We’re all spending way more time at home these days. Chances are, you’re picking up a few newfound hobbies, whether it’s playing the ukulele or learning Spanish. Yet, for something that will really yield into a life skill far beyond these days of lockdown, you’ll want to try your hand at making bread. As everybody’s Instagram feeds flourish with the ubiquitous homemade sourdough starter flex, perhaps it’s also time for you to learn the art of turning three simple ingredients into the universe’s greatest gift.
Bread is simple in theory, but anyone who has ever tried it will understand the complications that come with. Brioche is a challenge for beginners, sourdough is a serious situation for intermediate bakers, ciabatta can be convoluted even for the advanced — as a novice baking bread, you’re entering uncharted waters.
Do not let that deter you, though. Learning how to make bread is a life skill worth investing in. It also doubles up as a way to pass time, and a fun activity to keep your household from disintegrating after jigsaw puzzles stop cutting it.
To help you, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite resources to learn how to make bread on the internet, from blogs to highly rated recipes.
For the beginner
A bread that requires no kneading? Sign us the hell up. No-knead bread takes away one of the most tedious aspects of bread-baking and replaces it with pure, blissful waiting. It is, by nature, absolutely perfect for beginners or casual bakers who just want to make a loaf without having bread on the brain round the clock. Our team swear by two recipes: the No-Knead Bread by NYT Cooking, and the No-Knead Focaccia by Bon Appetit.
How to knead dough
Kneading dough has the potential to be a tad more complicated than the action suggests, though it is absolutely essential to do right if you want your final loaf to be bread and not a brick. This video from Allrecipes is a reliable source for technique if you’re a beginner with absolutely no kneading knowledge.
In general, you want to massage the dough for 10 to 12 minutes by hand. It should be smooth, not shaggy, hold its shape, and fill out any indentations quickly when poked.
Adventurous beginners who want to get right on the sourdough train can look to this tried-and-true recipe for rustic sourdough from flour millers, King Arthur Flour. All you need is a sourdough starter, which you can learn to make with our tips below. This is very straightforward and gives you a good feel of bread-baking overall.
Make your own starter
Making a starter is simple enough, though it takes time. We like this simple recipe by The Kitchen, where you just need all-purpose flour, water and some patience to get started.
For trusted recipes: King Arthur Flour
King Arthur Flour may be a flour company, but the miller also has an immense digital library of recipes, most of which are easy enough for the novice baker to try out. Check it out here.
For sourdough intel: The Sourdough Club
The Sourdough Club is an online UK-based sourdough resource for enthusiasts. Run by baker Vanessa Kimbell, the Instagram account also has an offshoot known as The Sourdough School, which has virtual classes available to teach you about all things sourdough, for a fee. Apart from the online course, signing up also entitles you to a library of video tutorials, as well as new recipes every month. Check it out here.
For naturally-leavened bread and pastries: The Perfect Loaf
The Perfect Loaf is a naturally leavened bread and pastry baking blog run by a former software engineer, Maurizio, who is now a baker based in Albuquerque.
It’s easy enough to see why The Perfect Loaf is a multi-award-winning baking blog too: its interface is simple, easy to navigate, coupled with straightforward recipes and gorgeous photos for you to aspire to. Recipes are tagged according to expertise level, and the website also has an intensive array of articles about all things bread-related, from how to shape baguettes to bread storage tips.
For gluten-intolerant bakers: Breadtopia
Breadtopia is a family-run baking supply store based in Iowa that doubles as an online channel that teaches people how to make bread at home. With the aim of making baking bread as easy as can be, this website is chock-full of resources that span bread, bagel, pizza, pastry and sourdough recipes, including options for gluten-free loaves and buns.
For a video resource: Bake with Jack
Bake with Jack is one of our favourite YouTube channels for bread baking. Some of us learn better through video and visuals, rather than words, so Bake with Jack benefits with bakers of such an inclination. Recipes and tutorials are released weekly, and Jack Sturgess, the chef and educator that runs the channel, is extremely detailed about all his steps, offering insight to the process of baking beyond mere execution of recipes on camera.
This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore