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Bread Making, Part 1: It Feels Right

Bread Making, Part 1: It Feels Right

Have you ever considered the difference between handmade and homemade? We believe that everyone deserves the chance to experience the joy of baking handmade bread and all the sensory pleasure it holds. The smell of bread in the oven is amazing and there’s nothing like it! But you don’t have to be the baker to enjoy aromas from the kitchen. We’re talking about unleashing your inner baker with the power of touch.

Hands are the Best Bread-Making Tools

When it comes to making bread, your hands are your greatest tools. Nothing can rival the power they give you. Bread making has a long history, tens of thousands of years old, and it began long before the arrival of shiny utensils and power mixers. All that time between then and now is filled with hands-on trials and errors. The process is still pretty much the same, with no qualifying age or previous knowledge. What a relief to know that anyone can do it!

Put Your Hands in the Dough

The dough itself has a lot to do with feel. Learning the texture and consistency of good dough can only be achieved by using your hands, from the palms to the fingertips as you feel your way through the process of mixing, rolling and kneading. Engaging your hands and arms as you find your rhythm will quickly become a game of relaxation and it’s fun to develop your own method and style as you go. Eventually your sense of touch will help you determine if the dough is too sticky, crumbly or just right.

Handmade Bread is Unique and Delicious

Like with all finished hand crafted projects, true artisan bread will turn out a little different each time you make it. That’s expected, so don’t let it discourage you! The same is true for us at House of Bread Bakery Cafe and we are proud of the varied results we get from using fresh ingredients kneaded with care. It makes us confident that the taste is more satisfying and it results in wholesome goodness.

You will never regret the decision to make your own bread or to let your hands guide you in the process. We’re pretty sure that even your first loaf will turn out  better than a mass-produced loaf from the grocery store. Our very own Grandma’s White Bread recipe is great for beginners and it’s so delicious you’ll make it over and over, experimenting with different ingredients to suit your dietary needs and taste preferences.

If you’re still hesitant to get started, check with your local House of Bread Bakery Cafe to ask about group or private bread making classes. Or just drop in for some smells, samples and selections that will inspire you to go home and give it a try.

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Must-Have Recipe: Grandma’s White Bread

Must-Have Recipe: Grandma’s White Bread

Grandma’s White Bread
Learning how to bake Grandma’s white bread will give you a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, even though the recipe is quite simple.You only need five ingredients to find baking bliss and master a delicious, wholesome recipe. Just five! Can you imagine looking at the label on a loaf of store-bought bread and seeing just five ingredients listed? Yet with this bread, which we also call “the old standard,” simplicity is the key to its versatility and wide appeal.

For the optimum flavor, always try to purchase the finest quality ingredients possible, starting with the right flour. High-protein unbleached bread flour is the best choice, as the lack of protein in all-purpose flour will result in a short, squatty loaf.

This recipe will make one large loaf using the approximate 9 x 5 x 3 inch pan, or two smaller loaves, using the approximate 8 x 4 x 2.


  • 1½ cups of warm water (approximately 100 degrees)
  • 2 packages or one and 3/4 tablespoons of active dry yeast
  • 4 cups of unbleached flour (approximately a pound)
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

First, test the yeast to make sure it is still active. To do this, place the yeast in a large mixing bowl, and the required warm water amount until the yeast dissolves. Add the honey to the mixture and within a few minutes small bubbles will appear as the yeast ferments. Place the salt into a large mixing bowl and then slowly add the flour.

HAND KNEADING: Stir the mixture with your hand or a wooden spoon until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and tend to form a ball that breaks away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough feels sticky, then add more flour. If the dough feels stiff and doesn’t stick at all, then add a teaspoon of water at a time until the dough feels good. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface. Begin the kneading the dough, using a process of pushing, folding and turning, until the dough has a smooth, satiny elastic texture. Again, add more flour if the dough feels very sticky. Expect to knead for approximately 8-10 minutes.

MIXER KNEADING: Start with mixer on low for one minute and then increase the speed to the medium setting for approximately 4-6 minutes. With your bare hand, feel the dough; add a tablespoon of flour if it is sticky. If the dough feels tough and not sticky at all, mix a couple of minutes longer.

After kneading, place the dough back in the mixer bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for approximately 1½ hours or until the dough doubles in bulk. Punch the dough down with your fist. Place on a flat floured surface, shape as desired.

Place the dough in thoroughly sprayed pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the dough has risen slightly above the pans, place them in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes. Check to see if the loaf has baked long enough by tapping the bottom of the loaf. It should be somewhat firm and sound hollow.

Place on a wire rack and cool for a couple of hours before slicing – if you can stand the wait!

Grandma’s White Bread Recipe is an excerpt from “House of Bread Made Easy,” by House of Bread Bakery Cafe founder Sheila McCann. The book is a collection of recipes and stories, and features tips on technique and ingredients.

Contact Sheila to get your own copy of the Recipe Book at

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Go for the Gusto: Garlic Cheddar Bread Recipe

Go for the Gusto: Garlic Cheddar Bread Recipe

Take one part passionate baker, and one part people-pleaser: What do you get? An irresistibly delicious recipe, of course! The garlic cheddar loaf was created at the suggestion of a customer, who desired fresh, flavorful bread baked with her favorite ingredients.

If you already like to make your own kitchen creations, then you already know how slight ingredient or process changes can leave you with a series of trials before you get an out-of-the-oven taste that pleases you. We have so many stories like this and can assure you, it’s all part of the baking experience. Your recipes and your baking skills will be better for it!

House of Bread Bakery Cafe has been offering Garlic Cheddar Bread for 15 years. It’s hard to believe you can follow such simple instructions and produce this customer favorite. Make it straightforward, as shown, the first time. We tried adding the cheese and garlic into the dough during the mixing process, but found that the garlic and cheese tastes were too mild. The star flavors stand out much better if they are added after the first rising. With that in mind, go ahead and prepare your garlic butter–water mixture:

  • 3 Tablespoons of Crushed Garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons of Melted Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Warm Water

NOTE: It is perfectly find to adjust the amount of garlic in the recipe for your own personal tastes.

Have ready:

  • 1 cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese

NOTE: Monterey Jack, Parmesan or any type of hard cheese may be substituted.

Follow Grandma’s White Bread recipe for the dough. After the first hour-and-a-half rising is done, spread out the dough with your hands. Make it approximately one (1) inch thick. Evenly apply the garlic butter and water mixture. Sprinkle the cheese all over the dough. Roll up the dough into a torpedo shaped loaf. Garnish with the garlic mixture and sprinkle with cheese on top.

SERVING SUGGESTION: Slice the loaf lengthwise and broil in a 350 degree oven until toasted. Serve with any type of dinner. Best served hot, right out of the oven!

We are confident that if you are following this recipe, yours will be just as tasty and in-demand as our Garlic Cheddar loaf! Even so, we hope you will visit our neighborhood bakery and cafe, where you can tell us about your baking experience or sample any of our wholesome, homemade breads for yourself.

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Most Requested Recipe: Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

Most Requested Recipe: Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

As a young girl, we made a homemade version of cinnamon toast that was just buttered toast sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. That kitchen creation was a great starter recipe, and fun for little fingers, too! But since then I have learned some healthier alternatives. Today cinnamon is the star of several wholesome breads and delicious pastries at House of Bread Bakery Cafe.


House of Bread’s Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

Try this one at home for an all-out people pleaser at any meal. It also makes a thoughtful all-occasion gift. House of Bread Bakery Cafe’s popular cinnamon swirl loaf is based on Grandma’s White Bread recipe.

Start by making the swirl mixture:

  • ¾ Cup of Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon

Mix the honey and cinnamon until all the cinnamon is incorporated into the honey. Feel free to adjust the cinnamon to taste—just be careful because if there is too little cinnamon, the swirl runs out of the loaf. If there is too much cinnamon, the spice overpowers all the other flavors.

Follow the exact recipe for Grandma’s White Bread and after the first hour-and-a-half of rising, spread the dough flat out. Make it about an inch or two thick, as if you were going to shape rectangular pizza dough. Spread the swirl mixture evenly on top of the dough.

Next, roll up the dough as if you were rolling up a sleeping bag, and fold in the ends as you roll. Pinch the seams together and place seam-down in sprayed loaf pan(s). Scrape out the last of the swirl mixture and wipe it on top of the loaf.

House of Bread’s Apple Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

Using the same recipe as the cinnamon swirl loaf, add a cup of chopped apples to the swirl mixture. You can use canned apples, fresh apples or dried apples.

Spread the mixture on top of the dough, but instead of rolling it up; the bakers at House of Bread prefer to chop the dough into one-inch cubed pieces and toss it with the apple swirl.

Next, place the chopped apple swirl pieces into a well-sprayed loaf pan. Only fill the loaf pan three-quarters full in order to avoid the dough spilling out over the pans while baking.

Later you can vary the recipe by adding raisins or dates to the swirl filling but please try this one first because it tastes so amazing!

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Bread Making, Part 2: It Tastes Right

Bread Making, Part 2: It Tastes Right

Once you’ve pulled a loaf or two of your own out of the oven, any time is a good time to start experimenting with ingredients. That’s right! It’s time to channel your inner food artist. Adding elements according to your own tastes or swapping them out based on your dietary needs will make you even more fond of the bread making process, and let’s not forget all the baker’s bragging rights you will earn!

Here are a few tips to get you started, based on the advice you are most likely to hear in our bakery-cafes and in our bread making classes.

Adding Hard Ingredients

The key to adding ingredients with substance (such as nuts, dried fruit) is to add them after you get to “the good dough stage,” which is what we call it when you have gotten the feel and consistency just right after mixing and kneading the dough. Use a light hand and not more than a couple of ingredients, as dough needs other dough to stick together. If you are swapping similar ingredients in a recipe, use the same volume as called for in the recipe.

Not Too Cold, Not Too Hot

Dough has to remain a certain temperature in order to bake evenly throughout. Adding frozen or cold items to your dough will keep it from fermenting (rising) and will probably leave it half-baked.  Room temperature is the safest bet. With the minimal extra time you might spend letting items defrost or slightly warm outside of the refrigerator, you’ll save time wondering what happened to your dream loaf.

Substitutions and Reductions

Sometimes people want to substitute flours. Instead of switching cup for cup, we tell them to use no more than 10% of the substitution flour to start. Then the next time they can go 20%, and keep raising the ratio until they have reached the threshold because the texture or flavor is compromised.

This baby-step approach works best with sugars and salt reduction, too. We recommend starting with half the amount. The change will result in substantially less flavor. Sugar can be reduced more easily than salt but might require less liquid, too, or more of another dry ingredient such as flour. If you reduce honey (our sweetener of choice), add more liquid or reduce the flour.

Endless Inspiration

At House of Bread Bakery Cafe, we use Grandma’s White Bread as a wonderful stand-alone that also makes a great building block for a wide variety of artisan bread. Our customers always want to know the secret to our specialty loaves. There’s no secret—just knowledge, which we are happy to share! Trust yourself to customize your own homemade bread in any way imaginable. Feel free to subscribe to our blog or bookmark this section so you can read the latest recipes and tips from House of Bread Bakery Cafe.

photo credit: pähkinöitä via photopin (license)

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Milestones: An Entrepreneurs Journey

Milestones: An Entrepreneurs Journey

My 20 year anniversary on November 11, 2016 is a milestone of professional and personal success.
As I reflect on the 20 years, the success comes from the feelings of being happy, proud, and grateful to still be working in the bakery business. I never get tired of the aromas of freshly baked breads…or the taste. The career choices we make are a direct correlation to our emotional success. While money can’t buy you happiness, in business you do need to make money to keep going. But equally important is the enjoyment you receive in your job.

I like owning House of Bread because I feel really good about producing a healthy and delicious product. Today’s breads have gotten a bad rap the last 20 years, and rightfully so. House of Bread is truly different from the modern loaves. While people can taste the good ole fashioned quality difference immediately, the nutritional difference is often harder to discern. Mass manufacturers of breads are trying to paint themselves as nutritional and use clever ways to package the inferior breads as “healthy”.

My longevity in this business is because I keep producing breads with integrity, just like my beloved grandma did. The integrity is in baking with all natural ingredients and never compromising our commitment to health with the addition of vital wheat gluten. Today, the “organic” “natural” breads in the grocery stores, splash that title around and many people assume an organic bread is the best healthy choice. Unfortunately, that is not true. There is a real gluten problem, with people consuming way more gluten then the body was designed to handle. House of Bread doesn’t add any vital wheat gluten, which is why people tell me all the time that my bread is the only bread they can eat and feel good afterwards.

The intangible rewards of knowing you are helping people have better lives is priceless.