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Intro to Bread Making: The Basic Process

Learn the basic steps of how to make bread dough. This general process is used for all yeast breads with slight variations for each type. 

How to Make Bread Dough: Kneading with a dough hook

The process of how to make bread dough can be a bit confusing if the general steps are not understood. There are 8 basic steps that the production of all yeast doughs follow. Keep in mind that each step may have slight variations based on the specific yeast bread being made.

How to Make Bread Dough

While each variety of bread will have slight variations, the basic process of making bread dough is the same across the board. These are the basic steps for how to make bread dough:

1. Mise en Place (Scaling)

Before starting the bread making process, it is important to gather all of your ingredients (mise en place) and measure them accurately. Measuring ingredients by weight is a much more accurate way to measure and is the preferred method for bread making.

2. Mixing

The order in which ingredients are combined varies based on the types of bread. The straight dough method, the modified straight dough method, and the sponge method are the three mixing methods for combining ingredients for a bread dough.

3. Kneading

After the ingredients for the bread dough are combined the dough is kneaded. Dough can be kneaded in a stand mixer using a dough hook, or by hand. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.

Gif of kneading dough by hand

The length of time dough is kneaded depends on what kind of bread you are making. Doughs without any fat (lean dough) will be kneaded longer, while bread dough that contains fat (enriched dough) will be kneaded for a shorter period of time.

Kneading Dough: Kneading bread dough is an important process to developing a gluten structure which strengthens the bread. It also creates a more even crumb for the final product and improves the flavor of the bread.

4. Bulk Ferment (1st Rise)

After the dough is mixed and kneaded, it is allowed to rest and ferment. Fermentation occurs when the yeast begins to feed on the starches and sugar present in the dough. As the yeast feeds, carbon dioxide is produced which makes the dough rise and develops the texture and flavor of the bread.

Dough fermenting in bowl

5. Shaping

After the dough has bulk fermented, it is shaped into rolls, loaves, or specialty shapes likes braids.

Shaping dough with hands

6. Proofing (2nd Rise)

The term proofing, also called proving, refers to the rise that happens after the dough is shaped. The same fermentation process is happening during this step as it is in step 3, but this is where the shaped dough gains the bulk of its volume. Typically, shaped bread dough should rise until double in size.

When dough rises it is “proof” that the yeast is alive and that the bread will continue its rise in the oven.

7. Baking

After the bread has proofed sufficiently it should be baked. If you wait too long to bake the bread dough after it has proofed, it can overproof which will cause a sour taste and large holes in the final product.

Bread is cooked through when its internal temperature reaches 190-200 F (99-94 C).

Baked bread loaf in skillet


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7 comments on “Intro to Bread Making: The Basic Process”

  1. Ahhh your posts always make my inner baking nerd come out in fascination!

  2. Thank you for ALL the GREAT info.

    What is the 8th step of “8 basic steps that the production of all yeast doughs follow”?

    Is it the eating step? ♥️

  3. What to do if the dough is overproofed after retardation? 

  4. WHAT do u mean by lean dough and enriched dough? Does it mean the fats we add like butter or oil? Or the nutrition value of flour that we use while making it? What is wheat flour- enriched or lean?
    I am not able to make wheat flour bread properly and ur reply might help me do it. 
    Thank u

  5. Your detailed description on basic steps on how to make bread are essentially helpful.

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