Think you don’t have time to bake fresh bread? Think again. Baking bread from scratch is actually not too time-consuming, especially if you follow my make-ahead method that divides the process into a few quick steps.
When you have about an hour of free time, you’ll mix and knead the dough, let it rise (this is hands off for you), and sometimes shape it (depending on what kind of bread you’re making). It doesn’t matter when you do this—after dinner, early in the morning, or late at night. Then you’ll put the dough in the refrigerator, where it rises slowly, developing flavor. When you’re ready, the dough is ready to be baked, whether that’s 8 hours later or 24.
To get the best results from this method, that first rise is important. The dough needs to double in volume at room temperature in order to accomplish a full second rise in the refrigerator.
After the first rise, you choose what kind of bread you want to make: Shape your dough into little seed-studded dinner rolls, make a super-simple sandwich loaf, or twist it into cheesy breadsticks. No matter which way you go, you might just find bread-baking quickly becoming part of your daily routine.