Making the Loaf
Kneading develops the gluten in the flour to form a framework for holding the
gases given off by the yeast. The KitchenAid mixer not only effortlessly
tackles kneading but provides the constant rhythm necessary for best results.
After all the flour has been added, continue to knead for approximately 2
minutes until the dough is smooth and satiny, not sticky. Shape the dough
into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Brush the top of the dough with
additional oil to prevent a crust from forming while rising. Cover the bowl
with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm (70 degrees F to 85
degrees F) place, free from drafts.
Let the dough rise until double in size. To test the dough, depress two
fingers into the center and if the dent stays, it has doubled. Punch the
dough down by pushing your fist into the center of the dough and pulling the
edges over to the center. Turn the dough over. Letting the dough rise a
second time before shaping will yield a finer textured loaf.
There are many ways to shape a loaf. Specialty breads, such as braids or
rolls, will generally include directions in the recipes. Two simple methods
for shaping standard loaves are as follows:
- Form the dough into an oval the size of the pan, stretching and
turning ends of the dough under and pinching into a seam. Place in
prepared pan, seam side down.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle slightly longer than the size of
the pan. Beginning with the shorter side, roll dough towards you.
Seal long seam as well as ends with hands. Fold sealed ends under
and place loaf, seam side down, into prepared pan.
Place loaves in the center of the oven, leaving space for the heat to
surround the pans. To check for doneness, remove one loaf from its
pan and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow it is done. Turn loaves onto
racks immediately after baking to prevent sogginess.
Bread Making Tips
- Always store flour in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. For
long-term storage, store flour and yeast in refrigerator or freezer.
- To measure flour, spoon it lightly into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula.
- Use the Grain Mill to grind whole wheat berries and other grains into
flour. One cup of grain yields approximately 1-1/4 cups of flour, except
for rolled oats which yields 7/8 cup of flour.
- Always check liquid temperature with an accurate thermometer.
- Allow bread to rise in a warm, draft-free place. Place bowl of dough on
rack over pan of warm water. Or, set oven on lowest setting for 10
minutes. Turn oven off and place bowl of dough in oven.
- For soft crusts and extra shine, brush finished bread with melted butter and cool uncovered.
- For crispier crusts, brush loaves with a mixture of one egg white and one
tablespoon of cold water before baking.
- Inverting finished bread onto racks immediately from oven prevents a soggy loaf.
- Some large recipes and soft doughs may climb over the collar of the dough
hook. This indicates the dough needs more flour. The sooner all the flour
is added, the less likely the dough is to climb the hook. Try starting
with all but the last cup of flour in the initial mixing process. Then
add the remaining flour as quickly as possible, never exceeding the total
amount given in the recipe.
- Dough made with whole grain flour may not form a ball on the dough hook
during kneading. However, as long as there is contact between the hook
and the dough, kneading will be accomplished.
- Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.
- Baked yeast breads may be stored in the freezer for up to six months.
Wrap securely in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. To thaw, let stand at
room temperature for 3 hours.
Bread Machine Tips
Extra kneads and extra rise times all contribute to the depth of flavor,
character of the crumb and general personality of a loaf of bread. One of
the reasons I dislike rapid rise yeast and rapid cycles on the bread machines
is that the dough really requires the entire life span of the yeast to become
the amazing miracle that is bread. If you are partial to whole grain breads
and are winding up with lower loaves than you wish, then try a double knead
cycle: place the ingredients in the machine and program for dough or manual.
At the end of the final knead reprogram the machine for bread (of Whole
Wheat) and press start. You've given the dough an extra work-out to develop
the gluten - that will result in a higher loaf. For an even higher loaf you
can (if your machine permits) program for a longer rise time, or simply
remove the dough from the pan after the final rise cycle (but before baking)
transfer it to a bread pan and allow it to raise in a warm place until
doubled in bulk. Then bake it in the oven.
- Use good quality hard wheat unbleached, unbromated flour that has at
least 12 grams of protein per cup. (I like King Arthur)
- Use fresh, quick dissolving active yeast, not rapid rise.
- Open the machine and check the dough during the first 5 - 10 minutes of
the first kneading cycle!!! Even if your manual says not to do it: flour
acts as a sponge absorbing moisture on wet days and becoming dehydrated
during dry weather. You'll have to adjust for fluctuating humidity and
barometric pressure by adding small amounts of flour or liquid to the dough.
- If you've never made bread before and don't know what dough is supposed
to look like, buy a package of frozen bread dough (available at your
local supermarket), and let it defrost according to the package
directions. Place it on a lightly floured surface and play with it until
you are familiar with the consistency. This is what you're aiming for in
the bread machine.
- Now, to adjust the dough in your bread machine during the first knead
cycle: wait until the ingredients have been kneaded for 3-4 minutes. If
the dough looks sticky and wet and is coating the bottom and sides of the
pan, then sprinkle in flour, a tablespoon at a time (you may need up to
an extra 1/2 cup) while the machine is kneading, until you have a smooth,
supple ball of dough. If the mixture is dry and corrugated looking or the
dough doesn't hold together then sprinkle in additional liquid, a little
at a time, until the dough is smooth and pliable and forms a cohesive
ball. If you've wandered away from your machine only to return to find a
wet messy glob or a dry desert thumping around in the machine, press stop
(you can do this at any time - except if the machine has gone into the
bake cycle), add a small amount of flour or liquid and press start. Stick
around and make additional adjustments, if necessary, until the dough
- I have found that when you are either making dough, or placing the
ingredients in the machine to make bread at that time, you can add either
the liquids first or the dry ingredients first. The major exception to
this is the old dak (no longer made) where the yeast must be placed in
the bread pan first in a position farthest away from the kneading blade.
When programming ahead make sure to place any dried fruits away from
contact with wet ingredients as they will absorb those liquids and throw
off the recipe.
Sweet doughs with lots of butter and eggs also respond well to a second long
rise in a cool place. I remove my brioche from the machine after the dough
cycle is complete. I place it in a large freezer strength zip lock bag and
refrigerate it overnight. Then I place it back in the machine (my Zojirushi
has flexible programming), program for 2nd rise and bake. If you can't
program your machine this way you can place the dough in a bread pan after
you remove it from the machine, give it a long, refrigerated rise, and then
bake it in the oven. Even non-wheat and non-sweet doughs can benefit from
this extra rise.