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I'm Michelle, an Illustrator & Creative Consultant. I bring beauty to the world through hand drawn art, lettering & products. To see my work and what services I offer, I have designated “portfolio” and “work with me” pages. If you'd like to reach out about a collaboration or project idea, I'd love to hear from you at michellesolomonart@gmail.com

Beginner's Breadmaking Basics + our favorite bread recipes



So you want to make bread! Excellent. As you go through these recipes and techniques I want you to remember that the heart of breadmaking is really a simple process, and humans have been making it for ages with no fancy techniques or tools.

If there is one thing I can impart to you from this blog post, let it be this: just try it. Try a bread recipe. If it's a flop, try another. Ask someone what you might've done wrong. Ask me if you'd like, I'm happy to troubleshoot with you. Breadmaking is so simple and so delicious, do not let fear of failure or wasted flour get in your way.

I've had my fair share of recipe flops, but none of the good cooks or bakers of the world would get where they are if they minded failing every now and then. That being said, I want to set you up for success, so here are the well tested recipes, tools, and techniques that I use and love when I make bread.

A note about bread machines: you may start off making bread in a machine if you wish. You do not need to. You do not need a bread machine or a stand mixer to make excellent bread. I used a bread machine for a few years because it was convenient for me, now that I've made a lot of bread I prefer the taste of not using one.


Breadmaking Tools:



You do not need any tools. I repeat, you do not need any tools. I have heard so many people say, "ah well I wanted to make this recipe, but I thought it wouldn't really be good unless I had a mixer" and that is just not so. Make the bread. Always make the bread. Acquire tools as you want and need them for different recipes or to experiment with.

1. A Dough Scraper I have a variety of dough scrapers, and I don't use them all that often but they do come in handy when I want to cut even pieces of dough for biscuits, or for certain recipes that are very sticky. They are cheap and can also be used to clean dough off of surfaces.

2. A Digital Thermometer this is a useful tool to have to see if your bread is done. Most breads are done around 190F. If you don't have a digital thermometer, it's plenty easy to just go by color and sound for most loaves.

3. A Danish Dough Whisk I love my dough whisk, and it's very nice for mixing yeast and water and those early bits of flour in. Not a necessary tool, but a fun one. If you get one I would recommend a metal handled one, mine has a wooden handle and therefor must be hand washed and oiled.

4. A Mixer if you have a kitchenaid, you may be able to use that. Look in your instruction manual (or google) to make sure, because some of the varieties don't have a motor strong enough to handle bread dough. If you are planning to get a new mixer, I'd recommend this professional kitchenaid for most family baking needs, UNLESS you are baking regularly for a crowd or family with 5+ kids, in that case you will need something stronger like this one. 

5. A Scale a kitchen scale is useful if you are doing artisan or sourdough, but it is not strictly necessary. If you'd like to use European recipes it is also helpful to have, because most of their recipes are by weight.

6. Other tools: there are plenty of other bread making tools you could try. On my wish list is a banneton basket and a lathe, but neither of these have been particularly necessary for me. My mother in law has a lovely piece of floured canvas for kneading doughs on, I think something like that would be very nice too. A pastry brush is also a good idea, as is a silicon mat or parchment paper. I would not want to bake most breads without parchment paper, it is cheap at the grocery store and makes clean up a thousand times easier. That being said, if you don't have it, bake anyway. A lot of people bake bread in Dutch ovens, but I think this is only really necessary when you get deep into artisanal and sourdough breads, and it isn't necessary for the beginner-friendly versions of those recipes.

The Recipes:



1. French Bread this is not quite the same as a baguette, but it is absolutely delicious and easy to make. You do not have to do the ice cube thing. Difficulty: 


2. Rolls if you saw my rant on IG, you know that I am not the biggest fan of ATK. However, this recipe is a winner... you just don't need to bother with the cake pan thing at the end, just leave them in and turn the heat down and watch for them to get to the right color. I cover these rolls with a kitchen towel after taking them out of the oven so the crust softens a bit. Difficulty: ⭐⭐

3. Biscuits These biscuits are fantastic. There are a lot of tricks for incorporating cold butter into biscuits, but my method is to use a stick straight from the freezer and use a sharp knife to chop it into little squares. I squish these into the flour with my fingers and they come out perfect every time! Difficulty: ⭐

4. Amish white bread this bread is heavenly soft. If you want a soft white sandwich bread, this is the one. Difficulty: ⭐

5. Vermont Oatmeal Honey Whole Wheat bread I think my mother in law introduced me to this lovely, soft, healthier bread. It is so delicious and just the right amount of sweet. Difficulty: ⭐⭐

6. No Knead Artisan Bread I wouldn't necessarily make this as your first bread loaf, just because it's a little finicky and there are a lot of other loaves that are easy wins. If you want to make artisan bread though, and have tried a couple other loaves, this is a good place to start. Difficulty: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

NOTE: it isn't that this bread is very difficult, anyone can make a decent and edible loaf with this recipe, that would be one star. However, it is hard to get it really good and correct and so that is why I gave it a higher difficulty rating.

7. Focaccia I made this the other day and it was nearly gone by the end of the night. This is so good and so easy, and is a pretty quick bread to make. This would be a good first bread to try. Difficulty: ⭐⭐

8. Sourdough Sourdough is definitely a project, but it is a delicious project. Linked is the sourdough guide that I use, and it gives very good instructions. It is 80% science 20% art so it can be a little hard to get right, but even the mistakes are delicious in breadmaking. Difficulty:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

9. Challah Challah is a Jewish bread that I love to make, and that's been a tradition in my family. There are many good recipes: Smitten Kitchen, Tori Avey... but Jamie Gellar's is my favorite. Traditionally, this bread would be made on a Friday before sunset. Difficulty: ⭐⭐⭐
10. Beer Bread this is the easiest bread, and it is so delicious! I've brought this to Thanksgiving before, it is so cozy and warm and the butter makes it so good. This would be a great first bread for someone who isn't really into bread making, and isn't sure they WANT to get into bread making. It's excellent and easy.  Difficulty: zero stars

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