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Bread making -- total beginner! Where do I start?

Hey guys, so I tried the search for where to begin as a avid cook who has never baked before. I want to start learning how to bake -- specifically bread. Where do I start? I bought James Patterson's "Baking" because I loved his "Cooking" book, but baking doesn't seem as easy to dive in as cooking is. With cooking you can start with something easy like a fried egg and begin from there.

Basically, I have no idea where to start. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to dive in? Thanks in advance!

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  1. Get a simple white bread recipe, and go at it. Baking really isn't that hard. Remember, cooking is art, creativity is rewarded. Baking is science. Precision counts. Follow the recipe, and then once you've made that successfully, find another recipe and make that one. Eventually you'll get an idea of how it works and will be able to get creative, but for now, just pick a recipe and go at it.

    1. I learned to make bread from an inexpensive softcover book (actually more a sturdy pamphlet than a book) from the Fleischmann's yeast company more than 20 years ago. I found it helpful because it not only had recipes but general bread making tips. That book is long since out of print but I did find this link:

      http://www.breadworld.com/

      from the same people. It has a "Beginners" section and video tips on things like how to knead, how to ensure best rise and a discussion on the differences between Rapid Rise Yeast and conventional yeast.

      I agree with tuzurriz's suggestion to start with a simple white bread. You want to get your technique and timing down before expanding your repertoire.

      1. Wow thanks for the quick replies so far! I have another question, do most people do the straight dough method or should i work with a starter? (Or does it not matter?)

        6 Replies
        1. re: darrentran87

          If this is your first try at baking don't bother with starter and use the straight dough method. Pay close attention to your water temperature your kneading and rising times and you'll do fine.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            Hmmm, I thikn i may have messed up with my kneading. I was using a Kitchenaid Mixer. I put the setting to 4 and let it work for about 10 minutes. It still didn't get that stretchy consistency but I was afraid i was overkneading. What do you think coudl have been the problem?

              1. re: magiesmom

                Hmm, I did it on 2 but it was just clinging tot he dough hook... do you think it has something to do with the dough itself?

              2. re: darrentran87

                I wouldn't worry about it. If you did anything you might have under-worked the dough but its close enough. Its almost impossible to overwork dough at home.

                Give the dough plenty of time for the first rise and then for the post-shape proof and you'll be rewarded with a picture perfect loaf.

                1. re: Kelli2006

                  Good advice, as usual.

                  If it's underkneaded, just let it sit for awhile, the longer the better (though if it's hours, put it in the refrigerator). You want the dough to get to the point where you can do the windowpane test. There's a good picture in this blog, page down:

                  http://www.mamaliga.com/bread/kaiser-...

          2. I started with the no knead bread:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/din...

            If you want more hands on, this baguette recipe is easy. It does start w/ a starter but I think for a basic bread w/ few ingredients, a starter is important:

            http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

            If you want something faster, adding milk, fat, and/or eggs helps w/ the taste/texture so you don't need the starter. Something like this sandwich bread would be a good place to start:

            http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

            4 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              Wow thanks for the links. I think I will try the baguette recipe in the next few days.

              1. re: darrentran87

                I second chowser's rec for the no-knead as a good gateway bread recipe to use.

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    forthed. (forth'd?) I like the Artisan bread in 5 version, has more flexible timing, but it's very similar.

            2. You only need to do two things to get started.
              First, buy this book and read it cover to cover:
              http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Bakers-Ap...
              Next, spend a lot of time of this web site:
              http://www.thefreshloaf.com/
              It's really that easy .....
              "No Knead" can work well for bread making newcomers, but there are so many versions of the original formula and procedure that you risk starting in the wrong place.
              If you want to begin with the original formula, here's the link:
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9E...

              1 Reply
              1. re: todao

                Yeah, I want do the kneading method just because I'm going to have to learn eventually... might as well learn from the start!

                And thanks for the link to that book! The reviews look great I just went ahead and put in an order!