Tuesday 9 April 2024

White Bread

Bread has been a common food item in India for a very long time. Whether you want to make a quick breakfast, a comfort food or a snack, bread comes in handy. I always wanted to bake bread at home, but could not do so for want of time. I also felt baking bread is complex process. After a few failed attempts, I finally got the process right. I have also included some practical tips to resolve issues I encountered while baking bread. These days, I bake bread at home and it is easy once you are familiar with the process. Let me take you through the steps of baking bread.


All purpose flour or maida - 300 gms

Dry yeast - 1 tablespoon  

Honey - 1 tablespoon 

Salt - 1 teaspoon

Vegetable oil - 2 tablespoons 

Butter or ghee - for brushing

Oil - for greasing the baking tin

All purpose flour - for dusting

Method: The most critical ingredient for baking bread is the yeast. I use dry yeast, which is available in many departmental stores. However, in my experience not all the brands of yeast give the desired results. If the yeast does not get activated, you cannot proceed. Hence, it is critical for you to get good quality yeast! I buy yeast from a nearby bakery and it works well for me.    

Step 1 - How to activate the yeast: Dissolve honey in  60 ml of warm water in a larger bowl to allow room for the yeast to rise. Add in 1 tablespoon of dry yeast and mix. Cover and keep in a warm place for up to 15 minutes. Please note that the water should NOT be hot, as it will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise. In warm weather the yeast gets activated quickly. Alternatively, you can warm a small bowl of water on micro-high for 1 minute. Switch off the microwave oven, place the bowl containing the yeast mixture inside the oven and close the door. The warm moist environment will help the yeast to rise quickly. When the yeast is activated, the surface froths and rises. Sometimes, it may take up to 20-30 minutes for the yeast to rise. If the yeast does not froth and rise, you will have to discard it, and start the process again with a different brand of yeast!

Step 2 - Preparing the dough: Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Add in yeast mixture and mix together. Slowly add 180 ml  of warm water and blend together. You may use a baking spatula to mix the ingredients. Now, knead the dough well for at least 10 minutes. The dough will be initially sticky, but as you keep kneading it becomes a mass. At this stage, add oil little by little and blend well. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Keep it in a warm place for one hour.

Step 3 - First rise: Usually the dough rises to double the size in one hour. If not, wait till the dough reaches double the size. Sometimes, yeast can be slow acting. If the yeast takes longer time to get activated, more likely that the dough may take longer time to rise. Moreover, low environmental temperature also delays yeast activation.

Step 3 - Shaping the dough: Press down the dough to release the air and knead well. Now place the dough on a baking paper or parchment paper. Stretch and fold the dough a few times. Sprinkle flour as needed while handling the dough and shape it into a cylinder or log to fit the baking tin. I use a baking tin measuring 9" in length, 4" in height and 4" in width. Hence, I shape the dough into a 9" long cylinder.  

Step 4 - Second rise: Place the dough log in the greased baking tin. Gently press down the edges of the dough so that it fills the tin fully. Cover the baking tin with the damp cloth and keep it in a warm place for the second rise. Wait for 45 minutes to 1 hour or till the dough rises to the top of the baking tin.. 

Step 6 - Baking the bread:  Preheat the microwave oven in convection mode or oven-toaster-griller at 180℃ for 3 minutes. Bake the bread in a pre-heated oven 30 minutes or till the surface turns golden brown in color. Baked bread sounds hollow when tapped and you can smell the aroma of freshly baked bread. Remove from the oven and allow it  to cool. Gently separate the bread from the sides of the baking tin using a bread knife. Invert the tin over a plate and gently tap the bottom of the tin to remove the bread. Keep the bread on a wire mesh for it to cool. Brush the top with butter or ghee. 

Once the bread is cooled to room temperature, slice it to the desire thickness using the bread knife. You can store the bread in the tin for 2-3 days at room temperature.

Important Tips: 

  1. Measurements of ingredients is very important for successful baking.
  2. You can create a warm moist environment to activate the yeast and for the dough to rise. Warm a small bowl of water on micro-high for 1 minute. Switch off the microwave oven, place the bowl containing the yeast mixture or the bowl containing the dough covered with damp cloth inside the oven and close the door. The warm moist environment will help the yeast to get activated or the dough to rise quickly. 
  3. Once you get the hang of the process, you will know texture and consistency of the dough that will ensure successful outcome.

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