Once you perfect a bread-baking method for traditional yeast bread (the bread machine technique I use), it’s likely you’ll want to expand your bread recipe options.
Online recipe resources can be a great place to find new bread recipes. However, use some caution in recipe selection. Not every online recipe is valid.
Some tips for finding valuable, genuine bread recipes online include:
- Rely on well-known brand name sites, i.e. Mother Earth Living, Grit Magazine, Mother Earth News, etc.
- To determine whether or not a bread recipe is truly tried and tested, look for these basic elements: flour, liquid (water, milk, etc.), yeast, sweetener to feed the yeast, salt, oil/butter.
- Additional bread ingredients may include molasses, buttermilk, potatoes, nuts, seeds, etc.
- For bread machines, check your machine manual to verify the largest loaf your machine is able to produce. If your recipe calls for more than 6 cups of flour, you may want to use a stand mixer or food processor as this much flour will produce a sizable volume of dough.
- To validate yeast amounts, rely on using as little as 1 teaspoon or up to 2-1/4 teaspoons per 4 cups of flour (King Arthur Flour).
If your recipe calls for any of these methods, you may want to reconsider using it:
- Adding salt to the yeast mixture. This will immediately kill your yeast. Salt should always be blended with the flour called for in the recipe before it’s mixed with the rest of the recipe ingredients.
- Omitting sweetener. Your yeast must feed on something like sugar – syrup, honey, brown sugar, etc. – in order to grow and produce a rise.
- Most bread recipes call for three parts flour to one-part liquid (i.e. three cups of flour for 1 cup of water/liquid). Overdoing flour in relation to the recipe’s liquid amount will result in a dry, dense and disappointing loaf.
- Cold temperatures for recipe liquids. Yeast will not begin to grow unless temperature ranges are at least 100 degrees (Fahrenheit). Ideal temperature range is 105 to 110 degrees (Fahrenheit).
- Hot temperatures for recipe liquids. Liquid temperatures over 115 degrees (Fahrenheit) will kill the yeast.
- Minimal kneading. In traditional yeast breads, kneading activates gluten in the flour, which greatly contributes to the rise and soft texture of a satisfactory loaf.
- Use of an unusually large or small loaf pan. A too-large pan can cause your bread dough to spread out rather than rising up. If your loaf pan is too small, you may be peeling bread dough off the bottom of your oven after it flows over the side of the pan.
If you’ve identified a recipe that seems to be legitimate, don’t hesitate to do a test run before you rely on producing a beautiful loaf of bread.
Ideally, check all your bread-making supplies the day before you plan to bake to ensure you’re not lacking a key ingredient.
Read ALL the instructions, from the beginning of the recipe to the end. This will make you aware of any out-of-the-ordinary rising/baking times or steps you may not otherwise anticipate. Speaking from experience here!
If you modify any portion of the recipe, make a note of it right in your recipe book or on the recipe copy, ensuring you recall the steps that gave you the bread of your dreams!
It can be helpful to maintain all your favorite bread recipes in one book, folder or file. This saves time and allows you to quickly compare a new recipe to tried and tested ones.
Long-time journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! and regularly shares information about whole grains and bread baking. You’ll find her book on her blog site at www.bakeyourbestever.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, Our Dakota Horse Tales, and on Pinterest, and Facebook.