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Instructions for Bread Making


Prepping your Bread

Keep dough refrigerated for up to 3 days or freeze if you want to keep it longer.

Read the special instructions for your preferred bread type below before starting. 

Letting it rise

As it warms, the yeast begins it's work of making your bread fluffy!  Can't rush this part, but you can help it a little bit. 

If your house is really cool, put it in the oven or microwave with the light on and that should provide enough heat to allow it to rise for about 3 hours.  Watch the temp though, if it gets too hot, it'll either kill the yeast or it'll rise too fast & you'll use up the active yeast and it'll have nothing left to give as it bakes!  I use this method ONLY after sitting out hasn't achieved my desired results and dinner time is coming up, so I allow the microwave the last hour or so.

Some recipes below require two rises, some only require one.  Be sure you read through the whole set of instructions before starting so you know what's to come! If you use the yeast in the first rise, you won't have enough for the second.  If you use up the yeast in the second rise, you won't leave enough for it to rise in the bake.  Don't get scared!  Just follow the times below and you'll be fine!



Dough is generally ready when it's risen to about 2x original size and is nice & bubbly.  No need to preheat the oven until it's done rising. (specific temps below).  Once it's doubled in size, the yeast has reached "maximum capacity". Any additional rise beyond double and it won't rise much when baked. 


I use cast iron to bake in, but you can bake in anything that is oven safe.   


Either a Dutch oven style with a lid (Corning Ware works well for this also) for a crispy round loaf, a loaf pan for sandwich bread style loaf, or skillet/pie pan for rolls and focaccia bread.  

You can always use parchment paper as a liner to avoid sticking.  NEVER use wax paper!  It'll melt to the pan and is such a pain! 

Use a good olive oil that has a high smoke point.

Using a good coarse salt is so much better than iodized table salt.


Bread undercooked or doughy?  The oven temp was likely too hot and it cooked the outside too fast before the inside had a chance to bake. 

Bread too crumbly?  The two most likely culprits are either the dough was mixed too much or was allowed to rise too long. 

Bread too dense?  Possibly didn't rise long enough or you overworked the dough and deflated it too much.  If a formula recommends a 30 min rise, then give it the full 30 minutes.

Too airy?  Maybe give it a few more kneads next time to take out a little extra air.  Also makes sure to give your loaf a little slit on top to give that air a place to escape. 

Didn't rise enough when baked?  You maybe let it over-rise and the yeast was used up and had nothing left to bake with. Don't let it over-rise. A timer is my very best friend! Follow the instructions below & you should be fine!   

Round Crispy Loaf

This loaf only requires one rise. 

When ready, pull it out of the refrigerator, unwrap and place in a bowl, cover the bowl with a towel, and let it sit in a warm location for about 3 hours to rise. 

If it was frozen, it may need more like 5-6 hours to rise properly. Once it's risen and looks like the picture above, place your Dutch oven or covered dish in the oven and allow it to pre-heat to 450 degrees, as the oven heats up.  

This is the time to add ingredients if you want your loaf to be flavored.  It's delicious when plain, but you can add to it now.  

*Pepperoni & mozzarella, Sundried Tomatoes and Basil, Cinnamon & raisins, Italian seasoning & garlic!

Basically whatever you like!  (no liquids)

Dump out the dough on a floured surface & do a "stretch & pull" technique on all sides of the dough ball.  About 8-10 stretch & pulls will be good.  Place your dough on a parchment sheet (NOT WAX PAPER!) & drop into your pre-heated dutch oven/bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with whatever seasonings you want (or none at all).  Score the dough to help it know where to split when it rises.  Put the lid on and pop it in the oven for 25 minutes. The lid on is going to steam your bread. 

After 25 min, take the lid off and bake another 5-8 min until it has a nice, crispy top!  

Lift the parchment out, let it cool just a touch & it's ready to eat!   Store bread in an airtight container in the fridge or in a plastic bag. 

NOTE:  Storing the bread will cause the crispy top to soften (Solve this problem by eating the whole loaf!)


Loaf Bread

This loaf requires two rises.  This dough will make 2 - 8" loafs.  If you only want one loaf, divide the dough BEFORE you allow it to rise and keep the 2nd half refrigerated or frozen until ready to bake.


Take your dough out of the fridge and allow it to rise, covered in a bowl until it doubles in size. About 2-3 hours.  Use the tip above to help with warming it up. When it's risen to twice it's size,

line your pan with parchment.  Do a stretch and pull similar to the crispy loaf.  Once you have done 8-10 stretch & pulls, divide your dough in half, if you are making both loaves, and place each half into a parchment lined loaf pan.  Cover the loaf and allow it to rise again in the pan for about 30-60 minutes to fill out the pan. When it's done with the second rise, preheat the oven to 400.  Drizzle with olive oil or brush with an egg wash or butter for a crispier top.  Give it a light score on down the center.

Bake for 22 minutes, uncovered.  Let the loaf sit in the pan to cool off.  You can eat this bread warm, but it will be soft and squishy. The longer it cools, the more firm it will be for slicing. 

Keep leftovers in an air tight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Because it has no preservatives to keep it fresh for a long time out on the counter like normal sandwich bread, it will mold faster than store bought bread.

Dinner Rolls/Sandwich Rolls/Sweet RoLLS

These rolls only need one rise. 

Knead one egg into the dough before allowing it to rise.  If making sweet rolls you can add about 4 tablespoons of honey also.  Knead well.  Place 4 tbsp of melted butter into your skillet.  Divide your dough into about 8 - 10 dough balls.  You can also chop up mozzarella sticks and wrap the dough ball around them for cheese stuffed rolls! Place them directly into the buttered pan with space between them.  Cover the pan with a towel and allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes.  If your dough is too cool, they may need to rise for up to an hour.  Once they've risen, heat your oven to 425. 

Brush with an egg wash and pop them into the oven, uncovered, for about 25 minutes. 

When done, you can brush them with more butter (or honey butter if you made sweet rolls).  Keep leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container or plastic bag. It has no preservatives, so they will mold faster than normal store bought rolls. 


focaccia bread

This bread needs to rise two times.  You can do the first one as a slow rise in the fridge, or a quick rise in 3-4 hours.

When you unwrap your dough, place it in a bowl, slick the entire surface with olive oil & rub it all around the dough ball.  Cover the bowl, preferrably with an air tight lid, and either pop in the fridge or leave out on the counter. Cold, refrigerated dough is the secret to making a delicious, focaccia!  Allowing the dough to rest 12-18 hours in the fridge (can rise up to 3 days!) will create a slow rise and result in an extra pillowy, bubbly & airy focaccia, but if you're pressed for time, you can make this from start to finish in about 4 hours, and it's really good too!


Prepare a buttered or parchment lined pan.  If skipping the parchment, you'll want to butter the pan to prevent sticking.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil to the pan.  


When your dough is done with the first rise (either the slow, refrigerated rise or the standard 3-4 hour rise on the counter), deflate the dough with a few kneads and put it into your prepared pan and roll your dough in the olive oil to cover well.  Smash it slightly flat, cover with a cloth and allow it to do rise #2 until it practically covers the pan.  About 2 hours if you are working with warm dough and up to 4 hours if working with refrigerated dough.  (use the tip above to help speed the warming process if needed).  Now preheat your oven to 425. 

After the second rise, when the dough is covering the pan, drizzle more olive oil on top and dimple the dough, making sure the olive oil makes it into the crevices.  Sprinkle with toppings of your choice!  I used fresh rosemary, chopped fresh garlic and large, flaky sea salt. 

Pop in the preheated oven immediately and bake at 425 for 25 min or until golden all around!  

That's it!  Enjoy your bread!  Store the leftovers in an airtight container or in a plastic bag.  Remember, there are no preservatives so if you won't finish it within a day or so, keep it in the fridge to prevent molding!

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