Okay, I just burned out my breadmaker and I need a loaf of bread for dinner. Just finished asking my best friend all the things I should know and in particular, what I shouldn't do. Here's what she said! And what my best friend didn't know... my mom did!
1. Make sure that your yeast is fresh. If it's not, your bread won't rise. Been there and done that. I also keep my yeast in the fridge. I think my mom told me that!
2. Seasoned bread bakers can test water on their wrist. If you are doing it for the first time, it might be a good idea to test it out using a thermometer. And follow the temps recommended on the yeast package or in the recipe.
3. Add the flour slowly. Adding it all at once could result in dry dough. I'm going to say it again, so you don't forget! Add it slowly.
*Surprisingly enough, the season, dryness of your house and even the age of the flour can determine how much you will need.
4. The kneading is the hardest part. If you can get help, take it. Your husband is handy when it comes to this part of the process.
5. Don't skip the salt... even if you are trying to cut down. It is important to the fermentation process and might account for why my bread maker dough sometimes takes on a life of its own!
6. Be sure to let the bread cool down before slicing. It can ruin a really good loaf!
And one more thing... make it fun for your kids. I still have memories from my childhood about an aunt who would make huge batches of bread and then make small animal shaped loaves for all of us kids! And that had to be over 40 years ago!
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