5 Bread Making Tips for Beginners
Bread holds a special place in my heart, as it was the very first step I took in my homemaking journey. Before I baked my first loaf of bread, I was under the impression that bread was difficult to make and took years to learn (I talked about this in detail in this post). This was simply not true, as I soon learned, and since then, I have made hundreds of loaves of bread and, in the process, have picked up a few tips that may help you.
Don't be afraid to fail.
A big reason I never ventured into making my own bread is because I was afraid I would screw it up. And, I was right, I have screwed up quite a few loaves of bread in the years I have been making it, but guess what? I learned from it and have only improved. There is pretty much a 99% chance you WILL fail at some point if you make a lot of bread, and that is fine because that is the best way to learn. Don't let the fear of failure prevent you from making your own bread. And besides, if the bread does not turn out well, you can always use it to make breadcrumbs or croutons!
With the hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of bread you can make in this world, it is easy to get carried away and have the desire to start off by baking something like brioche, for example. When you start off your bread-baking journey by baking something that even some professionals cannot master, you can easily get discouraged when it fails; this is why I recommend starting off small. Some of the easiest breads to start off making (in my experience) are no-knead breads, drop biscuits, my dinner rolls, and sandwich bread.
Do a “flour wash”.
One thing I dislike about baking bread is the mess that comes with it. The sticky dough coats my hands, rendering them absolutely useless; it covers every inch of my counter; and just when you think it is going to be easy to clean up, the dough sets as hard as brick. The solution to your bread-baking woes is actually quite simple, and it is called a flour wash. The name pretty much explains what the process is all about; you simply coat the surfaces that are covered in the dough with a light layer of flour (any kind works) and rub the dough with the flour until it starts to peel off. Wash your hands like normal afterwards. Using this method should get rid of 95% of the dough that is on your hands and other surfaces.
This method only works for dough that is still wet. For dried on dough, the method below will help.
Use baking soda.
After doing the flour wash, you may be left with some pesky bits of hard dough on your work surface that seem nearly impossible to clean up. But never fear, baking soda is here! Sprinkle a light layer over the dough and use the scrubby side of a sponge (make sure it is damp), a dish brush, or even a damp rag to scrub the surface with the baking soda. After the dough has been scrubbed up, take a damp rag or some damp paper towels and wipe the surface until all of the baking soda has been removed. I like to use my all-purpose cleaner afterward to make sure there are no remaining bits, but that is optional. That's it! How simple was that?
This method works on most countertops, but always test it in an inconspicuous area first before use.
A common tendency for beginner bakers is to use too much flour because the dough is sticky. Too much flour will dry out the dough, resulting in dry bread, which is not what we want. The solution? Use a little oil instead. Any kind works (olive oil is my favorite), and you simply coat your hands in a light layer and start kneading. Oil actually works better at keeping the stickiness at bay and giving the bread a pleasant taste. You may not need to use this method with every dough you handle because some are less stickier than others, but in the case where you might end up using too much flour, grab that bottle of oil instead.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and as always, I hope you learned something from it, whether you are a beginner bread maker or an advanced one.
If you have any bread-making tips that you have learned, please tell us in the comments below!
See you next Wednesday!