10 Tips for Perfect Homemade Bread – Bread 101
Let’s talk ingredients and substitutes
- Flour – Often bread flour is recommended for making homemade dinner rolls or any homemade bread but I have been making now for over 5 years and I always use all purpose flour. If you making dinner rolls with yeast I highly recommend using plain all-purpose flour not self-rising flour as self-rising flour has baking powder added to it. You do not want too much leavening in your bread. Bread works best with yeast while cakes and cookies work best with baking powder and baking soda.
- Sugar – The sugar here is not really to add sweetness so no the one tablespoon won’t make your homemade dinner rolls sweet. The sugar and fat in the recipe with yeast are usually to feed the yeast. Just as you need warm liquid to activate the yeast you need sugar and fat to strengthen it and let it grow. If you prefer you can substitute sugar with 2 tbsp of honey as well.
Let’s talk yeast – shall we?
- Yeast – This is the most important ingredient in baking bread. Always make sure you buy a good quality yeast that has been stored well. Yeast contains live bacteria which needs to be activated with a warm liquid such as milk or water. This is a very very important step in activating of yeast. If the milk to too hot it will kill the bacteria in the yeast and your dough won’t’ rise. If the milk is cold the yeast will again not get activated as the warmth is what activates the yeast. In some warm countries like here the yeast gets activated at room temperature milk but in winter the yeast does need warm liquid at 110 F
- Water temperature at 110 F– Now I know we always say use warm water that’s 110 F but if you don’t a thermometer you wonder what that is. Honestly, I don’t use the thermometer it’s not really necessary if you know what 110 F feels like. It’s like lukewarm, similar to the milk you give a baby to drink. If you stick a clean finger in there and are able to hold it for a few seconds without feeling hot. It’s good.
- Fresh yeast – Those of you that have access to fresh yeast go ahead and use that. It works exactly the same way. Use warm liquid and crumble the yeast, stir until it’s dissolved and continue as below. To substitute 2 1/2 tsp of instant yeast you would need about 21 grams of fresh yeast.
- Yeast activation test – There is nothing worse than to make a bread dough and then be disappointed that it did not become double in volume. Which is why I prefer to use this method below. I let stand the liquid ingredients with the yeast at room temperature for a while – the mixture will become frothy which is a clear sign that the yeast is active. If it does not become active either check the expiry of the yeast or temperature of the liquid. Once active continue as directed.
The secret to baking homemade bread
One of the secrets to making homemade bread is the consistency of the dough!! Often you get people looking for the quantity of flour and water when you should be looking the consistency and elasticity of the dough. If you notice in almost all my bread recipes I speak about a finger test! It’s simple and easy to understand as I have shown in the video about too.
Take two fingers and press into the dough. When you lift your fingers – the dough should spring back. That’s a soft and elastic dough. If you kneed the dough by hand it will take you about 7 to 10 minutes of kneading. If you do it in a stand mixer it takes about 3 to 5 minutes.
Do you love baking homemade bread? I do enjoy it very much too!