Warm up crisp fall days by baking bread

Chase the season’s chill and tease the taste buds by making a variety of tantalizing loaves and rolls at home

Chilly fall days mean it’s time to bake some bread.

There’s something special about homemade bread. The process of making the dough is a lesson in patience. Kneading the bread can provide not only a workout but also a bit of stress relief. And few scents delight the senses as much as the tantalizing aroma that fills the air as bread bakes.

The sheer variety of breads that can be made is immense, and the number of foods that can be made from the dough is also significant — scones, rolls, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, calzones and pizzas, to name a few.

While yeast doughs may be a bit intimidating, there are a few tips to help you out. Proof the yeast to make sure it’s active before you add it to the flour mixture. To proof yeast, dissolve it in a small amount of warm water. A small amount of sugar may be added to hasten the process. Within 10 minutes, you should see the mixture foaming. If you don’t, you need new yeast.

Remember to use room temperature ingredients for the best results, unless otherwise specified in the recipe.

And if a recipe calls for bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, use it. Bread flour has extra protein, which helps the dough develop gluten, which is needed in some breads to create a chewy texture.

Use a dry measuring cup for dry ingredients and a liquid measuring cup for liquids. Don’t scoop flour out of the canister with a measuring cup or you may end up using too much, resulting in a heavy loaf. Instead, spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then level the top with a knife.

Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes to develop the gluten, until the dough feels satiny and pliable. To test it, hold a small portion of dough to the light and stretch it. Light should be visible through the dough before it tears.

Allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place. You can heat your oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off and allow the dough to rise inside.






2-3/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 pinch ground black pepper

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup mozzarella

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese


Combine flour, yeast, salt, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and pepper in a large bowl. Add water and vegetable oil, then mix until dough comes together.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Punch dough down and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 450-degree oven about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into 12 pieces and serve warm.




Crusty Dutch Oven Bread


4 cups bread flour

1-1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon active dry yeast


Pour bread flour into the bowl of an electric stand mixer and add water, followed by salt. Sprinkle yeast over the surface and allow stand about five minutes.

Mix on medium speed using the paddle attachment until the dough comes together. Replace paddle with a dough hook and continue mixing about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise 30 to 45 minutes, until about twice its size. Push a finger into the dough, which should give some resistance but not spring back. If it springs back, let it rise longer.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and punch down. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest 10 to 15 minutes.

Shape dough into a boule by pushing back and forth on the counter in a circular motion until it makes a round, smooth ball. Cover dough with a clean dish towel and allow to rise about one hour.

Slice a very shallow X into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Place loaf into a greased Dutch oven and cover with the lid.

Bake in a 450-degree oven for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake, covered, another 20 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until deep golden.




Rustic Whole Wheat Bread


3 cups flour

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons instant yeast

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

3-1/2 cups warm water (110 to 120 degrees)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Stir together flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, instant yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Whisk water and oil in a cup, then pour into flour mixture. Mix on low speed until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl into a ball.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead one minute, just until dough is smooth. Divide and shape dough into three balls for small loaves or two balls for larger loaves.

Dust loaves with flour and place on a baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise about 25 minutes, until doubled in size.

Cut an X about 1/4-inch deep in tops of loaves with a sharp knife.

Bake in a 375-degree oven about 25 minutes, until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool completely.

For extra depth, substitute 1/2 cup quick oats for 1/2 cup of the whole wheat flour.





1 cup warm water

2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons salt

5-1/2 cups bread flour

2 cloves garlic, minced, optional

1/4 cup butter, melted


Combine water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Let stand about 10 minutes, until bubbly and frothy.

Stir in milk, egg, salt and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface six to eight minutes, until smooth. Place dough into a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rise about one hour, until dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough and knead well. For garlic naan, knead in garlic at this point.

Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of golf balls. Roll into balls, cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Set an oven rack about six inches from the heat source and preheat the broiler.

Roll two dough balls into elongated ovals. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and cook under the broiler about two minutes, until lightly browned. Brush butter on both sides and flip. Continue broiling two minutes more, until the second side is firm and golden. Repeat with remaining dough.





French Rolls


1-1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

4 cups bread flour

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt


Stir warm water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand about 10 minutes, until creamy.

Add two cups flour, oil and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about eight minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place about one hour, until doubled in volume.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces and form each into a round ball. Place rolls onto two lightly greased backing sheets at least two inches apart and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise about 40 minutes, until doubled in volume.

Bake rolls in a 400-degree oven 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.




Easy Challah


1 .25 ounce package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (100 degrees)

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon salt

3 beaten eggs

3-1/2 cups flour, plus more for kneading

1 beaten egg yolk

1 tablespoon melted butter, optional


In a large bowl, stir yeast into the water and let the mixture stand about 10 minutes, until a creamy layer forms on top. Stir in honey and salt until dissolved, then add the beaten eggs. Mix in flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is sticky. Sprinkle dough with flour and knead about five minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Form dough into a compact round shape and place in an oiled bowl. Turn dough over several times to oil the surface of the dough, cover bowl with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm area 45 to 60 minutes, until doubled in size.

Punch down dough, and cut it into three equal-sized pieces. Working on a floured surface, roll the dough pieces into ropes about the thickness of a thumb and about 12 inches long. Ropes should be fatter in the middle and thinner at the ends. Pinch the ropes together at the top and braid them. Pinch the ends together and fold them underneath for a neat look.

Place braided loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the top with beaten egg yolk. (For a softer crust, brush with melted butter instead.)

Bake in a 350-degree oven 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is a rich golden color and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it with a spoon. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.





Perfect Every Time Pizza or Calzone Dough


1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 .25 ounce package active dry yeast

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups flour, plus more for dusting


Mix together lukewarm water and yeast in a small bowl. Let stand about five minutes, until foamy.

Combine water, olive oil, honey and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add one cup flour and mix well. Mix yeast mixture into flour mixture. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until dough is well combined.

Knead dough on a floured work surface  about eight minutes, until dough is soft, smooth and elastic. Roll dough into four calzone shapes or one large pizza.

To make calzone or pizza, fill dough with your favorite ingredients or toppings. Bake in a 400-degree oven 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.






For dough:

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

2 cups bread flour

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water, optional

1 large egg

3/4 teaspoon salt

For filling:

5 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, chilled

For streusel:

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup butter, chilled

For egg wash:

1 large egg, beaten, optional

1 tablespoon water, optional)


To prepare dough, warm milk and melt butter in a glass or ceramic bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Combine bread flour, flour, yeast and sugar. Add water, milk-butter mixture, egg and salt to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Using the dough hook in a stand mixer on low speed or working by hand, knead dough about 15 minutes, until smooth and elastic. If the dough is too wet, add more bread flour, about two tablespoons at a time to a maximum eight tablespoons. Cover dough with a damp cloth and let rise one to 1-1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

For the filling, stir together finely chopped chocolate, cinnamon and sugar. Cut in chilled butter with a fork. Set aside.

To make streusel, combine confectioners’ sugar and flour, then cut in chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

When dough has doubled, punch it down and cut into two equal pieces. Loosely shape each piece into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest 10 minutes.

Roll out one portion of dough on a lightly floured surface to form a 15-by-4-inch rectangle. Sprinkle with half the filling, roll up to form a long log and seal the seam. Attach the ends to form a circle and place the ring, seam-side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Use a serrated knife or kitchen shears to cut slits at one-inch intervals around the rings. Cover rings with damp kitchen towels and let rise 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Combine egg and water in a small dish and whisk to combine. Brush loaves with egg wash. Sprinkle streusel on top. Bake loaves in a 350-degree oven about 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown.


For a chewy crust, spray the loaves with cold water during baking or place a pan of boiling water in the oven to generate steam. For a soft crust, brush the loaves with butter after baking. For a shiny crust, use an egg wash — a mixture of beaten egg and a small amount of water — before baking.

Following are a few bread recipes from allrecipes.com.



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