If you’ve never baked homemade bread before, here are a few tips:
- Weather can affect your ingredients. If you live in a moist climate, chances are you’ll need at least the recommended amount of flour, maybe even 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup more. Bread dough should be sticky, but still manageable, especially after the first rise. While you’re kneading, the dough should come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl, leaving the bowl mostly clean. (I try not to add too much flour because your bread will be more dense.) When you pick the dough up, some will stick to your fingers. After the first rise, it will be easier to handle!
- If your house is cool, your bread will take longer to rise. In the wintertime when my house is cooler than normal, I like to turn the oven on for 2-3 minutes, then turn it off and let the bowl of dough rise in there. The oven traps the heat for a longtime and it’s the perfect atmosphere for rising dough.
- After the first rise, don’t overwork the dough. I usually knead and shape my dough in about 1 minute, then it’s back in the pan to rest, for the 2nd rise. I like to have the pan rise in the oven for this second rise so that I don’t have to worry about moving risen dough. When it’s fully risen, I just turn the oven on and set the timer to bake!
- How can you tell if bread is fully baked? I like to use a food thermometer. Mine is digital, so it’s very easy to use. Fully cooked bread will be 190-200 degrees F. Bread recipes that include milk will need to cook until 200 degrees, but since this one doesn’t, I take it out once it reaches 190 degrees. The top will be golden brown.
- Cool baked bread in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then overturn pan and turn loaf out onto a cooling rack or folded towel to finish cooling. If you leave the bread in the pan for much longer than that, you’ll steam it, which may result in soggy parts. No one likes soggy bread!
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