Your favorite bread-dough recipes (no bread machines)
May 28, 2006 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Bakers and homemakers; I need bread/dough recipes.

I've been searching the internet and I'm finding lots of stuff for bread machines and sweetbreads and donuts.

I would like to be able to make bread from scratch that makes my house smell good and that requires some old-world skill.

I'm handy in the kitchen so don't worry about skill level.
posted by snsranch to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
A personal favorite in my house: from Alton Brown.

It starts off with a pre-ferment overnight, but it is well worth the extra time.
posted by divka at 7:50 PM on May 28, 2006

I make bread about once a week, and this is my favorite:

Crusty Italian Bread

* Baking stone
* Parchment paper
* Spray bottle w/ water


* Water: 1/4 cup
* Water: 1 cup
* Water: 1/2 cup
* Yeast: 1 tbsp
* Bread flour: 3 3/4 cups
* Kosher Salt: 1 tbsp


Mix the yeast with 1/4 cup water in a large bowl (or the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer) and let dissolve and get foamy. It will take about ten minutes. Add 1 cup water and all the flour and mix until it comes together in a tangled, stringy mess. Let it rest for ten minutes.

Slowly add 1/2 cup of water while mixing. It may become slimy feeling. If it does, just keep working it until the water is absorbed.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and sprinkle with the salt. Knead until the dough no longer feels grainy, and then knead that long again. About 15 minutes total. When in doubt, knead longer.

Rise in a lightly floured bowl for about 1.5 hours, or until slightly more than doubled in size.

Turn out onto your work surface and gently stretch the dough and fold it into thirds. Do that twice and then divide into two equal portions.

Gently stretch and press each portion into a 10 by 6 rectangle.

Optional: sprinkle with herbs (rosemary is excellent. The "R" of the loaf in the photo is for rosemary.) or chopped green onion or chopped calamata olives.

Roll up the rectangles, tucking in the ends, and pinch the seam tightly. Let rise on a floured board for about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone positioned in the lower third of the oven.

Gently stretch the loaves until they're 12 to 15 inches long, being very careful not to squeeze or deflate them, and place them on a piece of parchment paper.

Make 8 to 10 diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf, then soak the loaves thoroughly with a spray bottle and slide them onto the baking stone.

Continue to spray them every three minutes for nine minutes, and then leave them be for the final 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack at least until you can comfortably touch them.

posted by Nothing at 8:16 PM on May 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh, the reference to a photo is to this recipe, which includes a picture of a loaf of bread I made according to that recipe.

Also: A bagel recipe I put together a while ago.
posted by Nothing at 8:19 PM on May 28, 2006

Just a couple more things: Heat is your friend. I often preheat to 500 for breads. I also keep bricks in my oven, but that's not for everyone--a pizza stone is fine. It is almost impossible to over-knead bread without a machine. A long slow rise as mentioned in Alton Brown's recipe is great for flavor. Bread flour actually makes a difference. As does a bit of whole wheat mixed in for when you want a heartier bread. Parchment paper is awesome. And, lastly, always make extra. If some goes stale, you are out, what, 50 cents worth of flour? But if there is not enough fresh hot bread, well then you have problems!
posted by Nothing at 8:25 PM on May 28, 2006

Two ideas if all you can find are the machine recipes:

Use the bread machine if you have one, to make the dough (using the dough setting,) and then bake in the oven. I hate the crust on the machine cooked bread. Bake at about 400 degrees (f) for 25-30 minutes. Tap it with your finger - if it sound hollow it is done.

Use the machine recipe, but make from scratch. Most older recipe books (that predate the machines) have you combining warm liquid with the yeast. (Machines will heat some to simulate this.) Add half of the flour and other solids (salt, sugar), mix well with hand, spoon or beater. Do this for about two minutes minimum. Add rest of flour, knead until it feels smooth, soft and spongy like a baby's bottom (about 10 minutes for a really smooth dough.) Let rise until double in bulk. Punch down. Let rise again for a loaf with small air holes, or put in your pan or on your bread board and cook according to the directions above.

Here is the recipe for my favorite French bread (which a French student said was as good as anything he could get in France) from the "Great Bread" book by Bernice Hunt (1977).

2 tablespoons or two packets of dry active yeast
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
About 8 cups unbleached white flour
Corn meal to put under dough on pan
1 egg white mixed with 1 tbs water to brush dough before cooking.

Mix yeast, salt, water and 3 cups of flour. Beat by hand or mixer for two minutes. Add 2 more cups flour. Beat 2 more minutes. Add 2 more cups flour and mix with hands adding more flour until stiff enough to knead and handle. Knead for 8-10 minutes.

Put dough in greased bowl, turn over can cover. Let rise in warm place until doubled. Punch down, cut into 2 to 4 parts depending on the size of loaf you want. Make long loaf. Sprinkle cooking sheet with cornmeal, put on dough, let rise 30 minutes. Make several slashes diaganally across the top of the loaves, brush with egg white. Put loaves into a cold oven and set a pan of very hot water in th bottom. Turn on oven to 400. Bake 35-40 minutes (slightly less if making smaller loaves.

Have fun!

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 8:35 PM on May 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh! (sorry to fill up your thread) but if you end up doing a lot of baking, you can get active dry yeast at Costco for a tiny fraction of what it costs in the grocery store. Really, the price difference is staggering. A four ounce jar at the grocery store is $8, for a price of $32 per pound. At costco a 2 pound bag of it is three dollars. Same brand, same product.
posted by Nothing at 8:40 PM on May 28, 2006

I highly suggest getting The Bread Baker's Apprentice -- lots of recipes and explanation of what's really going on when baking bread.
posted by xil at 10:09 PM on May 28, 2006

The best recommendation I can make is to get yourself some whole wheat flour made from hard white wheat. Whole wheat is so much better for your than white flour, which is basically empty calories. Most whole wheat flour, however, is from red wheat, which has a bitter flavor to it. Hard white wheat is high in gluten (like bread flour), and has a sweet, light taste that makes a huge difference in a loaf of bread. It's not always easy to find. King Arthur, Hodgson's Mills, Bob's Red Mill are brands to look for. Personally, I buy the wheat from Norm Oeding and grind it myself (good exercise, but not for everyone, I grant you).

Let it rise adequately. Start with a sponge, then let the dough rise once or twice more, then rise again in the pans. Pay attention to the crust. If you like it crusty, a wash of egg just before baking is great--if you like it soft, use melted butter.

My weekly three loaves:
3-1/3 c. warm water
1 tsp yeast
4 c. hard white wheat flour
That's the sponge. Proof the yeast in 1/3 c. water, then mix it all together and let rise an hour. Then add
1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. honey
1 Tbsp. salt
4 or 5 eggs
Enough extra flour to make dough. 9 cups-ish (?). Depends on humidity, etc. Stop when it stops being so sticky. You can substitute in a cup of oats, sliced almonds, rice, mashed potatoes. No more than a cup or two, though. You need the gluten! Knead knead knead, then divide and let rise 2 or 3 hours. Punch down and let rise another hour and a half. Then pan your loaves (butter the pans). I like to stretch them out and roll them up. In the process, I drizzle two of them with molasses and cinnamon and add raisins. Yum! Let them rise in the pans an hour, then score the tops, brush on your crust topping, and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Many people claim that you have to use some white flour in whole wheat bread. But you don't. Even my wife, who loves the squishy supermarket bread thinks this bread is soft enough.
posted by rikschell at 10:44 PM on May 28, 2006 [2 favorites]

Wife of 445supermag, thanks. Your recipe looks great.

Snsranch, your local library may have what you need -- cookbooks that predate bread machines.

This recipe for wheat bread comes from "Homemade Bread," ed. Nell Nichols (1969, found at a library book sale).

Whole Wheat Bread

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water (110-115 deg. c)
1/2 c brown sugar
1 T salt
2 1/2 c warm water
1/4 c shortening
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
4 c sifted all purpose flour

* Sprinkle yeast on 1/4 c warm water; stir to dissolve.

* Dissolve brown sugar and salt in lukewarm water. Add with shortening, whole wheat flour (stirred before measuring) and 1 c. all purpose flour to yeast. Beat thoroughly to mix well.

* Stir in remaining flour to make a dough that leaves the sides of the bowl. Turn out on floured board, cover and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

* Place in greased bowl; turn dough over to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

* Punch down. Turn onto board and divide in half; round up each half to make a ball. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

* Shape into loaves and place in 2 greased 9x5x3" loaf pans. Let rise until dough reaches top of pan on sides and the top of the loaf is well rounded above pan, about 1 1/4 hours.

* Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) about 45 minutes, covering loosely with sheet of foil the last 20 minutes if necessary, to prevent excessive browning. Makes 2 loaves.

Oh, and when the recipe says "let it rest," let it rest. Set a timer and do something else until it goes off. Likewise, warm means just that (too hot, and the water will kill your yeast). I've found that using fitered water helps, as there's a lot of chlorine in my tap water.

Making bread is a satisfying endeavor. Have fun.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:59 AM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Your local library may also have cookbooks that don't predate bread machines, but have made-from-scratch bread recipes anyway.

I own and recommend Maggie Glezer's A Blessing of Bread (I believe she has other bread cookbooks as well) and Nick Malgieri's A Baker's Tour (which has cookie and cake recipes as well). There are certainly plenty of recent books that have recipes for non-bread-machine bread.

My Kitchenaid mixer also came with a few good recipes.
posted by leesh at 7:00 AM on May 29, 2006


Melt in the pan you will bake the bread in:
2 1/2 tbs butter

In a bowl, beat two eggs with a whisk

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Add the melted butter and eggs to flour mixture.
Add 1 cup slightly sour milk (if you have no sour milk, add 1tsp vinegar into 1 cup milk beforehand.)
Mix (raisins and other things can be added at this point, if desired.)

Bake in oven at 375 for 50 minutes or so. Test to see if it's done by pressing a fork onto top of bread; if it springs back, it's done. (You can also push a fork into the bread, if it comes out without dough on it, then the bread's done.)

[The bread is dense and somewhat sweet, but very good.]
posted by ubersturm at 8:05 AM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Tassajara has a book.
posted by billtron at 8:35 AM on May 29, 2006

If whole grain bread appeals to you, the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book is *the* book. It's got a really useful recipe called "a loaf for learning" that is useful even for old hats at bread making, especially if you are used to working with white flours. Then it has a huge range of recipes that include sour dough and not, lots of different kinds of grains, and the yummiest whole-wheat cinnamon rolls ever.
posted by carmen at 1:26 PM on May 29, 2006

Wow, so many great ideas and answers! Thanks to all, I can't wait to start!
posted by snsranch at 4:51 PM on May 29, 2006

I'm a huge fan of Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible (in addition to her other cookbooks).
posted by Caviar at 9:26 PM on May 29, 2006

I tend to prefer sourdough breads as they have so much more flavor, although they take longer over all to make. Regardless, I would suggest using recipes that have sponges or pre-ferments, as the flavor is noticeably better. The Village Baker contains a lot of recipes that are quite good.

My sourdough recipe is part way down this page.
posted by OmieWise at 7:38 AM on May 30, 2006

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