There’s nothing better than the aroma of fresh bread baking in the oven. Baking bread at home may seem like a lost art, but it doesn’t have to be. Chef Rick Miller, manager of Farrell Family Bread in Tulsa, offers tips and a basic recipe to bring that goodness back to the kitchen. With 10 years of experience, he knows a thing or two.
He suggests starting with the freshest ingredients – like unbleached flour – and a good, solid recipe with easy-to-understand instructions.
“There are many great books available like The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and Crust and Crumb,” he says.
To prevent the bread from turning out tough, Miller warns against adding too much flour during the kneading process. If the dough is too difficult to knead, let it rest for a few minutes, allowing the gluten to relax. Once the dough has risen, shape it into loaves, taking care to avoid kneading the dough further.
Also, adding salt too early can kill the yeast. Instead, add it near the end of the initial mixing.
Miller also suggests investing in a digital scale since most ingredients are measured by weight, not volume. Similarly, an instant read thermometer helps ensure when the bread is ready.
Most of all, “Be patient. Don’t be disappointed if the first batch doesn’t work,” he says. “Baking bread takes trial and error.”
2.29 lbs. untreated flour
1.6 lbs. water
1/8 tsp. yeast
4 oz. poolish*
1/8 tsp. salt
Blend all ingredients (except salt) in mixer to smooth dough. Let rest 20 minutes and add salt on slow speed. When salt is incorporated, mix about three minutes on medium speed, or until dough forms “window panes” when lifted up and stretched gently. Dough will pull away from sides of the bowl during the mixing process when ready. Spread dough in pans or form into loaves on stone or baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
*Poolish, or pre-ferment, is a bread starter that can add great depth of flavor. Mix one part whole-wheat flour to two parts water and let stand at room temperature overnight.