Now That's a Mouthful

Episode 70: Bread: Everything you KNEAD to know.

Episode 70: Bread. Everything you "knead" to Know.

This is everything you need to know to make great bread in your own kitchen. We talk everything from quick breads to the no-knead bread, to making your own sourdough starter and how to fabulous yeast risen breads. Baking bread at home is easy. It doesn't require a lot of time or effort and you get to eat fresh-baked bread crafted by your hands, not to mention fill your home with that amazing aroma.


Mix. Wait. Bake.
For the home cook there's nothing like fresh baked bread. It can almost be foolproof. Trust the idea that bread baking IS as easy as MIX, WAIT, BAKE and you’re on your way.

Easy and fast, we love Chef Donna’s Zucchini Bread (with chocolate chips and nuts!) and we have 3 banana breads to try: Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter Banana Bread, Joy of Cooking’s Banana Bread, a banana bread with red miso paste that is the base for banana pudding made with banana bread, nilla wafers, vanilla pudding and banana slices!

IT’S WORTH MENTIONING AT THE OUTSET – once you make your bread, regardless of the type of bread, what becomes possible with it, is pretty diverse. You can make everything from sandwiches, to incorporating it into desserts, like bread pudding, to making ingredients for other dishes, like bread crumbs or croutons.

Don’t overmix quick bread batter.
Quick breads come together in a matter of minutes, but they do require lengthy bake times.

Lusciously moist results come from just bringing the ingredients together with as few strokes as possible. You can bake your batter in a bundt pan, for a moist cake-like bread.

Muffins (including our Champagne Orange Marmalade Muffins) are another terrific example of a quick bread! And, if that muffin is hard to break apart – you have to tear at it – that’s because the batter is over-worked.

No Knead Dutch Oven Bread.
Our NO KNEAD DUTCH OVEN BREAD is similar in approach. Mix ingredients until just combined, and since you’re using yeast but not kneading the dough, you don’t want to over work that gluten in the mixing. Instead, you let that long overnight rise allow that gluten to hydrate and relax. The yeast does its job – everything rises, you dump it into a Dutch-oven, and then an hour later you have bread. 

In our BONUS EPISODE ON THE NO KNEAD DUTCH OVEN BREAD e give you some tips for backing-in that overnight rise into your busy schedule. This bread is easy enough to mix up in the morning, then you just let it sit out on your counter and rise. At the end of the day, you come home and into the oven it goes. You’ve got great homemade bread for dinner, a dinner party or to freeze for whatever you’ve got on the horizon.

Whole Grain Flours.
As versatile as these bread are, remember whole grain flours always require more hydration than your typical bread flour or all-purpose flour. That simply means that unless you want a super dense tight-crumb loaf, you need to layer in all-purpose flour or bread flour with your whole grain flour.  Remember to stay roughly close to the ratios of dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the recipe you are modifying, and you should have success!

Weather and Temperature will affect your bread!
Weather and temperature affect your results. Wet weather will increase baking time, but decrease the amount of hydration a dough needs. The higher the temperature, the faster a yeast bread will rise; the faster a bread will bake.

Quick bread is delicious with coffee.

Success with Yeast Risen Bread.
Recipes have improved greatly, as have our mixers and ability to make artisan yeast-risen breads.

You can slow down the rise by putting your dough into the refrigerator (the lowest, coldest part), or you can freeze it overnight. Let it defrost in the refrigerator the next day and pick up where you left off.

You can speed up the rise by putting your dough into an oven with just the oven light on. That makes it warmer than room temperature and can cut the rise time by about half.

Try these tricks out with recipes like our Chocolate Studded Panettone or our Chocolate Babka with a Cinnamon Crumb Topping. Both are PERFECT for the holidays… and with our tricks you can always start these breads in the evening, let them start their rise overnight in your refrigerator, and then when you’re ready the next day – finish with shaping and baking!

Working with a starter.
Same principles apply when making and working with a starter. When making a starter, you do have a lot of latitude. Miss a feeding, no problem. Just pick up where you left off. Once your starter is made, you can maintain – literally for as long as you want – even years.  But you do have to maintain it about once a week, or if you go back to EPISODE 7 WORKING WITH DOUGH we give you some tips for drying out your starter and then freezing it, which gives you even more flexibility for having that artisan bread on YOUR schedule. (i.e., use a couple tablespoons of wet starters – add flour enough to make it into a dry crumble and keep it in your refrigerator or freezer for as long as 3 months; then rehydrate it overnight and use the starter).

Try making a starter and using in our GALATIAN RYE BREAD, or the LAMINATED HONEY RYE BREAD. All of the bread recipes on give the full breakdown of how long it takes – hands on, resting and rising, shaping and baking so you know EXACTLY how to back that bread baking into your schedule. AND YOU STILL HAVE THE FLEXIBILITY to slow down the rise or hasten it.

Breads freeze so well!
The other terrific thing about bread is that it freezes perfectly. That's why whenever you have the time to do a little finagling with your schedule and back that baking time in,  I always suggest that you make bread, freeze it, and then … whenever you want or need to, you pull fresh bread out of your freezer. And you, are a KITCHEN STAR!

Chef Donna’s one thing to learn from this podcast:  bread baking is one of the easiest undertakings in the home kitchen – whether it’s a quick bread, or something like the NO KNEAD DUTCH OVEN BREAD that you let sit and rise overnight, or even yeast risen breads. They require very little hands on time and the results are amazing. Plus, with a tiny bit of planning, you can back fresh home baked – artisan-like  breads – into your busy holiday schedule! Just commit to trying bread baking once…

And we’ll get you the rest of the way there. Not only with a lot of terrific recipes, but also with the time tables and information to insure your success. It’s all on our podcast page and our recipes page at

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These RECIPES are referred to in this episode. You can find more information on our Cookbooks Page. Be sure to check out our collection of cookbooks for each Season of Now That's A Mouthful by clicking on the drop down menu.