Basic Baking Ingredients

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White Bread SlicesSo you got a bread machine and you’re ready to bake. Great!

Here we go over the 7 basic ingredients used in baking. You’ll probably use most, if not all, these ingredients, so it helps to familiarize yourself with them and learn what function they serve.

Keep your pantry stocked with these ingredients and you’ll be able to whip up a delicious loaf at anytime!

1. Flour. Most people will use one of these three wheat flours for baking: bread flour, all-purpose flour, and whole-wheat flour. Bread flour is most suitable for yeast breads. All-purpose flour is most suitable for non-yeast breads and cakes (but you may also be able to use all-purpose flour for yeast breads with success – read our article about the differences between bread flour and all-purpose flour here.) Some recipes may call for some combination of these flours to achieve a more desirable texture. For instance, whole-wheat flour produces dense loaves but you can create a lighter loaf by mixing in some all-purpose flour. Gluten-free and keto bakers have many flour options, which we list here.

2. Liquids. Water and milk are the two main liquids used in baking. Water activates the yeast and brings the dough together. Milk, while not always necessary, improves flavor and texture. For bread machine owners, if you use the delay timer, which allows you to set the bread machine to start many hours later, make sure you use dry milk instead of fresh milk because fresh milk will spoil when left out too long. Always add warm liquids (not hot or cold) so as not to kill the yeast or prevent it from activating.

3. Eggs. You won’t be needing eggs for all breads, but to some it will add a touch of flavor, richness, and color to your loaf. Again, for those with bread machines, fresh eggs should never be used with the delay timer. Instead use powdered eggs.

4. Fats. Butter, olive oil, and vegetable oil are the commonly used fats in bread baking. Fats are responsible for adding texture, taste, and moisture to the bread.

5. Salt. You’ll need to add salt for yeast breads. Salt controls the yeast and helps the dough rise, while also boosting the flavor of the bread.

6. Sugar. White and brown sugar are the most common sugars called for in bread machine recipes. But some people may choose to experiment with maple syrup, molasses, and other sweeteners as well. Sugar provides “food” for yeast and enhances the flavor of bread.

7. Yeast. Bread isn’t bread without yeast, which contributes to the bread’s taste, aroma, and texture. The three kinds of yeasts commonly used in baking are active dry, instant, and rapid-rise yeast. Rapid-rise yeast, as the name suggests, is intended for “rapid” cycles on bread machines which bakes bread in a shorter amount of time. Most bread machine recipes call for active dry yeast.

8. Dried fruit, seeds, and nuts (optional). These optional ingredients will give your baked goodies a boost of flavor, nutrition, and texture.

To wrap up, here is a bread machine recipe for a basic white bread using some of the basic baking ingredients listed above:

Basic White Bread Recipe
Add these ingredients to your bread machine in the order listed, making sure the yeast doesn’t touch the liquid. Use the “Basic” or “Regular” setting on your bread machine.

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dry milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

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