Time Saving Tips for Bread Baking

You really do have time to bake bread…I promise! Here’s a few tips that I think will help you to be encouraged to make your own bread without using a bread machine!

Most doughs are “more forgiving” than you realize. A lot of people just don’t have time to wait an hour or two for the dough to rise and then another 45 minutes to bake!

Try this just once, and you’ll do it again and again. First, gather all the ingredients listed in the recipe. Be sure the water you dissolve the yeast in is not too hot. That’s a mistake first-time bakers seem to do a lot! If you’re not sure your yeast is active, just add a little sugar to the water and yeast and the yeast should start foaming in a few minutes.

Make sure the other liquid ingredients are warm, but not too hot. If eggs are included in the recipe, it’s a good idea to let them set out awhile so they are not cold from the frig. Go ahead and stir in the eggs, sugar, salt, butter or oil. Make certain the sugar and salt have completely dissolved before adding the yeast and flour.

For any bread recipes, I always stir in just enough flour to make it the consistency of pancake batter. I let this sit for 20-30 minutes, covered with a cloth. You’ll see that it’s bubbly when you remove the cloth.

Stir in the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for approximately 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle enough flour onto the surface to keep the dough from sticking.

Lightly butter or oil a large mixing bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning the oiled side up.

This is when the directions change from your original recipe…

Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and then a cloth. Set it in the frig for up to 24 hours. It’s going to rise in the frig! When you’re ready to bake bread, remove the dough from the frig and set it on the counter to take the chill off. This usually takes about an hour.

Shape your loaves or rolls and let them rise until doubled. Bake as your recipe indicates and enjoy!

So, how can this help you have time to bake?

Mix up the dough on Friday evening and set in the frig overnight. Bake on Saturday morning, or Saturday evening if you’d like! Or make the dough on Saturday for a special Sunday dinner!

If you’re home at lunch time, get the dough out of the frig before you go back to work. It will be just fine on the counter until you start fixing dinner. Just remember to puch the dough down if it starts to rise over the top of your bowl!

This works well for recipes that call for yeast to be added to the flour and not dissolved first.

I always use bread flour in the 25# bags from Sam’s Club for baking bread. The bread flour really does make a difference. Sam’s Club carries the high gluten flour in 50# bags, too.

With the rising cost of flour, it’s still a better buy to get 25 or 50 pounds of flour, but this might seem like a lot of flour to someone who only bakes once in awhile. You can store flour in large ziploc bags in your freezer. Consider buying a large bag and sharing with a friend! Better yet, spend a day baking with a friend!

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