It turns out, making bread is way easier than I thought.

By Emily VanSchmus
Updated June 16, 2020
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Project Joy is a weekly column about the projects we’re doing at home that bring us a little piece of happiness.

There’s a reason I’m not a food editor: I can follow easy recipes for things like cookies and muffins (boxed brownies are my true forte), but I really don’t know much about baking. If yeast is on the ingredients list, I’m out. I’ve always preferred to watch bread-making videos on Instagram rather than attempt the process myself. But according to my Instagram feed, making your own bread seems to be some sort of unspoken requirement of quarantine (in fact, over the last three months Google searches for ‘bread recipe’ have risen by more than 600%), and I started to feel like I was missing out. 

One of the main reasons making bread has always intimidated me is the fact that you need to pay close attention to details like timing and temperature: As the girl who once forgot to put flour in her pumpkin bread, this seemed like a lot of responsibility. But with advice from our food editor and more FaceTime calls to my mom than I am willing to admit, I made my own bread from scratch (yeast and all!) and I’m proud to announce it was a success. 

I decided to make the Better Homes & Gardens Easy Everyday Bread recipe, because it was straightforward and I could find all of the ingredients. It’s a light bread that would pair well with a cozy soup recipe or served alongside a tasty pasta dish. And the best part? It was actually easy to make!

Credit: Emily VanSchmus

The hardest part about making the yeast bread was finding the yeast. I decided to try making bread several weeks ago, but I had to wait until the yeast packets came back in stock before I could get started. Since so many people are on the bread-making train right now, there is actually a nation-wide shortage of yeast. I was eventually able to score a couple from Target (I used Fleischmann Active Dry Yeast, $2, Target.com) but if you’re having trouble finding it there are still options available from Etsy, of all places. 

Once I had the yeast in my hands, I read through the recipe and did a little research before mixing up the dough. As I was watching Chrissy Teigen make pizza dough on Instagram stories a few days ago, I learned that the dry stuff inside my yeast packets is actually alive. Who knew? Heeding Chrissy’s advice, I made sure to stir gently and use water that wasn’t too warm. You’re actually supposed to use a thermometer to check the temperature, but I don’t have one so I erred on the side of too cool rather than too warm. 

Once I got the dough mixed up, I let it refrigerate overnight. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was a little disappointed to find it didn’t look much different the next morning. But once I formed it into a loaf shape and let it rise on the kitchen counter for a while, it started to grow. After waiting the required one hour (it felt like much longer), it was time to put my dough in the oven. I set the timer for 25 minutes, but took the bread out after 24 because I just couldn’t wait any longer while the heavenly freshly-baked-bread smell filled my kitchen. 

After letting the bread cool, I sliced it up and took a bite. I won’t lie: I didn’t have high hopes that I could pull this off, but I was pretty impressed with the end result. I have two yeast packets left, so I’m eyeing our Best-Ever Cinnamon Roll recipe and considering trying the Everyday Artisan Bread next. 

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