My 3 secrets to fresh, hot bread daily

When people hear that we don’t buy bread — we make it fresh almost every day — they wrongly assume that someone is spending a lot of time in the kitchen. But I’m sure I spend less time baking bread for the entire week than most people spend standing in line at a fast food restaurant for a single meal. How do I do it?

  1. Originally, we had a bread machine, and I’d still use it except that it died after 17 years of faithful service. But it only takes about 3 minutes to put all the ingredients into the machine and press, “Start!” Set the timer, and you can  have fresh, hot bread waiting for you when you wake up in the morning.
  2. When the bread machine died, I bought a stand mixer. It takes about 3 minutes to put all the ingredients into the bowl, flip the switch on, and then turn around and do something else in the kitchen while the machine mixes and kneads the dough. I add flour as needed, and when it’s just right, I turn off the machine and let the dough sit there for an hour or two. Whenever it’s convenient for me, I flip the switch back on, and it knocks down the bread and kneads it for a couple more minutes. I turn off the machine and repeat if it’s still a couple hours before dinner, or I put the dough into a pan if it’s time for the final rise.
  3. I mix up two or three loaves at once and only bake what I need today. The rest of the dough goes into the refrigerator after the first rise. Doughs made with unbleached flour can be put into the frig in a buttered or oiled bowl. If you want two or three rolls with dinner one night, simply pull of a couple little balls of dough and place them on a baking pan. Or put a big hunk of dough into a bread pan to make a loaf. Before refrigerating doughs made with whole grain flours, put them into the bread pan in which they’ll be baked because whole grains seem to have a bit of trouble rising after being in the frig. They will rise in the frig, and they’ll bake beautifully as long as you don’t knock them down after taking them out of the refrigerator and expect them to rise again.

And that’s it! By incorporating one or all three of these ideas, you can have fresh, hot bread as often as you want. If you want to get started with a simple, four ingredient French bread recipe, click here!

Do you have any tips for incorporating bread baking into your life easily? Be sure to leave your ideas in the comment section!

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5 thoughts on “My 3 secrets to fresh, hot bread daily”

  1. And… if you don't have a mixer, don't worry. Kneading that five or ten minutes is really not necessary. Instead, try letting the dough sit for 20 minutes after mixing (autolyse), then knead ten strokes, then let it rest 20 minutes, then knead ten strokes, then let it rest 20 minutes, then knead ten strokes, then let it rest 20 minutes, and then form it into your loaf shape, buns, or whatever.

    I do that all the time and my bread *always* comes out great.

    Also, I freeze dough after the first rise (which is essentially what those rests between kneading sessions are) and shaping. Then I pull out the frozen dough at 9pm and let it thaw and do its second rise overnight. By 5 or 6am, it's ready to be baked.

    I do this all the time, too.

    Reply
  2. I would love to make my own bread and have tried several times but was a failure even with a bread machine. Is there a fool proof recipe or bread baking for dummies.

    Reply
    • You need to troubleshoot. What do you mean by “failure?” The only loaves that didn’t turn out perfect in a bread machine were those that fell, so there was a crater in the middle, but they were still perfectly edible. Falling in a bread machine is caused by too much liquid. Almost everything is related to the liquid to flour ratio, so by increasing or decreasing the liquid, you will get different results. Just play around with it, and you’ll figure it out.

      Reply
    • We usually eat a loaf within a day or two, so it doesn’t have a chance to get stale. However, if it does get stale, you can cube it and make croutons or use it to make bread pudding. Also re-read tip #3. I don’t bake more than what I think we’ll use within a day. If there are only two of us here for a meal, that means that I pull off a couple pieces of dough and make two dinner rolls — one for each of us. Or you could get a mini-loaf pan and make a small loaf. I’m not going to try to duplicate commercial bread’s softness because it’s impossible to do naturally. The only reason commercial bread is so soft is because it’s filled with preservatives that are not particularly healthy.

      Reply

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