Bread Making is Made Easy with These Bread Making Tips from Kitchen Conservatory (2024)

Kitchen Tips: Breadmaking

Bread Making 101

Step 1: Organize the Ingredients:


Flour is the basic ingredient and backbone in baking. The most commonly used flours are milled from wheat. The types of wheat grown in America can be separated into two basic categories, hard or soft. The main difference between the two is the protein quantities in the wheat.

Hard wheat contain higher levels of two specific proteins glutenin and gliadin and is milled into strong flours. These two proteins form gluten when flour is moistened and mixed. Hard wheat flours are High-gluten, first clear, patent, bread flour, whole wheat and bran flour.

Soft wheat contains less protein and is milled into weak flours. Weak flours have less moisture and starch. These types of flours are cake flour and pastry flour. All-purpose flour is a combination of 40% cake flour and 60% bread flour.

Once flour is milled, it can be stored to age for 6-8 months. During this time, it goes through a chemical change as oxygen bleaches the flour, as well as maturing the proteins so they will be stronger and more elastic. To avoid the need to store material for this period of time, flour millers add very small amounts of ascorbic acid and chlorine which matures and bleaches the flour much more quickly without taking out any nutritional value. All flour is fortified to meet FDA standards and must contain vitamin B, D and iron.

The wheat kernel consists of three main parts:

  1. The bran is the hard outer covering of the kernel. It is present in whole wheat lours as tiny brown flakes, but is removed when milling white flours.
  2. The germ is the part of the kernel that will become the new wheat plant if the kernel sprouted. It has a high fat content, which can quickly become rancid.
  3. The endosperm is the starchy part of the kernel that remains when the bran and the germ are removed. It is this portion of the wheat kernel that is milled into white flour.

Click Here for a Guide to Wheat Flours (Hard Wheat Flour and Soft Wheat Flour)


Sugar has several functions in baking. It adds sweetness and flavor. Sugar creates tenderness and finesse of texture, it gives color to the crust of bread, and increases the shelf life by retaining moisture.


Fat tenderizes bread and softens the texture. Fats add moisture and richness and increase shelf life. Shortening shortens the gluten stands and tenderizes the product.


Yeast is a natural leavening agent used in breads. Fermentation is the process by which the yeast acts on the sugars and changes them into CO2 and alcohol. This creates a release of gas and produces the leavening action in yeast breads. Yeast comes in two forms: compressed or active yeast. Compressed yeast is more perishable, is stored in the refrigerated section, and should never be frozen.


Eggs add moisture, richness, flavor and color to baked goods.


Salt strengthens gluten structure and makes it more stretchable, thus improving the texture of the bread. It inhibits yeast growth, helps control fermentation in dough, and prevents the growth of undesirable wild yeast. Salt is a necessity for flavor.


Since gluten proteins must absorb water before they can be developed, the amount of water in a formula can affect toughness or tenderness.

In general, the more dough or batter is mixed, the more the gluten develops. This is why bread doughs are kneaded for a long time, to develop the gluten. It is possible to over mix bread dough, but fairly difficult to do with hand kneading.


Water temperature is very important when dissolving yeast. The correct temperatures are 100ºF for fresh yeast, 110ºF for active dry yeast.


Step 2: Prepare Dough

Click Here to Learn About Different Types of Dough (Lean, Rich, or Rolled-In Yeast Doughs)

Steps in Yeast Dough Production

1. Scaling (Measuring)

7. Panning (Shaping)

2. Mixing

8. Proofing (Rising)

3. Fermentation

9. Baking

4. Punching

10. Cooling

5. Rounding

11. Storing

6. Benching (Relaxing)

12. Eating


All ingredients must be weighed accurately. Special care should be taken when measuring spices and other ingredients used in small quantities. This is very important with salt, which effects the rate of fermentation. Scaling is simply dividing or measuring the dough into pieces of the same weight. This should be done quickly so the dough doesn't over-ferment or develop a dry exterior crust. A bench knife or knife should be used. NEVER pull or tear the dough into separate portions.


Mixing has three main purposes:

  1. To combine ingredients into a uniform, smooth dough.
  2. To distribute the yeast evenly throughout the dough.
  3. To develop the gluten.

There are three mixing methods used for yeast doughs: the straight dough method, the modified straight dough method, and the sponge method.

Straight Dough Method:

As the simplest form, the straight dough method is one simple step: combine all ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix. It is safest to mix the yeast separately in a little water to distribute the yeast evenly throughout the dough.

  1. Soften yeast in a small amount of the liquid.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the dissolved yeast.
  3. Knead
Modified Straight Dough Method:

For rich doughs, the straight dough method is modified to distribute fat and sugar.

  1. Soften yeast in liquid.
  2. Combine fat, sugar, salt, until well combined, but do not whip.
  3. Add eggs gradually to sugar-fat mixture.
  4. Add the remaining liquid until mixed.
  5. Add the flour and yeast.
  6. Knead.
Sponge Method:

Sponge doughs are prepared in two stages which gives the yeast action a head start. The bread has a slow rise that allows for a longer shelf life along with better flavor and texture.

  1. Combine the liquid, yeast or starter and part of the flour. Sometimes part of the sugar is added. Mix until it is a thick batter or soft dough. Let ferment until the mass doubles in bulk.
  2. Punch down or stir, then add the rest of the flour and remaining ingredients.
  3. Knead.
Fermentation (first rising or first proofing):

Fermentation is the process when the yeast acts on the sugar and starches in the dough to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. The dough should be placed in a greased container large enough to allow for expansion of the dough. Cover the container and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place (80º F). Fermentation is complete when the dough has doubled in size. This process may be slowed down by putting it in the refrigerator overnight. The dough must then come back to room temperature before continuing the process. If the dough rises too quickly before you have the time to finish it, you can simply punch the dough down and allow it to ferment again. The dough can rise several times.

Gluten becomes smoother and more elastic during fermentation, so it can stretch and hold more gas. Dough that is under fermented will not develop the proper volume and the texture will be poor. A dough that ferments too long or at too high of a temperature will become sticky, slightly sour, and be hard to work with. Yeast action continues until the cells are killed when the temperature reaches 140ºF in the oven.


Punching is not hitting the dough. Rather, it is a method of deflating the dough that expels the carbon dioxide, redistributes the yeast for further growth, relaxes the gluten, and equalizes the temperature throughout the dough. Pull the dough on all sides, fold it over the center, and press down. Then turn the dough upside down in the container.


After scaling, the pieces of dough are shaped into smooth round balls. Rounding simplifies the shaping process, and helps retain gases produced by the yeast.


The rounded portions of dough are covered and allowed to relax for 10 to 20 minutes. This relaxes the gluten and makes the shaping of the dough easier.


The dough is now ready to be shaped into rolls, loaves, or desired shapes and placed in pans or on baking sheets. All gases should be expelled during panning. Bubbles left in the dough will result in large air holes in the baked product. Seams should be center bottom of each piece.

Proofing (second fermentation, second rising):

Proofing is a continuation of the process of yeast fermentation. This increases the volume of the shaped dough. The best conditions for proofing are 90ºF and 85% humidity. The dough should again double in volume. To test, touch lightly; if the dough springs back slowly, it is done. If it is still firm and elastic, it needs more proofing. If the dent remains or dough deflates, the dough is over-proofed. Under-proofing results in poor volume and dense texture. Over-proofing results in coarse texture and loss of flavor. French bread is usually given a long proof to create its characteristic open texture. The strong gluten can withstand the extra stretching of long proofing. Rich doughs are slightly under-proofed, because their weaker gluten will not withstand too much stretching.


Now we're ready to bake the dough. Several important things happen during this process. Oven spring is the rapid rise in the oven due to the production and expansion of trapped gases as a result of the oven's heat. The yeast is very active at first, but stops acting when the temperature reaches 140ºF. Then, coagulation of proteins and gelatinization of starches occurs, so the dough hold's shape,. and finally browning occurs.

Oven Temperatures and Baking Times:

When the proper temperature is used, the process works so that the inside of the dough becomes completely baked while the crust achieves the desired color at the same time. Larger pieces are baked at a lower temperature for a longer time than smaller rolls. Rich, sweet doughs are baked at a lower temperature because their fat, sugar, and milk content makes them brown faster. French breads are generally made with no sugar and a long fermentation, so they require a very high temperature to achieve the desired crust. Golden brown crust and a hollow sound when loaves are thumped are a good indication of doneness.

Baking Temperatures

lean breads


some French breads


rich bread



Breads are often brushed with a wash prior to baking.

  1. Water is used mostly for French breads and other hard-crust products. This helps keep the crust from drying too quickly and becoming too thick. Steam is also added during the cooking process on these breads.
  2. Starch paste is used mostly for rye breads, this keeps the crust from drying too quickly and gives a shine to the crust.
  3. Egg wash is used mostly to give shine and help brown the crust of soft bread, rolls, and Danish.

A break in the loaf is caused by continued rising after the crust is formed. To allow for this expansion, the tops of hard-crusted breads are cut before baking. Slashes are made on the top of the loaf with a razor immediately before it is put in the oven. Smaller rolls are often baked without the cut.


After baking, bread must be removed from the pans and placed on a rack to cool. This allows the excess moisture and alcohol that was created during fermentation to escape. Smaller rolls may be left on their baking sheets.


Bread served within 8 hours can be left on the rack. For longer storage, wrap cooled bread.

Click Here for Explanation of Problems That Can Arise With Breadmaking

Liquid Measurements

1 cup

8 oz. or 16 Tablespoons

1 pint

16 oz or 1 lb.

2 pints

32 oz or 2 lbs or 1 qt.

1 quart

32 oz. or 2 lbs.

4 quarts

128 oz. or 1 gallon or 8 lbs.

1 Tbsp.

½ oz.

3 tsp.

1 Tablespoon

Bread Making is Made Easy with These Bread Making Tips from Kitchen Conservatory (2024)


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