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Bread Baking

as a hobby

Bread baking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.

M.F.K. Fisher

Bread baking is a rewarding and relaxing hobby that anyone can enjoy. You can make delicious and healthy breads with simple ingredients and equipment, and customize them to your taste and preferences. Bread baking also gives you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, as well as a way to share your creations with others. To get started, you need a basic recipe, some flour, yeast, water, salt, and a bread pan or baking sheet. You can also use a bread machine or a stand mixer to make the process easier.

Helpful content to start bread baking as a hobby

We aim to provide accurate information, but errors might be found. Always exercise judgment and discretion.

📼 Videos

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YouTube | The Magic Of Bread Making
The Magic Of Bread Making
YouTube | How To Make Bread | Jamie Oliver – AD
How To Make Bread | Jamie Oliver - AD
YouTube | 1 DOUGH 3 LOAVES | The Easiest (Actually Good) Bread You Can Make
1 DOUGH 3 LOAVES | The Easiest (Actually Good) Bread You Can Make
YouTube | How to Make a Homemade Artisan Bread Recipe | Seriously the Best Bread Recipe Ever!
How to Make a Homemade Artisan Bread Recipe | Seriously the Best Bread Recipe Ever!

🎙️ Podcasts

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Spotify | Episode 1: Flours, the foundation of great bread.
Spotify Embed: Episode 1: Flours, the foundation of great bread.
Spotify | Baking Bread for Beginners
Spotify Embed: Baking Bread for Beginners

Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. It is not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life.

Lionel Poilâne, French baker and entrepreneur, father of Apollonia Poilâne

📜 Terms

Basic lingo for orientation.

  • Autolyse: A technique in which you mix flour with water before incorporating the remaining ingredients into the bread dough. An autolyse is especially useful when you’re working with whole-grain flours, as this hydration step softens the bran, making it less likely to damage gluten development.
  • Bulk fermentation: Sometimes called bulk rise or first rise, this stage happens after the bread dough is mixed but before it’s shaped. The “bulk” part is only relevant if you’re making multiple loaves from the same hunk of dough, since the first rise happens before dividing the dough.
  • Crumb: The structure of the bread. When you slice open a loaf, take note of the air pockets. Breads with large, irregular air bubbles, like ciabatta, are said to have an open crumb; those with tiny, regularly spaced air bubbles, such as pain de mie, have a “tight” or closed crumb.
  • Gluten: The water-activated protein that makes dough stretchy. This elasticity allows dough to rise without collapsing. Of all cultivated grains, wheat contains the most gluten (found in the seed’s starchy innard, called endosperm) and is used to make bread flour.
  • Kneading: The massaging of dough before baking. Kneading turns air pockets into tinier bubbles, creating a more uniform, tighter crumb structure.
  • Oven spring: The rapid expansion dough experiences when first exposed to the high heat of the oven. Scoring bread dough just before baking helps shape this expansion.
  • Proofing: The dough’s second and final rise, after shaping. For free-form boules, this stage happens in a proofing basket (aka banneton). Shaped loaves, like pain de mie and brioche, proof directly in the loaf pans. Long, skinny loaves like baguettes proof in folded linens known as couche.
  • Poolish: A small amount of bread dough with active, bubbling yeast, also called a pre-ferment. Unlike a sourdough starter, a poolish can be made with commercial yeast. It’s also known by the Italian name biga.
  • Seam: Known as a clé (“key”) in French, the seam of a loaf indicates where it’s been folded.
  • Sourdough starter: An acidic community of wild yeasts and bacteria used to leaven bread and add flavor. Also known as levain (“leaven” in French) or pre-ferment. Breads leavened with a sourdough starter are often referred to as sourdough breads.
  • Yeast: A living single-celled fungus found on many foods and in the air, and the primary leavening agent for most breads.

How to start bread baking as a hobby

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Bread baking can help you learn new skills and knowledge. Baking bread can teach you about the science and chemistry of baking, such as how yeast works, how gluten develops, how temperature affects dough, and how different ingredients interact. Baking bread can also teach you about the art and craft of baking, such as how to knead, shape, proof, and score your bread. Baking bread can also expose you to different cuisines and cultures by trying different types of breads from around the world.

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Get a clue.

What are the basic ingredients and equipment I need to start bread baking?

The basic ingredients you need are flour, water, salt, and yeast. You can also use other ingredients such as sugar, milk, eggs, butter, oil, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, herbs, and spices to add flavor and texture to your breads. The basic equipment you need are measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale, a large mixing bowl, a wooden spoon or a spatula, a dough scraper or a knife, a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, a baking sheet or a loaf pan, and an oven. You can also use other equipment such as a stand mixer, a dough whisk, a proofing basket, a lame or a razor blade, a baking stone or a steel, and a thermometer to make your bread baking easier and more consistent.

How do I knead bread dough and why is it important?

Kneading bread dough is the process of stretching and folding the dough repeatedly to develop gluten. Gluten is the protein network that gives bread its structure and elasticity. Kneading bread dough helps to distribute the yeast and air bubbles evenly throughout the dough, resulting in a smooth and uniform texture. To knead bread dough by hand, you can use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you on a lightly floured surface, then fold it over itself and rotate it 90 degrees. Repeat this motion until the dough is smooth and elastic, usually for about 10 to 15 minutes. To knead bread dough by machine, you can use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment and follow the instructions of your recipe.

What are the pros and cons of using a bread machine vs an oven?

A bread machine is a device that can mix, knead, rise, and bake bread for you with minimal effort and supervision. A bread machine makes bread easily and consistently, but limits your options and control. An oven gives you more freedom and variety, but requires more time and effort.

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YouTube | Apollonia Poilâne Teaches Bread Baking | Official Trailer | MasterClass
Apollonia Poilâne Teaches Bread Baking | Official Trailer | MasterClass

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Bread is the king of the table and all else is merely the court that surrounds the king. The countries are the soup, the meat, the vegetables, the salad but bread is king.

Louis Bromfield

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💡 Tips

Additional advice for beginners.

  • Invest in a digital kitchen scale and measure your ingredients by weight rather than volume. This will ensure accuracy and consistency in your bread making, as different flours and liquids can have different densities and moisture levels. Measuring by weight will also help you calculate the hydration percentage of your dough, which affects the texture and crumb of your bread.
  • Use an oven thermometer and preheat your oven well before baking. The temperature of your oven can affect how your bread bakes and browns. An oven thermometer can help you check the accuracy of your oven’s thermostat and adjust accordingly. Preheating your oven will ensure that your bread starts baking at the right temperature and doesn’t lose heat when you open the door.
  • Experiment with different flours, grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, herbs, spices, and other additives to create your own unique breads. You can also try different methods of baking, such as using a baking stone, a Dutch oven, or steam to enhance the crust and crumb of your bread. You can also try different types of leavening agents, such as yeast, sourdough starter, or baking powder or soda to create different flavors and textures.