Want to get started baking your own delicious fresh bread at home?

Worried that you’ll need to buy lots of fancy ingredients and equipment?

Baking bread at home should be a simple and fun activity – learning new skills, taking time out and making delicious food.

So before you get started, check out the four simple ingredients you’ll need to bake most breads – with these you’ll be able to bake a wide range of wonderful loaves. 

 

Want to learn to bake more great bread at home? 

Do you find yourself baking the same loaf over and over?

Want instead to WOW family and friends with showstopper breads?

And to master baking ALL the great breads at home with ease?

Take some time out to relax and bake breads in a friendly community of home bread bakers. 

Check out The Bakehouse club. Step-by-step monthly classes with a relaxed and friendly approach.

Suitable for beginners onwards.

Click here to find out more.

 

Flour: the base of your bread

Strong wheat bread flour – either white or wholemeal – is the base of many breads you may wish to bake at home. Other popular flours include spelt flour and rye flour.

What does ‘strong’ mean? This is generally how bread flour is described in the UK. Strong refers to the higher protein content of the flour.

Is your flour a strong bread flour? Check the nutritional information on your flour packet – you’ll want more than 11 grams of protein per 100 grams of wheat or spelt flour. Rye flour has a lower protein content, usually around 9 grams of protein per 100 grams.

So which should you use?

I suggest starting with strong white wheat bread flour. This is often easier to work with than rye or wholemeal wheat flours and can be used in a wide range of recipes.

Where can you buy bread flour?

Start with the bread flours offered in your local supermarket. Find out what works for you in your kitchen. Then, if you wish, you can branch out and try different flours, for example direct from a local mill.

See my blog post on where to buy flour here.

the-epsom-bakehouse-flour-salt-yeast

Water for your bread dough

In general, cool water straight from the tap is great for making up your dough. If your water is heavily chlorinated, this may affect the yeast. You can leave a jug of water out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate before using it in your dough.

You don’t need to use tepid or warm water in your dough unless it’s a really cold day. Your water shouldn’t be any hotter than your hand temperature if you do need to add warmer water to your dough. Hot  water will affect the yeast and may stop your dough rising.

Salt to add flavour to your dough

Salt is the third key ingredient in bread making. The vast majority of breads you bake at home will require at least a little salt. Salt brings flavour to your dough – you’ll definitely know in one bite of your finished bread if you forgot to add salt!

Salt also strengthens the gluten network that makes up the supporting scaffold of your bread, helping your final loaf hold its shape.

Yeast: To rise your bread dough

Last but not least, many bread doughs require yeast. Yeast is a micro-organism that produces a gas (carbon dioxide) that makes your dough rise. Yeast comes in various forms, including:

 

  • Dried Yeast. This is often available in two forms – easy bake (fine particles that you can mix directly into your dough) and traditional dried yeast (larger granules that you will need to soak in water before mixing into your dough). Both keep well in the cupboard whilst unopened, so are handy if you don’t bake bread a lot.
  • Fresh yeast. Only keeps for a week or two in the fridge and can be harder to obtain. However, some home bread bakers find it works best for them, for instance in a dough that’s very enriched with butter, sugar and eggs.

I usually recommend starting with easy bake instant yeast because it’s convenient and has a long shelf life. Check your yeast packet to see if it needs to be soaked in water or if it can be added straight into your dough.

Flour, water, salt and yeast are the four simple ingredients you need to start baking brilliant breads at home. You’ll make many different and delicious loaves with these ingredients and without needing any fancy equipment.

 

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