Best Way to Make Bread is in a Stand Mixer
Homemade bread is the best, and it’s cheap – about 30 cents a loaf with the big bag of flour I picked up. Even better, with a stand mixer to do most of the work, it’s easy. Your biggest investment (after the stand mixer) is time. I usually figure about 5 hours from zero to eating the first slice. If you’re like me, that time is extremely available right now. Let’s use it wisely.
Why I love making bread in my stand mixer.
In my regular life, I work at a high school. Thanks to COVID-19, we’re shut down and I’ve got a lot of time on my hands. Stuff that used to be a weekend project can now be an everyday thing. I also notice the store shelves are pretty thin. There was basically no bread on the shelves when I went out last week. What does that add up to? Bread making!
When the weather isn’t too hot, I normally bake bread every weekend.
The great thing about using a stand mixer is that you have full control over the process, and can make any kind of bread you want, plus, the crust is unparalleled. Here’s my easy to make white bread recipe.
How to Make Bread in a (KitchenAid) Stand Mixer: Step-By-Step Recipe
This recipe makes two loaves of bread. You can cut it in half, but it’s the same amount of work either way. A 6-quart stand mixer can handle three loaves, but my 5-quart KitchenAid can’t.
1. Mixing the dough
All-purpose flour will work fine, but you’ll lose a little bit of chewiness. If your yeast comes in packets, use one packet. Add 19¼ ounces (2⅜ cups) water at about body temperature and stir with a wooden spoon until all the water is incorporated.
There will still be some dry flour at the bottom of the bowl.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel or some sort of cloth and let rest 30 minutes. This rest is called an autolyse, and while it’s not necessary, it helps develop the structure of the bread and makes it easier to work.
While the dough rests, now is the moment to clean the spoon you used to stir the dough. It’s easy now, but will get really difficult in an hour. If you miss this window, let it sit for three days or so to fully harden, and it will crack right off.
Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt (or 1½ tablespoons table salt). Mount the dough hook on your mixer and knead on speed 2 for about 12 minutes. The dough will turn from a shaggy mess into a tight, cohesive mass.
Turn off the mixer and remove the dough to the counter. Next, you’re going to knead it a couple of turns by hand to bring it into shape. Flatten the dough with the heels of your hands into a rough rectangle about an inch thick.
Fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter, then repeat.
Aren’t you glad the mixer did most of this for you?
After a couple of turns, take the folded dough and roll it up perpendicular to the previous folds. Pick up the dough and roll it into a tight ball.
Drop the ball into the mixer bowl, smoothest-side up.
Cover the mixer bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest 2 hours. The dough will double in size.
While the dough rests, take this opportunity to clean the dough hook and any bits of the mixer that got some dough on them. Use a bench scraper on the countertop to pick up any bits of dough and flour before cleaning it with a dishcloth.
At this point, the yeast has put a lot of air into the dough. You want to press out any huge bubbles, but otherwise be gentle. Too much force will undo the work of your rise.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on the counter. Spread into a rectangle 2 feet wide and 1 foot long. Roll the dough to form a 2-foot long log, and pinch the bottom seam shut.
Cut the loaf in half with a bench scraper and tuck in the ends towards the seam sides. Roll the loaves seam-side down and even up the shapes as best as possible.
If you’ve got a baking stone and peel, sprinkle the peel liberally with cornmeal and place the bread on the peel. If you don’t, place the bread on a baking sheet. In either case, leave plenty of room for the bread to expand.
Each loaf will nearly double in width, and if they touch, they’ll grow together like some alien blob creature.
The point of the cornmeal, by the way, is to lubricate the peel so the bread can slide off onto the baking stone. If you’re using the baking sheet, then any event where the bread slides off is bad, so you don’t need it.
As for shaping the loaves, you could divide the dough first, then shape, but I find it tough to divide the dough evenly before rolling it up.
Cover the bread with your tea towel and let rest 1 hour. About 30 minutes into the rest (or as needed for your oven), place the rack (and baking stone, if you’re using it) in the lowest position and preheat to 450 degrees.
My oven usually says it’s ready in about 20 minutes, but I find the extra time helps to get the temperature back up fast after opening the door.
7. Finish and Slash
I like a little oil for extra browning and salt for taste. Pour ½ tablespoon olive oil over each loaf and rub it in gently by hand. Sprinkle the tops generously with kosher salt.
Take a paring knife and slash the tops of the loaves diagonally three or four times. Your slashes should go the width of the bread, about ½” deep. Better a little too deep than a little too shallow.
If you’re using a baking stone, slide the loaves onto the stone so they’re not touching. If you’re using a baking sheet, put the sheet in the oven.
Cook 10 minutes, then drop the temperature to 375 degrees and cook 35 minutes.
Remove the bread and let it rest on a wire rack. It’s still cooking on the inside, so let it rest 10-15 minutes before cutting into it.
Eat some bread right now! The crust will never be better.
Let the rest of the bread cool to room temperature and store in gallon-sized zipper bags. Don’t slice it until you’re ready to eat it. Slices sitting out will stale up in less than an hour.
You’ll get about a week out of this bread if you store it in a ziplock, but it will be rock-hard in a day if you leave it sitting out.
Everything You’ll Need for This Recipe
Unless your tap water is horrifying, it’ll do just fine here. Adjust the tap to get it to a little over body temperature.
When you find recipes, do you discover the salt quantity is always off? Use Diamond Crystal salt and they’ll work a lot better. All different salt brands have different densities, and I’ve found most sources base their salt quantities on Diamond Crystal.
In this case, think of the cornmeal as powdered graphite lubricant, except edible. Anything will do.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer (or any mixer)
This is the most important piece of the puzzle, and you’ve got to get it right. You need capacity, you need power, and you need the stability to bring that power to bear. I wouldn’t trade my 5-quart Kitchenaid for anything. The link above will take you to a 4.5-quart since the 5-quart is currently out of stock, as many things are during this time. However, they do have a renewed 5-quart here for a little less than what you’ll pay for the 4.5-quart.
You need something here with enough stiffness to mix up a pretty stiff dough. I use silicone spatulas for most of my stirring, but bread dough would snap those handles.
Great for cooking and cleanup, a bench scraper is a valuable workhorse for your kitchen. This recipe calls for one of these to divide the dough and clean the counter, but my number one use for this is to transfer ingredients from the cutting board to a pan.
A baking stone is great for crust, both on your bread, and for pizzas. It holds heat to give your bread a strong start, and pulls water out into its porous surface for a more even cook. Get the biggest one that will fit in your oven and store it on the bottom rack any time you’re not using both racks.
If you’re baking on a stone, you need a peel to get your bread (or pizza) onto the stone. For that, you want a wooden peel. It should be big enough to fit two loaves of bread at once.
Just dipping your toes into the world of bread? Use a basic half-sheet pan. I like a rim on my baking sheets, since I think it holds up better without bending and flexing. Also, a little off subject, but the key to a good loaf bread is a great pan, you can see our top picks here.
Your choice of paring knife is a very personal one. The shape of the point and the stiffness of the blade depend on what you like and how you work. This one’s my go-to, but I’d say to try some friends’ knives and see what feels right.
I like a relatively small grid for my cooling rack. It holds weight better and doesn’t have pieces slip through. Neither really applies here, but if you need a good rack.
Gallon-Sized Zipper Bags
The cheap ones just don’t work. Get the good ones for a zipper that works.
Homemade bread is delicious and worth your time, especially now. Start some up after lunch and eat fresh bread with dinner.
By: Nathan Crane