Comfort Food: Tips for Making Yeast Bread

Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Comfort Food
Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner; food styling, Ana Kelly;


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 Looking to make some yeast bread? Our Comfort Food cookbook has all the tips and tricks you’ll need to know before beginning the process of making your own homemade bread!


Bring ingredients and bowls to room temperature before beginning, unless the recipe specifies otherwise. Cold will throw a chill into dough and slow down the rise.

How to Knead

To knead, flour your hands and work surface and turn the dough out. Push down with your palms, fold the dough over onto itself, give it a quarter-turn, and repeat. Go gently at first, when the dough will be stickier. Expect to knead for 7 to 10 minutes to make the dough smooth, supple, and properly elastic. Continue to dust your hands and work surface with flour, as needed.

How to Know That Dough is Doubled

To check whether dough has doubled, stick a finger about 1 inch into it: If the indentation remains (doesn’t spring back), the dough is ready.

How to Get a Good Rise

A glass or ceramic bowl is preferred for rising yeast dough because it is heavy and durable and surrounds the dough with gentle, even warmth. To further ensure best results, before putting the dough into the bowl, fill it with hot water and let stand for 5 minutes. Then, dry the bowl well, oil it, and add the dough, rotating it to coat, as directed.

How to Delay Rising Dough

If you are called away unexpectedly while your dough is rising, don’t worry: Just punch it down, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. The dough will continue to rise in the fridge, but the cold will slow it down. When you are ready to resume, punch down the dough again and set it aside at room temperature to double again. This technique works well whether the dough is in the bowl (the first rise) or in the pan (the second rise).

How to Shape a Loaf

To shape a loaf, roll the dough into an approximate rectangle 11 to 12 inches long and almost as wide as your pan. Starting at the short end closest to you, roll the dough up snuggle, like a carpet. Pinch the seam, to seal, then pinch the ends and tuck them under. Place the loaf in the prepared pan, seam side down.

How to Prep the Oven

Preheat the oven 10 to 15 minutes before the final rise is finished. To prevent the tops of your loaves from getting too dark, place the oven rack on one of the lower settings.

How to Know When Bread is Done

Many yeast breads are done when, if you turn the loaf out of the pan and immediately tap the bottom, you hear a hallow sound. If the bread is not done, return it to the oven rack, without its pan, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes more. If the bread is rich in dairy products or contains a good amount of oats or other grain flakes, this tap test is less reliable. Total elapsed time is a better indicator.

Now that you’re an expert, you need the perfect bread recipe to test out your skills! Our Comfort Food cookbook is full of yummy bread recipes like Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Double-Apple Walnut Bread! Get your copy today by ordering online at or call 1-800-ALMANAC. Comfort Food is also available for purchase as an eBook or wherever books are sold.

~ By  Almanac Staff

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This new corner of will feature news, information, and cool stuff from The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its family of publications.

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