How to Bake Bread

Around the world, bread is the "stuff of life." It's an important part of nearly every cuisine and almost every meal. And nothing beats the satisfaction of serving loaves of your own homemade bread.

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Bread Recipes
We've picked some of our best bread recipes so that once you know how to bake using the different methods, you'll have some tasty breads to show for it.
Making a bread recipe for the first time can be a bit scary, no matter how many cooking shows and famous chefs you've watched on television. But preparing your own yeast breads -- the familiar white, wheat, rye, or multi-grain loaves we slice for everything from our favorite French toast recipe to Cuban sandwiches -- isn't really difficult. It simply requires a few unique skills beyond those usually called for in other recipes.

So throw out that old bread machine and become a citizen of the bread-making world. In this article, we've broken the basic techniques down into simple steps.
  • Making Dough

    Yeast-leavened bread makes up much of the bread available in bakeries and supermarkets. It's also the bread we're going to talk about in this section. Yeast breads contain yeast as a leavening agent. There are two different kinds of yeast breads: yeast-batter breads and yeast-dough breads. Yeast-dough breads are what we think of when think about dough. To make dough, we must proof the yeast, knead the dough, and let the dough rise. Don't know what any of this means? No worries. In this section, we'll explain how to make yeast work for you, as well as teach you why it's a good idea to let the dough rise.

  • Baking Bread

    Yeast-leavened breads are among the most common. Once you've let the dough rise, you're just about ready to bake bread. The dough is filled with holes, so it's important to punch down the dough. We'll show you how in this section. Also, we'll cover baking another type of bread: quick breads. These breads are leavened with baking power, baking soda, or steam. As their name suggests, they are quick and easy to make. You're probably familiar with quick breads in the form of pancakes and muffins. We'll help you get re-acquainted.

  • Finishing Bread

    The yeast has risen, the dough has been punched down, what else can there be? While baking yeast breads can be very satisfying, it is a lengthy process. In this section, we'll show you how to shape and finish the dough. This step transforms a big ball of dough into the shape we recognize as "bread." There are as many different ways to shape and finish dough as there are different kinds of bread recipes. We'll teach you how to braid Challah, the Jewish festival bread that is as lovely for the table as it is delicious for the mouth.
Yeast is the start of any good bread. Click to the next section to learn how to put yeast to work for your favorite breads.