The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


Want to learn how to bake bread? Do it! It is about the cheapest, most enjoyable, most rewarding pastime I can think of.

I can't promise that these lessons will prevent you from making mistakes, because making mistakes is just part of learning (and something I still do all the time). But hopefully they'll give you some good ways of getting started and help you improve your understand of what is happening inside of your loaf.

Also, check out some of the tremendous lessons that community members have contributed:



Ags's picture

I read through Lesson One, but decided to start baking with Lesson Two.

I started a little late in the day and our cabin was kind of chilly and it seemed that the risings took a pretty long time. I baked them both on the same cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 40 mins. I know they could have gone longer, but it was really late and I was tired, ha.

They didn't turn out perfect, but they were still good, and since I'm a novice baker I was very happy and excited with the results. The bread had a good flavor, my kids just gobbled it up the next day.


I'm looking forward to lesson 3. :)

Arlette's picture

Hello to all,

and thank you very much for the nice interesting information about preparing the dough and how to knead and fold it.

We have a special bread in the Middle East its called Mashatih Ramadan and then found that its called Turkish PideTurkish Panir - Mashatih RamadanTurkish Panir - Mashatih Ramadan, and its very tasty bread, with sesame seeds and Fennel seeds.

I read very carefully the lessons of making bread, and apply the informaiton on making this dough, couple of changes i added 1 cup of bran to the recipes, and added one cup of starter to the dough as well i have 4 Months old starter in the fridge and every time i use some, i add on it, and its still alive and perfect.

I did soak the flour with the one ingredients and let it combine for 30-40 minutes and it didnt take me more than 5-7 minutes to knead the dough and turn it to a nice dough and let it rest for 2 hours, then i did the folding over 4 times and resting the dough one hour between each fold.  and turned perfect .

i even made from the dame dough Oregano Bread.  We call it in Lebanon Manakish Zaatar and here are the pictures I took last night after i baked the bread.  and I froze the big loaf.  also i did the hot water in a pan in the bottom of the oven, and baked the bread at 550F for 10 minutes then dropped the oven to 450F and continued baking till they are done.  Perfect crunchy crust with spongy flavor inside. 

Arlette's picture

TuTurkish Pide Bread or Mashatish RamadanTurkish Pide Bread or Mashatish Ramadanrkish Pide Bread or Mashatih Ramadan

Arlette's picture

I want to thank our friend who gave the full details about how to make a real good bread, I took the pide recipe from the site, and added to it 1 cup of bran, and I used 1 cup of starter and followed step by step the bread lesson, i soaked the flour with the wet ingredients for 30-40 minutes and then it didnt took me more than couple of minutes to end up with a nice smooth dough, i cover it and left it to rise around 1.30-2.00 hours, then i did the folding and again rest the dough for 1 hour , i did this technic for 4 times, and at the end i shaped the dough to one big pide, and 3 oregano bread medium size, and one medium size pide as well, and let them rest again, I did put a hot water in pan in the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 550F and baked my bread for 10 minutes at this high temperature, then dropped the oven to 450F and continued baking, i didint bother to take off the pan, it was too hot to take it out of the oven, but i kept refilling it with hot water.

the bread came with nice golden crunchy crust and spongy inside, and tasted so good.  

dmsnyder's picture

It is almost certainly over-proofed.

Try proofing it less (to less than doubling in volume) before scoring and baking.


Afoxy1's picture

Okay, I am trying make Robertson's the country loaf. I am having

a problem transferring the bread to the dutch oven, it deflates.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Franko's picture

You might try the technique I use described in the link below.


Or you could try the other way that seems to work for a lot of folks which is described in this link.

Hope this helps


spe1793's picture

I've been a menber of this site for a little over 2 years and this is the first time I actually took time to look at it.  I can only say that I have missed out on a lot of good things it seems and that's my bad.  I regret not paying more attention to what's going on.

I'm pretty new to bread making and have turned out several loaves that were pretty good.  I was taught to start with a cold oven and put the loaf in as the oven is heating up.  Seems to work OK but have not compared it to the first 3 lessons that I have found to be very informative.  I am inspired and will get off my duff and bake some bread.  Thanks for waking me up.  Very good simple lessons that even I can follow.


spe1793's picture

I have noticed in some of the posts that when adding liquid to the flour you add dry to wet.  I thought you added wet to dry.  Which is correct? it

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... but I always add wet to dry. It goes like this:

Weigh out the flour. Decide what hydration percentage you're shooting for - and so work out the quantity of water required to achieve that. Then add the calculated weight of water, holding back 50grams. If the dough needs that remaining 50grams, I add it. (Sometimes a particular flour might not be so thirsty as my regular flours. Once added, water is not removable, so rather than risk ending up having to add extra flour if the mixture is too wet, and throwing the whole recipe into chaos, I much prefer to exercise caution with the addition of water).

Many times I then add extra water incrementally (over and above my nominated initial quantity)- as I work the dough, until I get the texture and wetness I like. But that incremental water is from a measured reserve of 100grams. After I've achieved the hydration I'm happy with, all I have to do is weigh what is left of my reserve to work out the final hydration figure.

There is a real danger if you add dry to wet that you lose control over the quantities used and the recipe not only goes rapidly off piste, but evolves without documented control to be unreliable if repeated.

All at Sea

Floydm's picture

I think I usually add the wet to most of the dry, then add more dry (flour) until I achieve the desired moisture level.

Good luck!


PeterS's picture

For basic formulas & electric mixer.

1. Put water into mixing bowl
2. add yeast or starter and mix a little to disperse the leavening
3. add flour, mix
4. distribute salt over shaggy dough and finish mixing to desired endpoint.

This ensures the leavening is well distributed and, if using active dry yeast, that it gets activated. Some bakers will put the salt in with the flour or even into the water. I like to keep it away from the yeast in high concentration.


scribble's picture

My wife and I made the first loaf from the lesson, everything went well up until the 2nd rise, we fell asleep and it sat for about 6 hours covered. I found the dough had a slightly dried out top and the bottom was definetly tackier than when I left it to rise the 2nd time.  I did a little quick massage and shape to fit the loaf pan and baked at 375 for 41 min.  The crust is very hard and it looks so so, It has a tear near the seam so I must have not gotten that tite enough. I am waiting a bit for it to cool before trying it.  I know the wife will be disappointed by the looks.

Tom214's picture

Scribble I just returned from a four day class at the King Arthur Flour company...request a catalog from them and you will find everything you the class anytime we were letting a bread rise..they took some of their version of PAM..and sprayed it on Saran Wrap and laid it on the bread to prevent the dough from getting crusty...I use a product called PRESS & SEAL from Glad Wrap..its a lot easier to use and works even better...don't give up ...I just started and love this hobby..




I was in the Beauty Field for a long time but love baking breads, with good bread and some failures,  but found that using things like saran wrap of plastic a real bear to use. So I Went to Sally's Beauty Supply and purchased Salon Care Processing Caps which have a elastic band to hold thing air tight. The will fit bowls and pans of most sizes and OK with covers for foods. No more trying to tear or use plastic wrap which does not work right anyway. I buy them l00 caps packages and reason priced. I check some stores for these type of caps and the price is outrageous just for 2 or3.  Hope this give you a new approach. Robert

kat56's picture

One tip I picked up from BBA is to let the bread cool completely before eating. Peter Reinhart has an interesting description of what happens to the bread when it comes out of the oven - it does release a ton of steam. Warm bread is great but greater is letting it cool - he says that the bread caramelizes and the flavour is more complex and pronounced and I must say I really notice that. We use a small battery driven fan to help it cool faster and put it on a rack. It also helps to keep the crust crusty, if that is what you are after

kat56's picture

We have started using diastatic yeast (not the liquid kind) and it does give better oven spring. It is hard to find...I ordered mine online. Don't use too much...a teaspoon is plenty...otherwise the bread will get sticky and not what you want's picture


Could you give a certain information about the dosage of usage of Diastatic Yeast

Tom214's picture

I am a retired police officer from a NY K-9 Unit..just got into baking bread and built a wood fired brick oven in an addition on my into this with both feet...anyway just returned from a four day class at King Arthur and would encourage anyone that loves this hobby to go..a great organization and a nice group of people..totally opposite from the ones I used to deal with...but boy love this baking bread...just love it..


Wartface's picture

King Arthur is a great company and they have really flour. Their video are nicely done and very instructive. I too learned from them how to bake my first loaf. I too had just retired. My son had bought me a Big Green Eggas a retirement gift. I read the owners manual and it said you could bake bread in it better than your oven in your kitchen... Less oven temp variance.

I baked a few bricks to start. My long term goal was to bake perfect sourdough bread. I bought all of the fancy mixers and gadgets you could own and still got bricks. Then I stumbled onto a site called Northwest Sourdough and chatted online with somof their moderators about what I was doing wrong that produced these bricks. A guy there by the name Shasta said to me... IF you really want to learn how to bake bread properly you must do it by hand to start. You must learn how the dough feels and what the texture is suppose to feel like at every step of the process. He said keep your digital scale and get a large glass mixing bowl, a big wooden spoon and a good scraper. As soon as I started doing it by hand and feeling the dough I got gradual improvement until about a month later I baked a very nice loaf of sourdough bread.

The moral of the story is until you can see and feel where your dough is and how it is progressing the machines actually hold you back. Since I've learned how my dough should feel and look I've started using my mixer again in some steps just to make it easier and faster. I do not knead the dough in the mixer... I use the stretch and fold method of kneading now. I use the mixer just to get the dough to the shaggy state and then I autolypes it for 20 minutes and then use it to mix in the salt. At that point I'm done with the mixer.

I suggest all of you beginners learn by hand until you can consistently bake a nice loaf of bread and THEN... Start working in fancy tools to speed up the process and make it easier.

Just my opinion....

Tom214's picture

Perhaps someone has an idea...two nights I have made Milk Bread from Paul Hollywood's book 100 Great calls for 4 cups flour...1 1/2 teas. salt...1/2 cup superfine sugar...2/3 stick of butter...1 oz yeast

1 1/4 cup of milk...the bread is just will not rise more than four inches or so...someone thought that

the yeast was going to sleep because of the sugar..but the sugar really makes the there another yeast I can get???...anyone have any ideas


amberwavesofgrain's picture

What is a build when reading bread formulas?

dhwsmith's picture

I have had the problem of loaves rising nicely, being slashed, put into a moist oven enviornment onto hot tile but getting flattish loaves because the bread had risen too much.  I know about the "push a finger into the dough and if it springs back the dough is still rising" test.  And usually I guess right.  But is there some better, surer way to know when the loaves have risen enough, but not too much?'s picture

should I add the spice to the dry ingredients before kneading or should I add the spice when I fold the bread or when I knead the bread.  I added it when I folded but I do not taste it so I thought I needed to add more but that didn't help either.  Should I possibly heat up the spice a little and then add it.  Please help


sandrahoang's picture

The Bonkers Boater's picture
The Bonkers Boater

Hi Sandra,

Your 'knife' is called a lame, and should be available from a good bread supplies retailer, or even ebay (!)

We buy ours from

Abhi_Mahant's picture

I think it can also be 3d printed, with razor attached after that

Janna3921's picture

Realizing how much I need to learn.

One lesson that I am focusing on right now is what I see is a important lesson.  Steaming !

How to steam bread, what is the different ways to steam?  What about a convection oven, is it different than in a "regular" oven?  Dutch oven -- is there a way to make a loaf type or are you stuck with the bread being able to spread in the Dutch oven?  

I think a lesson that would cover those and other questions that others have had would be great, if it would be feasible to do so.  

I'm researching online and reading post threads/posts here also. 


teejaye85's picture

I'm a little late to the party, so not sure if anyone is monitoring these comments anymore...I'm going to roll the dice and ask a quick question, though:  I'm brand new to breadmaking (as I assume many here are), and am trying to train my brain to think in weights (grams) for the purposes of bread recipes...advice I've seen in many places including the Handbook on this site.  So my question is this:  Are the recipes in these Lessons available converted to grams anywhere?  Looks like they are all in cups/teaspoons/etc.

pmccool's picture

The lessons were developed prior to wide-spread use of weight measurements for baking (at least here in the U.S.).  They were also aimed at new bakers who would be more comfortable with volume measurements,  So, as you have noted, volume measurements are given.

There are a number of sites around the Web that offer conversions, which I find very helpful.  Here are some:

There are others, of course. 

You will notice that there will be disagreement between the different tools, particularly for flours, since measurement techniques can significantly alter the weight of the flour in each cup.  For instance, I use the stir/spoon/level method for measuring each cup of flour and pretty consistently have 125g/cup.  Someone else may use the scoop/level method and pack 160g/cup, or more.  Floyd, the TFL host, may be able to chip in here and give you an idea of how many grams/cup to expect in these lessons, based on how he measures flour.

Best of luck with your baking adventures.  Even the flops usually taste pretty good, so keep plugging away and asking questions.


teejaye85's picture

Wow, I really appreciate all the extra context, as well as the additional resources.  Will definitely check some of these out. I've done a few more bakes between when I posted this question and now, and I wholeheartedly agree with your last statement.  Even the colossal failures still taste pretty good, and there's always an opportunity to learn from each one. I've started keeping a little "diary" where I try to record as many variables as I can as I work through each bake, and am already starting to feel a little bit more in control.  Still a long adventure ahead, though!

Thanks again; I've only posted a couple of times so far, but my experience with this community has been incredibly positive.  Everyone is so welcoming and helpful!

sybram's picture

Great info!

Sahagua's picture

Hi, Could anybody let me know  if there is any training available to make bagels commercially ?

I have the basics of making bagels at home, but would like to open  my bagel shop and make good quality bagels.

Your help is really appreciated.