The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I'm a new baker

new baker's picture
new baker

I'm a new baker


I'm so gald to have found this website.  For several reasons I've decided to get serious about making my own bread.  I hope this isn't sacrilegious, but I have a simple bread machine and would like to use that for my baking or at least mixing the dough.  This is mostly a convenience issue as I work full-time and have little time to actually wait 90 minutes for bread to rise etc.  Making bread by hand seems very time consuming.

I desire good whole grain loaves.  Mine so far seem to come out very heavy and not something my spouse enjoys.  I do plan to get some bread flour and vital wheat gluten to add to the dough today.  I read in my bread machine instruction book that it may help lighten the loaves.

I am open to any and all suggestions, and looking forward to participating in discussions.  Most of all I appreciate your sharing your wisdom.

tabasco's picture

You will have a lot of fun mastering your bread machine and then maybe moving on to hand made all the way.

I love our bread machine (a Zoj) for just what you say, mixing and kneading while I do other things, and then I shape and let the dough do its final rise in our Kitchen Aid oven that has a 'proofing' cycle that is very convenient when we are trying to 'make haste' with the bread making process. 

Of course, the purists among us are proponents of hand mixing and kneading and a long cool rise, and that process does make a very lovely tasting loaf of bread (if you have the luxury of tending to your creation over a period of time). 

If you check around on this website and the King Arthur Flour website there are a number of tips and hints on how to get the best out of your machine, especially when using whole wheat and other grains in your dough. 

JoeV's picture

Welcome, new baker. I also got my start at baking bread using a bread machine, and in short order went to a KitchenAid mixer and never looked back.I sometimes make bread by hand mixing and kneading, but only when I have more time or want to really ger the "feel" of the dough. Regardless of the method, making bread from your own ingredients and avoiding all the preservatives make all the difference in the world.


alabubba's picture

I am one who likes to do it all by hand, I have the time and I find working the dough to be a Zen thing, Its half the fun.

That said, I love good bread and whether its an artisan loaf of sourdough or a quick white loaf out of a bread machine it is still MUCH better than"Wonder-Fluff"

I have heard a lot of people recommend "The Bread Lovers Bread Machine Cookbook"

Good luck and welcome to the board.


Janknitz's picture

I work more than full time and have two children at home.  During the week there's no way to make "real" bread with traditional methods.

One way I "cope" is using no knead methods, particularly Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  I also use the more "traditional" no kneads--see the NY Times Lahey recipe and works for things I want to bake at the time and my very tight time schedule. 

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day has just come out, and it's great for people who have the kind of schedule I do.  I can make up a batch in literally five minutes, and make a loaf (or rolls, or pizza, or whatever) when I get home from work in the evening or even in the morning before going to the office.  I like being able to do it totally on MY schedule. 

On the weekends I make more traditional breads with real, hands on kneading or stretch and folds and long rising times.  I enjoy that immensely (although it makes it difficult to do other things on the weekend) but during the week I appreciate the convenience of bread that literally takes 5 minutes of hands on time.

I am just starting to explore the new Healthy Breads book, but it has some tasty stuff.  Even my teenager, who professes not to like "hippie breads" (whole grains) loved the master recipe and the chocolate bread.  For Thanksgiving I made the red wine and cheese bread, which my kids claim "tastes like a Cheezeit".  They like Cheezeits and enjoyed the bread.  (No, I don't buy them Cheezits! ;o)

The master recipes are posted on the authors' website ( and on their page.  You can try it out and see if it works for your lifestyle. 

You will find people here who look down their noses at this method, but it works, especially for those of us who must work outside hte home.  The breads taste great, particularly considering what you can buy in the stores, and the costs are reasonable. 

Making dough in the bread machine is also a very good way to have bread on your own schedule.  Some bread machines have a limited ability to handle whole grains, however, so be sure to consult the instructions that came with your machine. 

Just because you use one method of bread baking doesn't preclude others.  Play, explore, and enjoy!



new baker's picture
new baker

Thanks, everyone for your encouragement.

I just finished making whole wheat dough in my bread machine, and lo and behold discovered deeply hidden in the instruction booklet that whole wheat flour should have 30 minutes of kneading to develop the gluten and that the dough cycle only has 20 minutes of keading time.

So when the bread machine stopped kneading, I took the dough out and kneaded it by hand for 10 minutes more.  I placed it in a greased bowl and set it out to rise.

I sure hope this works.  Oh! I even added cracked wheat and wheat bran for some extra fiber.

Jw's picture

I did measure then once, I takes me ten more minutes per good size loaf. Since my mixing machine broke down, I have making bread by hand. For a larger production, that is a bit of an issue, but maybe just give it a try one day?

I guess it depends a bit on the type of dough as well. The rather wet ones can be extra fun, or the opposite.

Happy baking, (and do bring pictures!)

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

I've been making bread for 65 years, including those years when I had five small children and others when I've been out of the house doing voluntary work. When the children were small it was easier and quicker (as well as cheaper and better) to make bread than to get them all ready to walk to the shop and back. 

It takes no longer to make bread by hand than by machine, you don't have to watch the bread rising, you can do other things while it's all happening! For the last few years I've done s&f (I love the feel) rather than kneading which is painful for my arthritic hands.

The main reason for still hand baking is to save fuel. I make two large bags of flour at a time and stack the oven with various shapes, then freeze it. There are only two oldies in the house now but we care about the environment and making one loaf (an inconvenient sized one) at a time is wasteful.

jannrn's picture

Welcome to the crowd!! I started baking bread 35 years ago by hand and it was loads of fun....then I married and had 2 children and divorced....then as I was raising my children and started to pay attention more to what was in what we were eating (I also went through nursing school while they were quite small and I was divorced) and saw that some ingredients were not only preservatives, but a weird type of fiber. I wanted more fiber, but NOT SAWDUST!! At any rate, my daughters (with the help of their grandparents) bought me my first bread machine. I was hooked all over again!! As a single parent working 12 hour nights, I found it hard to do it all by hand. But with my machine, I could have fresh warm bread for my girls when I got home from work. They loved it!! Now, I am a grandmother and my eldest daughter is exploring the love of creating healthy and delicious breads BOTH from her machine and by hand. Now she too is alone with her son and in Nursing School!! Funny how life happens isn't it!! The point is that I still use my machines (I have more than 2) as well as doing it all by hand, I am still working and now trying to get the 2 of us over 50 in better shape so we can retire and raise goats!! Gonna make cheeses and wonderful Goats Milk soaps!! I think it is past time for us as a nation to get back to the better things for us in life. Yes there are a few who look down their noses at bread machines. Who cares!! They can think whatever they want, but as long as YOU are happy and the devil with them!! I love my home made breads and the point is that I make them....not HOW I make them!! Honey, you go for it and LOVE what you are doing!!! If I can help....let me know!!!

new baker's picture
new baker


Thanks for such an encouraging message.  I've already learned a bunch from the website and am ready to try another loaf this afternoon. 

My loaf yesterday is more than half gone.  My husband said it was good.  I want to bake a loaf that will emit a YUMMY from him - that's his highest compliment.

Yesterdays loaf was good, but I still want a few more air pockets - a lighter crumb?  One thing I noticed was that the dough became a little tough and somewhat dry.  I think I'll try soaking the wheat bran and cracked wheat before I add it to the dough.  I read those things can really soak up the moisture.  Maybe adding a little more water will help, too.

Your goat venture sounds exciting!  Goat cheese is one of my favorites.

clazar123's picture

It is possible to get a softer whole wheat loaf.The first suggestion is to search on this site for to work with whole wheat. It is different than white flour and needs a little different handling/hydration.Easy to do once you know about it.

2.Use a LOWER gluten flour mixed with the normal gluten flour so the crumb is softer/more feathery. I mix about 1/3 WW pastry flour in with the flour.It has less gluten-crumb is more tender.It took me over a year to figure out that tip.

3.Difficult to achieve a softer WW crumb without enriching the dough with milk(even non-dairy),egg and oil.

4.Some AP flour (unbleached) helps soften the texture.

Here is something I wrote for another person recently-it may be useful for you now.She was talking about bread texture that was crumbly but the basic description of what bread is may be helpful.

"What makes a slice of bread hold together to support sandwich fixins is a stringy,moist,flexible gluten and starch web(like a net) that was used to trap CO2bubbles from the yeast and expand when rising and then set in place when baked.If you have a lot of these strands, the bread can be chewy and dense. If you have just a few, they are very tender (like a cake).If they are dry/brittle or have sharp objects imbedded in them (like dry bran), it weakens them-even if there are a lot of them- and they crumble.The trick to any bread recipe is to achieve enough moist,strong,flexible gluten strands to trap the CO2 without breaking too easily or being too tough. Technique in handling these ingredients is AS important as the ingredients. Anybody can make gluten-just mix flour and water-if gluten capability is present, the strands form on their own. Kneading exposes more flour to more water and more gluten forms (or the gluten strands moisturize more). Doesn't mean more kneading is always a good thing.Depends on the texture of the bread you are trying to achieve.

The bakers that have gone before us figured out some good methods of dealing with all this.Sometimes the reasons were passed down and sometimes we just learned a rote method without understanding the process. Every loaf made the same way.I have been on a journey to learn about making bread this last year and have learned a lot. Mostly I've had to UNlearn a lot."

Scroll down on this link (below) to read the entire quote.It's a good general explanation. The recipe is not geared to a breead machine but the concepts can be adapted.

HAve fun!


breadinquito's picture

Welcome, new baker let me explain you the reasons why I do not use a bread machine:

1) the only model on the market here is a cuisinart model, now on internet cost about 130 boxes, in Quito, quite twice as many (too much for my budget)

2) Did you know that during the whole process of making a loaf your machine is consuming the same watts of 10 or 15 bulbs of 100 watts each?

3) I do not belong a car, I knead by hand my loaves (about 10 mins of kneading)  since 6 years and did not die in the effort to pay back the nature for everything still give us (to you and your family or friends, to me and my friends) and still, inspite of having shower with local panel, I sometimes feel I could do MUCH more for OUR  planet...

I just gave you a few reasons, hope to see you around (pics wellcome) and wish happy baking. Paolo

jannrn's picture

Hello again Shuggah....sorry but I am southern so everyone is suggah or honey or darlin....hope you are not offended!! Anyway, the most important thing to remember about this and I think alot of our co members tend to forget, is that if it isn't also FUN, we won't do it!! I enjoy messing with my dough and love the feel of a good dough, but I also have fibromyalgia and kneading isn't always an option for me. I let my machine do it for least until I can talk Lonnie into it!! LOL...but the point is that my bread is just as good for us and tasty as anyone else's whethere they kneaded it or stretch and folded it or just rubbed it!! The end result is the same!! Oh and before i forget...with Cracked wheat, you definately want to cook it a bit first because as you found out, it will absolutely suck your loaf DRY!!! 
 As much as I like helping my planet...I do that in other ways as well. In the US, our bread machines are pretty much electrically efficient and are getting more so all the time. And if you are just letting it mix up your dough for you, then all the better. Again, don't let anyone talk you out of what you are doing for yourself and your family! There are SO many people on this site who feel the same way! We do the best we can with what we have!! TOday, I have English muffins and Pita bread that I couldn't knead myself....but we are still going to be enjoying the fresh HOME MADE BY ME goodness of my bread. You just keep on with it is one of the BEST things you can do for yourself and your family!! Oh and I understand what you mean about getting the YUMMY from your hubby!! It was MONTHS after I moved to S.Florida with Lonnie before he would believe I could make ANYTHING but duck food for bread!!! It took some getting used to but I am making AWESOME breads again!! And if you ever want to just talk to me, email me at and I will be HAPPY to help you out!!!We love ALL things Goat and if you haven't tried Goats Milk Soap, let me know....I will tell you where the best is!! AWESOME stuff!! Big hugs shuggah!! ENJOY your breads!!!

new baker's picture
new baker

Hi Jann.

Thanks for your wonderfully encouraging posts.  I'll save your email so we can chat a bit outside of the forum.


rolls's picture

someone already mentioned healthy bread in five, they've got a video you can watch and it makes it easy and they explain about the vital wheat gluten and about whisking it in with the dry ingredients first just so it doesn't clump up.

also, when you've got the time, richard bertinet has a really fun way of 'working the dough' by hand it you see his video of sweet bread i guarantee you'll make the time to knead by hand lol!

new baker's picture
new baker

 Holy Cow!  What a great video (link below).  I had no idea that dough that sticky could actually be worked with.  Thanks for pointing my in that direction.