it provided decent results. Even though I'm a big salter when it comes to potatoes and eggs, the bread was too salty tasting for me.


richshewmaker's picture

I entered a recipe for cinnamon buns in the family cookbook. A niece felt she couldn't make the rolls because I had instructed to mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon, and she didn't have one! So, beginners, rest assured you CAN make bread without a wooden spoon. For that matter, I can and do make baguettes, Pan au Levain, croissants, potato rolls, Parker House rolls, rye bread, whole wheat bread, and more without the stand mixer that is called for in most recipes. 

(On the other hand, you could not make my recipe for Pan au Levain without an accurate scale measuring in grams.)



sarahd's picture

Thank you so much for creating this website, and giving these extremely helpful lessons! I baked my first loaf of bread a few days ago, and my family has already gobbled it up--using it for sandwiches, toast, snack, soup accompaniment, etc. 

Am looking forward to exploring more of the website, continuing to practice, and get better at bread making.

My ultimate goal is some sourdough bread...

thank you again!

-amateur enthusiast

Kiki-b's picture

I just wanted to post a little thank you for the lesson and for everyones posts, they are so helpful. I decided this week that I wanted to know how to bake bread so took the bull by the horns and made a white loaf yesterday with all of your help! I was so excited with the mechanics and feeling the change in your hands and trying to patiently during the risings. According to my fiancé it tasted nice, I think it was a little chewy, and tasty so an all round success and it was supper and breakfast this morning.

I'll be following the rest of the lessons, thanks again x

fattymatty's picture

So just tried making this recipe, the bread did rise the first time all seemed well but then again when i made the recipe i used dry active yeast instead of instant so i used 5/8 of a cup of water to activate the yeast but then when i started to mix in the flour slowly and mixing with a wooden spoon it was like super dry by the time i added the other 4/8 of a cup of water to make the total water needed for the recipe so i added like about 1/4 cup more water along the way to get it to absorb the flour but the bowl did not look like the one it the photos shown there was flour stuck to the bowl and then i moved it out on to the counter and added the flour that didnt go into the dough as i kneeded it.  but it wasnt like a smooth ball when i put aside to rise it would kinda break apart a little bit when i was kneeding it not like crazy by any means but as i kneeded it, it would liked pull apart but then once it had risen it was alot more together so i punched it down and shaped it but it just went more sideways as it rose and not upwards as much.  tried to upload photos but it failed each time tired to load the photos, but anyways final result was the loaf was about 2inch high in the center and 1 inch high on the ends. Any thoughts on how to improve on next batch. as dont want to move onto lesson two until i can get this recipe to turn out correctly. I also just noticed i may of down two things wrong, so am i correct in that you add salt after adding all the flour and water and yeast mixture together. and second thing is do you let it rise once, pound it down, let it rise again for another 90 min then shape it and then let it rise another hour then score bread and throw in over because i let it rise once, pounded it, shaped let rise 30 didnt like shape so pounded it again re-shaped and then let rise for 60 min. i think i was totally wrong :(

pmccool's picture

Matt, it sounds as though you were doing some things right in spite of your frustration.  Good for you!

You were absolutely correct to add more water if the dough would not hold together.  Floyd noted in his instructions that it might be necessary.  Flours (even the same kind from the same miller) have varying capacities for absorbing water.  Yours may have been "thirstier" than the one that Floyd used.  The way that flour is measured makes a big difference, too.  Let's pretend that you measure your flour by dipping the cup into the flour and then leveling it off.  Let's also pretend that Floyd measured his by stirring the flour first, then gently spooned it into the cup and leveled it off.  The flour in your cup, because it was more compacted, might weigh 140-150g.  The flour in Floyd's cup, because it was fluffed by the stirring, might have weighed 125g.  Quite a difference, no?  That kind of variation in measuring technique can lead two bakers working with the same formula to some very different outcomes.  Like I said, you did the right thing to add more water when you saw that the dough was very dry.  From what you describe about the challenges in kneading it into a smooth dough, it probably would have benefitted from even more water but that isn't something than a novice baker would be confident to do.

From what I read of Floyd's description, it looks like there is one rise (you may see people call this bulk fermentation) after kneading, followed by punching down (deflating) the dough and allowing it to rise again.  Then it is partially deflated (gently!), shaped, and allowed one final rise until the loaves are not-quite-doubled in volume from their just-shaped state.  This last rise is something that bedevils new bakers.  How can one tell when the dough is ready for the oven?  Not enough rise isn't good and neither is too much rise.  Use the Search tool at the upper left corner of the page to look up the term "poke test" (quotation marks not needed).

Shaping deserves a lesson of its own.  You can click on the Videos link at the top of the page, and you can use the Search tool, to get some in-depth information and demonstrations.  I'll just say here that you want to achieve a tight outer skin on the shaped loaves, which will help them support themselves while they rise.  

You have made a good start and you are smart to stay with this lesson until you can consistently make a good loaf of bread.  Keep at it; practice definitely helps.


rashmi's picture

Thanks for sharing this recipe. I tried it yesterday and the bread turned out good. However, there is definitely scope of improvment. Crust was too hard and insides were a bit dense and may be undercooked. Some challenges I had are: 

Yeast: As the recipe said, mix all the ingredients together. So I didn't proof the yeast and mixed it directly in the floor. Not sure if it was a mistake because I even after second rise, I could see whole Yeast granules in the dough.

Water: After adding the recommended water, the dough was still too dry to knead. So, I added about 1/4 cup extra water in small batches to make the dough softer for kneading.

Rise: Like many others here, I was confused about number of rise. I did - Knead 10 mins, First rise 90 mins, Punch and shape, Rise 60 mins before baking. It did rise but didn't double and wasn't super soft.

Bake: I baked the dough for 50 mins. Crust looked firm but I wasn't sure if it was done from inside. Couldn't resist and ended up cutting the bread. It tasted good, a bit salty and dense except for the tough crust and a little undercooked inside.

What's the best way to know if the bread is baked from inside, without cutting it? I am up for trying this recipe again and getting it right. Any suggestions on above challenges would be great.


pmccool's picture

Rashmi, congratulations on your first loaf!  

You may not have noticed that Floyd commented about the difference between active dry yeast and instant dry yeast.  I don't know which you used but if it was active dry yeast, it would have benefitted from being softened in water first.  In wet doughs (and this isn't one), one can add active dry yeast directly with the rest of the ingredients, just as you would with instant dry yeast.

You did well to add more water when you saw that the dough was too dry to handle easily.  See my response to fattymatty, above, for some additional thoughts on the subject.

As I discussed with Matt, the amount of rise can be difficult to gauge.  One of the more important things to remember is that yeast can't tell time.  You need to watch the dough to determine when it is ready, not the clock.  Of the various factors that affect fermentation (how much yeast to how much flour, dough consistency, temperature, etc.), temperature is probably the most important.  In my kitchen, warmer temperatures in summer might lead to the dough being ready in an hour or less.  At this time of year, with temperatures in my kitchen being in the mid-60s, that same dough might take upwards of two hours before it is ready.

Baking results depend a lot on the oven itself.  Very few are accurate, in the sense that the internal temperature actually matches the selected temperature.  And nearly every oven has spots that are hotter and spots that are cooler.  About the only way to find out how yours behaves is to get an inexpensive oven thermometer and place it in the oven at different locations.  Some people find that there is a deviation of 50dF from the set temperature!  For a lean bread such as this, aim for an internal temperature of 200-210dF.  An inexpensive instant-read thermometer can be inserted in the center of the loaf to take its temperature.  There's also the "sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom" method which is less accurate but that you may be able to use with some success as you gain more experience.

By cutting into the bread before it was cooled (hard to resist, isn't it?), you probably did catch it before it was fully cooked.  The bread continues to cook as it cools down.  Just as importantly, the moisture levels even out between crust and core during te cooling phase.

Best of luck with your next bake!


Flourish's picture

Just wanted to say—thanks for this! I've baked a fair amount in the past, and I've always followed recipes and gotten good results—but I've never understood why I was getting those good results. I'm looking forward to starting with this non-ideal recipe, then changing individual factors so that I learn (by a pseudo-scientific method) why different things make bread better!

I'm already certain that my dough wasn't wet enough. Because I was using active dry yeast, I reduced the amount of water to account for the proofing water—but I oughtn't have, or I ought to have trusted my instincts on it. The loaf is in the oven now and I'm 95% certain it will turn out too heavy. This seems like a fairly common problem in the comments; I wonder if the recipe wouldn't bear some tweaking. (Nevertheless: sure looks like it's working on a very basic level: hooray!)

Lisaf's picture

I've only just found this site as I wanted to have another try at bread making (every other time I've tried in the past I've ended up with loaves so heavy they could sink a ship!). Well, this recipe worked a dream! The final loaf ended up being more a "round" loaf than I had intended as it spread a lot on the final rise (I didn't use a bread tin) but the taste and texture were absolutely perfect. Looking forward to working through the site and trying lots more bread recipes! :)

Jez2k's picture

I've tried 4 different recipes over the past few days, including this recipe, and every time my loaf was an epic fail; teeth-shatteringly rock-hard crust, and stodgy half-cooked dough. I've been trying on and off for many years and have never been successful. Recipes have different methods, such as how many times kneading and rising should be done before putting the dough into the tin, how long you leave it to rise, ratio of water to flour, etc. At first, I thought it was because my dough was too sticky, so I added more flour so that it didn't stick to my hands. Still no change. Also, I have yet to witness uncooked dough double its size after adding dissolved yeast, let alone doubling a 2nd time after more kneading.

pmccool's picture

Let's stick to just the bread in this lesson, to make things easier.

Is the yeast fresh?  Have you tested it to see that it is alive and active?

How did you go about measuring your flour? 

What was the temperature of the liquid? 

How did you mix the dough?  Can you describe its appearance?

How did you knead the dough?  For how long?  How much flour did you add during kneading?  How would you describe the dough's appearance/texture after kneading?

How much time was allowed for the first rise?  Was the dough covered during this time?  What was the ambient temperature of the dough's surroundings?  How much did the dough expand?

How was the dough degassed after the first rise?  How was it shaped?

How much time was allowed for the second rise?  Was the dough covered during this time?  What was the ambient temperature of the dough's surroundings?  How much did the dough expand?

Was the oven preheated before placing the dough in the oven?  What is the oven's real temperature (not the selected temperature - there can be a lot of divergence between the two)?  Was there any difference between the lesson's baking directions and the way you baked the bread?

Seems like a lot of questions, I know.  Not to worry, there will be more. 

I can't attempt a real diagnosis from the small amount of information that was in your post.  Early guesses would include dead yeast, too much flour in the dough, too-cool temperatures or too-short times for fermentation, and/or errant oven temperatures.  But, those are only guesses.  More information is needed to pin-point the problem(s).



r.may's picture

Are the pictures in this lesson of a loaf made from the generic recipe? If so, were there any extra steps in making the loaf in the pictues? 

I ask because the loaf in these pictures looks really good.


Sn3rt's picture

I tried the manual knead, but to nou avail, can I mix and knead the dough with a doug hook and mixer and for how long and what speed. Excellent site.



LIAN MOENIR's picture

I have made breads several times. The first time, it failed because I mix together flour, yeast, sugar and salt. According to my teacher, please add salt in the last, meanwhile in your recipe, put altogheter , could you explain to me. tks


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

you can add INSTANT yeast and salt together, because that yeast is dry.

But salt and FRESH yeast - you'll get a dead mess. Pour some salt over fresh yeast and watch. It's a very impressive experiment. The salt draws water from the yeast cells and they pop - the whole thing liquefies.

Sometimes I dissolve the salt in the water - just another possibility.

Remember - in breadmaking there are many ways to archieve a goal.

Happy Baking,


Bluebellgirl's picture

I think I've made one loaf of bread before, one of Jamie Oliver's white bread recipes and it turned out 'okay'.  I converted the measurements in this generic loaf recipe and it was way way too sloppy.  Had to add loads more flour and then it kneaded okay.  It's resting now in it's first proof so not sure whether it will turn out due to the extra flour I added? Any advice?

Bluebellgirl's picture

please can someone tell me what one eighth of a cup ml?


bruneski's picture

It all depends on the way the volume of a cup is defined!

I`ve seen it defined as 227 ml, 240 ml and even 250 ml.

In my case, I use 1 cup = 240 ml. Hence, for me, 1/8 cup = 30 ml.

Bluebellgirl's picture

I think I read the recipe wrong, I read 1.8 cups of water, which converted to 425.85ml instead of 1 cup and 1/8, which would be 240ml plus 30ml....? 

Bluebellgirl's picture

mostlymisfit's picture

Floyd, firstly what a wonderful step-by-step handholding for over-enthusiastic but utterly loser of a bread fanatic like me. I love breads but don't remember a single time I made one that looked good. My dough always looks more than perfect but somehting clearly goes wrong in the oven.

I recently got Morphy Richards 40 litre oven and am dying to try your recipe. But confused about the settings, for breads do I keep the heat on from both top and bottom? Do I also keep the fan on? I made decent bread rolls last week but they look darker than i wanted on the top but every so slightly undercooked in the inside. SOS :(

mostlymisfit's picture

Tried baking this time with the tip of kneading for 10 minutes. The dough looked beautiful and springy. I also used 3 tsp fresh yeast instead of dry. It didn't foam at all in the beginning, so added some sugar it got nicely bubbly.

The bread looked quite good. It was hollow on tapping and seemed crusty, but then the crust went slightly soft later and the bread was denser than I would like it to be. The holes were too close to each other. See pics below:

Timbo's picture

I know this article was posted in 2005 but the link for "More information on yeast can be found here." doesn't work. Can anyone refer me to more information on this? I would like to understand how it works. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

df.prata's picture

I did not find any link to a video of kneading, so I'm posting this one about French kneading. Tiresome.

valentine21463's picture

I've been trying to bake bread for the past month and I keep getting the same results with previous recipes. What happens is when dough goes in the pan for final rise it doesn't rise. When I tried this recipe the 1st rise was beautiful, the 2nd rise was beautiful, and when I put it in the pan for final rise it rose beautifuly!! BUT... when I took it out of the oven it was very pale and it got smaller. What the heck happened?  Can anyone help?? :(


pmccool's picture

The pale crust indicates that most of the sugars in the dough had been consumed by the yeast.  The shrinkage indicates that the dough had been expanded so much that it could no longer support itself and has partially collapsed.  Taken together, those mean that the last proof / rise / fermentation should have been shorter.  In other words, the bread should have gone into the oven sooner.

That happens frequently to new bakers, especially if they pay more attention to the clock than they do to the dough.  The dough will tell you when it is ready, if you check it.  The easiest method is usually referred to as the finger-poke method.  Gently press your forefinger into the dough about half of the way to the first knuckle, then quickly withdraw it.  A dough that needs more time will bounce back almost immediately and fill the depression made by your finger.  A dough that is ready to bake right now will slowly refill the depression most of the way in a few seconds.  A dough that is past ready won't fill the depression at all.  It might even collapse with a sigh!  

While a lot of recipes talk about letting the dough rise until it has doubled in volume, it is actually better to bake it when it is just slightly less than doubled.  And since doubling is a difficult thing to eyeball (we usually underestimate it and let it expand further), it will require some practice to gain familiarity with the dough.  

If your dough has over-proofed, you can usually rescue it by giving it another kneading and reshaping it to let it rise again before baking.  It won't be quite the same as if it had been baked at its prime but it's a lot better than the pale, gummy brick that results when we just go ahead and bake it as is.

Here's wishing you better results in your next bake.  Keep practicing.  And take notes as you do.  That way you can more easily get a sense of what works or doesn't work.


valentine21463's picture

Thank you! This explains a lot. As I'm typing I'm on a new loaf at it's 2nd rise. I punched it down and did not knead it again and put it back into the bowl for the 2nd rise. I hope that's okay. I'll watch it more closely rather than watch the clock this time.

valentine21463's picture

Same thing happened as before. Maybe it's my yeast. Could that be it? I'm using quick rise. Is it better to use the dry active?

pmccool's picture

That may provide some insights.  If you are following Floyd's formula without deviation, the things that would matter include: temperature in your kitchen, how the dough felt at each stage, how long each stage took, mixing technique, kneading technique, shaping technique, fermentation conditions, baking conditions, the kind of bowl or container you used, how you determined the degree of expansion, and any other pertinent information.  While I still suspect overproofing between baking and shaping, I'd hate to miss some other influence simply for lack of asking.


valentine21463's picture

IT'S NOT ME!! It's not me!!! Wooohooo!!! It's my stove! Picked up a stove thermometer today and stuck it inside and turned on the oven to 375. It only preheated to 250. I guess it's time to stove shop. I'm just glad it ain't me! lol

Quick question regarding basic we let the dough rise 2 times in a bowl and then a 3rd time after shaped in a loaf? Or is it 1time in bowl and a 2nd time after shaped?

valentine21463's picture

Finally after several attempts and about a dozen dead breads in the trash... success!!

I'd post a pic but can't seem to figure out how to on this website :/


alialthaus's picture

I have made a few loaves before and my dough doesn't seem to ever come together in the smooth nice ball before rising like is shown in the picture. It is also not very "stretchy" and does not bounce back after touching, like I've read on other blogs. I have tried as many things as I can think of: more water, less flour, more kneading, less kneading, kneading by hand, kneading with a kitchen aide, new yeast, proofed yeast, etc! I'm at my wit's end. I tried this lesson exactly as is (ended up having to add about 3 tblsp water because it wouldn't come together without it), kneading by hand until I thought it had become "silky and smooth" and then for a few more minutes (10 min total - I timed it). Does anyone know what I'm doing wrong? Thanks for any help you can give!

By the way, here is a picture of my pre-rise dough, note the odd, brainy folds. Also, I'm using Kroger brand All Purpose, enriched flour.




natbromas's picture

Stumbled across TFL last week and decided to make my first (successful) loaf...Thanks!



Sarah J's picture
Sarah J

hello everyone. 

i was wondering if anyone could give me some advice. my first loaf wasnt a bad texture. it was a little flat because i was a little heavy handed getting it onto the baking sheet oops. but the one thing that im really not happy with is that the flavour just isnt right. the only way i can describe the smell and taste is that it is somthing akin to the after taste you get from cheep doughnuts (except obviously not sweet!) is this what is meant by a "beery" flavour, or is this a case of too much yeast? any help would be greatly appreciated. i have cakes down to a fine art but i just cant seem to get bread right. please help.

harrisbradley's picture

So I discovered this website Saturday morning and for some reason was compelled to learn how to bake.  I created my 1st loaf Saturday night, and loved the process and fulfilling feeling so much made two more loaves the next day.  I felt obligated to post my thanks to this site and especially this article.  What a great and easy lesson to learn with.  Thanks so much.  (My loaves)

On to lesson 2!!

Nettie Baker's picture
Nettie Baker

Glad I found your site. I tried the bread recipe and it is delicious!!! I am going to work through all the recipes and make great bread with you!

shib.shakti's picture

Thanks all for all the nitty gritty. My dough is rising- twice-but after baking the centre is always sticky. I have a halogen oven, one microwave and an electric tandoor (without temperature control). Is it impossible to bake a bread using either or any of these without investing in an oven before I learn to bake an edible bread? :-)

pmccool's picture

The microwave isn't suitable for any bread (a bit of personal bias showing through).

I've never used a halogen oven but those are supposed to be usable in the same ways as a conventional gas or electric oven.  A loaf with a sticky center usually indicates that it was not cooked all of the way through.  If the crust is dark but the center is not fully cooked, I would suggest lowering the baking temperature by 25C/50F and extending the baking time by perhaps 15-20 minutes.  If that doesn't work, try stepping the temperature down another 5C/10F and adding 5 more minutes of bake time.  Your objective is to find the right combination of temperature and time that results in a loaf that is fully cooked on the inside and not burnt on the outside.

If the crust burns too easily before the interior cooks, you may need to shield the crust with a sheet of aluminum foil after the crust has reached the color that you desire.

Hope this helps.


shib.shakti's picture

Good morning- well, maybe good evening for you :-)

BTW would be better if the places they hail from are indicated against each member/ commenter's name in the blog so that it gives out a global feel?

thank you so very much for taking time to reply. So, henceforth, for flat bread (including pizza bread?) I shall use my electric tandoor with authenticity :-)

In fact I too have a bias against micro oven except for warming food :-)

About the main subject of centre gooey bread, your mail has provided me with more resolve to experiment with temperature and time as already I have tried starting at 190/170/150 (Centigrade) and then going up/down, varying timing of baking in my halogen oven - with the SAME sticky centre. Also used perforated tray over the mould to avoid quick browning of the top. Let's see....sigh. :-)

Have a nice day/ evening


shib.shakti's picture

Thanks PMcCool!! Following your observations and a little tweaking I got my first 90% baked edible loaf :-) it was becoming a prestige issue as the cook-maid and my aid-de-camp, besides family members were making fun of my baking- but no more. I wrapped the detachable lowest rack of my halogen oven with aluminum foil. Placed a small glass upside down on it, perforating the foil at its base. Wrapped the dough around the glass. Above the dough I placed the high rack and covered it with a perforated tray to avoid burning of the top. Put it at 200*C for 20 mints, followed by 5 mints each at 170 and 150. Wish I could share the pic- but how? Thanks all of you for all the wisdom :-) Shib

gondo's picture

A modern basic white bread uses 50% milk and water.  Or so I've been taught in culinary school.  Milk makes the bread softer.  Pizza on the other hand will use less milk for less soft bread so maybe a tbsp only.  From this basic recipe and technique you explore the world of bread. 

However if you go back a few hundred years, milk was not available and so only water could be used.  Nowadays I think milk has become a staple in the basic recipe although not required.  

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

"...if you go back a few hundred years, milk was not available and so only water could be used"

I don't know where you come from but here in Europe we've had milk for tens of thousands of years.

novice_baker0003's picture


The atmosphere in my house is very dry and the hottest place is usually somewhere in the kitchen. I'm surprised that everyone needs about an hour or so before their dough rises properly when mine takes more than 8 hours.  I usually leave it overnight.

My dough was a nice sticky texture, and my yeast was properly activated (foamed up properly before added to the flour)

I've oiled my pan and left the dough to rise. 

can some one guide me on ways to proof the dough properly so that it's the first rise is under 2 hours at least?

 Highly appreciate the help!

Thanks :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Temperature C° or F° (My brother said something similar, thought 65°F was warm in the kitchen.)


Exact type of yeast (label) expire date and

your location (about, winter or summer?)

Rise time is affected by the amount of water in the dough, ambient temperature, amount type and age of yeast, elevation, dough temp (cold water or frozen flour) type of flour.  Flour is important as some build more gluten than others and trapping gas is crucial to rise.  The more specific you are, the easier it is to trouble shoot.

Dry conditions require covering the dough to prevent loss of moisture.  Drying out can happen faster than one thinks.  Too much flour in the dough can also hamper rise.  Too warm a temperature is also not good and can kill yeast.   

Joker's picture

My first loaf! I was expecting to get something similar to sandwich bread, but what came out was nothing like. I didn't really let it rise as much as I should have after shaping, and scored more than probably necessary. I tossed in a bit of oregano before mixing, and what I ended up with was akin to what you get at a place like Carrabba's to dip in oil&herbs before your entree arrives. A dense, flattened-oval loaf with a hard crust but moist, springy inside.

As you can see, the crust never really browned up, but believe me, it was crunchy and solid. I think it's due to not having added any sugar to brown, nor using a coating. At the very least, I now have a dead-simple recipe to go with Italian cuisine.
solano's picture

Does it work with wild yeast?

Jdobbs11's picture

Ok, I just made my first loaf. I think it came out pretty good for my first loaf. The crust came out a bit crunchy and tough. Does that mean I over cooked it a bit? or does it have to do with something else I did in the process?

Thanks :)