Baking 101: Great bread recipes for novices


ingredients for baking bread

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Bread in all its forms — breakfast buns, rolls or even the ubiquitous sandwich bread — is a delight. I decided to hit the kitchen and try to bake bread from scratch. Some recipes were more successful than others, but all of the following recipes contain inexpensive ingredients and, with a little patience, produce delicious results.


Classic sliced bread

While whole wheat bread is a staple in my pantry, there are times when I need the soft, yummy goodness in my life that only white bread can bring. Some sandwiches just call for it, especially if I’m in the mood for the textures and flavors of my youth. Emma Christensen, recipe editor for The Kitchn, understands the importance of a good white bread and Photo by Jessica Mendezshares her wisdom in this tutorial and recipe for How To Make Basic White Sandwich Bread. I recommend reading this before embarking on your bread-baking journey. It demystifies the art of baking bread with clear instructions and step-by-step photos. I appreciate how thorough and well-written this recipe is because it’s helpful for creating a great meal and troubleshooting when something goes wrong. Admittedly, my loaf was not perfect, which I’m pretty sure was the result of my less-than-stellar shaping skills, but it was so delicious, I didn’t even care when it started to crumble a bit. The middle of the loaf was a bit more compact and easier to slice. I’m really going to study this tutorial by The Kitchn on How to Shape a Loaf of Bread to perfect my technique because this bread is worth the effort.

Fabulous fillings: This is the bread you want in your house when a grilled cheese or egg sandwich craving strikes. The Kitchn also has some great recommendations within the post.


Comforting crackle top bread

British chef Lorraine Pascale, who sits on the judging panel of the Food Network’s Spring Baking Competition and whose latest show, "How to Be a Better Cook," premieres May 2 on the Cooking Channel, has mastered the art of the easy rustic loaf with her recipe for Crackle Top Bread. This bread is hearty with a delicious, chewy center, but the real show stopper is the super crunchy crust. One bite and I was hooked. This bread was made for dunking. Its sturdiness makes it the perfect accompaniment to a cup of café con leche.

Scrumptious spreads: Crackle top bread is a great base for all sorts of spreads, as it stands up well to sweet and savory flavors alike. It soaks up pesto like a dream and is the perfect pillow for a nice heap of jam.


A versatile focaccia

A good recipe for focaccia bread should definitely be in your cooking arsenal. Focaccia is highly adaptable, holds a number of toppings and easily stands in on pizza night with a sprinkling (or coating) of cheese. Dara at Cookin’ Canuck has met all these needs and more with her recipe for Focaccia with Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Rosemary, the base of which she adapted from Food & Wine Photo by Jessica Mendezmagazine. This was the easiest of the bunch to make, and kneading and poking the dough totally brought out my inner child.

Top it off: Add a dollop of ricotta cheese on top of a slice of warm focaccia for extra creaminess.


Go bananas!

Fewer scents are more mouthwatering than fresh baked cinnamon rolls, though fresh baked banana bread is high up on the list as well. It’s no surprise, then, that when I stumbled upon The Minimalist Baker’s recipe for One Bowl Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls, I nearly wept with joy. These two treats are great on their own, but together they create a whole new world of breakfast bliss. These are also vegan and will feed a hungry crowd. You may never go back to regular banana bread again.

A little something extra: The Minimalist Baker provides a simple glaze recipe for topping these rolls, but a smear of peanut butter on a hot roll is both incredibly tasty and effortless. Frankly, these are amazing as they are, no topping required.

Even if your bread isn’t perfect the first time around, you will no doubt enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with baking bread. Practice makes perfect, so don’t get discouraged!