The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread baking class

pjr918's picture

Bread baking class


I am a culinary instructor, and I can tell you that it's much easier to have students bake their breads in a pan for the first time. The pan provides the support to make sure the loaf comes out tall and well risen.

If you must teach artisan breads that cannot be baked in a pan, I suggest all the loaves be stood on a peel on either parchment paper or corn meal so they can slide onto a baking stone easily.

Beachbaker's picture

I am a newly retired English teacher and professional developer, thanks for the advice as I am beginning the bread baking journey today.  My first loaf will be in a pan, it will give me confidence, I suspect.  Any other advice out "there" would be appreciated.  I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and near the water ... how will humidity impact my baking?

Bwana B's picture
Bwana B

07 Jan 2010


Hello Newbie:


Bread making is easy and fun!  And homemade bread tastes a lot better than store bought and it doesn't contain any commercial preservaties.


You didn't mention what kind of bread you want to bake, but you did mention that you were going to use a pan - a bread pan I presume, and therefore I assume you will be making either a white bread or whole wheat loaf. 


These are not repeat not words of wisdom; they are just words expressing a few things including a guideline or two a newbie to bread baking may want to know about.


Since this is not a format for writing a book, I suggest you consider purchasing a book about breadmaking because you want to achieve two things from the very begining: 1) You want to learn how to do it right and 2) you want to be rewarded for your effort and that reward will be great bread.  I will recommend a few books later on in ths - whatever this is.

I recommend you start out with using a "short fermentation (about 2 hours) straight dough (no preferments) method". In otherwiords you combine the ingredients, knead the ingredients (see below), let the dough ferment (rise) while covered, deflate and shape the dough, pan it to proof, and then bake it.


Kneeading by hand:  It will take about 15 - 20 minutes to get a soft, supple, smooth dough.

Kneading in a stand mixer (Kitchen Aid or other brand):  It will take about 5 to 7 minutes (first 2/3 on slow and the last 1/3 on a little faster speed) followed by hand kneading until your get a solf, supple, smooth dough.

Kneading in a food processor: This is quick!  Pulse to combine ingredients followed by processing on high (metal or plastic blade) for 45 seconds followed by hand kneading until you get a soft, supple, smooth dough.


There are those who say you absolutely must proof active dry yeast, and yes,  I know all the reasons why - but I don't do it because it is not necerssary - I just toss it into the flour with all the other dry ingredients and combine the dry ingredients together, just like I do with instant (bread machine yeast or rapid rise yeast).  Hey, I'm an old, retired fighter pilot - I'm use to playing at trhe edge of the envelop.


Don't get confused when you read in certain book that you should use only 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon (t) of yeast for a particular loaf of bread while another book instructs you to use 2 and 1/2 t for the same bread. The more yeast you use for a particular bread, the faster the rise. The dough containing 2 1/2 t for a normal size loaf of bread will usually rise (ferment) to double its bult within 2 hours in a 73 degree room and it will take considerably longer when using only 1/4 or 1/2 t for the same bread. Think of the amount of yeast as a time-factor thing; a little more or less isn't as important as understanding the what, when, where, why, and how of things.  Later on, when you matriculate into preferments and slow or retarded fermentation or when you begin indepth, scientific studies related to bread making, you may want to invest some big bucks for precision measuring of everything including the condiments one must not neglect the need for precision controlling of the prooding environmentrs, calculating the  mixer-friction dough temperature factor, and, of course one simply must regulating initial water ingredient temperature pursuant to the other ingredient temnperatures and the room temperture. Most folks who reach this plateau of bread baking no longer are about ready to jump of a very tall structure without any form of mechanical assistance or other benefical safety aid. 

Don't get hung-up in all the fancy plaver about bread making - that comes later, assuming you have a desire to swim in those shark infested waters.  Keep things simple at the begining. If you want to purchase a good book to guide you along,  I'd recommend "The Wooden Spoon Bread Book" by Marilyn Moore (nothing fancy or upper-scale about this book, but the information and instructions and recipes are excellent; also a great book for a newbie: you can get a used one online from  for about $5.00plus shipping); how that sound compare to the $50 and $60 dollar high-end big profit Bread Books?

You may also try a public library or local book store; plop down, read, and take good notes using correct English, Professor, because there will be a test!

Additional books worthy of checking out:

1) Bakewise by Shriley O. Corriher (great book on "baking" and includes breads. She gets into the hows and whys of things - and you get more than just bread)

 2) "Bread" by Jeffery Hamelman

3) "Crust and Crumb" and "The Bread Baker's Apprentice"; both by Peter Reinhart

5) "Dough" by Richard Bertinet (comes with a DVD).  A wet (high hydration) dough.  Good book and good DVD but a little pricy for one basic thype of dough preparation.

6) "Artisan Baking" by Magie Glezer  (a paperback).  I was really suprised when I received and older printing of this book a back in about 2000 - it's a really good book! And the price is reasonable.

7) the General mills "flour journals" - at one time and perhaps still, these were published on the General Mills Internet Website. These publicaions should give you all the information to keep you more than busy for a long time.  You can check reviews of these books, or most of them on this site or try for additional reviews and their prices for the books either new and/or used - I'm neither familiar nor have any experience with any other book websites.   


The Steps (stages) of Yeast Dough Develop Process:

1) Mise en place: Gathering equipment/ingredients, preparing and measuring (weght or volume) ingredients, and arranging/organizing  the aformentioned within easy reach.

2) Mixing/combining ingredients and autolyse (hydration of combined ingredients)

3) Kneading

4 Initial Fermentation (rise) to young stage, just double bulk, or mature stage, depending on type of bread.

5) Punching Down & Portioning  & Rounding & Benching:  Actually, "punching down" is a misleading title; you should deflate the gases gently). Portioning refers to dividing into portions. Rounding refers to forming or shaping the dough into tight round balls. Benching refers to setting the rounded portions of dough aside, covered, for about ten to fifteen minutes R&R (rest and recreation) before final shaping.

6) Shaping  refers to forming (folding or rolling or both) the dough into loaves or rolls before placing in pan or setting asside, covered, for proofing

7) Proofing & Slashing & Washing: the 2nd Fementation (rise) either in a pan  or set asside.  Actually, once the yeast become active the fermentation begins and continues until stopped by cold refrigeration retardation or baking.  Some breads are proffed in special proofing rooms, cabinets, or boxes at temperature between 80 and 100 *F and hunidity between 80 and 95%. Properly proffed dough when lightly poked will spring back slowly to shape Underproofing results in poor volume and dense texture. Oveproofing results in course texture, some loss of flavor and possible deflation. French bread is given a long proofing which  aids in creating an open texture. Slashing: Make a 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep 45 degree angle cut or slice in the top surface of the dough so gases can escape during baking (too much pressure and the sside of the loaf may split open or the bread could explode). Washing:  1 Egg, 1 egg to 1 T water, 1 egg 1 T milk are eamples of prebake washes ranging from shiny to matte.  

8) Baking: Soon after placing doung in the oven things start happening.  First is what is called "oven spring" which is  caused by the expansion of trapped gases and increased yeast activity.  Yeast will be extemely active until the dough temperature reaches 135 to 140 *F.  When the potiens coagulate and starches gelatinize results in the  dough solidifying and hold form/shape. This is followed by a crystalization or browning of the  Things should start smelling pretty good about now. If not, print this page, take it to a really, really, really big black board and using squeaky chalk, copy every thing herein written 50 times i n two languages and be quick about it.

Larger loaves and rich dough (sugars, fats, dairy products) breads bake slower at lower temperatures between 350 to 400*F and some old Amish recipes call for 300- 325 *F for certain breads. 

Lean American-Style breads and similar types bake between 400 and 425 *F.

Some French and thinner breads, like flat breads, bake between 425 and 475 *F.

Thin Pizza bakes in home ovens between 450 and 550 *F, but they can also bake at a lower temperature. Frankly any bread can be baked at a lower temperature than recommendd; it simply takes a little longer. 

9) Cooling: Remove bread from pan and cool on an elevated rack away from any drafts. Cooling permits the moisture ingredients and the fermentation acohols to evaporate For soft crust breads/rolls, brush melted butter ove the crust before the bread cools.

 10) Storing: Do not repeat do not store bread in a refrigerator as it will cause it to stale faster. If a bread is going to be used within 6 to 8 hours, simply leave it on the cooling rack, otherwise wrap "completely cooled"  bread in a moisture proof bag and store at room temperature or freeze. Unless you are going to freeze a hard-crust (crisp-crust) bread, do not wrap it.

 Gotta run,


Good Luck and Happy Baking

Beachbaker's picture

Lesson 1 loaf: I tasted this very heavy  gummy loaf, tried a thin toasted slice (not bad dipped in good EVO) and tore the rest into bits, dribbled with bacon fat and will toss out to the birds tomorrow.  Lesson 2 tomorrow!

Did not knead by hand used the Kitchen Aid hook, baking in an area very humid, our front yard is a river, but can't wait to move forward to Lesson 2 tomorrow.  The ducks, loons, and egrets, will enjoy my efforts tomorrow morning.

I love this week site; it is so hopeful that I can improve.