Bread Baker’s Top Tips

Below are some of the top tips when baking bread. Fell free to share some of your own in the comments section below.

Oiled Bread Bowls and Pans

When a recipe calls for oiled or greased pans or bowls you are best sticking to vegetable based oils – namely margarine, vegetable or olive oil or shortening.

  • A greased bowl with dairy or animal based oil (butter, lard) might go rancid or coat the yeast molecules too heavily to ensure rising.
  • A greased loaf pan with dairy or animal based oil (butter, lard) often burns the bread (protein overheats in the oven).

Another great idea for greased pans before baking is to add a sprinkling of cornmeal to the pan. This lends an almost ‘nutty’ flavor to the bottom of the loaf and always helps the base to cook, without burning, and without growing soggy.


Warm Liquid

Warm water is 100-115 degrees Farenheit (43-46 Celcius) – slightly warmer than your body heat (so should feel warm to your skin).

Draft-Free, Warm Location

Room temperature in your house is perfect to let bread rise, although dough can actually take a little extra heat — such as a sunny window, or on top of the stove if the oven is on low.

If you have a gas or propane oven often the pilot light will generate enough extra heat for quicker rising times.

A word of caution though…not too hot or sunny – your yeast will exhaust itself, and create big bubbles in the dough that will collapse and not rise again.

Recipe Abbreviations and Substitutions When Baking Bread

Abbreviations used in this book:
tsp -teaspoon
tbn -tablespoon
pkg -package (used for yeast in this booklet, 1 pkg is approximately 1 tablespoon)
pinch -as much as you can grab between your forefinger and thumb (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Substitutions for Ingredients:
Brown Sugar
Any light, medium or dark Brown Sugar can be used in these recipes. A brown sugar alternative is same quantity of white sugar plus 2 tablespoons of molasses (per cup).
If the recipe states butter you must use butter to achieve satisfactory results when baking bread. Butter can be a substitute for other fats, but no substitute can be made for butter. Greasing pans with butter (instead of oils or margarine) often results in burnt bottoms.

Butter or Margarine Within a bread recipe: These can be substituted for each other. You can also use vegetable or olive oil with minimal change in the results.

If the recipe states only "butter" without a link or a qualifying "or margarine", you must use butter for satisfactory results.

Finally, don’t use butter to grease your pans – that practice usually results in burnt loaf bottoms.

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand you can ‘make’ it. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of regular milk and you have a perfect buttermilk substitution.
Dried onion flakes
An equal quantity of minced fresh onion.
1/2 tsp fresh chopped garlic is equivalent to 1/2 tsp dried garlic flakes – but is only a fair make-do substitution (fresh garlic is best).
Olive Oil, Butter, Margarine, Vegetable Oil, Lard and Non-Stick Cooking Spray.
Sour cream

Baking Yeast Breads – One Baker’s Tips

One small package of yeast found in the US and Canada grocery stores, is approximately 1 tablespoon (or 2 1/2 teaspoons) to those who buy their yeast in large quantities.

When baking bread, you’ll want to ‘proof’ your yeast first by dissolving into warm water with a teaspoon of sugar.

If, after 10 minutes the liquid has gained volume and is foamy you’ll know the yeast is active and fine for use.

For the record, warm water is 100-115 degrees Farenheit (43-46 Celcius) – slightly warmer than your body heat so it should feel warm to your skin.

Even if the recipe does not call for proofing yeast I suggest you do it always, especially if you are uncertain about the age of your yeast.

Be cautious with liquid temperatures before adding yeast to use in a bread recipe. If the liquid is too hot it will kill the yeast and all is lost. If the liquid is too cold the bread will take longer to rise.

Yeast that has passed it’s expiration date is not reliable past the first rising.

The best place to store yeast is in the refrigerator in a sealed jar or container.

The quantity of yeast, water and sugar to use is determined by the recipe directions.

Yeast that has been frozen can be used 3-4 months after it’s expiration date. Just remember to defrost for 1/2 hour at room temperature before ‘proofing’.

Enjoy baking bread at home and sharing with your friends.

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About Laura Childs

Country Living enthusiast Laura Childs was a downtown city girl for many years before heading to the hills to live a sustainable lifestyle, raise her daughter, get back to the land, and learn the time tested traditions of a simpler era.

Throughout her farm life adventures of raising animals, working from home, home schooling her daughter, and being more green, Laura Childs has been sharing on the GoodByeCityLife website through articles and personal musings since 1998.

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