Learn how to bake your own yeast-risen bread without a bread machine

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Making your own bread - it has to be the ultimate in chef showing-off-ness. Follow this step by step guide to being a dough master.

Kneading the dough to make bread

© A Little Course in Baking

There are many mysteries you must solve in order to feel like you've won at life. Why food tastes better when eaten straight out the fridge, what cryptic crosswords are really trying to say, if Robert Pattinson hadn't played Edward Cullen would you still fancy him, and how do you really make your own bread?

The answers? Because the calories don't count (true story), it's just gibberish give up, probably not, and with this helpful step-by-step, we'll show you.

And not with a bread machine, oh no. Them's for cheats.

This will give you the techniques and explain the processes involved in making bread. All you need to do is find the recipe you want to make and then feel proper smug that you understand how to knock back dough.

How to knead dough

(above)
To create a well-risen loaf, you must rehydrate the yeast ('proof it'), knead the dough to stretch and develop the gluten within it, leave it to rise, then 'knock back' the air from the dough, and proof it for one final rise before baking.

Kneading stretches the dough and develops the gluten in the flour, helping the loaf rise. Keep turning the dough by a quarter-turn each time you push it forward and fold it back on itself. This will ensure the gluten is evenly formed and the yeast well-distributed.

If you don't knead your dough well enough, you'll end up with a poorly risen loaf. Your dough is ready when it is smooth and 'springs back' when pressed with a finger.

Only lightly dust the work surface with flour so your dough doesn't become too dry. Hold the end of the dough with one hand. Stretch the dough forwards, then fold it back on itself, give it a quarter-turn and repeat the process for 5–10 minutes.

Leaving the yeast to rise in homemade bread

© A Little Course in Baking

Go & have a little rest after all that kneading



Leaving the dough to rise


Leave your dough to rise in a warm place for an hour or so until it doubles in size. Leaving your dough in a cool environment will slow down the rising process considerably.

Rising allows the ingredients to work together to produce carbon dioxide, while the developing gluten enables the dough to stretch, which traps carbon dioxide in the mix. On baking, the gas evaporates from the dough to leave a well-risen bread with a light texture.

Always put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl to prevent it from sticking. It's best to cover the bowl with cling film but a clean tea towel will do. Cling film creates a warm, moist environment that allows the dough to rise and prevents it from drying out.

Knocking back the dough

© A Little Course in Baking

Good for getting the rage out



How to knock the dough back


You need to knock back the newly risen dough to remove any excess carbon dioxide and knead it again briefly to redistribute the yeast within the dough.

Simply punch the dough with your fists and knead it again for a minute or two. The dough will automatically flatten slightly with the knocking back process.

You then need to shape the dough and leave it to proof for one final rise before baking.

See, simple.

This helpful step-by-step is from A Little Course in Baking, £9.99, dk.com

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